Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fucking Useless

So, this isn't about GTA 4. This is about GTA 4 reviews.

I picked up the game yesterday and gave it a shot. There are many things that are astonishingly good - the rich characterization, the scope of the city and the level of detail and interactivity are revolutionary.

And in terms of reviews, 10/10 isn't "perfect" - there is no perfect game. But when I *read* the reviews, I hope to have some understanding of what I'm thinking about purchasing. And when I read all the major reviews and there's no mention of control problems or that the multiplayer experience is either really unfocused or different enough that it takes a lot of getting used to, I'm generally not expecting to notice that the main character controls like a tank and that the multiplayer experience is a really unfocused mess.

One of the first things that I noticed when picking up the game is that while there's a lot of interesting animations (scaling walls, leaning into turns, etc.) and the character *looks* much better than they ever have before, the controls are incredibly sluggish and unresponsive as a *direct* result. On more than one occasion playing multiplayer, as a result of triggering an animation - some collision response, the animation has caused me to clip through a boundary and fall a substantial distance (the airport map, clipping through a railing next to a ladder, specifically). These are problems with really fundamental things in the game. The last game I played where the character control was so unresponsive was Virtua Striker, in 1999.

Yeah, the game is epic. Yeah, the writing so far has been great, though the contrast between the more realistic art/writing and the pervasive juvenile humor is a bit starker this time around. Yeah, the sheer scope and variety of the game is unmatched by anything else. But the game has problems that really affect a person's enjoyment of it - I suspect I'll get through it and love the game - but the point is that *no* review I've read points this out. Worse, *no* review I've read points out that the camera control is completely non-standard and that there's no option to return it to something more familiar.

Why? This is what a REVIEW is supposed to be about - it's not just the story - this is a GAME, and it's gotta be about the experience. The controls are a huge part of that experience. Yeah, everyone's falling over themselves to be the most sycophantic yes-man for the game, but that's NOT YOUR JOB. PR people get paid a ton to do that sort of thing. YOU are supposed to be CRITICAL. YOU are supposed to do BETTER.

Stop fucking up.

2 comments:

Chuck said...

Word. I don't get the unanimous praise around this thing, at all. I feel like I'm in Bizarro World, reading reviews and message board posts that describe it as "flawless."

I'm assuming that I just haven't gotten to the great writing and story that everybody keeps talking about. I'm about four or five hours in, and everything I've seen has peaked at "serviceable" and gone down to "insultingly awful." I hope I never have to go into that Cabaret again.

It's a stunning game world without a decent game.

s said...

I like the game a bunch. I do agree with yuor critiques - in particular not being able to look in a direction other than the one I'm walking in. Bully had the same problem...