Archive for the Remembering Category

Restropect: GTA Vice City

Posted in Remembering on April 6, 2009 by Baggie

GTA Vice City is a game by Rockstar. It’s the 4th in the series, and follows the exploits of our favorite mobster Scarfac- No, sorry, Tommy Vercetti.

The GTA series goes back to 1997, when GTA came out. It was a top down 2d shooter that was difficult to navigate in, resulting in many people (including me) to not bother with the mission system and just go on a rampage. It wasn’t a bad game, but it was difficult to play in the way is was meant to be played, following the missions and going up to the level.

GTA 2 was much the same as GTA, but GTA 3 made the jump into an extra dimension and placed the camera behind the protaginist’s head, also making the streets and buildings not look exactly like each other. Suddenly the game was playable, fun and intriguing!

GTA:VC came after that, and incidentally was the first GTA game I ever played.  You played as Tommy Vercetti, a maffia chap who has just gotten out of prison for 8 or so years, and now is oddly enough working for the same employer. First thing you do in the city goes horribly wrong, surprise, and now there’s a good amount of cocaine that isn’t yours anymore and you’re getting constant death threats. This sets a whole lot of events off and leads you through a rather interesting storyline.

The GTA series has always been sandbox heavy, that is you can do whatever you like in the confines of the game. You can race RC cars, deliver pizzas,  perform stunts, hunt for secret bags, and go on rampages. Hell, they even  give you rampage pickups which give you a reward if you kill a certain amount of gang members, cars, etc, with a certain weapon. Hell I’ve even tried to land get on a boat by jumping off a bridge at the right time. Worked once too, free boat.
You can really go crazy in this game, and it rewards you for it. Everything I’ve mentioned in this paragraph gives you a cash reward which you can use to buy… well weapons really, not much else.

It’s kind of annoying that it gives you all these wacky fun things to do and the only way you can spend your reward is with violence. Now if I had a problem with violence I wouldn’t be playing this game, but it’d be really cool if you could buy speedy race cars, helicopters or other symbols of excess, rather than just more guns. Violence isn’t always the most entertaining option unfortunately.
Fortunately they fixed this in subsequent games, but oddly enough they took OUT most of the wacky fun things you can do, kind of negating that change there.

While there’s a good amount of freedom in the game, there’s a few features that you can’t access until you’ve completed some story missions, which is kind of a bummer really. I can understand why you can’t build a business empire before x event, but restricting the islands you can get to in the game feels just silly in a game which primarily relies on sandbox gameplay.

The storyline itself is quite decent though, playing through the missions gives you moneys, access to weapons, new safe houses and other things.
Though the storyline itself could been seen to be short depending on how you play the game. First time I played the game it took a couple of months to finish, it felt like a real achievement. But since then I’ve finished the storyline in 1 day. It really depends on how focused you are on the story line, and it’ll go quite quickly if you don’t periodically stand on cars and use them as a mobile shooting platform (Which I highly recommend).

The weapons themselves are good, you’ve got certain slots for different types of weapons, but it leads to the “Walking Army Stockpile” syndrome most games suffer from. You can walk, run, swim (well not in this game, you just drown) perfectly fine with a bazooka on your person (god knows where), not to mention the 3 machine guns, 4 pistols and 10 grenades you cart around. I mean you’re carrying more than you weight with no problems, which is why I don’t quite like it when games default to it.

The variety of cars is decent as well, there’s cars that are useless, cars that can go from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds, cars that have 2 wheels, golf buggies (Which are hilarious getaway vehicles). The only way you get them though is you break into them or just car jack people. Again, it’s supposed to be a violent game, but I’d rather some choice in the matter. I mean mobsters may frequently kill people, but you scratch their car and they’ll… well, kill you.  But this game makes you get a new car every 5 mins max, even if you’re really careful, there’s still  a chance that you’ll leave your car for 5 seconds, turn around and it’ll have disappeared (bloody car thieves).

My main gripe with this game is they put a lot of emphasis on water in a game where the main character can’t swim. I don’t know why he can’t swim, maybe he has an irrational fear of water after a particularly wet mob initiation, but it causes massive problems in the game play. I remember one occasion where I somehow ended up on top of a car that was floating around in the water (honestly I have no idea how I got there).
I spent a good 5 minutes wondering how the hell I could get out of the situation without dying and losing my stockpile of weapons. Eventually I just fired a rocket down at the car when it was clear I was drifting out to sea, purely out of annoyance… although it looked really cool and my body, though dead and lifeless, flew back to the main land and blocked a main roadway.
If the character could, I don’t know, swim 5 metres, then I would have been fine.

Vice City is a terrific game which adds a lot to the previous games, and was terrific in nearly all aspects. It gives you the freedom of choice in what you want to do in it, and provides a extremely decent storyline, though recycled from a certain movie.

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Remembering: Multiplayer Wars

Posted in Remembering with tags , on March 19, 2009 by Baggie

Back in late ’90’s, the sucess of multiplayer in games started to be noticed.  Before this multiplayer wasn’t really considered important enough to form the basis for an ENTIRE game, most games had limited multiplayer service, or none at all.

Two of the big companies however, Id software and Epic games, both having successful frachises, noticed that in their Quake and Unreal games, respectively, there was actually quite a large following of the Online Multiplayer functions. Like any good company they decided to expand on sucessful ideas.

At the end of 1999 Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament came out, three days between release in fact. These games were both new in that the Multiplayer was the primary function of the game, and the singleplayer only existed in the form of locally hosted matchs filled with AI opponents. This was a big step for both the companies, and gaming as a whole, and it paid off. Both games became widely sucessful, and kicked off the idea of Multiplayer only games.

After a little while (I’d give it a week) there was pretty intense argument over which game was better. UT looked better and had some interesting features, but Quake 3 had more freedom of movement.

It was rather akin to the fabled ‘Browser Wars’ in that both did what they should do and did it well, but there were minor differences that made people use one over the other, and was closely followed by the mud-slinging because the other game was terrible.

In the end Quake won, becoming the staple competitive game choice for almost a decade. People STILL compete in professional ladders and tournaments, after TEN YEARS. They haven’t started using Quake 4, they stayed with the old relic that ran on my school’s computers that didn’t have anything but a motherboard.

Not to say UT really lost much however, it’s still a largely successful game franchise, unless you count UT3 which they gracefully bollocksed up, then unbollocksed somehow. UT still has a fair amount of active game servers, so does ut2004. In reality they probably made more money that Id because they released more that one game every 5 years.

So it was rather a win-win situation, both companies made an atrocious amount of money and will do so in the years to come. It’s an interesting phenomenon that people are willing to make large arguements over very small differences. It happened with multiplayer games, it happened with browsers, it’s happening now with game consoles, graphics cards, operating systems, the list goes on. Why do these people argue about trivial little things and take time out of their valuable fragging time? Who knows.

Also; I hate Macs.