Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Current First World Problem

When you keep a blog -- is that the right verb? "keep," like a pet? or should it be something more active like "rant" or "whine"? -- the tendency is for your passions to be blog fodder. Antick Musings started off to be everything but a book blog; I had a day-job editing and selling skiffy, so this was going to be the place to write about everything else and figure out the then-spiffy and new blog thing.

It's now almost nine years later, and even my rearguard actions to avoid this blog being all-book-reviews-all-the-time have failed; I haven't written about movies in a year or so, and I haven't even ranted about publishing in general for nearly as long. None of that is a problem, actually: middle age is the time when you find out who you really are and what you're really like, and then you have the rest of your life to learn to live with that.

But there are things I'm doing that seem like they should be bloggable, even though they don't manage to get turned into words here.

Specifically, I'm in the middle of basically playing my way through the entire Grand Theft Auto videogame franchise -- I avoided particularly violent games when my kids were small, so the only open-world thing I've bounced around in before was that Hulk game for the Gamecube (which was a lot of fun, actually: I'd love to see an updated version with more interiors and a wider variety of stuff to destroy). And they're interesting and annoying in ways that tickle my critical facility -- I've had a post I wanted to call "Methods of Control" bouncing around my head for three or four months now -- but I haven't managed to write about them in the six-plus months I've been rampaging around fake cities stealing cars and shooting criminals. It's always been more fun to just boot up the game and play, rather than thinking and typing.

I bought Vice City on my iPad in the early summer of 2013, before a business trip, but only started playing in August. But it hooked me hard, so I was soon playing concurrent games both on the iPad and my desktop computer -- and then moved on to GTA 3 on the computer, which was slightly disappointing after VC. I hit San Andreas a little before Thanksgiving, and finished up the storyline just after Christmas -- I haven't been trying to get to 100% on any of them, since some of the side missions are more annoying than amusing -- but have been playing SA on my iPad (which is really a lousy interface for this kind of game, honestly) for the last few weeks just because.

All of that just saw me buying cheap old software that I could play on my regular computing devices, so it was simple and easy. But then I bought a PS3 system as the big Christmas present for my boys pretty much entirely so I could get a GTA 5 bundle -- not that those boys minded one tiny bit; they've been obsessively playing Skyrim for the last two months and thanking me -- and got a copy of GTA 4 for the PS3 that they could give me as my Christmas present. (My GTA fix has become something of a joke around my household, as you might guess.) Well, the boys were 13 and 15, so getting one of the "real" game systems was probably overdue. We've been pretty serious about game ratings, unlike just about every other parent I know -- Skyrim was the first M-rated game I let them play, and I did a lot of research first.

(And, yes, I did decide to play through the GTA games in chronological order -- after I dropped back to GTA 3 after VC -- because that's the kind of mind I have: everything needs to be in order. Don't ask me about the handheld games -- actually, I did try to play Chinatown Wars a bit on the iPad, but the overhead view is distracting, so I don't expect to go back to it. The two PSP-era games may show up in my queue eventually; I think I can download them on the PS3.)

But then when I started to play GTA 4 on the PS3, I wasn't crazy about the experience: our gaming TV is old and lousy, and I missed using the mouse to shoot. So I installed Windows on my Mac pretty much entirely so I could use it to play GTA 4, and that's what I've been doing for the past eight weeks. That's beginning to get into obsessive territory: buying a game twice and installing a new operating system just to play it the right way.

Anyway, all that is a long prelude to my actual current First World Problem. I'm about to hit the endings on GTA 4 -- I'll probably play through both of them by the end of the weekend -- and the question is what to do next. (Yes, I've got the two DLC add-on games for GTA 4; that's one option.)

You see, the newest game in my last gaming obsession is out now: the game of The Lego Movie. (Making this even more complicated: I loved The Lego Movie, but the reviews of the game make it seem a little tired and rote. Doubly complicated: I came to GTA because I loved the Lego City game so much, and that was clearly a homage/parody/whatever of the GTA games.)

So my choices are:
  • continue with the GTA 4 world, and play the two side stories on my Mac
  • buy and play the Lego Movie game, probably on the Wii U
  • just play GTA 5 on the PS3 already, since that's what I bought it for (possible complication: I may feel compelled to buy a new TV)
 I haven't decided yet. But, if this is my hardest decision, my life is going pretty darn well. And it got me a long, rambly post that isn't a book review, which I will count as a win.


Anonymous said...

You should look into the Saint's Row series. SR1 is a GTA3 knockoff and not too interesting. But SR2 is amazing, because while the playstyle is basically that of the GTA series, the writers are far more genre-aware. SR3 is good too, although it kind of takes the snark of SR2 over-the-top. I haven't played SR4 yet because I am an adult with responsibilities :-(

Here's the first entry into a multi-part blog compare-and-contrast:

Andrew Wheeler said...

Anonymous: Saint's Row is probably next once I get through GTA 5. (Unless I play the Infamous games, which have the advantage of already being in the house now. Or maybe Red Dead Redemption, if I feel like staying all-Rockstar-all-the-time.)

I'd thought about just diving into SR 3, but I'll take your advice and look at SR2 more closely.

Martin Wisse said...

Start with Saint Row 3 if you're going to play it on the pc, as 2 is not very playable on it. On the PS3, either is a fine start, but the 3rd one is much less serious than the 2nd and imo, more fun.

If your kids like Skyrim and want more open worldish role playing games which aren't too violent or adult, try the Mass Effect series and/or Dragon Age origins.

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