Top 4 games we want to play in 2015: Shaun’s picks

 Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto: Online

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Pretty much a year ago and a bit I was loading up Grand Theft Auto V onto my PS3 because that’s what you do when the latest and greatest game series is released… on the PS3 and Xbox 360 only. So basically I was downgrading controllability from my previous super-fun experience on PC with GTAIV and going to the archaic PS3 with it’s 10 year old hardware and… well it has a Blu-Ray player so that’s pretty good.

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Motorbike Diaries: New Levers… and other stuff

I have been absent recently from the blog and for that I apologise up front. Honestly I love writing when something happens and recently not a lot has been going on… except that isn’t true because plenty has happened and I have just not been actively thinking on it. I purchased my first baby present for the new addition (due December) to my buddy’s new family. The gift in this case is in delivery mode from Apple and is a Withings Baby Monitor.

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It plays lullabies and is a night light, room temperature and humidity sensor and a camera streaming to your iPhone or Android device.

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Dawn Drivers: Waking up to the smell of octane

Waking up early is something I envision doing when I am well into my fifties and intent on going for a walk to stave off the belly fat. Currently I may have the same issue however I am not waking up early because of laziness. That stops when a private event comes around with the boys and girls from Zen Garage, I kind of skip laziness and go straight to stress… about whether my car is going to be enough to hang with these dudes and their highly modified and very defectable rides.

Strong mocha in belly and I am on the M4 motorway hurtling towards the darkness beyond my windshield, music playing at a medium level with the windows up to stave off the chilly early morning air, it’s 4:55am and I can’t remember the last time I was awake around this time… on a Saturday. Listening intently to my GPS guide and before long I have turned up to a nondescript street in what I think is Leichhardt though I wouldn’t know because this place is alien to me and I don’t know what the fastest way to the cop shop is. I turn into a dark driveway and notice the headlights shining on a far wall at the end of the drive “Zen Garage” it says and instantly I feel relieved, I found the place!

People and their shiny, low and fast tonne and a bit chunks of metal, carbon fibre and polycarbonate turn up. I really felt for the residents of Leichhardt that morning.

After what seemed like 30 minutes the rest of the crew arrived and I got to walk around the garage plus say “hai” to Sergio and his team. I noted a sign that urged respect for neighbours by not playing loud music or revving the engine or doing burnouts… seriously. Around 6am we all headed to the cars and started on the convoy through Leichhardt to Glebe and to the Harbour Bridge revving hard in confined spaces and generally keeping only the most basic semblance of control in high octane guzzling fun-time machines.

As for what happened next you don’t need me your humble narrator, rather pictures that illustrate the moments much better than witty banter:

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Waiting at the servo almost immediately after leaving HQ. Time to admire the cars coming for this epic journey

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Sergio’s Skyline, dropped lower than a worms winkie

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This Odyssey belongs to the Klumps

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E30 bimmers are a personal favourite, lovely wheels too

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Getting going. 6am and degenerates like us make quick moves

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Spit bridge for a quick gather up of the rest of the crew, nice cars abound

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Fiat with great stance and a tin opener taken to it. It’s Turbo charged.. you know.

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Ok Ok the Focus isn’t exactly low but it is fast and looks like a rally car.. right!?

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In good company

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That E30 again. My grandpa had a similar vintage 735i in the same colour

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This Maloo was loud as in apocalyptically loud.

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Great scene

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Cool S2000, seems to be the business

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Running to Kuringai

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A common sight, you overtake and then a Skyline comes raging past

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Great car

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Not sure if that is legal… aww heck who cares when it looks that good. Full roll cage and everything.

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Feels like a touge run in Japan, really just a 2-way in Northern Sydney

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Much fuel was burned for the cause that day

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Lake side and loving it.

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At the end of the run, cars ticking cool. The Focus did admirably

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Seems right at home with this lot… I think

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A beautiful view to end a great run

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Serenity… I will be back for sure

Thanks to the guys at All Stars and Zen Garage for a great morning, I crashed hard after this and slept for ages after getting home safe. See you next time.

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GTA Online: Car Review

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since I have posted something so I thought it’d be best if I stopped this laziness and since I haven’t bleated on about GTA in quite some time, why not say something about it. (Throughout this article I am going to assume you play GTA V. If you don’t, read on for silly musings, if you do then you are with fine company.)

