Episode 16 was recorded on Sunday, June 08, 2014.
Topics: Our E3 predictions, GOG.com announces a Steam-like client, Grand Theft Auto, Bat-Nipples, and more. Click here to download the episode.
Episode 16 was recorded on Sunday, June 08, 2014.
Topics: Our E3 predictions, GOG.com announces a Steam-like client, Grand Theft Auto, Bat-Nipples, and more. Click here to download the episode.
So I’ve been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto V lately. One of my favorite things about the game is that you’re able not only to drive like a maniac and survive (most of the time), but also to fly airplanes and helicopters. I used to want to take flying lessons and daydreamed about having a private plane someday. That lasted about two weeks. My desire to take motorcycle lessons lasted more like a year, but I haven’t done that yet either…
On Twitter this week, Sam Leung of the awesome blog Cheeese Toastie and Video Games mentioned that she wanted to fly planes in real life after playing so much GTA V. It got me thinking about video games as escapism, because I love games that let me do things in-game that I can’t do in real life.
I used to think that about creative writing as well — if I can’t be a professional athlete, a singer, a world traveler, even a criminal (not that I’d want to be), I can write like I am one and live vicariously through my own stories. Video games act similarly, and I fell in love with them largely for that added level of immersion that comes from being able to “enter” a game world and navigate it. I can see it, hear it, interact with it. And through role-playing games in particular, I can be anyone I want to be… for pretend.
Virtual reality is going to make this even more impressive someday soon. There’s a danger for some that living a “second life” in a video game can feel more real or become more important than real life. However, it seems to me that for the majority of gamers, the main way video games seep into real life is when they inspire extra daydreaming.
There are some games where daydreaming is all you can do — such as in fantasy games where you have powers. Sadly, there’s just no way to recreate that in real life, so throwing fireballs and mixing love potions are adventures saved only for gaming time; they don’t carry over into the real world at all. But with games set in the real world, without anything magical or futuristic, it can be pretty tempting to do some of the in-game actions in real life. In fact, I’ve even been largely inspired by fantasy games to pick up archery in real life.
Playing GTA V, I’m able to fly planes and ride motorcycles just like I once wanted to in my spare time. For some gamers like Sam, it sounds like doing those things in-game makes them long to do them IRL as well. But for me, trying out some of the more extreme things in a fictional world is often enough. Sure, there are some things I plan to do in the real world, and virtual reality can only take you so far… but if there’s something I can’t do IRL — like carry out my two-week fantasy of flying planes — being able to enact it in video games is the perfect answer.
I might be a little late to the game as everybody goes Pokemon crazy this weekend, but lately I’ve been mildly obsessed with Grand Theft Auto V. I started playing this past weekend and ended up staying up to play into the wee hours of the morning, unable to sleep as I wanted to play just one more mission… or take Michael and Franklin out golfing, or go for another drive, or check out that last question mark on the map, or see if Lester has a mission for me…
As a sandbox-style game, GTA V has that addicting quality that other open world games like Skyrim have — something I talked about on my blog about a year ago when I got obsessed with Skyrim for the second time in my life. I don’t normally play GTA games and wasn’t sure if I would fall for it or not, but I’ve ended up loving it, and it’s fast becoming one of my favorite games ever. Here are some of the things I love about it so far…
The Driving Mechanic
Although I haven’t been a big Grand Theft Auto player in the past, one thing I’ve always admired about the series is the driving mechanic. It’s hard to find a good alternative to shooting in video games, but driving is the perfect replacement (or addition, really). Instead of shooting your way through corridors, Grand Theft Auto takes the action adventure approach with the unique focus of driving — an activity that’s dangerous, that you can fail at, that requires skill, that forces you to scan ahead and prepare for obstacles, and that’s truly fun even when you’ve done it over and over again.
GTA V brings that back with great success. Losing the cops is another great feature, as there are several approaches you can take to your getaway: such as finding a sports car and speeding away, making a lot of turns and finding an alley to hide in for a while, or switching cars to kick the cops off your scent. To be honest, I used to be a terrible driver and could barely get through GTA for that reason, but I’m finally getting it down in GTA V — and I can’t believe the amount of fun I missed out on before.
