i played it for a while before going to sleep last night. i started by heading to my wardrobe to fiddle around with my character’s outfit for about 15 minutes (i always loved the paper doll aspect of this game, and it’s a lot more advanced than it was in VC), then went outside and shot a few random people before hopping into my rhino tank parked under an overpass. i turned my turret around so that it was facing behind the tank, then accelerated forward while firing behind me to increase speed. i rampaged my way to my airstrip, where i got out of the tank and got into a harrier jet, which conveniently has a radio. i turned it to the deep house station and listened to some guy sing about living in harmony while i unleashed fiery death upon the denizens of las vegas (i forget what it’s called in-game). eventually i make the mistake of flying over area 51 (forgot its in-game name too) and i almost get shot down but i bail out in time, except i forget how to work my parachute and end up splatting on the ground.
why san andreas over gta3 or vice city? well, it’s just better, but i guess that isn’t as self-evident as i thought. gameplay-wise it makes the others seem hopelessly crude, ‘fixing’ a lot of the simple issues that would jar you out of the game experience – swimming, jumping, targeting, car physics, camera, etc. (this stuff is a big deal, because it makes the game that much more playable!) its range of environments makes vice city seem monochrome and monotonous (vice city feels really cramped to me, and there’s no range as far as what it evokes – it just makes you feel like a drug lord from beginning to end), the writing’s at its funniest and most interesting, the missions are amazing and the voice acting owns (the gta games are the only ones where celebrity v/o make sense)
some things i didn’t like about it:
-not enough options after you finish the game – it would’ve been nice if you could’ve had the option to replay any mission from the game (there’s some amazing set-piece missions in this game), or at least be able to initiate gang-wars again
-cutting off some songs early, meaning no monster breakdown on Rusty Cage and no sick instrumental section of Freebird ;_;
-wardrobe interface pretty clunky and slow
-it pushes the limits of the ps2 and out of neccessity the draw distance is very low, making things difficult when you’re piloting the high speed harrier
those are extremely nit-picky and are basically the only things i could possibly hold against the game. something i keep coming back to when i think about san andreas is, funnily enough, something s1ocki said about goodfellas once – talking about the scene where sorvino slices garlic with a razor blade, he simply says ‘there’s nothing else like that.’ well, there’s nothing else in gaming like san andreas. except maybe gta4 but i havent played it and i heard it was boring anyway plus it’s on another system so who cares. i mean, gta’s main legacy is probably the proliferation of sandbox games, but i can’t think of a single game in that style that reminds me at all of gta, especially san andreas – nothing with the ambition or the ability to see that ambition through. i mean, nobody else even WANTS to make a game where you can fly a jetpack, murder cops with a dildo, get into dofgights 2 thousand feet above the ground while listening to wreckx-n-effect, decide between a caesar and a fade – let alone TRIES.
That basically how I break it down to an extent.
104 points, 10 votes, 3 TOP GAME votes
Mordy: This lacks the emotional punch of Fallout 3, or even the sympathetic protagonist of Violet: A Distraction, but GTA IV was still the most ambitious, mainstream game to come out this year. I have to imagine that forcing 13 year old trash-talkers to think about morality (and mortality) can’t be bad. Maybe Rockstar is really a subversive Kantian think tank trying to trick kids into playing Mafia games that are really about the immigrant experience.
Jeff Levine: Say what you will, it’s an amazing technical achievement.
Iroquois Pliskin: The single richest, most culturally detailed and vibrant environment created for a video game, and one of the most ambitious as well, on a narrative level.
Polyphonic: A very disappointing game, especially after the embarrassing overpraise that preceded its release. But this is also the game I played the most this year, and it isn’t without its pleasures. If the first GTA game released on the 360 is meant to solve the basic issues of marrying the GTA world with the physics and graphical capability of next-gen systems, hopefully the second game will provide the fun and depth that Vice City and San Andreas provided to the template of GTA III.
Jamescobo: The Journey alone commands points.
Coint & Plick 2009 #18: Grand Theft Auto 4: Episodes From Liberty City – The Lost and the Damned/The Ballad of Gay Tony
55 points, 4 votes, .5 TOP GAME vote
Antexit: I doubt this will get many votes, but I’m giving it the points I didn’t give GTA4 last year. If there were a few more things to buy and a little more diversity in the fun shit you can do, the three games taken together would be pretty close to what I was hoping GTA4 would be– let’s hope the next GTA is more like these two and less like their pretentious older brother. It’s the best game starring a Jewish biker I’ve played this year.
Ste: On the Gay Tony story front, I love it. The dialogue and all the characters are well done. But FFS the animations are so sluggish sometime. GET IN THE FUCKING BOAT QUICKER!!
Stevie: The club seems fun as fuck and the characters are a lot more likable and charismatic than in the previous two iterations.
24 points, 2 votes
GM: It’s actually my favorite GTA thus far. None of those clunky controls to slow things down.
Cozwn: So many little touches in this game make it much better, for my money, than GTA IV. I love the dealing; I’m loaded. Sold $17k of heroin in one deal.
Haitch: I’m only a couple hours in but this is pretty good! I really like the hot-wiring element.
If: I have never played GTA before, but some combination of the setting and format got me to try this one and it’s really great fun! I think the mad taxi dashes are the best part, though setting up lucrative drug deals is also great.