Most of you who care enough to read this know that I took some time off to focus on some other life issues. They still aren’t entirely sorted out, but in the mean time I bought GTA4 for 20 bucks on Steam (I know, 4 years too late), and I had to write something about it.
I’m not even done with it yet.
And I hate it.
Because it sucks.
Full disclosure: I just opened up the third island, but most of the things I was worrying about were confirmed by a few google searches.
Let’s be fair here: Why does it not suck?
Well it doesn’t suck because it’s very very pretty, even on my sadly dated machine.
It doesn’t suck because of the voice acting, which in general is very good.
It doesn’t suck because of the new canon from the 3 series, though that’s not really a good thing either. I’m kind of meh about it.
Why does it suck?
I have 290 thousand dollars in my wallet. Granted that’s not a fuckton in modern day New York by any means, but still. It’s a lot of money. It kind of makes the fact that Nico’s willing to do all this shitty work for all these shitty people just because he ‘needs the money’ – WHICH by the way he feels the need to state in every mission cutscene – kind of dumb sounding. There is nothing to spend this money on. I can’t buy a better house with a bigger garage. I can’t pointlessly custom up my cars. All I can do is buy guns, ammo (which has a maximum so even that won’t touch my wallet) and suits (which are very disappointing since I can’t use the white suit jacket with a dress shirt and tie).
I don’t know why I feel this way, but the missions feel like they lack variety. I don’t care about them after like the first 20.
Why did they include a cover system? Cover systems are the dumbest invention in gaming in the past decade. I hate them. I don’t use them and I feel like I do better in the missions because of it. They’re dumb. Full stop.
Driving physics are retarded. They are not more realistic. They’re more retarded.
The stupid toll booth on the way to the 2nd safe house. WHY IS THIS IN THE GAME?
The stupid little island just south of the 2nd safe house where Little John goes to sell his guns. There is only one way on and off this island and it makes no sense. There’s got to be some sort of freeway code thing here.
Those are the main reasons it sucks. The top one being by far the most important. Also the 2nd one. And the 3rd and the 4th.
Here’s where I’ll go off and turn a game people seem to like into one that I would like, because I like dumb games apparently:
I want things to matter.
I shouldn’t get a 1 star wanted level for killing someone. I should get a 1 star wanted level for not going the speed limit. There should be a button to switch from maxing your speed at the limit, to maxing it at the top speed of the car. Rock Star does a fairly amazing job with traffic lights and patterns of NPCs, and it’s hard to see that when you’re going full speed everywhere. Worse still, because of the way the in game clock works, in a lot of missions, it’s impossible to treat it like real life where if you were running away from a crime, your best option would be to blend in and drive normal, not to careen like a maniac past traffic hitting everyone along the way.
This goes to the above kind of, but I want my cars to matter. Sitting in front of my apartment I have a Stallion and a PMP 600. A Vintage Mustang and a Chrysler 300/Caddilac style thing if you want to use real life terms. Both cars that appeal to me in real life, both cars that appeal to me in the game. I never take them out of my parking space because I don’t want to lose them. I can’t take them on my missions because most missions you end up losing your car whether it makes sense to or not (sometimes they just disappear). Repairing cars should be expensive and time consuming, and the police should be Lojacking every modern car that gets stolen. It should be hard to drive around in a stolen car. Tech should be in place to make sure that if you park a car in a legal place, it should be there when you get back assuming you aren’t spending days away. Missions should be designed around the fact that you don’t want to lose your car because it’s a pain in the ass and expensive to get a new one. Being given a choice between spending 30 grand on a car and protecting it, or stealing one and having to dodge the cops at every turn, THAT makes for interesting criminal decisions.
Having to choose specifically how you want to dispose of the guy you just hit for the mafia to make sure it doesn’t get back to you is an interesting criminal decision.
Having to choose whether to lay low by renting a shitty apartment paying cash each month or buying a big mansion with money from an offshore account is an interesting criminal decision.
Blindly following writing that doesn’t make sense, doing the exact opposite of what my character (which isn’t even my character) told me they want to do is not interesting. (On that note, Female protagonists, please. Or go real sandbox and let me make my own)
Now here’s the thing. A lot of these same arguments could be leveled against older GTA games. But I didn’t hate those. So that’s a fair point. The thing is they are OLDER GTA games. Technology was limited back then. Gaming was limited. It’s like watching a vintage movie say 1948′s “The Red Shoes”. It’s a relic by today’s standards and it shows. But it was absolutely groundbreaking as far as special effects are concerned and it’s still an amazing movie. But if it – as it is exactly – was made today? It would suck. Because we’ve gotten better at making movies.
We should have gotten better at making games. Not just making them pretty. Clearly Rock Star is owning that shit. But making them good. Making them immersive. Making them not suck.
Dear STEAM: I want my 20 bucks back.