It turns out that Grand Theft Auto V’s online mode is the perfect place for combat photography. Christopher Murrie, senior film editor at Laika, uses the in-game cell phone feature to take snapshots of the violent action in Grand Theft Auto Online and posts his results to Reddit. His character stays in passive mode, wears a “MEDIA” jacket, and travels around Los Santos in a news van. The results are similar to the type of images you’d see coming out of real-world conflicts.
Murrie told Polygon that he started his hobby after another player was wreaking havoc on the streets with a tank. He followed and started taking photos of the violence instead of participating in the mayhem. The idea has caught on. Players are joining Murrie’s in-game group, Media Lens, to become virtual war correspondents. A Pulitzer can’t be far off for one of these brave photojournalists.
This year, instead of just singling out games I like, I’m going to single out games that do best what I like most. Namely, games that tell a story through gameplay. A relevant story, unique to the way videogames tell stories. Games that really get the unique strength of the medium over and above books and movies. Games that are particularly great at being games and not just puzzles or tests of skill or dazzling virtual wonderlands.
This is partly a shame, because it’s going to exclude some of my favorite games this year. It’s going to exclude games I liked mostly for mechanical reasons. Don’t Starve is the game that finally got me hooked on procedurally generated survival-a-thons, partly because it’s got so much personality and mystery. Desktop Dungeons is the most amazingly intricate cerebral puzzle rogue-like I’ve ever played, neatly arrayed under a superlative meta-game of building up and unlocking. Tales of Maj’Eyal is a rogue-like with addictively intricate character development, honed over a decade of development. I never really cared for the goofy sloppiness of kart racers, but this year’s best driving game is a kart racing game called Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. Monaco is a glorious playground full of interactive bits, lovingly realized in that often too-precious retro fat-pixel way, and some of the best multiplayer co-op you can play. Splinter Cell Blacklist takes stealth as far as I can imagine it will ever go by giving it varying levels of importance in a generous set of sandboxes, all interconnected by the economy of buying cool weapons and gadgets. Which brings me to Dead Space 3, which drank up far more time than a Dead Space should with its funky cool spaceweapon crafting. Assassin’s Creed IV’s gorgeous pirate ship shenanigans were just the breath of salty fresh air the Assassin’s Creed series needed. If there’s a platformer as good as Rayman Legends at the art of running, jumping, and variations thereof, I haven’t played it. I haven’t gotten very far into Wonderful 101, but I love the fighting system I’ve seen so far and I’m eager to explore the rest of it.
All those games would vie for a spot on a conventional top ten list. But none of those games really had an effective narrative hook, and that’s what my list is going to single out this year. As videogames grow up and increasingly earn their rightful place alongside movies and books and TV, these are the ten games I’m proudest of, the games I enjoyed the most, the games I’ll remember for reasons other than mere gameplay. These are the games that spoke the loudest, the clearest, the most poignantly, the most memorably. These are the games with voices that most deserve to be heard.
After the jump, the best games of 2013 Continue reading →
Today’s free update for Grand Theft Auto V adds new capture-the-flag game modes. These are called “jobs”, which I presume explains why you get money for doing them. Not to mention “job points”. And these are no mere flags, which is why the modes aren’t technically called “capture-the-flag”. Instead, they are raid, hold, grand theft auto, and contend. Read the details about each mode here.
Or, heck, just jump online and start playing without having any idea what you’re supposed to do. It’s worked for me. I didn’t get my online character to level 12 by reading rules.
Overrated is a loaded term. It looks good in a headline. It’s often used for no purpose other than to goad a reaction. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. When I call a game overrated, I don’t mean it’s bad, that the reviews were wrong, that the people who liked it were dopes, or even that I didn’t like it. It just means I’m surprised more people weren’t more critical, that the conversation wasn’t more often about ways the game could have been better.
Also, for this year’s lists, my experience has been entirely last-gen. I have no first-hand experience with the latest console systems, which probably have their share of overrated games. So over the next week, I’d love to hear from you early adopters in the comments section about next-gen games that were overrated, disappointing, surprising, or your favorites.
After the jump, the most overrated games of 2013 Continue reading →
Rockstar will begin letting people create their own multiplayer content today in Grand Theft Auto V’s online mode. The Content Beta will allow players to set their own deathmatch areas, plot race routes, and generally go nuts Trevor style with some of the same tools the developers used. Player created content will be shared through the Rockstar Club site, where other open-world mayhem aficionados can check them out. The best content may even get chosen by the developers to be shared community-wide.