The amount of dialogue in Grand Theft Auto V is another high point for me. Early in the game’s development, Rockstar vice president Dan Houser said the script was over 1,000 pages long — and surprisingly, I’m not surprised. In addition to the cutscenes’ dialogue, there is also dialogue as two characters driving together and dialogue from the playable character as he performs a task (such as Michael bitching about being too old for this if you make him do the triathalon). When you’re playing one character and call another to hang out, there’s more dialogue (such as Trevor mildly trash-talking Michael when he invites Michael’s son Jimmy to hang out). There’s dialogue about car crashes as you’re driving. There’s dialogue when you switch from one character to another and see what the new guy is up to. There’s dialogue during main quests, side quests, random activities you can participate in like golfing. The game never feels dialogue-heavy — it’s never boring, or bogged down in words, or overly scripted — but the sheer amount of realistic conversation and monologues adds another level of verisimilitude to the experiences you go through in the game. This makes Los Santos feel like a real world, and characters interact in it and with it in ways that feel authentic.
Having three main characters also makes the game more entertaining than it would have been with one. Part of this is because this allows a balance of traits — there’s no single “perfect con man,” and each is allowed to have weaknesses that the others make up for in the team environment. It also gives you three chances to find a story that engages you as a player. I’ve been enjoying the stories to different degrees; had Franklin been the only playable character, I might have found the game less interesting than I currently do being able to spend time with my favorite character Michael.
You can also freely switch from one character to another any time you’re not in the middle of a mission — and sometimes when you are. There’s also more of an RPG feel to a game with three main characters, because it allows me to build my adventure around extra time with my favorite characters, level each the way I want in order to create a dynamic team, and play missions in a slightly different order than other players might. I can max out Michael’s skills as a pilot while others stick with Trevor. I can work more on Franklin’s shooting and leave Michael and Trevor to other skills. Although the stats for each character haven’t made a noticeable difference for me yet, being able to choose how to level each character does give me a little taste of role playing in this action adventure sandbox.
Rockstar Social Club
Rockstar Social Club has made keeping track of your game more fun than ever before, too. You can now go to the website to see how many hours you have put in with each character, stats like cars stolen or time spent on foot, missions completed, deaths — all specific to each of the three main characters so you can see to whom your game time goes. I’m sure not everyone cares about keeping track of these things, but I’ve always loved knowing details of how I spend time on sites like the music tracker last.fm. Rockstar Social Club does this for my GTA V experience, and I love reviewing my progress and knowing that it’s unique to the way I choose to play the game. Plus, you can take in-game snapshots and check them out later, which I love.
GTA Series. . .
Since I’ve been playing and enjoying GTA V so much lately, I have a series of posts about the game lined up for my blog Robo♥beat. I’m about 20 hours into the so far and know I have a long way to go, but I’ll be rolling out the posts as I complete the game this month!
With Grand Theft Auto five being released last week I have noticed a resurgence of messages and questions about whether or not I am picking the game up. Each time I respond with a simple “No, I don’t care much for the series” which earns me odd looks and the “What? Why Not?” response. Here is your chance to get the scoop on why I don’t care for the Grand Theft Auto series as a whole and why I will not be playing Grand Theft Auto 5 anytime soon. This is my attempt to clarify my reasons, a lot of people think that my not liking the series means I am talking down about it or see it as a bad game series – which isn’t true. For what they are, the Grand Theft Auto games are well done and feature a lot of great and fun aspects. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, though.
I have played all of the main games in the Grand Theft Auto series since Grand Theft Auto 3 and up to Grand Theft Auto 4. Each time I find myself giving up on the main storyline about half way through and just spending my time in the game driving around until I get bored and find another game to play. I have a strong passion for criminal justice and until just recently I planned on becoming a police officer. Because of this playing as a gangster/thug/criminal was never too appealing on a personal level. I have never been particularly comfortable with the situations the game puts the player in during the main storyline.
Of course most say that “it’s just a game” and that if uncomfortable situations or realism makes me uncomfortable I shouldn’t be playing games. I don’t think that is very fair since opinions are subjective and my dislike of realistic gang situations does not mean that I cannot like any game ever. I’m the same way with war-themed games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, the realism behind the storyline and the game’s plot is not something I am comfortable with. Until recently the country I live in was involved a war that cost thousands upon thousands of human lives, and I live in an area where gang activity is on the rise, so both of those situations are a little too close to home for me. I prefer science fiction or fantasy themed game myself, or something that doesn’t exist in the way that it is portrayed such as the criminal activity in the Batman Arkham series. Games which allow me to escape my reality are more appealing than games that force me into it in an intense way.
