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Do real gamers like Grand Theft Auto? April 30, 2008

Posted by ashiah in Games.

Hmm, should I deliver this boring
package or beat up hookers?

The fourth installment to this century’s “Mortal Kombat” was released yesterday, and I’m torn between feeling excited or nauseated by all the ravenous attention. Luckily the guys over at Penny Arcade are feeling the same way.

Grand Theft Auto has had another problem, or rather, we have had a problem that intersects with what the game offers: the raw, virtually limitless opportunity presented is paralyzing, a sheer face with no purchase. We’re always impressed by each world’s livingness, but historically the story structure – the obvious thread that we can grip and pull ourselves along – is hung about the neck with frustrating, repetitive gameplay. We end up burning out on free roaming in a couple days, taking random missions or sitting in a parking lot listening to the radio. I feel guilty, because there’s probably no game more “important” globally than Grand Theft Auto. I certainly feel like I’m looking in on what I consider my own community. It never seemed to bother anyone else that the core of the game wasn’t much fun, so mostly the whole thing just makes me feel like a crazy person.

I went through something similar with Wii’s “No More Heroes,” a game loved by reviewers and hated by…well, me. Reviewers loved the violence, the bizarre characters, and the cooler than thou general atmosphere of the game. Needless to say, “No More Heroes” might have been cool looking and cool acting, but lacked an interesting story. The missions took forever, the battles were repetitive, and the game looked and felt cheap.

So, do true gamers like storylines or cool violence/battles? Well let’s look at Japan as an example. “Grand Theft Auto” is not popular in Japan not only because of the violence, but also because players hate the openness. The average Japanese gamer would prefer to play something like “Final Fantasy” over “Grand Theft Auto.” Not only does that say a lot about the differences in cultures, it also says a lot about gamers. I’m assuming there’s more casual gamers in the states. “Final Fantasy” is 120+ hours of pure challenge and endurance, whereas “Grand Theft Auto” can be played in short installments, considering your level of interest in stealing cars.

I guess the best thing about all this is it’s not “either or.” You can enjoy the in-depth challenging storytelling of “Final Fantasy,” then pick up “Grand Theft Auto” to indulge in quick fun or channel your inner, pent up rage. Either way, this writer is sitting out on the release……she also doesn’t own a PS3.



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