The Deathmatch and Race Creators will come to you via a free update, and you’ll need to have a Social Club account that is linked to your Xbox Live Gamertag or PlayStation Network ID to use them.
Rockstar also announced that the addition of a capture the flag event is planned for a later December update.
Hobos riding the rails and back alley thugs know that the broken bottle is the deadliest weapon ever made. Rockstar knows this too, because they’re adding one to Grand Theft Auto V in the Beach Bum update. The free DLC will add new weapons, including the thifty broken bottle, and new beach-themed vehicles to both the single player and online modes. The update will expand the GTA Online offerings with new jobs, races, and customization options.
The Beach Bum update releases on November 19th.
Tom Chick and Jason McMaster announce their upcoming charity golf tournament for some sort of charity, probably having to do with sick kids. They also discuss Grand Theft Auto V, online and off; whether League of Legends is really a sport or even worth spectating; the latest in Marvel Heroes’ superheroics and eternity splinters; dogslicers and horsechoppers in Pathfinder; and the gameplay [sic] in Beyond: Two Souls.
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I can think of a handful of what I consider perfect movies. These aren’t literally perfect movies, of course. I don’t believe in some Platonic ideal movie made manifest. Instead, these are movies where a uniquely talented writer, director, and actors understand each other completely, and they have something relevant to say, and they somehow advance the medium or tell a story that connects with me. I’ve never really thought of videogames on the same level, which is odd, considering how I consistently try to apply the same standards to videogames that I apply to movies and other forms of entertainment. In five or ten years, with enough distance, will I consider Grand Theft Auto V one of those rare perfect games?
After the jump, I’m torn between “ask again later” and “signs point to yes” Continue reading →
Goodbye, ugly dude with the weird high and tight haircut. Farewell, woman with too high cheekbones and strange smile. You, and many other user-created criminals of Grand Theft Auto V’s online mode are gone forever. According to Rockstar’s update to the stimulus package blog post, characters that have been lost in the recent server hiccups will not be returning. Pour one out for our homies!
“For those asking about their lost characters or rank, those will not be able to be restored so we sincerely hope that this cash stimulus we’re giving out this month will help you get back on your feet or to make your new life in Los Santos & Blaine extra sweet.”
Players will just have to fumble through the awful “family tree” character creator again and fill those empty menu slots. We mourn you, anonymous online hustlers and petty ne’er-do-wells!
Rockstar is going to give everyone half a million dollars in Grand Theft Auto V’s online mode. If you’ve battled through connection issues, disappearing characters, and general server mayhem trying to play in the online version of Los Santos, you’ll get a cool $500,000 added to your stash in the coming weeks. Bling! To quote a famous philosopher, “I’m rich, bitch!”
In order to keep the current worldwide in-game economy balanced, we will be providing this GTA$ to players via two deposits of $250,000. We will announce specific dates as soon as possible, but are currently hoping to be able to make the first deposit by the end of next week (after we’ve confirmed that issues causing game progress loss have been fixed) with the second installment to happen by the end of the month. For players who experienced cloud server errors, connection issues, and lost game progress and characters in these first days of GTA Online, we hope this GTA$ helps to facilitate a fresh start or makes your continued life in Los Santos and Blaine County extra sweet.
Maybe I’ll give up the criminal hustle and bustle and retire to a life of leisure? Long lazy days of golf and darts are in my future. I’ll sit in the park near the LifeInvader building and grumble about these young whippersnappers and their pants all falling down. Damn kids!
You can’t very well have a list of top videogame spaceships without folks like us needing to offer a second opinion. So, in honor of Starship Week, Brandon Cackowski-Schnell, Tom Chick, and Nick Diamon fill some holes in official Quarter to Three list. We also discuss the birth pangs of Grand Theft Auto Online, we celebrate the revival of Bioshock 2, and we stage an intervention from Marvel Puzzle Quest.
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(Sometimes a response deserves to be more widely read than it would be if it were a private email or a post in a comments section. This is one of those times. The following email is reprinted with the permission of the author.)
I’m a 50 year old female gamer who absolutely loves Rockstar games, especially Red Dead Redemption. My wife and I (yes, we’re lesbians) have been playing Grand Theft Auto V since it came out. We’re slowly wending our way through the storyline, taking our time to drive around and discover random events.
On the latest Quarter to Three Games Podcast, Tom Chick talked about how Rockstar is telling a specific story and because this story doesn’t really have anything to do with women, it shouldn’t have to worry about issues of misogyny. His point was also that Rockstar and other developers shouldn’t have to rein in anything because someone might mistake the content for reality. I certainly understand what he’s saying. Since I used to work in the comic book industry, I too am a strong advocate for “just because a story/game is violent doesn’t mean that people will become violent by exposure.”
