Watch me ollie!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Passing Breeze

Mmm. Suggestive song titles. Gotta love 'em.

Sorry for the interruption to what had become a good little run of regular posts. There was a 4-day weekend, and then our Internet connection was down for a couple of days. I doubt anyone missed me.

I lost money on the Melbourne Cup, sadly. I put $20 on Mamool, who came dead motherless last in 2003, believing that the horse had something to prove. I was also following the advice of Sir Mix-a-Lot, who "got his money on the two hoss". I hope it worked out better for him than it did for me - the two horse didn't place, in this instance. Dammit.

Those of you with Playstation 2s should really be playing Sly 2, rather than reading this drivel. There's a lot right about it, but what strikes you the most is just the charm and detail of the characterisation and the setting. It's like one of those Saturday morning cartoon shows that you thought were really 'yours', somehow - a lovingly crafted world into which you can escape. Wonderful stuff. It's also challenging, varied, humorous, and good clean fun.

Still on games for a minute - Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sucks arse. I realise that's controversial, but there it is. I simply don't understand the appeal of this game. I must be immune to it or something. It's big, sure. There's a lot to do, sure. But is any of it any good? The graphics are shocking, the draw distance is a disgrace, the water is poor by even Tomb Raider 1 standards, the vehicle handling is incredibly wonky, and the controls for shooting are even worse. Plus, you can't talk to people. What about this game, other than its scope and its premise, even interests people? I'd much rather play a smaller game, personally, that does what it sets out to well, and with style. If the various bits of the game played like Burnout 3, Jet Set Radio Future and Halo, respectively, then it'd be worthy of the praise its receiving. But shit is shit - adding more of it, and different kinds of it, doesn't miraculously make it into something else. It just makes for an enormous, steaming heap of shit.

Being able to play for 100 hours doesn't interest me, if those 100 hours are clunky, ugly and tedious. Being able to "do whatever I want" isn't much use, if nothing on offer is that much fun. Gimme Ico's tight and limited but stunning, evocative and focussed 8 hours, any day.

Plus, there's the fact that you have to be a jerk. Seriously, even putting ethics and morals completely to one side, I'm not of a mindset that constantly gets amused by the fact that you're allowed to be 'naughty' in a game. Because that's where much of the game's appeal seems to lie. Interestingly, people refer to these as 'mature' games. Many of them (and I'm lumping Manhunt and its ilk in here as well) seem to be tailor-made to appeal specifically to the immature. I don't think this game caters well to a balanced, mature mindset, or even a mature gaming taste in the slightest. To put it another way - it's not for us, it's for them. And I never liked them anyway.

Even something like Morrowind, in which you can be a jerk if you like, let you go the other way. You were offered genuine choices, and genuine consequences. In GTA:SA, though, you really do just have to play it like a dickhead simulator. There's no actual choice or 'role-playing' involved at all.

And, let's face it, the missions are shit. You walk, drive or ride from one glowing splodge to another. At least in Shenmue, you could talk to people and ask for directions, and have to find your way around, looking for signs and locations - as if you really were in a city. This is just join-the-dots. I call bullshit.

Admittedly, I've not played much of the game. I'm not planning to. My admittedly biased and largely uninformed review is 2/10. All of that's for the audio, incidentally - the radio stations and the voice acting are both great, so the game gets a full point each for those. Zero for graphics and zero for gameplay, though, I'm afraid. It's a stinker. Don't believe the hype.


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