I read a book in high school called “The Assistant,” which would have long since faded from memory if Mr. Sowder hadn’t answered my critique that it was interminably boring by blurting out “it’s supposed to be!” So I respect what Rockstar was trying to do in Grand Theft Auto IV by replacing sports cars with fishtailing clunkers and forcing me to drop everything at a moment’s notice not for a gang war, but a bowling match.
Yes, I hate how chicks comment on me wearing the same outfit for two dates in a row and then don’t say a word about me picking them up in an ice cream truck, but women are weird like that. I’m furious every time I have to stop and pay a toll, until I remember that I’ve been meaning to get an EZ-PASS for the last 428 commutes to Easton. And it really irks me how hard it is to find a gun in Hove Beach, but I’ve been trying to get my hands on one in Jersey City for years.
Better bloggers have already reviewed Rockstar’s choice for realism, as GTA IV compares with its predecessors and the Saints Row series. It was a choice, and in an industry on autopilot I’ll respect any. My beef is where the realism starts to unravel:
Like any currency-based video game, anyone remotely competent ends up with more money than they ought to. And knowing that the more one keeps people safe the more they need safekeeping, one soon moves on up to a deluxe East Side safehouse, closer to the job. Eventually one finds themselves too far removed and without time for family and friends; Eventually without interest. People express concern, but eventually read the writing on the wall and no longer call. The payoff keeps getting bigger; the apartments too, and you slowly stop taking pleasure in the simple things like street preachers and hot dogs, a good drunk, and driving. Your phone’s address book fills up with acquaintances. Each mission bleeds into the next and it’s hard to remember where this started and how it ended up here. You find yourself alone with nothing but the work, and a lot of meaningless achievement points.
…So much for realism, right?