Monday, May 12, 2008
Yesterday night I had the good fortune to watch a demo of Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City, and so I figured I'd add my two cents about it.
From a purely technical standpoint, the level of technology and research that went into this game is mind-boggling. Grand Theft Auto IV allows players to navigate through a pretty damn near perfect rendering of New York City, including Queens and Brooklyn. When I mean a pretty damn near perfect rendering, I mean that I could drive by my f**king block. "Hey, I know that crappy nails place on the corner!" I mean: like that.
The game was so hyper-realistic in terms of navigation and environment that it almost made me feel self-conscious about living where I do. Because: here is my humdrum, banal, everyday environment being replicated and presented back to me in a f**king video game. It's not happy mushroom land. It's my neighborhood! With all the sad alleys. And not even sad alleys like in Batman movies. I mean, my f**king sad alleys!
It really makes you think, that with technology like that in the future you could chuck the whole game component altogether and just have actual travelogues for people in this format. "Drive through the streets of Seattle! On Playstation 3!" Marry this game with the tech from Google Maps and those satellite shots. The possibilities are endless.
Okay, enough of the sublime. Let's get to the cop-killing.
There was only one thing that bothered me about the game, and that was the cop-killing. That really made me cringe, because even though there is a LCPD name on the police cars they are so obviously NYPD cars. I mean, you could steal a car in this game and try to outrun the police. Then, you could be cornered by the police and either turn yourself in (so I've been told) or take out your big gun and blast them into little bitty bloody pieces.
I'm not for censoring this game or anything like that, but I'm just telling you that those scenes made me cringe -- and I think a lot of that has to do with the hyper-reality of the game as a whole. In another part of the game, you go out with your friend, get drunk in a bar, and attempt to drive home. Your f**king controller actually gets drunk! The screen goes blurry. If you have been drinking in real life as you're playing this -- well, then, that adds another layer. And so you're running over people, the cops are on your ass, and your a**hole friend in the seat next to you is talking about the meaning of life.
But the real crowning layer of hyper-reality in this game are the little touches. For instance, the radio stations. You can choose between several different radio stations, all with different genres like Jazz, popular, and even an NPR clone. And they actually have programming! Similarly, you can go to an Internet cafe and check your e-mail. And there is a whole unique (but disarmingly familiar) AOL-type site to browse through. You can even go to a version of Craigslist -- "Craplist." And choose "Men Seeking Men!" Of course, that's going to be filled with some lame homophobic jokes about seeking "Euro-Tail" -- but the point is, the game makers went through this trouble to create this level of detail. And it really succeeds in creating this somewhat unsettling copy of reality.
I'm not a big game player, so I can't really speak to those aspects. I'm not really interested so much in Grand Theft Auto IV as a game -- so I'm just giving you my observations as an innocent bystander. Of course, in GTA, innocent bystanders get run over by stolen cars driven by drunk assassins. But whatever.
Bonus points: Go check out Liberty City's version of the Statue of Liberty and find out what makes it tick.