Tag Archives: Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto III, my college days landmark in videogames

gta3 for the ps2 one more try

Everyone was going crazy for Grand Theft Auto V yesterday, which I guess makes total sense, considering that’s when it released to the foaming-at-the-mouth world. Personally, I’ve not been interested in GTA games for a long while, and my strongest emotions for the series revolve around Grand Theft Auto III, and that’s because I consider that–without a doubt–my college game. No other game save for Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy, which came out a year later, reminds me so strongly of my dorm days, of long weekends avoiding papers and drinking the night away. Though the latter title also makes me think of shoulder-high snow walls and a desperate grab for mac and cheese, but I’ll save that tale for another time…

In 2001, I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman in college, a hopeful art major at that, and my suite-mates got a copy of GTA III for their PS2 the day it dropped. At that time, I was still clinging to my PS1 and treasured copy of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, but college is all about sharing, and so we’d huddle together in our tiny, cramped dorm rooms and just lose ourselves in Liberty City, each taking turns never really doing any missions. It was all about stealing cars and running from the cops and watching your vehicle fall to pieces as your getaway plan went from grand to gravel as you smashed into everything in your way. That game encouraged emergent gameplay at every turn and rewarded you with a good time laughing like loons with friends.

Last night, I decided to remind myself of those golden days, popping in Grand Theft Auto III into my still-chugging PlayStation 2. Actually, first I checked my memory cards to see if I had any saved data on them, but alas, no. Not for any of my PS2 GTA games, which is a bummer as I distinctly remember getting pretty far into Vice City. Anyways, story-wise, the game begins with the silent criminal Claude being betrayed by his girl Catalina and getting arrested. After being sentenced to 10 years in prison, Claude  is transported across a bridge in a prison truck, which the Colombian Cartels fortuitously ambush. From there, Claude escapes and makes ties with the Leone mafia crime family as he tries to build himself back up in order to find Catalina and learn why she abandoned him.

I kind of forgot how purposely blurry the cutscenes in Grand Theft Auto III are. They actually really hurt my eyes, enough so that I had to look away during the opening moments, and I have to assume that 2001 Paul saw them as amazing and cinematic. After that, I found the game easy to pick up, and just as easy to go off the rails with, which is my favorite thing to do. I did the first few missions, which all act like tutorials. You drive and pick up a hooker, you drive over to some guy and beat the life out of him with a baseball bat, and you steal a car and get it repainted so the cops won’t know any better. After that, I drove around a bit, listened to some radio chatter, and explored the streets, which are pretty barren by today’s standards. Oh, and I noticed that the cars fall apart super fast. Like, two or three hits/collisions and you’re smoking and stalling in the middle of the road. Also, Liberty City is littered with trash. I think this was Rockstar’s way to try and fill in the empty spots, but it is weird to see the same piece of newspaper flittering by Claude every five seconds. We can also blame the limitation of the PS2 though, I guess. Maybe I’ll dip back into Vice City or San Andreas at some point, too.

Anyways, back to current affairs. Grand Theft Auto V looks like fun. Really, it does. I like the idea of three main protagonists that you can bounce around from to progress the plot and take on different mission types. But there’s a rub. I absolutely hated my time with Grand Theft Auto IV–not bothering to link to any specific articles, but if you search around Grinding Down, you can certainly find some less-than-praising remarks from me about Niko and the difficulty that game throws at you unfairly–and calling back to GTA III, a lot of fun is playing the game with others and being goofy or laughing at all the mistakes. That forthcoming online aspect might be ripe for that. Or maybe not. Until then, I’m more likely to pick up Saints Row IV first, which is more my thing these days: a weird, funny game that embraces its weird and funny bits and doesn’t need a room full of onlookers to be immensely enjoyable.