I am still waiting with anticipation for Rockstar to release GTA V on the PC and after so long I have padded myself out quite nicely in Los Santos and I am kind of dreading doing it all again from the beginning on PC (Rockstar, please allow cross platform save or at least a transfer function). I have been there, done that and got most of the best stuff, the experience really is all about the mighty dollar. You buy a new bunch of duds and next month a new pack comes out with a raft of new goodies for you to buy, Rockstar is pandering to the consumer in all of us. Most of the time I buy stuff my character doesn’t even need like recently a set of top hats which look pretty silly on a female character cost me $5,000 a pop plus a new super car setting me back $500,000 which after modifications to make it better and faster (same thing right?) probably put the bill at $800,000, all said and done I spent $1.5 million on the lot.

Oh Shaun, you are a wasteful chap playing a female character with a wardrobe to rival Paris Hilton’s and a garage that could make Jay Leno weak at the knees, in Los Santos aren’t you… yes and no. Where there is no waste is in that garage because I love cars of most shapes and sizes, that much everyone except you knows already. What appeals to me is more vehicular temple with shiny floors and lighting like an art gallery all for slick and sexy sports and super cars than edwardian mansion overlooking the dales with a modest shed to house the carts. And so the diatribe about cars begins as I have spent a fair bit of my life here in this virtual toy box and when you do this many burnouts along with much opposite lock on stretches of beautiful sun drenched tarmac you begin to form an opinion.

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Jay who?

If you just started playing you might be poor, very poor as your bank account is in $100s and you do not have anywhere to remain safe from the hoards of crazy and maligned players who look for people like you to kill. That isn’t fair nor fun but you persist because you’ve had a look at your online web browser on your in-game phone and seen websites like southernsanandreassuperautos.com or legendarymotorsport.net and they have many shiny cars that you want so let me help you there:

Let’s start with things you probably want now because they’re new from “The Business Update” as in only this week could you actually begin to purchase them, all of us who have been playing since GTA V came out had to wait with you too:

Grotti Turismo R

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Looks fast, goes quite fast and scrapes alot

You fancy yourself a little well off after playing that one larger paying mission over-and-over again and now you have in excess of 1.5 million in your GTA$ account, you need the most expensive of the newly released cars to give you the thrills. Yes it is exciting and stylish and you will get looks from everyone when you drive it with some caveats. Firstly everyone has been saving up for it so at the moment it is like any new fangled thing, it’s getting around. Secondly it’s actually not that fast, I drove this thing on the highway and at full chat to find I was passing cars like they were stuck in reasonable traffic and not like they were parked, this is depressing.

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For the less fortunate this is the view they will need to remain comfortable with, until the next bumpy corner that is.

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She’s looks good but with a nose like that it only means trouble as soon as the road isn’t glass smooth

Handling wise it turns in quite nicely however it has a tendency to break traction at the rear under slightly bumpy conditions and in terms of predictability it’s as good as the weather service which means in the game of keeping it mint while you doddle about, many points are lost (style and man ones included). If you, like me mince about a lot parking it on the high street waiting for the gasps and nice comments from toffs about your car, then you can appreciate the sleekness of this car as it looks good. Bring the very low bodywork near a kerb however and you find that the Turismo R is not like other cars which hop up the kerb, this one grinds it’s skirts so you park up too close and you end up with a great big gash in the lower part of your fender making you look incompetent. The other part of the problem is the nose is so long and low that exiting your apartment or LSCustoms comes with scratch marks on the nose, now everyone is laughing at your and their misfortunes.

I feel Rockstar is kind of making a joke of all those of us with enough cash, properly introducing us to the world of exclusive hypercars, all their foibles and the knobs who buy them, touché.

Dinka Jester

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No spoiler, looks sleek and mean in a funny way, like leering at an enemy, for which you have many.

Everyone thought this would be the coming of the Supra to our pixel rich world, they were wrong because instead we got the next NSX, and we are better for it. A properly modern design that for us in real life, isn’t even obtainable yet unless you are Tony Stark. Initial impressions are that this car is small and tight in a good way where they seem to use only what is needed to make the car and make it look fast. Short front and back overhangs and mid engine supercar looks seem to suggest the Jester punches above it’s weight.
For the car mod fans (really, who isn’t in this game) there are a raft of aggressive parts to make your Jester your own although I did notice that going ‘up’ in the cost brackets when choosing parts for this car doesn’t necessarily end with a good looking car as they have given you the chance to make  it look pretty much like a hill climbing racer and therefore beneficial to you like a large wart is right on the nose.

