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Grand Theft Auto IV

May 2, 2008

Ok so before anyone forms any opinion right off of the bat, I have not played the game yet. I have rented it but literally not had the time in the last two days. I have been doing a lot of reading up on it and this is part of why I allowed myself to rent the game in the first place.

Most of what you hear (unless like me you listen to more game-centric media) is that GTA is riddled with sex, drugs, hookers, extreme gratuitous violence etc. While I am sure that is true those are not the reasons I am going to explore this game. I am more interested in the technology of this game. First there is a new type of physics engine that has me very intrigued. Watch the demo of it here if you are technically inclined.

Also there are the reviews. I have not played the other GTA games, primarily because they do not interest me and because of the immediate box in which you get placed if you say that you do ie an immoral, violence crazed youth with no sense of decency. However, after reading reviews like the one over at Wired, the sheer magnitude of what Rockstar has gone after appeals to me on different levels beyond just the gaming but actually on a social/cultural commentary level. Here is an excerpt from that review:

The Rockstar developers are utterly in love with the idea of the American city: the riot of decay and grandeur, the garish commercialism, the violence and beauty, the architectural delights hidden in every corner. With GTA IV, Rockstar has produced an ode to urban life. Which is to say, they’re not really giving you a game to play with — they’re giving you a city.

Now it certainly ups my level of enthusiam that the city is The City. New York City. Seriously, does it get any better than this. Satire, free roaming, insane levels of detail and New York City.

Finally, there is the level of enthusiam that a game community has for a major release. This happened with Halo 3 on many fronts but just the power of the internet combined with people’s willingness to put information out there can be a pretty powerful force. For an example of something really cool check out the Liberty City Google Map complete with the discovered points of interest. 

So am I going to go out and do every single simulated sin imaginable or allowed by the game simply because there are no consequences? Certainly not. Am I going to probably drive a motorcycle up onto a roof and jump it over to another building? Heck yeah. Jump out of helicopters? Yes. Play cops and robbers in online multi-player? I have been waiting for years to do that. Will this game warp me into something that I am not? I am assuming not. Will I be able to enjoy a brand new technological breakthrough and be able to relate better on some level with the youth culture that I am trying to influence? Yes. Game Over.

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