Tag Archives: GTA

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!

Admitting to videogame rage

I think it’s official: Grand Theft Auto IV makes me videogame rage. Not like this or this, mind you, but it seriously gets on my nerves and even has gotten me uttering phrases like “Oh come on!” and “Fuuuuck!” when alone in my apartment. That’s not a good sign. Just ask my neighbors.

Last night, I spent 40 minutes on a single mission–it’s called “Museum Piece” and it involves escaping a museum heavy with enemies and then avoiding further detection from them once outside in the public park–and then failed thanks to unclear directions. Inside the mansion, I meticulously took out every goon shooting a gun my way, a process which took some patience and a lot of crouching.  I’d already previously failed the mission for running blindly around a corner and was not going to let that happen yet again. But it was worth it because I had a full thing of body armor still and was ready to venture outside.

So I exited the park in hopes of hi-jacking a car for getaway purposes. My original ride got blown to bits from a tossed grenade. I don’t get three steps across the street before two black cars zoom by and run me over. As Niko slowly gets to his feet after this traumatic event two goons pump shotgun blasts into him. Body armor and health vanish instantly.

When you die, you are revived back at the hospital and pay a small fee. Not only that, but all the ammo I used on the mission is gone, as well as that 40 minutes of my time. I can restart via a text message or reload to at least get my ammo back. Neither option sounds appetizing after all that worthless work.

Seeing as I’ve done several posts on GTA IV and my hating on it, some might be wondering why I keep playing. It’s simple. I’m a masochist. Also, I bought the game with hard-earned money (eh, it was $12.00 used)  so I might as well experience it.

Honestly, I’ve never griped about so much in a single game before. I could go on for days about GTA IV‘s faults. For instance, why did Rockstar design the Xbox 360 controls to be horrible? You press Y to steal a vehicle, but if you want to say take a tour or cab ride…you hold Y. But if you don’t press it down hard and fast enough, guess what? You just stole a helicopter and taxi cab when you were just trying to play the game. Fun, fun, fun dumb. Why not instead, just like when you want to buy a hot dog or soda, press the left bumper? WHY NOT?!

I enjoy Liberty City’s openess and the sandbox potential, but maybe I just have to take off the blinders and see GTA IV for what it is: not a game for me. The mission structure and harshness of lost time, money, and bullets for failure is just too punishing. Maybe Saint’s Row is more up my alley?

Grand Theft Auto IV is so stingy with its Achievements

I’ve obviously not played a ton of Xbox 360 games, but the ones in my small collection certainly handed out Achievements much more…favorably than Grand Theft Auto IV at this point. The game is just simply stingy over them, and I’ve been playing for a decent amount of hours and have only unlocked14 of 65 Achievements. Three of these are story-based. That’s a pretty small number considering the many missions I’ve gone through already. The rest are a mix of mini-game skills, online multiplayer, and miscellaneous tasks done within Liberty City.

I guess I’m just surprised there’s not more random-based Achievements. I mean, it’s a sandbox game. The sky’s the limit. Here’s some I thought of that I’d have totally unlocked already:

Busybody (15G): Ignored 50 phone calls from your friends.

Bombs Away (20G): Blew yourself up with a grenade. Try throwing it next time.

Good Samaritan (50G): Obeyed all traffic laws for ten straight blocks. Red lights have nothing on you.

Bump That Ride (30G): Accidentally bump into 30 cop cars, wasting time losing your wanted level immediately after.

StairMaster (10G): Knock someone down a set of stairs and into someone else.

The Shocker (15G): Steal a car with a female driver and immediately switch the radio to ElectroShock.

Ha. Rockstar, if you’re reading, I’m available for freelancing!

Yeah, those kind of Achievements would be right up my alley. Silly, but doable. Most you wouldn’t even have to think about. One of the big reasons I’m not unlocking a lot of Achievements in GTA IV at the moment is because I’m actively going after Liberty City Minute (30G, Complete the story missions in less than 30 hours.), which is probably not going to happen since I’ve failed missions a lot and didn’t reload. Plus, I’m watching all the cutscenes. After that I’ll go after some of the, um, easier (?) Achievements. Like surviving a six-star wanted level for five minutes. Oh boy.

I guess, in the end, these Achievements really do earn their namesake, but I dunno…the game doesn’t need to be so stringent over ’em. Give a few more out for playing the game and less for being hardcore insane over it, I say.

Try, try, try again with GTA IV until I go bonkers

Irrefutably, the most frustrating aspect of Grand Theft Auto IV is failing a mission. It’s not over the feeling of being let down or the confusion about where one went wrong. It’s just simply torture: after failing a GTA IV mission, you are given the chance to try again (uh, thanks, magical cell phone!), and while this sounds nice and easy, it’s not…because some missions have you starting on one island and driving to another, a trek which could take anywhere from five to ten minutes. This is pretty tiring after you just did it all previously, especially when all you want to do is complete the mission and keep the story flowing. Fail another time, and it’s back to driving, paying tolls, avoiding cop cars. And again. And again. Until you get it right. Or turn off the game and have some ice cream.

Currently, I’ve failed Dwayne’s mission “Undress to Kill” more than five times. In this one, you drive to a strip club, putz about until you identify three managers, and are then tasked to take them out. The problem is, once you kill one manager, everyone in the club pulls out a gun and you’re left to try and survive. If you don’t plan well and move fast, it’s over quickly. One time I was able to live long enough to kill the second manager, but the third escaped in a car and when I jetted out the back entrance it was right into the (not so) loving arms of the law.

I’d really prefer to beat all the story missions and such first so I can fart around the world without being bothered by drug dealers, ex-convicts, and jerky cousins. Alas, until I can get past some of these missions (there’s another one involving cocaine, an abandoned hospital, and cops giving me grief), that won’t ever happen.

Liberty City, Home of the Minigames

I’ve been playing a bit of Grand Theft Auto IV recently. It’s a massive game, truly elephantine, and that’s kind of amazing to think about considering I’ve only experienced one island so far. There’s driving and escorting and TV watching and potential girlfriends and clothing shops and and and…minigames!

What? I’m a sucker for them, which is beyond clear when one sees that three out of my seven first unlocked Achievements are the following:

Pool Shark (10G): You beat a friend at pool.

King of QUB3D (15G): You beat the high score in QUB3D.

One Hundred and Eighty (10G): You scored 180 with 3 darts.

That’s right. Niko visited Liberty City, and all he got was this lousy t-shirt were some mediocre minigames. Only one I haven’t tackled yet is the bowling Achievement for three strikes in a row. But I will, oh yes, I will.

But yeah, the minigames aren’t really anything to write home about. I was looking forward to pool the most because I have oddly always enjoyed Flash-based pool games and such. Here, however, it was extremely difficult to tell solids from stripes, and lining up shots was frustrating, as well as determining power and angles. I did, however, unlock the achievement properly by sinking the eight ball, but I know it can also be earned by your opponent scratching at the end. Doubt I’ll go back and play pool, even if it is my date’s favorite activity ever. She’ll just have to learn to love something else. Like drive-by shootings?

That said, the missions, so far, are okay. Pretty GTA standard. Haven’t done many though, just a few side gigs for Roman and F-bomber Vlad. Love the cell phone integration. Can’t really control cars too well. When it rains, it’s just amazing looking and I want to steal someone’s umbrella and go for a stroll. And lastly, mopeds for life!