GTA 5, I mean 4

So, I haven’t been keeping up with GTA 5, but Rev3Games did an impressions video, then Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo did his thoughts, both based on a recent demo, and it got me interested.  Supposedly this game will allow for these heists, giving you some sort of goals, where one character needs to get, say, masks and another might do the job to procure the get away vehicle…it all seemed really interesting, right?

So I decided to purchase GTA 4, and this is my first impression.  Supposedly the new game will have better firing mechanics, it better because GTA 4 is unworkable.  Similarly driving is such a problem for those games, while other franchises can provide a consistent experience with driving GTA is really the odd man out with it’s insistence that there be lots of terrible cars to drive, and few decent vehicles.  This is making me feel like in all likelihood there really isn’t any way for GTA to survive in the modern gaming world.

When I was younger, high school age, GTA 3 & Vice City came out.  These were fun, but problematic, gaming GTA experiences.  Back then there really wasn’t anything else in the console market like it.  Obviously that isn’t the case any more.

The really standout experience for me was a race, early in the game there was a race, I couldn’t beat it….so I couldn’t progress the story.  That was probably lucky for me, GTA stories suck.  But thanks to the codes I could still get the weapons that wouldn’t be available until the end and rampage through the streets.  I don’t know if any other game franchise got so much good will due to cannabis, but GTA was definitely helped by that.

A major problem for the GTA series is that “sandbox” isn’t quite as unique as it once was. Fallout or Skyrim are technically sandbox games, while Far Cry 3 also achieves this standard, but in these games the actual mechanics genuinely work. Skyrim has an entire magic system, upgrading system for weapons, all that sort of stuff, Far Cry 3 has only a few vehicles, but they’re all great, with only 2 or 3 vehicles that suck on purpose. These games have an open world where everything works, GTA doesn’t really have that.

 

Playing GTA 4 is really depressing for me, on a personal level. Shooting is terrible, driving is terrible, missions are the worst kind of boring. In the beginning of the game every mission is a tutorial for something, like say climbing a ladder, but the game’s ability to decide you’re trying to climb a ladder is so bad I wonder how most of the skyscrapers were built that dot the landscape. The game’s controls are terrible. Layouts for driving vs. on foot, different controls for combat using melee or ranged fighting, it’s just a mess. The game falls apart under the weight of everything.

 

So it drives me nuts when I look up GTA 4 on IGN and it’s got a 10/10. I understand the graphics were considered fine at the time, but having somebody give me a negative reputation because I don’t answer the phone because I just got to where a mission is, that’s not 10/10 material. Rockstar is one of those companies that’s a vestige of when consoles first had disc drives. Sadly, they continue releasing new versions of games like Max Payne, which weren’t that good at the time and don’t deserve un-skippable cut-scenes now.

 

As I started playing GTA 4 the relationship system hit me first, well that and the cel phone they give you, and the internet cafe stuff, that wouldn’t be working in a game now. But, they give you a phone and say call your friend, who happens to be awful, and hang out. That’s Grand Theft Auto, building up rep with people. Next, it started in with the “missions” and I have to say this is a detriment, GTA has never met a mission it didn’t like. What, you don’t want to keep doing tutorial missions? Too bad, we’ve got 6 more. It happened in the older games and it will continue.

 

So when I see these interviews and impressions from demos they are giving for GTA 5, it’s even more underwhelming. I never cared for GTA, like I said after the mission I couldn’t get past there was no real need to sign up for that torture over again…Trying GTA 4, it’s a clusterfuck. Now the landscape is dotted with open world games, sandbox games, all sorts of games that have already taken the crown from Rockstar. The idea of doing heists, that the game will some how transcend having to drive through traffic multiple times to complete missions, that’s not really that interesting. In a way GTA is like paying to drive through traffic, yeah you get to speed and pass red lights, but that only matters because they have the stupid traffic in the first place.

 

On another note, the games are full of radio stations and skits on these stations, or music…basically the type of thing thats interesting for a day, but gets old quick. I doubt the new game will be that much better. I think, with regards to GTA 4, they made a lot of mistakes, from an ugly interface to terrible tutorials, to bad mission flow and a dumb main character/silly world. Instead, the next game will probably have 3 dumb characters, probably won’t ditch the interface, but…well…Vinewood is LA, it’s going to be an even more silly world. With 3 main characters there’s a chance one of the guys will be likable, so they have that. But at the end of the day, it’s going to be a GTA game, a game that doesn’t have mechanics easily tested and developed. A lot of their missions are hard because of the traffic, and my playthough of a mission might be worse than yours because of this. But if they actually do have decent controls, that would solve a lot of problems with regards to combat…

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