Whenever GTA's critics hold up the games as "encouraging" violence or - more laughably - "rewarding" players with "points" for "killing hookers," the series' fans have always fallen back on the defense that the game's level of violence is a reflection of the player. Really, they say, you don't have to kill people if you don't want to - you're free to play the games however you want. And that's absolutely true, so long as you don't ever want to leave the first island, drive a really cool car, fly a plane or make any progress whatsoever.
Let's not kid ourselves, here - GTA games are violent crime dramas, and unless you play them that way, you're not going to experience much of what they have to offer. You can spend your time hunting for stunt jumps or just dicking around delivering pizzas, but ultimately you're going to want more. And unless you're willing to put a few bullets in a few heads, well, GTA's structure isn't going to let you have it.
Above: A rough map of Grand Theft Auto IV's Liberty City
Circled: everything you'll be able to explore if you don't want to kill people
Granted, you're never forced to kill civilians, hookers or cops (or you weren't, until San Andreas made it part of a few crucial missions), and once you've unlocked everything and finished the story, you're free to play as nonviolently as you please. But by that point, you'll probably have put at least a few hundred virtual people into the ground.
Above: Guess you'll never get to do this, either. Too bad, but we'll have fun skydiving above San Andreas without you
Here's an experiment you can try at home: grab any GTA title, start a new game and see how long you can go without committing any crimes at all. If you can make it, say, more than a few hours without completely losing your cool and plowing a semi into a crowd of pedestrians, then congratulations! You're way more patient than we are.
The first GTA featured a fart button.
A. Fart. Button. As in, a button devoted to making your character fart. Let that sink in for a second.
Now, imagine everything you've seen of GTA IV so far. Imagine its mature crime drama, its realistic take on violence and its enigmatic, Eastern European main character, Niko Bellic. Now, imagine Niko letting rip with a deafening fartstorm as he leans in to yank some stunned civilian out of a car, and you'll have an idea of exactly how far the series has come in the last 11 years.
Above: The very picture of quiet dignity
Below: The exact polar opposite of quiet dignity
For more Grand Theft Radar, click here.
Apr 23, 2008