Saints Row: The Third should not have all this fun power

Honestly, I never thought I’d write these words, but I’m having a blast with Saints Row: The Third. The duders over at GiantBomb are mostly to blame, as they would not shut up about the game on every podcast or game of the year debate, and so I finally decided to put my trust in word-of-mouth and got a new copy with some Christmas cash (as well as Kirby’s Epic Yarn, Rage, and Marvel VS Capcom 3 during GameStop’s end-of-the-month sale where you could buy two used games and get one for free). I put it into my Xbox 360 without a real idea of what was to come except maybe some driving and shooting in the vein of Grand Theft Auto IV, a game I loathe. I held my breath and went forward…

Well, I’m about 11 hours into Saints Row: The Third, with a completion percentage around 45%, and it’s been zany, crazy fun from the moment go. From creating your character, to jumping out of a plane, to jumping into a plane, to gimps pulling chariots, to said gimps exploding, to driving Miss Tiger around town, to befriending a huge naked man, to–y’know, I think I’ll stop there for now. Literally every mission is absolutely bonkers and pure joy to talk about, but a majority of it needs to be experienced, as Saints Row: The Third is always aiming to surprise and put a smile on your face. And if not a smile, well, maybe just to lower your jaw a couple inches. In short, it’s a videogame. It’s a videogame that loves being a videogame and only wants to be a videogame for you. It streamlines everything to keep momentum going forward; when you are driving to a mission start locale, you don’t have to get out of the car to begin it, you only need to be near it, and while that’s a small detail, it’s enough to keep things going. Unlike GTA IV, failing a mission is not punishing, as there are many checkpoints along the way, and you can simply reload from there. And hey, do you hate chasing down a car to hijack it? Simply run and press the right button to jump through the car’s windshield immediately. It’s that kind of game.

And yeah, that’s my avatar in the screenshot above. He’s modeled somewhat after moi. You can use the in-game’s cell phone to take screenshots and upload them to a separate website, so expect some more National Geographic quality shots to pop up here and there. I like to dress kinda casual though I do put on a zany hat or kooky outfit when showing the game off to observers. And there was this one time I was wearing a wolf mask and a cheerleading outfit, but let’s just move on, okay…

Got some Achievements so far. This game looks like a fairly easy 1,000 Gamerscore, but it’ll take time, which is a-okay by me. For once, I’m having a blast in an open world with little fear of breaking it or losing all my hard-earned work through things getting too crazy and my dude getting shot to pieces, like in The Saboteur or Red Faction: Guerrilla. Here’s a few goodies:

Ow, My Balls! (10G): Did your first nutshot and testicle assault, sack tapping is bad news kids!

Gellin’ Like Magellan (20G): Explored every hood in Steelport, you’ve been around the world.

Gotta Break Em In (25G): Completed ‘The Ho Boat’ and decided the Hos fate, do you feel proud of yourself?

I do feel proud of myself, Volition/THQ. I saved those hoes from a life of hoeing and whoring under a wrestling masked jerk to work for me, the leader of the Saints, who, by all accounts, is a psychopath. Lucky them.

Right now, before I move on to the next story mission, I’m tracking down all the collectibles thanks to an upgrade bonus that highlights them all on my map. Saints Row: The Third doesn’t care about giving you everything right away, such as a map pinpointing all the hidden items or a VTOL jet early on or the ability to call an airstrike at any point; it just wants you to have a good time, and that’s exactly what I’m going to keep on doing.

Games Completed in 2011, #28 – L.A. Noire

I don’t think I’ll ever forget my L.A. Noire experience. It’s up there with Limbo and the featureless boy’s early jaunt through the forest, with Fallout 3 and leaving Vault 101 for the first time, with finishing a level in Super Mario Bros. by clinging to a flag pole and drifting down, fireworks praising your accomplishments. This crazy creation from Rockstar and Team Bondi is a mix of genres and games and most definitely not another skin for Grand Theft Auto IV fanatics to wear. It’s also unlike anything I’ve ever played, and it’s “motion scan” facial animation work has ruined everything that’s come before it–and possibly everything else after it. Deus Ex: Human Revolution may be all shiny and futurized, but it’s impossible not to cringe during cutscenes where characters are talking to each other.

