The biggest box office battle to date isn't between to movies, but two different entertainment mediums colliding this weekend in the battle of GTA IV vs. Iron Man, many analysts are predicting that GTA may affect Iron Man's box office as people choose to stay home and play rather than take two hours to watch arguably the biggest film this year not called Indiana Jones. Sounds a little silly to me. For one, most people will probably look forward to a slight break from all the time they are putting in. Secondly, despite morons like Jack Thompson claiming that 10-year olds are snapping up the game, GTA is still rated M, which means plenty of youngsters will not have their hands on it leaving them free to go see the awesome PG-13 rated goodness. People blamed Halo 3 for a poor box office the week it came out, but none of the releases that week were particularly enticing, so it's hardly a fair comparison. Yes, some people will probably still stay home and enjoy their weekend in Liberty City, but hardly enough to really put a dent in Iron Man's opening salvo.
So yes, I have played a few scant hours of the new GTA. MY impressions? This is GTA as I always thought it should be on some levels. I've never been a big fan of the series as a whole because despite it's stronger points like a gigantic city being your virtual playground, lots of huge issues that people just seemed to completely ignore that drove me nuts. The crap auto-aiming. The clumsy fighting. The repetitiveness of the missions. The weak & disjointed story. But most importantly-The supposed ability to do anything and everything boiled down to driving around and shooting people until the cops stopped you, which to me was only fun for a couple of hours. This new GTA addresses the biggest issue, as you can actually do lots of different things that are mostly entertaining-like bowl, watch TV, catch a show, etc.
But some problems still remain. The driving is horrendous. The camera is problematic at best. The combat still sucks. The story missions are fairly repetitive. But everything else works so well and creates a living, breathing metropolis that is amazing to just walk around in, much less drive. So even if you haven't been crazy about the GTA games in the past, give this one a shot because I really think it's the open-sandbox game that they've always strived for, and one of those games that finally shows us what next-gen hardware is capable of aside from a pure graphical upgrade.
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