Monday, April 28, 2008

GTA: Pets

GTA IV is almost among us!

For some, you may already be playing it. I won’t debate the righteousness of pirate software here (and we can just be honest, it is piracy – as defined by the law makers). But the truth is the versions that are floating out on the digital horizon may not be what you are expecting.

From my previous posts, you know I have modded my 360; therefore, these games are available to me. So in all honesty, I have been playing it over the last weekend. I must say that I do agree with most of the reviews out there but this game is not a 10. I’m not going to give a review here because I’m far from finishing it but initial impressions are that it has some work to do before I can justify giving this a perfect rating for games in this current generation. There are some technical issues with my cracked version, and being a pirate, you can’t always verify where the good were obtained from. You certainly can’t be picky if you are getting it for free. But this has led me to think about what video gaming as an industry is becoming.

I feel that gaming industry is slowly (or quickly depending on your point of view) becoming closer to the movie and music industry. It’s only natural because of the type of business and their shared forms of media. But this also means that there’s good and bad for the consumer.

EA is becoming a giant in the video games sector, both as a developer and a publisher. The good thing is that there’s at least one other (Activision/Blizzard) that can compete but this also means the little guys will suffer from higher levels of bureaucracy.

Imagine for a moment if EA successfully acquires Take2. With the cash cow that’s Rockstar and the GTA brand, EA will have no problems folding that into the mould of other successful franchises such as the Sims. Now fast forward one year and they announce GTA V. GTA V will technically be GTA IV with slightly higher frame rates, cleaner textures, and connectivity to the EA online store. EA Online will also require you to register to play, and in game ads will be implemented. While you can connect to EA Online to buy new clothes and accessories for your protagonist (a man named Woo Pang, from communist China, seeking a new life in Liberty City). Initial publication reviews will give it a 7.9-8.8 stating that it is more of the same with tweaks here and there, and the additional online content will out weigh the necessity of in game ads. Their tag line will be: More of the same and that isn’t necessarily bad.

Then in 3 months, the first expansion pack will be released both online and in stores, riddled with bugs, and crashed multiple PS3 due to install error. But it will still sell one million copies because it now comes with the ability of owning pets for your protagonist.

I’m being cynical of course but it could very well happen. Personally, I’m glad that there are still medium sized publishers that are still pushing the limits in terms of artistic design, technical design, and political boundaries. Know that GTA IV: Spin Off One will definitely be released for both platforms shortly after the PC version will be released. And the downloadable content from the 360 version will be included with the expansion pack for the PS3 version.

I will be renting both copies of GTA: IV to try on unmodified systems and see if I’m still experiencing any of the same issues as my cracked version. I will post again once I am able to reliability compare the two versions to my cracked version. Honestly, I’ll probably just end up getting the 360 retail version anyway just because I’m an achievement whore.

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