You play as Cole Phelps, a detective trying to do what’s right, as well as avoiding the horrors of his past, namely his time spent at the battle of Okinawa during World War II. It’s the late 1940s, and Los Angeles is yours for the scouring; as the city begins to thrive with post-war opportunities and jazz and all things that encompass film noire, so does crime. Scoundrels and scum really earn their nicknames in L.A. Noire, committing horrific crimes, most of them against women, and it’s up to Detective Phelps to piece together what happened from clues, inspecting the crime scene, and interviewing key witnesses or suspects.

It’s a point-and-click adventure with astounding production values. As you search a crime scene, a deep, whomping bassline plays, letting you know you’ve not yet found everything. As you drive around the city–or let your partner take the wheel–you’ll go over the case’s details while listening to remixed versions of tunes by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton & His Orchestra, Dinah Washington, Louis Jordan, Gene Krupa, and Billie Holiday. By far, the music is the strongest factor for immersing one’s self in a period lost to time and technology. Nobody writes songs like these anymore.

It’s a game that demands you pay attention. To play detective. Sure, the musical sound clues make it a little easy for finding actual clues at a crime scene, but it’s up to you, you playing Cole, to determine what’s actually important, where to go to first, what questions to ask witnesses, when to get tough and accusatory, when to lock up the guilty. There’s even one mission during the Homicide desk where you’ll be traversing all across L.A. based on cryptic poetry, having to use your eyes and knowledge of the city to get you where you need to go. Genuinely rewarding, by the completion of it.

Unfortunately, L.A. Noire is quite disappointing come the end. The developers pull a Metal Gear Solid 2, and you’re suddenly no longer playing as Cole Phelps. Sure, there’s a story reason for it, but it felt a bit like a betrayal, as well as clearly foreshadowed what was to unfold. And what unfolded was trite, a death not needed, not justified. Cole bites it saving Elsa, the woman he cheated on his wife with, which didn’t make him a terrible man, only all the more human. Then there’s a funeral scene with some cryptic accusations tossed at minor characters. After that and credits, strangely, you can hop back into the game to look for newspapers, golden film reels, cars, locations, and missed unassigned street missions–as Cole. Yeah, it’s a videogame all right.

That said, it’s a fantastic one, and I encourage all to experience, even if, like me, you really hate the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Most of the time you can’t even take your gun out of its holster, and L.A. citizens are pros at hopping out of the way of reckless drivers. And you can skip all the action sequences if they are too tough or not your thing; it’s a story game, where the story overshadows the game, and the game exists only to strengthen the story. There really is nothing quite like it.

Putting miles on the clock in L.A. Noire

I beat L.A. Noire a couple weeks ago, but I’m not going to be talking about the game as a whole or its ending just yet or all the things I loved slash hated. That will all have to wait until I get to it on my 2011 Completed Games list. In the meantime, I’ve dipped back into the game to play clean up for Achievements, as well as just drive around Los Angeles without the constant pressure of finding clues, undermining suspects, and closing cases. It’s been really nice.

Team Bondi and Rockstar’s 1940s Los Angeles is bland in terms of things to do other than driving from point A to point B, but brimming with beauty and buildings to look at, observe, eye hump, and be amazed with. Aesthetics is the name of the game here, and hoping into a car, tuning in to Billie Holiday, and driving down busy city streets is a little like time-traveling. It’s also quite relaxing because, unlike Grand Theft Auto IV, bumping into a car or accidentally swerving over to the sidewalk does not get the black and white chasing after you; in fact, you’re the black and white, and the game does quietly reprimand you for reckless driving, but never enough to put the fear in you to drive as straight and narrow as they come.

