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Games at a Glance: GTA IV

Grand Theft Auto/GTA is probably the most controversial video game series in history. Even more so than Counter-Strike, GTA has become the scape goat whenever someone who once played video games ends up killing someone. Usually the psychos making this claim are right-wing nuts who care more about video game control than gun control. I guarantee if someone is shot by someone who plays video games within the next few months, this game will be to blame. But the roll of video games and violence (or lack there of, as teenage violence has gone down since the release of these games) is subject for another discussion. Here I am going to talk about my first impressions with this game.

ITS FUCKING BEAUTIFUL

IGN gave it a 10. At this point I cannot approve or refute this claim, as we were only playing around in the first zone and had not unlocked much. The city is gorgeous: you can see the texture on buildings, street signs jump up at you, and neighborhoods look good enough to live in. All the details are perfect: if you shoot at a car, it will leave a bullet hole. Shoot at someone inside a car, not only will the window crack, but there will be blood on the window. You can’t blow off limbs, but if you do kill someone, they will ragdoll.

The storyline is also fantastic, if the plot is a bit cliched (then again, what video game doesn’t have you go from one place to another doing the same shit infinitum): go to one place, shoot, then drive. But there is also a dating system where you play mini games against the NPC like bowling, darts, or pool. You are quickly introduced to a number of unique characters, and the learning curve makes the game go smoothly.

Of course, you can’t have a GTA without stealing cars. You can car jack people without a weapon, but be warned, some of them will charge back to the car (at one point this happened, the guy got caught on the door, and we dragged him around the city). With a weapon, they calmly get out of the car and then run away. Stealing a parked car, you will break the window and then hotwire the car by rapidly pressing L1 or R1.(this is for those who can’t pay attention when they tell you in the game). Hot wiring can be difficult, especially when the cops are shooting you. Speaking of cops, a new feature applied in the game is getting held up. Now if you press X, you can run from the cops. They will shoot you, and you will get two stars, but you still may escape.

Driving cars is now like driving a real car: you CANNOT break on a dime. If you are going fast, be prepared to sideswipe into buildings and other cars. And the handling on difference vehicles is quite obvious: crappier cars drive like crap; SUVs drive slow but will knock anything away; sports cars are fast, but you will crash out. Rain effects decrease handling dramatically. Certain crashes aren’t as spectacular as they could be – if you are in a crap car going top speed into on coming traffic, when the two cars hit, they just make a thud instead of a massive wreck. SUVs on the other hand wreck other cars. We also discovered that you can get ejected out of your car if you crash at the right angle. The said can be said of oncoming drivers.

Like always, GTA IV epitomizes sandbox environments. There is so much to see and do, that two games will never be the same. And the way that you die (the screen goes gray and enters into slow mo) is a nice feature that also alerts the other players that it is there turn to have a crack at this magnificent game.

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