One of the most violent franchises of all time delves into one of the most racially insensitive plots possible. What can go wrong? A lot can go wrong. Although maybe it won’t be so bad…
Everyone here should have at least heard of Grand Theft Auto. Maybe not everyone has played it, but here goes: GTA and all of its sequels are Wide Open Sandbox games, which means that you have the freedom to do just about anything you want to do (in the limits of the game’s program, obviously). There IS a Story Mode but you’re not forced to play through it, although some parts of it explain certain mechanics present in the game at large. There are dozens of side-quests, as well as many things to discover around the sandbox world known as Liberty City. You can be the biggest criminal ever, or you can look for ways to get yourself killed. You can steal cars, do crazy stunts, swim from the main land to the island, meet dealers, and earn a nice sum of money… Sounds fun, doesn’t it?
As you can guess, it’s also a game series that has a lot of detractors, like the concerned parents who didn’t know the ESRB’s M meant “for Mature audiences” and bought this game for their little dearie child who’s far too innocent and perfect to even want to participate in a bloody shooting, however virtual it may be. Then there’s those famous words that describe games like this one as a murder simulator, which puh-lease, if you want to see an actual murder simulator, it’ll have to be a lot more detailed than this.
|Taking stuff from bins, stealing cars. Just a normal day|
in the City of Crime.
It was a mad world, before Mad World was a thing. …The Wii game, not the song. Alright, I could spend many parts discussing only the Wide Open Sandbox aspects of this game, but I like to tell a game’s story. And even though the plot here is split between multiple mission givers, we can still follow much of what’s happening, as well as the clash between the personalities of the different crime leaders. Alright, let’s start this slow descent towards complete and utter criminality.
|Ah yes, I love arriving in a new country and having to survive|
a potentially lethal scenario upon arrival!
You see, these days Liberty City is right in the middle of a gang war of sorts among the Triads. The grand leader of Liberty City’s crime ring, Hsin Jaoming, is about to select a successor, and all the minor gang leaders are trying to get in his good graces… and you can expect that nobody is gonna play fair! What, are you expecting a world of nice, loyal competitors? Fuck off, this is Liberty City. You want fair competition? Go play some shitty Mario Kart rip-off. As a result, Kenny offers Huang a free apartment. Yay for that, I guess. I hope he doesn’t mind this apartment getting used to fuck some prostitutes…
…Oh right, the “prostitutes” mechanic of the previous GTA games has been removed. Say whatever you want about the staggering amount of criminal activity in the setting, there’s not a single prostitute in sight. Not that this really helps anyway. After all, the crime bosses we meet throughout the game are all complaining about hooking up with Trans prostitutes. …Yeah… I did say this was one of the more offensive games out there. Don’t come in expecting any kind of respect from those crime bosses. Respect? What’s that? You’re in Liberty City, pal. Wherever you came from, you left your respect at the airport.
|Why, thank you, beautiful. I'd lose a hundred swords|
if that meant getting into your.... good graces.
Uncle Kenny tells Huang that he needs to get better with weapons, and sends him to learn some fighting tricks… from Ling Shan, of all people. Well, this is gonna be interesting… We learn the basic fighting moves (punching, kicking, etc), and then we learn how to equip and use a firearm. Kenny learns that little crooks are attacking one of his restaurants, so he sends Huang and Ling to kill them. On the way, they search in a trash bin to look for guns (apparently there are guns and many other things hidden in trash bins).
Then they head out to fight the little mobsters.
They quickly reach the restaurant and head towards the fight… and Ling gets
shot and bathes in a pool of her own blood. Please, she can’t die, citizens
respawn all the time! She’ll survive… she’ll survive… oh, she won’t survive?
No, she dies. Well, fuck. She was the only female character so far and was
probably one of the rare few women characters in the game, period, so this game
is doomed to remain a sausage party. How fun. Sorry Huang, unless you’re into
necrophilia, you’re not gonna score with this lady. Well, we save the restaurant’s
owner, who looks a bit too much like Donald Trump for my tastes, and thus ends
|Noooo! Ling, no....|
(I would make a joke saying that I didn't even get to
cop a feel, but.... I just can't...)