I do try to drive safe and civilian-like, but sometimes I get sleepy and veer into another car. Or some dinkhead begins to turn, but suddenly decides to stop in the middle of the road; that seems to happen a lot. No worries. Cole and his partner are always fine, never thrown from there car or anything, and the cars don’t ever explode like they would in Liberty City. Crash a car, find another, and so on. The developers have made it extremely easy to stay in the game, to keep exploring and listening to those snazzy, jazzy tunes, and that’s pretty amazing as most open-world games get boring real fast. Die a few times in The Saboteur or Grand Theft Auto IV, and seeing that I’d have to re-drive (or re-walk) all the way back to where I was is more frustration than I need, and off goes the system. However, with L.A. Noire, there’s none of that. The only pain, I guess, is having to switch out between three different discs to “free roam” certain crime desks.

Anyways, last night, as the heat and sleepiness wore me down, I found out that I’d been driving a whole lot so far, unlocking this fun Achievement:

Miles on the Clock (15G): Drive more than 194.7 miles.

Obviously, this took some considerable time, especially since I reveled in the fact that, during the game’s main missions, you could totally make your partner drive to the desired location without fear of ruining your car or losing your way or simply getting distracted. However, doing so did not count towards your total mileage for this Achievement. Post-game, finding hidden cars and completing more street crime cases definitely helped with this. I think I was mindlessly driving around near the Hollywood sign though when this nugget pinged. Vroom vroom.

I still have a few more somewhat attainable Achievements to go after, meaning I’ll be spending more time in the glitz and glamor of L.A. That sounds fine to me. Locations, newspapers, more street crimes, hidden cars, golden film reels–here I come!

The top five greatest things about L.A. Noire

L.A. Noire is not Grand Theft Auto IV set in the 1940s, and for that I’m eternally happy. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted that open-world feel, but more guidance, more direction, and that seems to be the case here, pun intended. A linear game set in an open Los Angeles that, if you want, you can go explore and get lost in and attempt to run citizens over. But you’re a good-natured detective, and a detective like that moves slowly, meticulously, combing crime scenes for clues and interrogating suspects and musing with partners over possible plans of action. Sometimes action takes precendence, with Cole chasing suspects on foot or car, or trying to survive a shootout, or desperately trying to keep his hat on during a fistfight. But it’s the detective work and questioning of suspects and branching paths that make L.A. Noire its own game, and not just Grand Theft Los Angeles.

Oh, and here are five other great things about L.A. Noire:

5. Make a face, any face

This might surprise some to find my praise of the facial animation not number one of this insignificant list of mine, but that’s how I roll. I like the face work, I do. It’s very impressive, especially considering that both Tara and I immediately recognized Greg Grunberg as Hugo Moller just on his face alone. We were like, “Hey, it’s that guy!” And we were right. It was that guy. And we recognized him before he spoke, whereas it is often the opposite that confirms a suspicion about a voice actor in a videogame. And then Hugo began to talk, and it was like I wasn’t even in a videogame anymore, just a show on TV, where a guy was being questioned, and he was answering accordingly, twitching and looking away and furrowing his brow as we all do, and we had judgment calls to make.

4. All that jazz

In the late 1940s, after the horror of World War II, music reflected American enthusiasm tempered with European disillusionment. Jazz and solo singers breaking free from big band ensembles ate up the limelight, and Rockstar took it a step further for L.A. Noire‘s soundtrack, utilizing the remixing skills of some of today’s best DJs to create new versions of the old. Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lionel Hampton are re-imagined in spectacular ways. Take a listen, I promise you that the songs are intoxicating and hypnotic. It’s a shame that I don’t drive around more to listen to them, but more on that in a bit.

3. That carrot is not irrelevant

When at a crime scene and searching for clues, Cole can pick up and inspect a number of items, many of which are either red herrings or simply inconsequential to the case. My favorite pick-ups are inside a suspect’s house, where Cole will meander into the kitchen, pick up a carrot, and stare at it for minutes before finally deciding that, yes, it’s most likely not the murder weapon. I’ve also noticed his love for picking up boxes of laundry detergent. Either way, it’s nice that they kept these items in, as it does give the feeling of truly examining a crime scene, no matter how silly they ultimately are. Always examine shoes, too.

