So, I went to the midnight launch at Blockbuster and got my framed picture of Nikko (sp?) along with the standard edition of the game for the 360. This will be the first GTA I play for any length of time. I owned one on the PS2 but returned it. At the time, I liked the idea of an open world but I didn't find the graphics compelling enough to make me want to explore that world. I also found the controls to be extremely clunky and the morality highly questionable. So, what has changed to make me want to buy this game? Well, the reviews clearly seemed to indicate that the graphics, while maybe not the best out there, are functional to make me want to explore the world. In addition, the fighting/shooting mechanics with the cover system seemed to be pretty cool. On the moral side, I think I have simply become accustom to seeing the same type of content on TV. I watch a lot of TV with my wife and shows like Desperate Housewives, cop shows, BSG, Survivor... all those shows seem to contain similar levels of questionable material. Perhaps at some point I will give that all up and be super-Christian. But for now, I'm killing virtual cops. (Please forgive me Jesus!
So, I did pop the game in and played only the solo mission. In fact, I played for about 1.5 hours, which is a lot considering I went to the midnight launch to get it and it was almost 2am by the time I quit. I don't like to stay up past 1am or so lately. But I have to admit, the story really sucked me in and time was flying by before I knew what happened. The story is really interesting. I won't spoil anything but I will say that it starts off very slow. They introduce gameplay mechanics and controls by providing simple missions. As you continue to accomplish these missions, you get pulled deeper into the story at the same time you are learning the controls. It is a classic methodology for teaching a player about the game. But I think the story is on a higher plane here, so it held my interest more than the usual "training wheel" missions of other games.
The controls are surprisingly sloppy. I was expecting something much tighter. That does not mean that I find them to be "bad" per se. I just need to get used to it. The camera angles and walk mechanics make it somewhat challenging to control his walking. Worse, it is quite difficult to corner in the cars at any decent speed. However, I think this is because I desperately need to learn how to use the handbrake. I felt a little overwhelmed with all the buttons to learn and forgot about the hand brake for some time.
I find the graphics to be very decent. You can obviously tell that models are low poly and textures are low res. But when you see so much of it at the same time, it seems easy to forgive. I like the stylized look of the game. It works. And they have integrate sound very well. I like how your footsteps make different sounds based on what you are walking on. The music in the cars is well done and the dialogue is always entertaining. Commercials and billboards are as well. However, sex is everywhere in this game. If you think you can avoid it by staying away from the hookers, think again. You hear commercials on the radio about spraying a girl in the face (with perfume... as if we don't know what they're talking about). You see billboards with girls eating a hot dog in a suggestive manner. Sex is everywhere. It feels as though the writers are stuck in a junior school/high school era and never grew up... only perfected the art of low brow humor. I have to admit, that I have been entertained by it but could also live without it. There's still a bit of junior school boy in me I guess.
One cool feature is the dramatic camera angle. At any point in the game, you can push a button and make the camera angle look really cool... but sacrifice playability to a huge degree. I like to use this but find it nearly impossible during any sequence that requires fast action. But it looks dang cool, so I try anyway.
I don't know what else to say. So far, it's been a very interesting game. I've found the missions to be entertaining and provide a nice drive to keep me coming back for more. The graphics and sound are well done and the humor factor seems to be high.
I do have my cell phone but have not tried any online gaming as of yet. I must admit that I am super excited to try that out. Exploring Liberty City with a friend sounds awesome.
Also, I have to tell you that I did do a slightly action packed mission toward the end of the night and I was pretty excited about it. It was a cool feeling chasing a guy through the town, fighting, hearing the reaction of the crowds, etc. I am trying to play the game in a realistic fashion. I don't simply run people over for no reason. That did happen one time last night and I felt like quite the mobster with no heart. It was kinda cool actually