Friday, 20 September 2013

20/09/13 - GTA V

The world has gone Grand Theft Auto V crazy this week. Understandable, really – the makers spent £170,000,000 developing it, making it the most costly video game of all time; expected revenues over the lifetime of the title are predicted to be in excess of a billion pounds, so you can see the significance of it all.

To be honest, it’s largely passed me by. I’ve seen the trailers, it looks sensational and thoroughly complex; indeed, you don’t even have to play the actual game at all if you don’t want to - you can just hang out in the virtual city, wander into people’s houses, nick their cars and generally be a mischief - but if you do follow the missions, they look pretty astounding. It’s all very impressive, and pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with modern gaming. Take that three-minute trailer and show it to your teenage self, they’ll call you a creepy madman. (Probably because you’re forcing strange cartoons on them, claiming to be from the future and adamantly proclaiming ‘I am you, I swear!’, you fucking time-travelling nutjob.)
…but I just don’t have time to play it. I know that if I did buy the game, I’d never get any sleep; the reason I don’t buy a lot of games these days is the same reason that I’ve never watched The Sopranos, The Wire or Breaking Bad (three heinous sins which always astonish people) – I know what happened with 24, it’ll be the same with these. Once you start, it’ll eat up all of your time until you’ve worked through to the finish. You can’t indulge for an hour and leave it there. And I just don’t have the leisure time to invest.
I used to play Gran Turismo 5 obsessively, at least a couple of hours every night, but I couldn’t honestly tell you the last time I switched the PS3 on. Obviously this theory will be tested when GT6 comes out – I can’t not buy that, expect a thoroughly dull JuicyPips on the subject around that time – but that’s the reason I haven’t bought Grand Theft Auto V. I can’t be trusted to remember to go to bed once I’m absorbed.

But hey, I’m old-school GTA. I’ve been playing it from the start, so I can maintain a cool detachment nowadays. I used to play the original Grand Theft Auto every day before school at my friend Martin’s house – it was a brilliantly naughty game, although if you show the gameplay to today’s teenage GTA fan, they’ll think it’s the most hilariously archaic thing and will refuse to acknowledge any connection between it and the modern third-person GTA. You see, the first Grand Theft Auto game was played from an aerial perspective, and it was quite basic. The principle was the same – complete missions according to instructions from gang bosses and other miscreants – but it was all a bit, well, nineties. Of course, it was the nineties then, so it was pretty cutting edge to us.

The fun part was that it was set in London. (If we’re being pedantic, ‘Grand Theft Auto: London 1969’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto: London 1961’ were mission packs for the original game, which was set in the fictional Liberty City, Vice City and San Andreas. But don’t be that guy.) Well, it was very loosely based on London, you couldn’t accuse it of being geographically faithful, but you’d get calls over the radio to drive from Bayswater to the King’s Road to go and ‘mess some slags up’, or whatever. And en route, you could earn bonus points by mowing down a line of hare krishnas or stealing the fastest car you could find. You can see where the basic premise of the later games spawned.

When I first played Grand Theft Auto III, I was immediately hooked. Thankfully this was in my student days, and I had piss all to do with my time anyway. I’d moved into a shared house in which someone had a PS2, and we clubbed together to buy the newly-released GTA III. Sure, we played the missions and we probably completed the game, but what I really remember was just drunkenly causing mayhem. My housemate Chris liked kerb-crawling in stolen cars, picking up hookers, then parking up and waiting. When the car started rocking from side to side he’d snigger uncontrollably.
Personally, I preferred not to dwell on the fact that we were dicking about in a virtual world in which the character we were controlling was having sex with a woman of easy virtue rather than, y’know, us going out and having sex with actual women in real life (which isn’t difficult in Portsmouth, trust me), so I liked to do what most people probably did: cause as much destruction and chaos as possible in order to illuminate all six stars on the wanted scale in the top corner of the screen. (One illuminated star means that the police are interested in you, but will lose interest pretty soon if you keep your head down. Two stars may involve a bit of running and hiding. It gets progressively more intense until you’re at six stars, which means that it’s pretty much game over unless you’re good at running or can shoot your way out.)
There were a number of ways to achieve this. You could shoot a policeman, then wait for another policeman to show up and shoot him too, and keep going until the whole city was after you; this is tricky to achieve, as after five stars the FBI show up in black unmarked cars, their driving style so haphazard that they usually run you over.
Achieving six stars through hand-to-hand combat is near-impossible, and will earn you the undying respect of your peers – you select a pedestrian at random, punch them to death, then keep doing so with everyone you come across (coppers included, natch) until you’re in big trouble. You have to be in a very small space with only one point of entry, though. Tricky.
My favourite way was to cheat. Somebody in the house found a cheat code for unlimited weaponry, so I used to take a rocket launcher up to a high vantage point and blow up passing vehicles at random. Once you’ve got up to about four stars the police helicopters appear, and you can shoot them down too – this is the difficult bit, as they’re shooting back with machine guns. If more than two choppers come at once, you’re screwed.

I’ve just scanned back through what I’ve written here, and I’m currently cross-referencing the mucky truths of my gaming past with the current situation of having a lovely wife, a cheery daughter and a squeaky-clean criminal record. I’ll let you know what I conclude.

Hot Pepper Game Reviews

This is *such* a good idea. And there are loads of them, look.

Google Poetics

Favourite Twitter account of the week: Google Poetics. Highlighting the inherent poetry of Google's autocomplete suggestions. Click here.

Ads of the week

Three new ads - one funny, two heartwarming.

Ski Jumping Pairs - Touchdown!

I love Japanese video games, they make no sense at all.

Serious Python

Monty Python & the Holy Grail, reworked as a serious film.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Collaborating with a 4 year-old

This is really cute - mummy draws the heads, daughter fills in the bodies. Clicky.

Jii! Jii! Jii!

Jii-sus Christ, this is a bit odd. Probably the best Japanese ad for a lighter you'll see today.

Adorable junkbots

Awwww, look!

Flaming twerker

Jimmy Kimmel once again treating the internet like his own personal puppet. Brilliant.

Beautiful waxbows

Trying to hold a camera near a candle while you blow it out is inadvisable. Or is it?
No, actually, because you get to see this kind of magic.

Another reason to love Russell Brand

LG's scary interviews

Lovely bit of cruelty here.

This is basically how everyone reacts to Miley Cyrus