2. Baby steps up the stairs

Y’all might think the facial motion capturing work in L.A. Noire is its greatest achievement, but you’d be wrong. Somehow, after seven years of programming and coding and researching, the people at Rockstar and Team Bondi were able to perfectly capture the way people climb stairs. If you don’t hold down the run button, Cole will climb a set of stairs in itty bitty steps, bobbing his head all the way up, like a jogger running in place. It’s hilarious and at the same time instantly recognizable; we’ve all gone up stairs like this at one time or another, placing both feet on each step all the way to the top, and it only helps to nail down immersion and authenticity.

1. You drive, I’m lazy

Most cop-work is done in pairs. Partners are not just a stereotype of the cop genre, but an integral aspect of working the streets and solving crimes. Plus, they can act as a personal chauffeur. At just about any point, you can hold down a button and have your partner drive to the next location. This is wonderful. You still get to listen to the interactive dialogue you’d hear if you yourself drove, but now you can listen without worrying about running into another car or careening off a cliff. If there’s no dialogue to be had, you simply warp to the desired location via a short loading screen. Again, this is wonderful.

One of my biggest gripes with Grand Theft Auto IV is how sadistic the mission structure was, often having you drive across two bridges and many miles to start a mission. Upon death or failure, you’d have to do all that again. It was even hard to stay on track in games like The Saboteur and Red Faction: Guerrilla. Here, in L.A. Noire, arrival at your destination is guaranteed. Occasionally, I do drive, but it’s always messy, and I rear-end a lot of cars, which gets my partner all huffy and puffy. Not needed. Hopefully this is something every open-world game can implement though how is not a quick answer to me. The fact that you are constantly paired up with a second person surely helps.

Don’t think I’m 100% sweet on the game though. There’s plenty I dislike, and if y’all are good and enjoy this post and share it with Reddit and Kotaku and StumpledUpon and the whole Interworld so that I can get rich and famous fast, then I’ll do a post on the five worst things in L.A. Noire.

Keeping it casual with Red Faction: Guerrilla

I was hoping to write this post before I completed the game, but it seems I was able to burn through Red Faction: Guerrilla‘s final missions pretty fast over the last few nights, and as the credits rolled, I did not feel a pinch of regret for the decision that made it all possible: turning the difficulty down from Normal to Casual.

I’ve been playing Red Faction: Guerrilla off and on since July 2010 (almost a year ago!), and I eventually got to a point that I could not conquer. I’m finger-pointing the missions to liberate the Dust sector of Mars, and I would do them in the same fashion that I would tackle Grand Theft Auto IV‘s mission, with a furrowed brow and curse words just begging to get out. Naturally, I’d die mid-way through the mission for reasons like unclear objectives or just getting caught out in the open and having six EDF troopers riddle me with bullets. It would be hard to go back so I’d instead wander around the map, knocking buildings down, mining ore locations, and occasionally doing a guerrilla side-quest.

Recently, as I journey towards trying to complete more games than buying more games and never finishing them, I went back to the liberating Dust missions. Died again. Only took a few shots, which was frustrating. In my Martian heart, I have to believe I’m not terrible at the game; so I decided to change the difficulty, something I don’t do often or with glee, something I’ve only also done as of late with Dragon Age: Origins, but I did it; I completed all the final Dust missions in one go, no deaths. The game suddenly changed. Mason took less damage, and enemies dropped faster, did not swarm in droves. I even feel like some of the mission structures might have been altered too, becoming shorter or more lenient.

Yes, I’d have loved to go through Red Faction: Guerrilla on the default difficulty, as it was meant to be played, but ultimately I’d rather experience the story and missions and crumbling buildings. Such are the sacrifices gamers must make from time to time. I’ll be back later with a full write-up. Until then, keep it casual y’all.

A delicious taste of L.A. Noire’s 1940s-esque soundtrack

I did not pay much attention to L.A. Noire simply because I dismissed it early on as a 1940s era Grand Theft Auto, which, as any loyal Grinding Down reader will know, is not my favorite game. I mean, you can see the Rockstar Games touch very clearly in its latest title, from the dynamic and stylized cutscenes to the minimap to their passion about having a stellar soundtrack. That last thing is not a bad thing.

