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Sunday, September 28, 2008  

Grand Theft Life

Child development experts generally agree that if a kid doesn't learn certain skills at certain ages -- speaking, tying shoes, saying "I love you" to get out of trouble -- it's going to be harder for him or her to learn them later on. I'm developing a similar theory, along the lines that if you don't learn how to play Grand Theft Auto III in the early 00s, you'll never get good at it. At least, that's the only explanation I can come up with for how persistently and comprehensively I SUCK at it.

I did play it, back in the day, a little bit. LPG brought her PlayStation 2 over and plugged it into our TV and I tooled around in Liberty City a bit, mainly playing missions she had already played. Then, as now, my greatest strength was crashing into moving vehicles. At one point I could drive a van into a Humvee, bounce off it, and reverse into it again before I was finished spinning out. I hasten to assure you that this was only in the environment of the game.

But then, as now, my biggest weakness was actually finding my way around town. It was fine when I had LPG at my side, giving me turn-by-turn directions like an even more sarcastic GPS system. I accepted this as part of the learning curve. After all, my sense of direction is strongly tied into my kinesthetic sense, which means I can't ever remember what direction my stolen computer car is going when I'm constantly facing ENE in my basement. I figured I'd get over it soon enough. But when Trash joined us and started helping with the directions after about five minutes of just watching, I suspected my spatial relationship handicap might be a bigger weakness than I thought.

We didn't have a PS2 of our own then, and the pirated version I got for PC never worked all that well on my machine, unless I wanted to play one frame at a time. So I didn't really spend much more time on GTA3 until well after GTA4 had come out.

Man, I'm telling you right now, just keep me away from GTA4, because my GTA3 gameplay is nothing short of humiliating. I keep forgetting to save my game, which wouldn't be so bad, except that I also keep forgetting how to get out of a car once it's on fire. I can't find my way around town to save my life -- literally. I can't tell you how many times I've been wandering around with my health in the teens, looking in vain for the hospital (I know it's near the police station, which I figured out after all the times I got busted stealing cars right outside the hospital after coming back to life there), until I accidentally drove my stolen tour bus into the harbor. I can't even reliably crash into other cars any more. Pretty much the only thing I can manage is changing the radio stations and being able to tell whether a character is being voiced by Joey Pants or Mikey Rapp.

At one point, after several humiliatingly vain attempts at the mission where you destroy the three Chinese laundry vans, my PS2 just quit on me. "I'm not going to be a party to this any more," it said, and refused to read any game CDs, no matter how many times I cleaned them. One night I even brought the unit upstairs and spent two hours trying to fix it, using a walkthrough that I found online. It ended up being a futile, wasted two hours, but since that's how any given two hours of playing GTA3 usually goes for me, I didn't take it too hard.

Instead, a few days later I called the Sony help line. I didn't tell them that I had recently cracked the case open and literally written on one of the parts; the unit was used when Trash got it for me more than a year ago, so it's not like the warranty was an issue anyway. The person on the other end of the line asked me a few questions, and then invited me to ship it to them, and they'd send me a new one for 45 bucks. Now, I don't know if you've seen what PS2s are going for, hidden away in the back shelves of the electronic section along with the Atari 2600s and Commodore 64s, but this was a significant savings.

So I shipped it off, and a few weeks later, it came back. That very night I brought it downstairs, hooked it up, and fired up my GTA3. Look out, Chinese laundry vans.

Except no matter how well they fixed it, I still get lost and/or blown up. I don't trust myself to succeed with the grenades I've been given to do the job, so instead I just keep stealing car after car and crashing them into the vans until I can't drive them any further. The fire engine is handy for that. but it's hard to find, and when I do, I have a tendency to either tip it over in one of those giant potholes (why do I persist in ignoring those traffic cones blocking off the street?) or drive it into the harbor. I should really go online and research the "swim to shore" cheat.

Either that, or just put the game away until 2101 or something.

posted by M. Giant 12:06 PM 1 comments

1 Comments:

Grand Theft Auto. Isn't that lovely?

It's not just a felony! It's fun!

I'm holding out and waiting for Mob Rules One: The Sacking.

Pearl

By Blogger Pearl, at September 30, 2008 at 10:22 AM  

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