All that seriousness aside, there are other things I dislike about the series aside from my discomfort with the game’s storyline. One of the other main reasons that I dislike the Grand Theft Auto franchise is the fact that I tend to find the game boring in the long-term sense. Sure it’s fun to drive around and listen to music, but after a while it gets old. I have gone on rampages and gained the maximum wanted level, I have done speed runs around the city, and I have even challenged myself to be law-abiding and stop at red lights while avoiding collisions and striking pedestrians. Regardless of what I choose to do with my in-game free time I have eventually gotten bored and moved on, which I suppose has left a sour taste in my mouth.
Another reason for my disliking the series that I don’t find any of the main character in past games to be even remotely relatable or even likable, for that matter. I like games that feature relatable characters who are likable and I just can’t get into the thug life enough to get why these people are doing such awful things. I understand that not all of the characters are awful people and I’m not implying that they are poorly written, I just personally find them to be bland. Aside from a couple of other nit-picky reasons I think I have covered all the main reasons why I dislike the series. Long story short, these reasons have prevented me from purchasing Grand Theft Auto 5 and enjoying past games in the series.
I play games with a “to each his own” attitude. I may not like a game or I may find it to be offense or just bad in general, but I never judge others for liking it. What I am trying to say is that I don’t think less of people who like the Grand Theft Auto series (heck, my boyfriend likes it and I love him) and I don’t mean to offend anyone with my personal reasons for disliking the games. I feel compelled to state this due to past experienced in which I have been berated by people who misunderstand me, thinking that I am somehow threatening them or disrespecting them on a personal level. I am not trying to do either of those things, just simply expressing my opinions.
Anyway, I hope this clears up any questions in regards to why I don’t care for the Grand Theft Auto series. Of course, you can always ask me if you need further clarification and I’d be happy to help you understand. I hope all of you who purchased Grand Theft Auto 5 are having tons of fun with it, it really looks like a great game. See you next week, folks!
Earlier this week, I dipped my toes into the warm, murky waters (at least I hope it’s water) of Grand Theft Auto V. I didn’t get bit by anything or contract some terrible disease as a result, which is good, because I’m having a grand ol’ time in Los Santos. As I usually do with games that I really want to play, I previously ignored most reviews and avoided eye contact with stills from and images relating to the game – not an easy thing to do in this day and age. But of one of the things I didn’t ignore were numerous retrospectives about the GTA franchise. I knew that the game had come a long way, but having only completed a couple games in the series, I didn’t really know just how far it had traveled to get here. It was fun to read and hear about people’s experiences with various GTA games. Unfortunately, my personal favorite game of the series, Chinatown Wars, was often glossed over. In this nice video from the good people of Revision3, it isn’t mentioned once.
The midnight release of GTA V is less than four hours away, and although I’ll be waiting until my copy is mailed tomorrow, I’m preparing for some all night livestreams and YouTube watching. Thanks to the game being leaked, several people have been posting streams, videos, and pictures of the game despite Rockstar’s mission to shut them down, and I can say from watching… this game is going to be amazing. Like I’ve told other people, this is the Grand Theft Auto game I’ve always wished for, and with GTA Online launching October 1st, I’ll have plenty of time to do some single-player exploring and free roaming. Consider my social life non-existent.
For those of you planning on playing on PS3, make sure you add me in preparation for GTA Online! My PSN is PhoenixDownnn. Also, for those interested in joining a crew (particularly mine), make sure you sign up on the Social Club and make sure you add me there as well! Once GTA Online launches, I expect a lot of play time and money-making… because I want a snazzy apartment and garage to show off all my cars. Also, once GTA V gets here tomorrow, I’m planning on making a first impressions video before I write out any kind of review so make sure you keep an eye out for that. All links are listed below.
Oh and I’ll just leave this GTA V gameplay here.
GTA V comes out in eight days, and I’m kind of feeling like a kid waiting for her birthday. Time is moving way too damn slow! I have a bunch of stuff to do like bicycle riding through Los Santos, skydiving out of jets, base jumping off of buildings that I crash my jet on, finding a new jet after I crash my jet, maybe some golf when I can’t find another jet, hunting for Bigfoot because he definitely does exist (you better not tell me otherwise), and spending my hard-earned cash on properties and other things I don’t need. I also have to play some tennis. I hate tennis but I’m excited to play it. What have you done to me, Rockstar?!