On his next mission, Uncle Kenny states that the restaurant’s owner has been “dissatisfied” with the quality of the service Huang gave and ordered every last one of those little street mobsters killed. Guess who’s gonna go out on a killing spree? Everyone’s favorite Huang, of course. So we go there, chase down one mobster that takes us to the whole gang, and after a standoff and a car chase, they’re all dead. Yay for that, I guess?
I should probably explain the whole PDA thing right away. See, you have many tools in your personal assistant. The main one is a GPS map that you can use to get anywhere; just assign a spot on the map with two quick taps of the stylus, and it’ll tell you the quickest route there. You can set some of your favorite destinations, and you can also keep tabs on all the important places; tattoo parlors, Pay’n’Sprays (to repair your car), scratch card shops, all the houses and apartments you come to own as you progress through the game, and of course all the drug dealers you find, since those are the major money-makers. The bottom screen also indicates which weapon is equipped at the moment (and whether it’s a firearm or a melee weapon), and whichever additional weapons you have (such as Molotov cocktails, the fire hose if you’re driving the firetruck, or grenades as an example). There’s a Briefing section that keeps track of the recent things you’ve done. There’s an e-mail system through which you can receive deals from Ammu-Nation, news from dealers who either want to sell a drug at a very low price or buy a drug at a very high price, and of course you can also receive plot-relevant e-mails from crime family chiefs who want you to do their bidding. What, you thought only Uncle Kenny would give you missions? Oh Hell no, you’ll become everyone’s servile little bitch-er, I mean, associate. Yes, I totally meant associate. There’s also a Stats section that keeps track of all sorts of data about your playing session so far. I’ll go back on the many, many sidequests in a later part; all you need to know is that there are MANY side-quests, and they range from helping random people to raiding warehouses to destroying all security cameras...
|Now with 98% less "Enlarge Your Penis" spam!|
On the next mission, Kenny explains that he has a rival hoping to be Hsin Jaoming’s successor, and it's none other than Hsin's own son, Chan Jaoming: A hotheaded moron who prefers to do drugs and participate in street races than lead. And yet he seriously believes he has a chance. So much so that he invited Uncle Kenny to work for him. Kenny refused, of course, but decided to send Huang to do Chan’s business instead. So you bring three race cars to Chan’s garage.
|Just wait the next edition, it includes meth and bath salts!|
When that’s done, Huang gets an e-mail from Chan Jaoming, inviting him to come help him on his quest to earn Hsin’s good graces. Chan says Kenny is out of the race, and says the big competitors are himself and another called Zhou. Well, time to go help a fat, stupid, drug-addicted crime “leader”, I guess. Starting now, you can do missions from both Kenny and Chan. The next mission from Uncle Kenny is to make Molotov cocktails and use them to burn a restaurant belonging to a competitor. After which he orders Huang to pick up potential recruits for his gang. You can’t get to the top of the chain without lackeys to follow your every command, can you?
|Off to ruin a car!|
|One star: We're still good.|
Two stars: Kinda getting tense...
Three stars: What have you done?
|This car better have some nice treats.|
Since the documents found inside the antiquarian’s truck mention the Spanish Lords, Kenny tells Huang to deal with them; and as luck would have it, a bunch of Spanish Lords are headed towards one of Kenny’s properties to burn it to the ground, so Huang has to stop them. Which he does. Wow, you can turn Huang into a one-man army in this game. Just a few explosives and boom go the Spanish Lords’ vans! I swear Officer, I didn’t start the fire, these guys did! I just replied with even MORE fire!
|I wouldn't start touring the Hollywood studios to|
pitch your movie about the criminal world just yet.
Holy fucking Christ, first Kenny, then Chan, then Zhou, and now a cop. What the Hell am I getting myself into… Actually, you know what, this has been long enough. I’ll take a break until Monday. There’s only so much criminality I can take in a day… Phew!