Those missions were fun. Yes, I know for video game fans that’s the equivalent to saying to a film buff that Citizen Kane
is a bit of a laugh, but this game is fun. The chases, the strolling around the place, the shoot-outs (I’m not a huge fan of shoot-outs or car chases), the use of the mobile phone to get missions, the cut-scenes with the incredibly well thought out characters, acting, scripting and plot advancement, the lack of stodgy stereotypical short-cuts.
I can see myself at GTA IV
parties where I will watch people exploring the city in search of missions to complete, characters to meet, enemies to defeat and music to listen to (I’m not allowed to mention specific tracks as yet.)
Those missions – that I got to play and you didn’t (see, that’s why I chose this career and not the civil service, I bloody love video games) entailed picking up a large Jamaican gentleman to take him to a deal while he smoked (gasp!) potannabis in the car; watching the deal go bad; chasing up the gang who had stiffed him in my car (or firstly and stupidly, on foot) for a right proper shoot-out in the park. Then there was the heading over to someone’s apartment with said large Jamaican gentleman in tow, in order to wreak wrongcious revenge on them for having stitched him up the first time.
Both these missions, even for a duffer like me, took me through the game-play devices.
These include map navigation - manual or GPS, with some cars having the kind of GPS that talks to you but gives directions just too late, and some that mean you have to keep looking at the on-screen map.
Use of mobile phone – yes, get missions, refuse missions, choose other missions, retry missions, all with your phone. Very zeitgeist, very easy.
Use of weapons – these are many and varied and don’t require you to have studied the controls for hours on end. They came to the fore during a shoot-out at a harbourside warehouse that – I’m not going to spoil plot here – results in you having to drive a huge truck after taking out several thugs probably as vicious as Niko himself with an arsenal comprising sniper rifle, semi-auto, grenade and fist.
Use of getting-away-from-the-cops map – there are bloody police everywhere. As ever with Liberty City, they are about as useful to law enforcement as Imperial Stormtroopers to Empires or England fans when we’re losing at anything. See, they only work on line of sight. If they can see you, they’ll want to get you (if you’ve been bad, which you will have been).
There is more, so much more – even from a mere two hours. But right now time is telling. So it’s time for a criticism. The people in Liberty City are for the most part (and during this pre-release code phase) stupid, stupid, dumb sheep. You can look right at them, aim your pistol into their eyes and jump up and down and they won’t react. Sure, if you shoot at them they’ll react – apparently.
I’m going to end this here for now because this is a preview and there’s a bunch of things I’m not allowed to go into – not many, but some.
Suffice to say that, while still not totally converted (I just don’t get the idea of beating someone up to steal their car and then going to kill someone else, but that’s my choice of fiction – my favourite literature includes American Psycho for goodness’ sake), I have had many of my biases over-thrown by the sheer, all round quality and openness of GTA IV
on Xbox 360 thus far.