The Richie Report: The Grand Theft Auto Takeover

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with October. On the plus side, my birthday turns up halfway through it which invariably means some sort of gaming comes my way courtesy of Mrs Richie (hello? Is it me you’re looking for?), and it’s the end of summer which means the immortal spider that lives in my car’s wing mirror fucks off and I’m no longer plagued by wasps.

The downside is that you get Hallowe’en, which is responsible for three things I hate:

1. Begging. Fuck you and your fucking shit kids. This isn’t America.
2. Overuse of the word ‘spooky’ by biscuit makers. ‘Blood oranges’ don’t include blood you festering cockwounds.
3. Fireworks (which lead up to Guy Fawkes Night or, as I like to call it, ‘Chav Christmas’).

But at least you get some games. Mainly because everyone wants to release their shit before Call of fucking Duty starts depleting the oafs of their benefits and ensures that no other game gets a look-in.

Since the last report there has been a real mixed bag of games but the most important one has to be Grand Theft Auto V. Now, I love Saints Row and have always disliked Grand Theft Auto (apart from the very first one which was sort of alright), so believe me when I say that GTA V is fucking wonderful. You probably know this already, and the game appears to have sold beleventy trillion millions, but if you’ve been holding off on getting it because GTA IV was a load of rubbery old bollocks, don’t.

Grand Theft Auto V: This good.

Instead of picking a cinema staple and mercilessly apeing it, Rockstar have chosen a Sopranos-meets-Breaking Bad approach to this story and while Tim’s review tells you everything you need to know, the thing that really stands out about GTA V is how interesting the game world is despite the fact that the actual map is HUGE. I don’t even know how Rockstar have managed to create something this good. I literally don’t understand how it is possible.

Electronic Arts: This good. Officially.

In less interesting news, Electronic Arse have spat out their latest micro-revision of their FIFA franchise. Surprise, surprise. It’s more or less the same game it was last year and all the years before. The achievements are a lot easier and quicker to attain than before though, which is odd as I’ve been playing the arse off of the game despite maxing it within a week of it being released. Online Pro Club matches with co-op buddies versus online hateful random pricks is genuinely more fun than it should be. That said, save yourself forty quid and buy a copy of FIFA 11. If the servers are still on you won’t really be missing out on anything.

Konami have also put out a new Pro Evolution Soccer but, as ever, the demo is bollocks and no-one I know has bought the game. That’s what you get for taking the best football game ever and making it shit.

Fans of other sports have also been well catered for with NHL14 (EA’s pointless hockey sim) and NBA 2K14 (which is probably unplayable because 2K Games always insist on putting in the awful squeaky shoe noise when people move about the court). Fans of the Sony PlayStation Vita also get to live out any violent fantasies with Real Boxing. I think this may be the first proper boxing game since the Fight Night series jumped the shark and our Mark seemed to enjoy it. At eight quid it won’t break the bank but it’s clearly a shoe-in for PlayStation Plus. My prediction? Pain.

That's right guys, make it look natural. Remember, this is a grudge match. Aaaah, there you go.

I’ve not had a good time of it recently. I thought Tomb Raider was duller than the average ITV period drama, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier is literally offensively bad and the less said about Assassin’s Creed the better. So when I bought Splinter Cell: Blacklist, my expectations were rather lower than the seven other Matthews kids who didn’t get to be national celebrities for being hidden under a bed.

First, I ignored it for Killer is Dead. Then I enjoyed some world-class ignoring thanks to GTA V. Eventually though, with the price tumbling each week, I thought I’d better actually play the damn thing while it was still worth something close to what I paid for it. Now, as with GTA, I only ever really liked the first one. The original Splinter Cell was one of the best stealth games of all time. Eventually Ubisoft milked the series to death but Splinter Cell: Blacklist isn’t just surprisingly good, it’s actually rather fantastic.

Ten chew. One is behind the camera.

The story, which has all the impending danger of a good James Bond script, is fantastic; the stealth action is slick, enjoyable and perfectly balanced and there are lots of options for customisation of gameplay modes without it all being far too complicated. The graphics are very impressive and the voice acting is now top notch thanks to them shipping out Michael Ironside. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ironside but he made it sound like Sam Fisher was more likely to hand out Werthers Originals to the baddies rather than choke their necks clean off.

It really is the best stealth game since the original Tenchu. Make of that what you will.

I still haven’t played a fucking Rayman game but apparently this new one, Rayman Legends, is meant to be amazing. It’s available on the Vita though so I’ll just wait a couple of months until they put it out on PlayStation Plus. Seriously, who even buys PlayStation games anymore?

While GTA V battles Remember Me in my head for my own personal GOTY award, last year’s clear winner was The Walking Dead. Despite the fact that it had little to no gameplay. What it did have was story aceness. In spades. So, you’ve got to be interested in Telltale Games newest adventure series, The Wolf Among Us. The story is so good and interesting that it’s a shame it’s just a comic book license, but I’ve played through the first chapter and I’m hooked. If an adult film noir murder mystery starring ex-fairytale characters is your thing then fuck you, weirdo. But give it a go anyway. If only for the lovely synth soundtrack.

Jean Michel Jarre: "Playeeng le synth museek makes le head grow zis beeg. Remember ven I viz pretty?"

Less lovely is the bafflingly dumb beat ‘em up, Girl Fight. The game, a sort of Tesco Value Dead or Alive that pits underdressed female stereotypes against each other, lacks innovation and real quality but it is a source of easy gamerscore if you’re that way inclined, but with much better examples of the genre on Xbox Live Arcade, specifically Virtua Fighter, this is one to be avoided. Unless you love watching poorly animated women hit each other.

Other games that were processed through the GamingLives-review-oh-tron 2000 were Phoenix Wright: Somethingorother (legal adventure where you press A to skip a lot of text), Rocksmith 2014 (Guitar Hero with real guitars), The Inner World (probably some sort of epic Dennis Quaid simulator), Total War: Rome 2 (epic strategy for people who want lots of detail instead of good, honest Red Alert 2 style fun), Goodbye Deponia (arcade driving game based on the popular cough medicine), Train Simulator 2014 (adult-themed group sex Kinect ‘em up), Just Dance 2014 (text adventure based on the musings of Franz Kafka), Superfrog HD (Crackdown meets ‘Allo ‘Allo for a new generation), Real Boxing (my style is impetuous, my defence is impregnable) and Rain (pre-Gaming Lives Lorna simulator).

A cursory glance at the UK charts reveals the following horrors:

  1. ASSASSIN’S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG – pirate-themed sequel to the dullest series in gaming
  2. BATTLEFIELD 4 – shooty fun for chavs who think Call of Duty is for chavs.
  3. FIFA 14 – I’m sick over a parrot, Brian.
  4. GRAND THEFT AUTO V – first I’m gonna get ya, then when I’ve got ya I’m gonna gat ya.
  5. BATMAN: ARKHAM ORIGINS – Rules and regulations? No place in his nation.
  6. FOOTBALL MANAGER 2014 – so dull that I can’t even be bothered.
  7. WWE 2K14 – some random characters generated by a cat walking over a keyboard.
  8. MINECRAFT: XBOX 360 EDITION – controversial autobiography by the leader of the Third Reich.
  9. SKYLANDERS SWAP FORCE – how do you land on sky anyway?
  10. POKEMON Y – touchscreen game that sees you randomly poking the vowels out of various currency-related words.

That’s enough. Just stay on the roads and off the moors. REMEMBER THE ALAMO!

Last five articles by Richie


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