However, I just have to point out a thing or two. I think we can agree that most people in the world are taught that stealing is bad, and that killing to get what you want is out of the question, and even that lying/cheating is generally a no-no. But can you say the same about how to treat women? If society had a handle on how women were treated, there’d be no rape/death threats for Anita Sarkeesian’s exploration into gender issues within the gaming community.
For me, the complaint isn’t necessarily that Rockstar is misogynistic. It’s that in Grand Theft Auto V, and other GTA games, women are treated as one-dimensional things. Even cars and weapons have more depth than women. I’m only a bit into the game, and I haven’t gotten to the torture scene yet, but so far women in Grand Theft Auto V are airheaded new wave feminists who sound crazy (both Michael’s wife & Franklin’s aunt are in this vein) or airheaded fame seeking shits who can only scream “you’re ruining my life!” One of the best things about Red Dead Redemption was Bonnie MacFarlane. Why? Because she was a well thought out character who had depth.
Why is it okay for us to play a game where carjacking is the norm? Because the vast majority of folks aren’t likely to commit grand theft auto. But what about treating women like objects? Even my nephew, who was raised by three strong women, has enacted forcing a woman to go down on him, in my presence. At the time, he was trying to prove his masculinity to me. This is why in boy toys like Grand Theft Auto, removing content like touching strippers without consent might be better for the world. Yes, it’s okay to have dark humor regarding things that we know are wrong. The problem is, within the current boy culture, treating women like shit or like an object isn’t a wrong thing. So in this case, excusing misogynistic content by calling it dark humor is the ol’ boys club creating a wall.
Rockstar revealed more details of their vision for Grand Theft Auto V’s online multiplayer mode. Their latest blog post starts by warning players that while they are working on internal testing and adding more servers to avoid “teething problems,” the first few days of Grand Theft Auto Online may be temperamental. Rockstar explains that server load issues are the reason for the iFruit iOS app and Social Club features not working correctly.
Rockstar confirmed that there will be an in-game store to purchase virtual funds with real world-money. Earlier this week, some cash shop information had been uncovered by players sifting through the game’s files, causing rumors of pay-to-win or free-to-play gaming structure being imposed on Grand Theft Auto Online. The developer insists that the cash shop is a convenience option only.
You will have the option to purchase GTA$ through the in-game Store. The game and its economy have been designed and balanced for the vast majority of players who will not buy extra cash. There is no in-game paywall and nothing that should disrupt the balance of the game. You don’t have to spend real money to attain the cars, guns, clothes, flash and style of a high-roller in Los Santos, but can if you wish to get them a little quicker. The economy is balanced differently from the single player economy, and cash earned in one cannot be taken over to the other. Most players will earn cash much faster Online than in Story Mode.
The blog post ends with a preview of some of the upcoming free updates to the online mode. Rockstar plans to add a content creator so fans can design their own deathmatch and race scenarios, a capture the flag mode, a “Beach Bum” pack that will add more in-game items, and cooperative heists that will include a planning board feature similar to the singleplayer game. Grand Theft Auto Online goes live on October 1st.
Grand Theft Auto IV had some of the coolest and most intriguing DLC of any current generation game. With The Lost and The Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, those folks over at Rockstar kept their audience busy. I can’t wait to see what DLC they’ll come up with for the excellent Grand Theft Auto V. Which is why I’ve compiled a list of titles that Rockstar might want to use.
After the jump, putting the grand theft in Grand Theft Auto V? Continue reading →
Mo’ money, mo’ problems! Internet sleuths have discovered files indicating that Grand Theft Auto V’s online multiplayer feature will offer in-game cash for real-world money. As detailed in this Reddit discussion, while the in-game Store feature is currently disabled, the public files on Rockstar’s servers (accessible with a bit of work) show four “cash card” DLC items that can be purchased to add funds to your online character’s account. The cards offer $100,000, $200,000, $500,000, and $1,250,000.
“Cash is king in this town. Solve your money problems and help get what you want across Los Santos and Blaine County with the purchase of cash packs for Grand Theft Auto Online. All purchased cash is automatically deposited into your character’s bank account. Spend wisely, cash therapy is fleeting.”
The prices for the in-game cash is unknown at this time. The offer of in-game cash purchases would seem to suggest that the multiplayer component of Grand Theft Auto V will make acquiring and spending money a focus. Hey, those disappearing car mods don’t pay for themselves! Grand Theft Auto Online releases for free to all owners of Grand Theft Auto V on October 1st.