228: Fall of the House of Bellic

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Nico Belic is a very interesting character, but I feel like Rockstar wasted his story in a GTA game. It may have been better as an expansion, like ToLC. That way the story can take a more central part and doesn't need to be interrupted with random violence. There would still be violence, but the story wouldn't be so jarring and mixed with random maintenance of all your crap.

Awesome character analysis, Brendon.

Excellent article. I can't compare GTA4 to anything since all I have done is read about it, but the change of character from psychopath to mercenary is great. However, GTA is always about a person out for revenge at first; Claude for Catalina, Tommy for Diaz (and ultimately Sonny and Lance), and CJ for...who he was for (its been a while since I played SA)

I did actually enjoy playing grand theft auto 4. And in a way the story was sort of compelling, but it just did nothing for me emotionally. The common ground between all of the glowing reviews is how cinematic the story is, I believe one site likened it to being academy award worthy. I don't think it's too irrelevant to note that there is no cut scene soundtrack. If music was provided to the narrative could it have made for a better cinematic feel? I bring this up because the commercials for all of the grand theft auto games come packaged with an excellent score. GTA4's commercial with Niko sitting on the bench beside Faustin on the beach, telling him he could run to the tune of some sad eighties song, was beautiful. I wished so much for that type of art in the game. While that cut scene does play well with the silence, it is nothing compared to the moment in the trailer, which looked as though it were the trailer to an actual movie.

nezroy:
There's a more practical reason sandbox games try not to end on this kind of plot note. The end of GTA4 was so empty and hollow that, however artistically interesting it may have been, I put down the controller and never again set foot in the world of GTA4.

I think you're on to something there. I had the same experience, actually - not simply with the ending scene, but that final, broken-hearted phone call from Mallorie (or Packie, you revenge-crazy monster.) It's spelled out loud and clear: Sure, you can keep playing if you want: Your enemies are dead and your pockets are full of cash. But... why bother?

I agree that there's something counterintuitive, even self-defeating about a sandbox game that convinces you of the futility of sandbox gaming. It takes chutzpah, that's for sure. But it strikes me that there remains an odd difference between a game I don't want to play out of sheer boredom, and a game I choose not to play out of some twisted sense of loyalty.

It's like something out of a lousy Yakov Smirnoff routine: In Soviet Russia, game beats you.

Like what everyone else said...

winwinwin.....winwinwinwin........winwinwin..........winwinwin...
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A brilliant article - this is PRECISELY the intangible difference in quality of storytelling and sobreity that I've been trying to explain to some of my non-GTA4-playing friends. It makes it so much a different kind of game despite containing all the same material elements and mechanics. The character development is pretty much what keeps me playing this game - it's downright cinematic (in the good way :p )

Eagle Est1986:
Great article, some really good arguements for video games as an art form.

If you were to believe Escapist users, every game ever made is art of the highest order that will be immortalized in history, just like Mona Lisa.

Gamers are so desperate to be seen as grownups engaged in Serious Business that they'll call anything art. GTA IV is not particularly original and has nothing to say that hasn't already been said to death by countless crime stories.

Trying to tie the gameplay and story together is silly. They are divorced from each other completely. In the story Niko is a pretty sympathetic guy while in the game he is a monstrous psychopath.

bagodix:

If you were to believe Escapist users, every game ever made is art of the highest order that will be immortalized in history, just like Mona Lisa.

Well, I for one am looking forward to that next Rockstar game where you actually play as the Mona Lisa. Apparently instead of stealing cars you steal winsome, knowing glances that communicate something inscrutably melancholic about life.

Also motorcycles, which is pretty rad.

Later on, they're going to release her mustache, as L.H.O.O.Q.D.L.C.

It's true that it's difficult to create this feel, and reminds me of exactly why GTA IV was freakin' awesome.

A good example of how difficult this feeling is to create: Saints Row (One, not Two).

The game itself was good (not great), but when you finally reach the end, it feels like the cockslap. BOOM! The boat explodes, you die, game ends, goes to title screen. It was so sudden, and seriously unexpected, it just didn't feel like it fit with the game's otherwise fairly cartoony nature.

That having been said, this article has convinced me to pick up a copy of GTA IV to play over again while I whether the MewTwo-induced release drought...

That's why I will always look to GTA over any other sandbox game.

Great article.

That is one of the best articles i have ever read on The Escapist.

It just makes me want go and do the whole story of GTA4 again.

I think i liked GTA4 much better than all the other ones because it was more about just getting by in life.

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