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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fear and Loathing in Liberty City

Things have been going so well lately (and Lord willing the trend will continue for awhile) that this afternoon I went out and splurged a bit, and got Grand Theft Auto IV for the Xbox 360. I got to play the original Grand Theft Auto for a while in 2001 but this is the first time I've bought a Grand Theft Auto game for my own collection.

Initial thoughts?

This is not a game that I would ever let children or even older teenagers play. It's definitely for a much more mature audience. But if you scratch away the mindless violence and sexual imagery, I'm finding that there's some powerful commentary about the state of culture in this game... and isn't it a sad indication that it takes a video game to try to enlighten the masses about such things? The Liberty City of Grand Theft Auto IV is at once a fictional burg and a stark mirror of modern America: a place where the so-called "American Dream" is seeking after cheap thrills and fleeting celebrity. And ironically, with its "sandbox" playing style it's a place where your virtual avatar - who in the story is a recent immigrant from eastern Europe - might have more freedom to roam and do what he will than American citizens do in real life. Now I'm not saying that it's a "cool" thing to run over pedestrians and blow crap up, but you know what I mean...

I'm going to play it some more, and maybe write a full review in the next few days, if I've time for it. I'm also working on a review of BioShock, which I've been playing like crazy since early March and have already beaten... but that's one game that's definitely taking awhile to wrap my brain around as much as I'd like.