I’ve been in a funk. Gaming wise that is. The excessive playing of Modern Warfare 2 and online multiplayer gaming has left me wanting. The dregs of humanity that over populate Xbox live have convinced me that the life of a gaming hermit isn’t such a bad one. So I gave it a break and made a concertive effort to delve into my ever growing pile of shame and revisit some of outstanding single player games I have let fall by the wayside.
There was an impressive list of top notch titles to choose from and left me with some hard hitting questions to answer. Should I get stuck into Fallout 3? Hmmm, better ease myself in. Finish off Demon’s Souls? I thought about my answer for Fallout and slapped myself. Break open the plastic on Mass Effect? Nah! It probably needs far more attention and concentration than I’d be willing to give it in my current mood. I needed something light but immersive. I needed something I knew I could invest my precious gaming time into and not feel wasted. And then it hit me like an alcoholics moment of clarity. It was so simple. I needed to get back to Liberty city.
Now I’d finished GTA4 a long time ago and like many had eagerly bought the first downloadable content, The lost and damned, played it briefly and left it sitting on the sidelines of my hard drive like some 1.7gb ginger kid who never got picked for the team but had a note saying “some day son, some day.”
About now you may be wondering about the title (that’ll be explained later) or just what exactly I’m trying to get at. Well it’s not a review or anything like that. It’s just simple praise for the intricate majesty and brilliance of the city that Rockstar has created in Liberty City, a world that once your in there has the ability to motivate, inspire, excite, shock, raucously laugh your ass off and reaffirm your faith in a medium drenched through with first person shooters, poor writing and borrowed set pieces from clichéd movies.
Not that GTA4 doesn’t have it’s big cinematic moments, it sure does. Who could forget throwing the celebrinator out of a helicopter and have Luis jump out after him, catch him mid base jump and parachute him to solid ground to see him limping and sobbing away with his own freshly procured solids smearing his trousers. Or the time Niko and the gang robbed a bank and the subsequent chase through streets and subway or Johnny fleeing from the cops on the back of a bike after a drug deal turned sour and taking out cops, armoured vans, helicopters, a petrol station or anything else that got in his way. No they have them too but they are garnered with such a level of detail and excellence that far outshine anything that tries to come close.
These are just a sample of the story driven set pieces but where the game shines for me is in the smaller detail, the cement in-between the bricks. Whether it’s the more obvious things like the radio stations spouting hilarious commentary and top class tunes or the numerous mini games littered throughout the game and the dlc right down to the minute details like the random people you can meet and help out in passing or the seamless ebb and flow of independent, organic life happening all around you.
So the next time you’re feeling blue and would like a change from the constantly numbing shooters or annually rehashed sports titles stick GTA4 in your tray and get lost in a game that has something for everyone. You can embrace your criminal side and cause mayhem on a city wide scale, nick a high performance car and go racing, meet friends and go for a spot of bowling, head to star junction and catch a show, take a train ride around the city, kick back in your apartment watching tv or head out to an internet café for coffee and a spot of surfing. You never know you might hook up with someone online or just browse through it’s social networks like ‘bleeter’ and read the hilarious bite sizes musings of Liberty Cities finest, like Gracie123 “OMG! I’m so gonna blog about my new haircut when I go home.”