Every other GTA fan is probably experiencing the same feelings I am. The sweaty palms, the stuttered speech, the awkward daydreams where you drool and you don’t realize it… oh wait, that’s just me? No it’s not! GTA V is sounding more and more like the Grand Theft Auto game I’ve always fantasized about. And I can’t even describe my excitement for GTA Online. With the exception of maybe Dragon Age: Inquisition, GTA Online is an experience I’m looking forward to above all else.
This is going to be a dream for the GTA player that enjoys the free-roaming experience outside of the storytelling. So in order to maybe relate with some of you other crazy dudes out there (I know you’re out there), here’s a list of what I’m looking forward to the most in GTA V and Online.
Apartment-buying is tough when you don’t have any money. Luckily, there will always be some type of job to do in Los Santos, which is fantastic considering I want a kick-ass place my friends can come hang out at. While we know the basic fact that apartments can be bought, I haven’t really heard much about customizing it. Can you transform the interior into a place that is unique to you? While ultimately it really doesn’t matter to me, no one else better not have the same apartment as I do, otherwise I’m going to shoot you… which is completely possible! But not everyone has to come hang out all at once! While some weird strangers may get high on my couch (it was confirmed that you can do that with screen-altering effects), the rest of you may be in an intense car chase on the news… and I can watch that with my strangers-that-may-eventually-be-friends on my television. How cool is that?
Money can be lost in GTA Online, and I’m guessing in a world where you don’t know for sure just how loyal your teammates are, this is something to worry about. ATMs and banks are a lifesaver in GTA Online where you can deposit and withdraw cash whenever you need to. What’s cool, though, is the fact that you’ll apparently have some type of credit card. Your “iFruit” phone can also help you manage your funds. Making these steps to insure your earnings is important since any cash you carry can be stolen if you die. What’s also interesting is the moral decisions you and other players can make. If you and I decide to rob a liquor store and I’m the one carrying the cash when we masterfully escape the police, I can choose how to divide that. Since I’m a nice person (unless you’re a douche), I’ll probably dish out a 50/50 split. However someone else might choose to take the money and run. Or if you’re the one carrying the dough, I could just kill you and run off with it. That’s just how it works.
This sounds weird, doesn’t it? But I have a feeling it’s going to be extremely important. From what I’ve heard, GTA Online tries to motivate you to legally purchase your vehicle, and while this is something I plan on doing, I know how the world works. Some douchebag with a rocket launcher is going to run by and blow it up… or steal it. But fortunately, with car insurance, you’re covered and can have it replaced. Small qualities like this makes the world seem a lot more (kind of) realistic. Y’know, in a crime-filled kind of realistic way. In addition to insurance, you can also hire your own personal $50 a day repair man. Supposedly he’ll repair your car as well as deliver it to you no matter where you’re at. Unfortunately he won’t touch stolen cars, which brings me to my next topic…
Crime is key in any GTA game and obviously GTA Online isn’t going to be any different. If I see a nice car on the street, I can attempt to steal it. What’s interesting is that you can mod your stolen car (change the look, plates, etc.), but unfortunately some places won’t touch stolen cars, and if the police catch you with stolen plates, you’ll end up in trouble. Which in my case normally happens quite often. Car customization, however, is going to be awesome. I’ve actually recently returned to San Andreas just for the sake of nostalgia, and the customization really makes the game shine– even as outdated as it is. Being able to directly influence your cars and your character is always a nice touch… but now it’s going to be nice to customize my own personal avatar.
I was immediately interested by GTA Online’s character creation. While not too much has been revealed, the idea is certainly a cool thought. DNA is what the character creator focuses on. So instead of just choosing certain looks and attributes, you will have to pick certain traits that your parents have in a hereditary-based creation system, and then use a gene dominance meter to kind of tweak which parent you take after the most. What I’m just finding out, however, is that your character will have a life outside of your playtime.
For example, you’ll be able to customize your daily activities which will ultimately impact your character’s appearance and skills. You may be a gym maniac or a couch potato or a routine criminal, and those details with affect who your character is. But while your character may build certain skills that way, you’ll be able to manually rank up during gameplay.
This is all just a small taste of what I’m looking forward to in GTA V/Online (I can ramble about it all day). What are you looking forward to? If you’re planning on getting it, what system will you be playing it on?
For those of you planning on playing it on the PS3, make sure you add me (PSN: PhoenixDownnn) so we can cause some chaos when GTA Online drops.