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The Jester mucking about at night with super dark tint, surely this car isn’t legal like that.

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Nice behind

Driving around and you notice immediately that the engine note is far too coarse for a car like this, though with time you appreciate it as the car is quite aggressive in acceleration. Handling is sharp with a tendency towards understeer however some handbrake and opposite lock (oh look at me) and you can slide about like a hero. I haven’t had the chance to take the car to an event like “Drift King” to really shake down the handling characteristics when oversteering but the AWD platform seems to be quite docile, easy even to drive unlike the odd 9F and it’s AWD chassis that has a tendency to want to put you in a wall wherever possible (maybe I am not very good with that car).
Bonus points need to be awarded for not being the first choice of the cashed up nutters yet shining through as the surprise package and so desirable it too like the Turismo R, looks good in the more fashionable districts. Put tasteful mods on this one with some nice wheels and maybe skip the roll cage (I put the race components on) to be uber understated cool.

Grotti Carbonizzare

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Well-proportioned but something is amiss with that front.

This is a car that has been around since the beginning and yet it is worth a mention as my late bloomer choice. I didn’t want to like this car, it looked like a Japanese sports car front and a pretty italian coachbuild in the back with a lovely roofline. Though I spent many hours staring at the back of most cars when I drive them I knew the front of the Carbonizzare wasn’t quite right and in that way it put me off.
Rewind to 2 months ago and I, like many of the other players had 500+ million dollars and nothing to do except kill things so I bought one and fully specified it until it was scary. By now I had gone through each car available and where some things were right, many experiments in car modification went wrong, for this car though it went right.
The Carbonizzare is a front engined rear drive Italian sports car sporting a high-revving V8 and I put everything that was available on it except custom tyres as the high-revving nature seemed to suggest it could drift, which it does very well. The Carbonizzare’s engine is the real party piece as it bounces off the rev limiter while you slide sideways, it’s a joy on the twisty stuff.

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Drop top mode, basking in the afternoon light.

Styling is still a little suspect with the oddity that is the front but folding origami hard top roof up or down the car is quite good looking, pretty even when you consider the curves that make the rear. Not that it really matters because you will be having too much fun executing smooth effortless drifts from street to street after which you can park it and admire… from the rear.

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With a bum like that…

More mentions:

Entity XF – Buy it, probably the best handling supercar and the second most expensive after the Adder (yuck and can’t handle ice cream in a bowl). Everyone who knows… buys the Entity for precision and performance.

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On it’s way to another race. All this car seems to do is race.

Coquette – The Corvette look alike and a little bit prettier than the real thing, it has GT racing modifications that don’t go off the handle and can really stick it to all the Sports class cars. It was my first choice for a sports car and I would do it again. Has a detachable roof so you can cruise around like a poseur or stick the carbon roof back on and race like a mad man. It has some sudden traction breakaway issues as the chassis is stiff but for the money it’s a great car that looks the business.

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Looking fine in gold. All my cars have a backstory like why she owns one and what it was for. This is an ex-racer, I say no more.

Stinger GT – If you collect then maybe you want something you can admire like poetry in motion yet standing still. Ok that’s nonsense because you want something expensive you can show off to your friends so why not drop $875K on a Ferrari 250 GTO doppelgänger? Handling characteristics are sharp… for a car from the 60s. You will also find it oversteers whenever the accelerator is depressed but it doesn’t matter when money looks this good. Opt out of getting whitewalls to spoil the look and make it properly classic, this one below uses lowrider wire spoke wheels to make it look right (original wheels are the size of bottletops).

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Pretty much all this car is great for is looking fantastic. God agreed and shone a ray of light to seal his approval.

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Visitors… from another country

It’s been a while since I’ve seen my sister, she, as you may already know has been living in Germany for the past few years and has been making some fantastic progress over in the land of steins and wurst (the most wurst). She’s picked up the language and from what I hear she is fluent and without accent so she’s like a news anchor, the two have purchased a new place of their own and just generally getting on well. Recently she has been over here with her husband, my new brother-in-law Michael and we’ve been having a great time catching up, talking about random crap and generally mucking about being silly most of the time.

