Monday, March 9, 2009

Murder And Mayhem In Liberty City

Apart from a little bit of Team Fortress 2 and World of Goo, which I picked up for $5 on Steam yesterday, I spent all my game time this past week playing GTA IV.

I am now at the final mission(s), a choice that boils down to either money or revenge, or more likely, Niko's cousin or love interest. My choice is for revenge, but I'll probably end up doing both to see what's different in the ending. I attempted each path once so far but died, and had to go to bed. I had already been playing like 6 hours anyway.

This past week I managed to crank through all the rest of the Irish mob jobs and then the Italian mafia jobs so that now all that's left is the ending of the main thread and the Assassin missions, and the tons and tons of side stuff you can do in the game. I'll probably end up doing some of that stuff and going for achievements, too, after finally finishing off the story.

There are a few choices you have to make in the game, whether to kill guy X or guy Y, or whether to kill guy Z or just walk away. The former scenarios, I opted to kill Playboy X, Francis McReary, and now Dimitri Rascalov. There was one odd mission where it looked like I was going to be given the choice of killing Phil or Ray (mafia capos), but the boss decided for me and had me go kill Ray, which would have been my choice anyway. In each of the kill/walk away scenarios, I used my better judgment, which as far as I can recall, was walking away each time save Vlad, whom I remember killing. The most interesting was Niko's long-awaited confrontation with "that special someone," Darko Brevic. I figured that it would have been the height of hypocrisy to kill him for having been only what Niko has become over the course of the game, a hired killer with little allegiance to anything but money. I'm not sure what impact any of these decisions have on the outcome of the game, but at the very least, a few of them helped me to define for myself what sort of character Niko would become, and I like that.

I've seen and heard a lot of people saying they don't like the person he becomes in the game, and that's fine for me. I don't have to like every character I control in a game (though I do happen to like Niko), as long as they're somewhat well defined and believable as a character. Aside from the necessary exaggerations and implausibilities (it is a game, there has to be insane fun stuff), Niko passes this test in my eyes. It's a tough line to walk in this series, though.

As Rockstar takes it in a less cartoon-ish and more serious crime fiction direction, it's hard not to lose some of the outlandishness (Area 52 jet-packs in GTA: SA), which often means losing some of the fun (no planes in GTA IV). I think GTA IV is a sweet spot, pretty satisfying on both ends, without undermining one hand with the other. This story just would not work in Crackdown, nor would Crackdown's insane (and awesome) gameplay work for this story (or any story, really).

Addendum: I finished the story last night, choosing the revenge route. After checking out the other ending on Youtube, I'm happy with my choice.


Necovia said...

I agree with your most astute assessment. The problem for me is that I wanted that extra fun gameplay, and in GTA IV, it seemed like there was less and less extra stuff to do. The dating and hanging out got boring after awhile.

This is a bit random, but how the hell did the auction house work in FF XI? I don't remember. Was it basically you setting a buyout price and then when someone bid that amount it was sold to them?

Count Elmdor said...

yeah, that's how it was. And if no one bought it in like 3 days it was sent back to you.

Finished GTA IV tonight. There was a bit more left than I had thought. Now to find out what happens if I don't go to kill Dmitri...

Necovia said...

Just missed you online. What'd you think of Galactica? And 9 bucks for crysis!? Are they still having that sale?

Greg said...

I am still on the fence about picking up GTAIV. I probably will when the price drops to the platinum title level.

As for Killzone 2, I played the demo for a bit but it didn't really get me excited. Maybe I need some videogame viagra?

Oh well...

Count Elmdor said...

I haven't even tried the KZ2 demo, but I already know I'm going to get it anyway, it's just a matter of when (and price).

So far I've just seen the first couple of episodes of BSG. So far, so good. It's surprisingly bleak, at least at the beginning with humanity decimated and on the run.

The Crysis thing was part of a deal for rewards club members, you could get a coupon for $20 off of a few EA published PC games, Crysis, Crysis Warhead, Red Alert 3, The Orange Box, and a couple of sports games. I'm not sure if there was a time limit on that or not.