Haze, GTA IV. Next Gen games worth the wait? part 1

This is an entry of two parts, well three technically but who's counting besides me and the OCD readers. I haven't posted for a bit for a very good reason, I've been far too busy playing games. Then I felt a little guilty, and slightly worried that The Geek would start texting nasty things about my manhood if I didn't post.

So what have I been playing? Stupid question as it's in the title. More importantly, was it worth my time?

Considering how precious and under demand my time is (quiet Tom, it is and you know it) I have mixed feelings about how to answer this. Lets begin with GTA IV.

The subject of much controversy the folks at Rockstar have yet again excelled themselves with another fantastic game. Having set themselves up with what has become a long line of great games it was inevitable, though I must warn you that in a short while there is a "but". Just, you know, to soften the blow and make it clear I don't have some teenage crush on this game (I can get a little excited at times yes).

When we started playing GTA what hits you first is how damn pretty it looks, the detailing in this latest installment is awesome and the often dodgy draw distance has been greatly improved. This is made even more effective when the superb weather effects reduce this such as in storms or fog, and can I say it's some of the most realistic storm effects I've ever seen.

Woah that was geeky. Anyway on with the important hoopla, the killing. There definitely seems to be a focus on more realism than in previous versions and you are now able to use cover. Something which is rather important on missions such as the "Heat"-esque bank robbery were every copper and his mum is shooting at you. A mission which is made all the more satisfying by the beautifully rendered car explosions.

Another fine detail is the animation in just getting to the afore mentioned cover, the character Nikko uses many methods to rush and slide into position which is always fun to watch as well being as very well executed.

Two main center pieces in the game are your mobile phone and the Internet, new to the game they provide you with missions as well as other interesting extras. Its such an ingenious update on the old method of gameplay and I felt really refreshed the experience. It does have it's drawbacks however when your girlfriends and other friends constantly call asking for dates, perchance a little extreme on the realism here.

Another feature of the mobile is access to the multiplayer, the biggest addition to the franchise and in my opinion the best. This is pure and simple genius. Simple because what else have we wanted from GTA but the ability to do drive-bys with a group of friends. Though there are a number of different game types I must say I've focused on the Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. It truly is the most fun you can have with your pants on, or even off, some nights when I'm feeling a little crazy, whose going to know. Rockstar have not over done the multiplayer which can often be a problem, here it's simple and accessible.

Right now I bet you thinking, where's his but? Well, maybe not that exactly.

Lets forget about the multiplayer, that rocks, nuff said. And before I say anything else I think you should buy this game but (there it is, I know your relieved, me too) I must ask this of the single player - what's the point?

Odd question I know but it is an issue I had, there is no point. Now you could have a philosophical argument about the the "point" of any game so I'll make myself clear. Beyond completing the story line and the pedantic no lifer 100% completion there's not much else. There's no challenge.

You don't really need to do anything other than the story because there's not really much to achieve, and the only place were there are perks you have to suffer the inane drivel that is GTA dating. All your houses are given to you, there's a limited wardrobe and you soon have enough money to cover the cost of the epic amounts of weaponry you need, money well spent of course. Thus doing extra jobs to earn money becomes pointless because you don't need it.

Gone is the moment of satisfaction as you buy a bigger safe house, or that great moment when you realise you don't have to drive halfway across town to save your hours of gameplay(something which is no longer a problem as there's an autosave, woot I just love having everything handed to me on a plate). There's certainly no saving up to buy that new business to earn you extra cash for a bigger, better safe house that whole aspect has gone.

As I ponder this I stumble in my own meandering fashion upon another factor, out of all the GTA the plot of this one feels most like the orginal GTA, 2D. You bounce around the islands being everyones errand boy, never getting bigger jobs, higher rank, anything really. Your just a lackey. I remember Vice City, the great way you started out with nothing and by the end your in the "Scarface" mansion and your the boss. What do you get here? Some guy dropped off at the airport, woot.

What went wrong?

I think it's the glamour of Next Gen. Rockstar seem to have spent so much time engrossed with the "new", with the Next Gen, they forgot what made these games great and then they left it out, shivering in a corner like those dogs in charity adverts. We're to blame too, always clamouring for the next hit, for the newest gimic, because this isn't just a GTA problem, oh no it's much bigger. Can't be arsed telling you about that now though got myself all worked up, piss off.

See you in part 2.



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