The problem with A-list games now is that they're too good. Too many gameplay options, too much art, too much story, normal people can't possibly complete them.

I've finally finished Grand Theft Auto IV. It's a real tour de force of a game, sophisticated and beautiful and a lot of fun. It's also overwhelming. I only managed to finish GTA now, six months later, by knuckling down and grinding through the story missions. I finished with 42 hours of gameplay logged, which seems like an awful lot.

But I only enjoyed half of what the game has to offer: no side missions, no races, no pigeons or stunt jump completions. I barely even got to see New Jersey Alderney since I kept taking cabs everywhere.

I don't feel cheated, 42 hours is plenty. I just wish the game rewarded casual exploration more. I agree with Rob: there's a lot more room for content in the exquisitely modelled virtual city. But the game has no way to track and encourage casual exploration and wandering aimlessly gets old after awhile.

My favourite technical feature of the game is the dynamic lighting. Bright sunny days, cool grey dawn, colourful beach sunsets, dismal rain. Liberty City keeps changing how it looks depending on the time of day and the weather and the various moods are quite beautiful.

GTA IV is a lot to absorb and while I appreciate the gluttonous satiation of the game I get bored of the flavours before I can finish the meal. I'm hopeful that we'll see more beautiful, small games like Braid that can be fully enjoyed without making a huge time commitment.

  2008-10-21 14:33 Z