Daily Archives: June 13, 2011

The problem with every game ever playing in GTA’s sandbox

In 2001, a little game called Grand Theft Auto III by Rockstar ushered in a new form of gameplay, what we now call “sandbox,” wherein you’re free to roam the world and do what you want until you actually want to play the dang videogame. It offered total freedom and had its pros and cons; some gamers couldn’t handle the lack of direction, would drive around for a bit, cause some trouble, and never dig into the story. That’s me. I lose interest fast. Others, I guess, did actually play the game straight through, undeterred, undistracted. Kudos to them.

With greatness comes imitation, and every game developer post-2001 wanted to dish out some of GTA III‘s pie. I know this for a fact because over the past two weeks I’ve played three different PlayStation 2 games that are basically GTA clones in terms of structure and gameplay, mini-map and all. One did not surprise me, but the other two…yeah. If only they hadn’t been so blatant about it. Right, let’s muse about these three cloned sheep.

Mafia. Fine, yes. Understandable. It wanted to be GTA III in a different time period with a focus on the under-workings of the mob. No surprise here, and I do appreciate that the developers placed an importance on obeying the posted speed limits. The HUD is a bit clunky and cluttered, and the city streets are so devoid of life that one must ponder if the developers actually forgot to program in day-to-day citizens.

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. This didn’t reveal its GTA III-ness until after the tutorial missions were done. Then we’re dumped into a hub world based around the duo’s terrace house on West Wallaby Street. It’s then split even further into four areas: The Town Centre of Wallersy, Grimsley Harbour, an industrial area, and Tottington Hall. You walk around and pick up missions from select neighbors, which appears as colored dots on your mini-maps. You can’t highjack vehicles in this one; if I could, those deranged rabbits would be roadkill sooner than later.

Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 2: Bush Rescue. And here’s where it gets sad. I had a wonderful time with the original Ty game, which was yet another platformer during that crazy platformer-led era, but it was a solid time, with a strong focus on collecting, as well as exploring the levels high and low. I popped in Ty 2 last night now that I have extra memory card space for it, and I was shocked to discover the franchise’s formula changes, going from a focus on collecting to mechs. I’m fine with the mechs, really. But it’s all set in a giant hub world that you can explore as you please, with vehicles to help get you from one place to another. But man, I played for over an hour last night, and I did like seven side mission thingies, leaving the main storyline to the Australian side, which has me worried that the emphasis is not on taking down Boss Cass again, but doing mindless tasks for mindless friends. Let’s hope not…

Claude Speed may give his approval, but I’m so exhausted over mini-maps at this point. BE YOUR OWN GAME.

Pre-owned PlayStation 2 memory cards tell the best stories

GameStop likes to email me, and I occasionally read said emails, but the majority get glanced at and then deleted. Except for the most recent one, which hit home deeply in that they were advertising pre-owned PlayStation 2 memory cards for only $4.99–down from $9.99. And I’ve been needing more save space desperately because I’ve run out of room on the sole one I’ve had since the very first days of gaining that special console, and there’s only so much data I can delete. Yup, even though I no longer have my copy of Suikoden V, I can’t bring myself to delete my 80+ hour save. That’s like throwing out a kid you birthed or helped birth.

But now I no longer have that problem because, after having corrected the local GameStop employee that they should cost $4.99 and not $9.99, I acquired another full 8 MB of space to use for all those new PlayStation 2 titles I’ve bought recently. But first, I had to delete everything off the pre-owned memory card, and man oh man, Grinding Down readers, did the logged games on this card paint a picture. There were at least three different save sessions for various Need for Speed titles, several sportsy ones like Madden and NHL, lots of Medal of Honor games, and then came the oddballs: LEGO Star Wars II, Spider-man 2, and Karaoke Revolution.

A quick Google search helped me find the memory card’s original owner(s):


But seriously, that’s more or less the picture being painted here from game saves alone. There’s about 80% typical fratboy games (guns, balls, fast cars), and then a few that do not seem to fit, that exist maybe solely to entertain a roofied girlfriend for a bit. They all got deleted. I’m sorry if you’re a fratboy or a drugged girl and I offended you. Really, I am.

And then, unfortunately, there’s a small chunk of save space on the memory card labeled “corrupted data” that cannot be deleted; this worried me at first, and I really did not want to have to return a used PS2 memory card for another one, but this corrupted data actually does not seem to affect anything. I was able to start saving game progress for Tokobot Plus: Mysteries of the Karakuri immediately.

With plenty of save space available, I’m now actually inspired to start playing some of these PlayStation 2 games I’ve got collecting dust around here. I know, it’s 2011, and I’m only just getting to ’em now, but the PlayStation 2 is so not dead; it’s a great system that is only now making its way out the door, but there’s plenty of life left in it, so long as you got enough memory cards.