Anyways, reviews are out, and besides having to constantly warn gamers that you can’t run over prostitutes in this one (aw shucks), the verdict seems to be that L.A. Noire is much more of an adventure game than a drive-and-shoot title. No random rampages allowed. Gameplay is more focused on investigating a crime scene, talking to witnesses, and piecing together an answer. Yes, there’s still some of those annoying “tail a car, but don’t get caught” missions, as well as some shootouts, but more or less, it’s all about the story and one man’s drive to bring wrongdoers to justice. I can get behind that. Considering the lack of strong, narrative-driven titles harkening back to the point-and-click genre these days, I might have to actually get this game–but not quite yet. I still have plenty of titles to work through, but once I’ve cleared a total of, say, 25 games for 2011, then I might go out and give post-WWII Los Angeles a try.

Oh, and about that soundtrack. It’s fantastic. You can preview six songs from L.A. Noire thanks to SoundCloud:

My personal favorite is the remix of Ella Fiztgerald and Louis Jordan’s “Stone Cold Dead in the Market.” The others are great, dancy remixes of classic, old-time tunes. Doesn’t necessarily evoke the sense of police work, but does transport one back to a simpler time, to smoke-filled rooms, to dangerous women in dangerous outfits, to falling victim to gorgeous, dreamy sounds, to finding love and chasing it down.

GTA: Chinatown Wars is winning me over

This is going to sound a little crazy, especially if you’ve been keeping up with my hate-limned posts about that masochistic beast Grand Theft Auto IV, but I’m absolutely having a blast with Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Yes, I’m actually enjoying a GTA game, and even more surprising is that it is one made specifically for an underpowered system like the Nintendo DS. Let’s all take a moment to let that sink in.

Dipping even further into the pool of insanity is the fact that GTA: Chinatown Wars shares a whole lot more with GTA IV than the first iterations in the series. Sure, it’s got a bird’s eye view/top-down camera to it, but that’s kind of it in terms of comparisons to Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2. Otherwise, you’re back in Liberty City, a world instantly recognizable if when it is presented in a completely different medium, and you take control of Huang Lee who arrives with an ancient sword to discover what happened to his father. Alas, he takes a bullet and gets dumped in the river by his assailants. The story is basically about a bunch of Triad gang members all trying to become Top Dog with Lee helping out where he can and digging his grave deeper. It’s pretty good so far, even if it still relies too much on dick jokes.

Drugs play a big part here, and I was instantly transported back to math class in high school when everyone had that drug-selling game on their fancy, hi-tech calculators. Well, everyone but me. But I borrowed a friend’s copy every now and then to help survive study hall. So, in GTA: Chinatown Wars, you acquire drugs, and then seek out the best deal for selling/buying more. This is the best way to make money as missions only pay out around $25 to $200; not enough to get by for too long in dangerous Liberty City. Cops might also randomly bust in on a hot deal you’re making, but you can safely store excess drugs in your apartment. I will admit to, at first, being a little put off by the drug dealing as I’ve never played anything so adult-like on the Nintendo DS, but now I’m right at home with the crooks and creeps in the alleys, buying low and selling high.

One of my favorite changes to gameplay involves the cops. In Grand Theft Auto IV, if the cops saw you hijacking a car or shooting a man on his cell phone in the face for just annoying you, they’d come after you. You had two options then: fight back or flee. Fighting back generally only made things worse as you would in turn just get a higher star rating and bring about more cops. So you’d flee, driving desperately down streets and flying through alleys in hopes of losing those men in blue. In GTA: Chinatown Wars, you’re better off fighting back. That’s the main way to lower your wanted star rating, and it’s devilishly awesome to swerve one way and force a cop car to crash itself into a wall, its siren dying out with a whimper. Makes the chases really exciting and nerve-enducing, especially when trying to complete a mission or make it home to your HQ.

There’s actually a lot more to talk about here, like how awesome the PDA is and how much better it is than a cell phone, but I’ll save it for another day.

