Sunday, May 11, 2008

Passed up Speed Racer for "Vice" the Movie, and Liberty City ...

Violent movies, and Violent videogames, Jack Thompson would be proud of me.

So on Friday I caught a special screening for a film called Vice starring Michael Madsen, and Daryl Hannah, about corrupt cops, which featured the usual fare of drugs, hookers, and people getting shot. I passed up Speed Racer for this movie, after hearing about it on Urban Rush. The screening featured a Q&A with the director, producer, and some actors, and based on the trailer, I thought I'd be good. Sadly I was disappointed, and you can read about what thought here. (Besides, I would have been disappointed with the Wachowski siblings Speed Racer anyway, those are some pretty bad reviews on rottentomatoes. I knew it'd be bad, just not THAT bad.)

Vice was however ideal preparation for a little game called GTA IV. I've decided I would give Rockstar my money, in turn for the experience of playing a Serbian immigrant who gets by, by doing the dirty work of Liberty City's crime world. I've criticized Rockstar and GTA in the past, so why'd I pick it up? Hype, the positive reviews, friends, co-workers, and the desire for a gritty open world game for my 360 collection. I've never been big into GTA, never bought any previous GTA's, but I've played them so I knew what to expect. Getting GTA IV doesn't make me a GTA fan of the series either. I like the game, just not enough that I'm jumping out of my seat for it.

So far I've clocked several hours into GTA IV. Killed a bunch of people, cruised around in many cars all over the city, enjoying the radio stations, gone on many dates with Michelle, and random encounters with women on the street who have offered their "services". I've been to the Cabaret, Strip Clubs, and have even gone gun shopping. GTA IV isn't just about that though. It's about living the life of this guy who comes from a shady past, who is flung into a world that he can't really avoid. How you play Niko is entirely up to you, but there are some things that are a given to the characters persona. He definitely likes those lap dances, especially after a difficult mission.

I think what works for me the most in GTA IV are the games storyline, dialogue and voice-over, which are really well done, and if it wasn't a videogame, surly it would be a movie. I especially like the dynamic between all the characters, because you really get an idea of their personalities, and the cinematic feel throughout the game is great. The pretty graphics come second, making for an immersive and atmospheric experience as expected, (though I think EA's Skate has some pretty impressive open-world environments too). Sadly I can't say the same positive things about the animation/motion-capture in GTA IV and Rockstar games in general. (View video to see what I mean).

AHHAHAHAAH! SNL got it right.

Things that bother me include the combat system which is pretty basic, whether hand-to-hand, or targeting, and shooting, combat can feel too slow, and stiff, but that's just me. On the other hand I find the driving mechanics to be enjoyable for each vehicle, except for that fast little motorcycle, which is a bitch to handle.

The missions have been pretty good so far, some more challenging than others. With all that is there to see and do in GTA IV, here's hoping it doesn't get repetitive. Oh wait, it already has, but I have to find out how this crime drama plays out, and that's what's keeping me most interested in the game.

I also dig the art style of the promotional art. Definitely reminds me of the flat cartoony rotoscoping of A Scanner Darkly. Too bad the actual game doesn't look like this. If GTA were to be a movie, I think this style would suit it.

Anyone up for Multiplayer?

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