Archive for May, 2008

Grand Theft Auto Four

I’ve been a little out of it this week, since pretty much all I’ve been doing is going to work and playing GTA4, with short naps in between. That by itself should tell you that GTA4 is pretty good, but to add some weight to that, but I did not own an Xbox 360 until last week. I bought a $350 console just for this game, and to top it off, I actually had to walk from DUMBO to Atlantic Center - a bit over a mile - before I found a store that was open, and had both the game and the console in stock (RadioShack, by the way, had 360s but no GTA for it, and no PS3s but the GTA for it).

I have no problem whatsoever with this, either. GTA4 is just that good.

As in previous installments, the game takes place in fake New York, only this time around, it’s actually recognizable as New York. No, the translation isn’t perfect - Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Bay Ridge are reduced to a narrow slum above Coney Island, Times Square is about a block from Central Park, and, rather delightfully, Staten Island is missing entirely - but neighborhoods feel like their real-life counterparts, and the attention to detail is staggering.

The cop cars look like NYPD cars. The farecard machines in the subway look like the real ones, down to the graphics on the screen. Sometimes I find my way around by thinking of how I’d get there in real life, and I wonder how much of this people who don’t live in New York really grasp. It’s insane.

Beyond the setting, there’s a lot to like here. They took out that RPG bullshit that was in San Andreas, where you had to eat food and go to the gym and grind stats before you could run around with a shotgun blasting holes in things. The driving has been made a bit more realistic, which is to say that you can still drift all over the road and flip cars over, but pulling the handbrake and jerking the wheel is no longer the best way to turn, and, to my great amusement, crashing head-first into a wall will throw your guy out through the windshield. I’ve died more doing that than in gunfights.

This is getting long, so the rest is going after the jump. No major spoilers this time.

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Iron Man

Iron Man, or, as I really think it deserves to be written, IRON MAN, is pretty much exactly what you want from a summer superhero movie. It’s better than Transformers, and leagues better than any of the Spidermen - which isn’t saying much, since I thought those were all crap. Maybe not as good as Batman, but then I think it’s a wholly different type of movie - Batman is a violent lunatic hell-bent on revenge, so the movie is very serious business all the time. Tony Stark is a womanizing alcoholic who can fly and shoot lasers, so he’s pretty much the most awesome man you can imagine.

It’s entertaining, and doesn’t suffer from that lull in the middle of a lot of action movies, between the set up and the climax, where people keep talking and having feelings and shit - it keeps moving the whole time. I wish the fights had gone on longer and had more punching dudes through buses and whatnot. The jokes work, the writing is solid, the characters are not unlikable, and casting Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark is pretty much the best casting decision anyone could ever make.

The only real complaint I have is that apparently Ghostface Killah (of the Wu-Tang Clan) had a brief cameo, which was cut for some stupid reason like “plot” or “pacing”. The reason this matters, beyond the simple fact that it is Ghostface from Wu-Tang, is that he’s been using “Tony Starks [sic] and “Iron Man” as his rap aliases for years. He needed to be in this movie, and I’m glad it was good enough for me to justify buying it on DVD when it comes out, solely for the possibility that his scene may be restored.

Spoilers and pedagogery after the jump.

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