Usually there’s one mission in every Grand Theft Auto game that gets me to quit. In Vice City, it was one that involved racing a boat. Gah. Hopefully one of those sorts doesn’t pop up here, but for some reason, even if it did, I suspect I’d eventually be able to overcome it and just keep on keeping on.

P.S. Bonus points awarded to anyone that can name the awesome human being that said those words in the pic above. Don’t Google it, ya bums!

Planning out the next set of purchases

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time and money and videogames. Because, as most of us know, they all go hand-in-hand with each other. You need money to play games; you need time to play games. You also most likely need a job, but the Catch 22 of that is if you have a job, you have less time, but more money.

To be truthful, I have enough money for games, but not enough time, and that therein causes me to feel guilt about buying new games when I’ve yet to get through a good chunk of my collection. I mean, I did toss down $5.00 for six games thanks to the Humble Indie Bundle, and of them, I’ve only played a few hours of Aquaria. Haven’t even touched the others yet. Problem? Problem. Plus, I’m still working on Borderlands, Pokemon HeartGold, playing Dragon Age: Origins a second time, and a slew of other abandoned children.

Right. Chances are I’m just babbling here, but basically, I’m not going to be making a Purchase of the Month for May 2010. Generally, I allow myself to buy one new videogame–often ranging in the $30 to $40 range–each month as a reward for working hard and staying alive. However, I have more than enough on my plate right now, and there’s actually nothing terribly new calling out to me…save for Red Dead Redemption, which a lot of reviews are giving the thumbs up on. Yet…I still do not enjoy GTA IV and think maybe, just maybe, I should stay away. Who knows. I might cave over summer; I’ve always wanted to ride a donkey into the sunset.

I do, however, know with certainty some of my next purchases. And here they are:

  • June 2010: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
  • July 2010: Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
  • August 2010: ???
  • September 2010: ???
  • October 2010: Fallout: New Vegas

And that’s really all I know at this point. Nothing else on the radar. Nope, not even Fable III. Feeling kind of meh about it at this point. But I do like having a battle plan and things to look forward to…

A short spurt of success in GTA IV

Something strange happened recently; I beat a couple of missions in Grand Theft Auto IV.

Now, I had not played the game since admitting to the rage it caused me back at the end of April 2010. Other games became my distraction, and I soon lost interest in moving Niko’s revenge plot forward. But then, recently, Red Dead Redemption was released, and all the buzz about it reminded me that I really do love an open world and that Rockstar can make a decent game, and so I popped GTA IV back into my Xbox 360, totally expecting to just drive around a bit and see the sights.

But I took a chance again on that mission “Museum Piece,” which had previously caused me a lot of heartache after failing it three times. I prepared myself by loading up on ammo, grenades, and armor, and then procedded to take my time clearing out the museum. Once outside, I stayed in the park as I remembered that taking to the streets was instant death. Here’s where it got tricky…and I got lucky. I could not see the two cars trying to run me over, but they kept bashing into the park’s gated walls, and several cop cars had shown up to assess the situation. I tossed grenades like hot potatoes and took those two (of three) targets down. The third guy was on foot in the park, a shotgun in hand, but I made a mess of him quickly. Now to lose my three stars. I grabbed the car I drove to the mission with and hit the street, trying to find a Spray ‘n Pay shop. Luckily, I didn’t need it, and made it to safety before getting there. Ping, Achievement unlocked!

Impossible Trinity (10G): You completed the mission “Museum Piece”.

And then I took on the next mission from Italian Ray…and successfully completed it. And the one after that. I think at some point, I pinched myself, but all of this was happening. I was doing well!

Until I had to chase a guy on a scooter around a park…on a scooter, too. Scooters are motorcycles’ demon babies. They handle horribly, and one mess up and your target will escape with ease. Grrr. So I failed that mission…twice, saved, and shut off for the night.

Maybe I’ll wait two more weeks to play GTA IV again. I guess I gotta save up a whole bunch of success and then spend all in one shot.