|GRAND THEFT WHINER, THE
Comic Updated September 10, 2008
All right, last entry complaining about GTA 4,
I promise. This is gameplay nitpicking, which is probably the pettiest complaint
I have, because the gameplay's very near to the best shooting and driving
experience you're going to get without playing a dedicated FPS or racer.
Wont stop me, though. Here goes!
My big issue with GTA4's open-world gameplay --
that is, your walkin'-or-drivin'-around, off-mission, off-activity, all by
your lonesome gameplay -- does not have enough options to allow you to play
the character of Niko as the designers have established him.
I'll try to explain without slipping into the
confused mess that my explanations generally become.
Niko, as presented through the storyline, is a
world-weary, war-weary career criminal trying to pick up the pieces
of his existence while constantly beset by ghosts of his past. He does not
enjoy killing, but is nihilistically convinced that the culmination of his
past sins have rendered him, in effect, soulless, and thus unlikely
to get any more damned than he currently is. Despite all this, he's a thoughtful
character, and frequently expresses a desire to live a normal -- and, one
presumes, more-or-less law-abiding -- life.
So, when he sets foot outside his door every day,
what's he carrying as he struggles with his inner demons to make the right
decisions in his wasted life? Nothing but a mobile phone. Oh, and enough
ordinance to turn half the city into a mushy paste.
And that's really the problem -- not that he HAS
the guns; of COURSE he needs the guns, this is GTA we're talking about. But
he doesn't have anything BUT the guns. I realize I'm probably not being
very clear on what, exactly, I'm complaining about, so lemme put it
this way: Liberty City is filled with a million or so people, and the ONLY
possible gameplay interaction Niko can have with the vast majority of them
is, well... to kill 'em. There are several ways to kill 'em. You can run
'em over, beat 'em to death with a baseball bat, shoot 'em, blow 'em up,
set 'em on fire, and a variety of other, more-clever methods owing to GTA's
exceptional physics engine.
What you can't do is tell 'em "Hello," or acknowledge
their conversation in any way (Even San Andreas' CJ had the ability to respond
positively or negatively to comments from passers-by). You can't call a random
guy off the street and challenge him to a race, or help a stranded motorist
fix their car. You can't sell people stolen watches, or even pickpocket 'em.
If you're walking on a random street and you stop on the sidewalk and want
to interact with the game environment in some way -- any way -- 99 times
out of one hundred, your only recourse is violence.
Rockstar did not set up Niko Bellic to be a sawed-off
psychopath. Unfortunately, if you're looking for full interactivity in your
game -- which is generally the point of a game -- you have no real choice
but to play as one. And for a guy as narrative-concerned as myself, that's
a major failing, and definitely something to work to address in the next
iteration. Don't just give the player weapons, give 'em tools.
I mean, you can still brain a guy with a screwdriver,
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