Ok, the post-per-day thing lasted for over a month. That’s pretty good I guess, but I won’t be maintaining it. Can’t be bothered. But I shall continue to make regular posts, until I get bored of the whole thing and quit entirely. Which could happen at any time, so stay tuned!
Back in the day, I was a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto games. I started with GTA III on the computer, sinking a lot of time into that one. I played Vice City on my sister’s PlayStation 2, and it was OK – I liked the motorcycles – but I didn’t like it quite as much as III. I got San Andreas for my XBox and sunk hundreds of hours into it, completing every mission I could, buying all the clothes, stealing all the cars, dating all the women, et cetera. I didn’t finish the model airplane missions, but I think that’s it. San Andreas is one of my all-time favorite video games.
Anyhow, I finally got around to trying out GTA IV. It was on sale with Episodes from Liberty City on Steam for like 7 bucks, so I bought it. Better late than never, I guess. After the majesty of San Andreas, I had high hopes for the game. It’s good, but kind of a letdown. Here’s a breakdown:
- The voice acting has gone downhill. They got some awesome radio DJs – Iggy Pop, Juliette Lewis, Max Cavalera, Jason Sudekis, Karl Lagerfeld for some reason – but the characters are voiced by actors I’ve never heard of. San Andreas had a much bigger voice-acting budget.
- The story, early on, is pretty horrible. The Russian mob boss guy kidnaps Niko and Roman and shoots Roman in the stomach. One or two missions later, the matter of Niko’s loyalty comes into question, and Niko says in the blackest of ultra-srs tones, “Don’t you ever question my loyalty.” Which doesn’t make sense, because the guy shot Roman in the stomach earlier that day. Of course the guy would suspect Niko’s loyalty, and of course Niko would have no reason to be loyal yet.
- Unless he’s some kind of Russian-gangster polyglot, there’s no goddamn way Niko could understand Little Jacob’s profoundly-thick Jamaican patois. I’m a native English speaker familiar with the accent, and even I didn’t catch over half of it. I had to shake my head when Niko looked to Jacob to translate Badman’s rambling. It’s like you’re English and some guy is speaking Spanish at you, so you turn to your translator who translates it into Arabic.
- The cars seem much more difficult to control. All cars lean excessively while cornering. Basically every car spins out of control with even the lightest application of the handbrake. This makes most driving missions an exercise in frustration. Part of that might be my controller, but from what I can tell, Logitech Dual Action game pads are really really close to PlayStation controllers. I use the gamepad for driving, but I use the mouse & keyboard for walking because the gamepad is awkward, inaccurate and ungainly for walking.
- WAAAAY too many cops. They’re everywhere and see everything, and they’re goddamn relentless.
- They removed all the RPG-like aspects, customization and collections. No exercise machines, no getting fat from eating too much Cluckin’ Bell, no learning muay thai or kung fu, no running around in a goalie mask and boxing shorts with hearts on them beating up old ladies with a giant pink dildo you stole from a shower in the police station downtown. No converting your hoopty bucket into a stylin’ low-rider. No buying up expensive homes and cramming the garages full with sweet custom rides and monster trucks and motorcycles. There are three clothing stores, but the clothes are all tame and kind of boring and you can’t change Niko’s hairdo or cover him in crazy prison tats. You can make him look like a crazy police-sketch murderer guy, but in that “scary because he looks normal but totally isn’t” way.
I’ve been playing GTA IV quite a bit over the past 10 days (since the last entry), and also LotRO, SWTOR and a new one called RaiderZ. The past 10 days have been a blur of gaming and horrible weather. And It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. That show is goddamn hilarious. Breakdown!:
- Danny DeVito’s Frank is spectacularly degenerate. He starts out sleazy, but as the show goes on, he gets more and more depraved. His hair grows longer and more dishevelled as he gets more debased and animalistic. Danny DeVito is always awesome, but Frank Reynolds is fucking inspired.
- Charlie Kelly is the “heart” of the gang, their moral compass. He’s also learning disabled and huffs glue and solvents, and the group sees him as their “Wild Card.”
- Dennis Reynolds is savagely narcissistic and sociopathically self-centered. He clearly sees himself as the leader of the gang and completely fails to realize he is just as horrible, pathetic and idiotic as all the rest of them.
- Sweet Dee Reynolds is tragic and needy, but, like her twin brother Dennis, fails to see herself in a wider context as a horrible, pathetic moron. Despite being the frequent butt of everyone’s jokes, barbs, cruel and petty ignorance and just plain hostile insults.
- Mac is just as blind to his own deep and abiding flaws as the Reynolds twins. He sees himself as the “sheriff of Paddy’s Pub” – a martial arts expert akin to Patrick Swayze in Road House multiplied by Lorenzo Lamas to the power of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. In his own mind, he is the ultimate authority on everything badass. In fact, he’s pretty much just a complete asshole.
- The recurring characters are awesome. The McPoyle brothers are creepy, house-coat wearing, milk-drinking, incestuous freaks. Artemis is a flamboyantly crass Bohemian, a friend of Dee’s from her acting classes, and the only associate of the Gang that hasn’t had her life turned into trash because of them. Matthew “Rickety Cricket” Mara, on the other hand, starts out as a respectable Catholic priest who refuses to bless the Gang’s water-stain Virgin Mary image, and winds up a ringworm-infested street rat who pickpockets jewellery after the gang grinds his life into toxic sludge. The Waitress has been ground through the ringer on a number of occasions, and has had sex with every male main character except Charlie, who has a deep and hopeless crush on her.
Aside from being incredibly funny in a very dark way, this show has essentially no redeeming qualities. The characters are loathsome and foul – they huff solvents, get addicted to crack, sleep with prostitutes and prostitute themselves, use and manipulate other people (including one another, quite often) for their own selfish reasons, and clearly see themselves as “upper crust” types when they are quite obviously the lowest sort of disgusting human filth. Frank is the only one that sees how vile and depraved The Gang really is, and he embraces it heartily.
This is not a feel-good show. And the thing that makes it so awesome is, the worse the characters become, the funnier it gets. Frank in season 7 – particularly in the Intervention episode – is the most hilariously depraved beast I’ve ever seen on TV. Blazing a J at the funeral of his ex-sister-in-law’s husband, planning to bed the fresh widow but eventually sleeping with her horrid daughter (technically his niece) instead, roaming around drunk in suburban streets gargling beer all over himself, attempting to fire up another spliff at his own intervention. That’s one episode, son. There’s also “underground luaus” with the friends he met “under the bridge,” pooping the bed (which he shares with Charlie) more than once because “poop is funny,” his bizarre fascination with eggs, and, of course, Rum Ham.
If you’ve never seen the show, look it up on Vimeo. They have full episodes there, which get taken down when they go up on YouTube. Good GOD it’s fucking funny. Stop reading. Go watch.