We have had some of the best food since each day was planned way in advance based not on what we were going to do or see but what we were going to eat. Alot of the itinerary/menu was mum’s cooking as well as some new super hot skills acquired by another writer on this blog, Justin! He’s made us amazing pork belly and ensured everyone was having a good time. I have to say that overall it’s been a roaring success. Many late nights watching movies and playing games and having people over and celebrating Mum’s birthday has turned the Kok household into a whirlwind of activity and that is alright.

Steph and Michael will be making their way back to Germany on Saturday and I can’t help but feel that it’s time to plan the next European holiday and soonish because all I seem to be doing at the moment is play GTA, joke about with siblings and work.

Christmas is coming soon which means it’s going to be very hot around here. I have no leave or not much so I’m going to have to be in the office a lot, which isn’t half bad as long as the A/C is on.

Have some pictures to show that there is some sort of life behind the words:

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Stephanie getting into a pork rib at Ribs and Rumps. They have the best ribs.

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That’s me mah! Happy Birthday Mum! Terrible pic because of the lighting. Mum doesn’t eat beef and was dressed far too well for ribs so it’s seafood.

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Full rack of Pork for Justin and a Rib-Eye steak for me, I was sitting there with this lovely cut of the steak and thinking about how ignorance really is bliss

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Gow Gee – We don’t muck about when we eat Gow Gee and this has to be the best comfort food/happy place/mum’s cooking/dad’s cooking ever. Also if you must know Justin is fussy about Gow Gee and nowhere and I repeat nowhere has made Gow Gee that is acceptable to his taste. I am less fussy but I do agree that other gow gees have too much fat or tastes funky or are badly made etc.

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Some shots from my daily holiday to Los Santos

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New car… in game. A highly modified Jeep Wrangler look-alike, love it.

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Great shot near the top of Mount Chilliad

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The new car matches the shades, it look slike a Ferrari 250 GTO. costs a pretty penny as does the girl with her wardrobe.

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Had to have one, this DB5 look alike goes for $350K

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Grand Theft Auto Online: My life online is actually a mostly solo affair

GTA Online is a big deal around here, I was one of the initial players who did their darndest from the start to get online and begin my own custom virtual criminal career with my very own customised-ish character (more on that later). I’ve been through the issues with online and now that most of that is done with I can honestly say that I will never look back. It was amazing, playing through the storyline with my now bestest pixelated buddies Michael, Trevor and Franklin however it’s is really something so much more endearing and personal when you create your own online avatar and what is ultimately the downfall of the city of Los Santos, Shaun- I mean Lilith has arrived to the city of bright lights and cellulite and all criminal enterprises should be worried. I decided to play a female character as it’s nice to look at a non-masculine character on screen when you’re running around killing or just chilling on the beach. It’s so much cooler to see a kinda-fetching female (more on this too) wearing body armour and armed with an AK-74 assault rifle “whacking” guys in the kapow or “bang-bang” you’re dead… way.

I thought maybe I’d share elements from what I spent most of my time doing since starting out as a nobody and getting to “sorta-somebody” now. In the beginning:

Character Creation (“the more on this” thing)
This is a sort of weird affair of creating the appearance which is based on appearances of ultimately your grandparents. You start by a screen that looks like this:

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Not my character but notice how small the grandparents are? How do I know if I like how my grandparents look? – Gamezone

I thought the process was a bit difficult to be absolutely sure you liked the look of your grandparents whose face is really small you can’t see where good genes come from. Followers of this blog might have seen my old posts about Saint’s Row 4 where I had the Boss look just like Lara Croft which (there seems to be a theme here) is a nice touch. Maybe Rockstar just wanted to mix things up a bit, I had the option to use Niko and Misty as parents too however anyone who knows Niko Bellic knows that he isn’t pretty so Lilith would have to look like Misty or nothing… so I went down the completely custom try-find-the-best-grandparents-and-parents-for-the-best-look option. I don’t do things by halves when it comes to custom characters because I’m going to have to look at this mug and body for hours on end so it damn well better look acceptable.

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This is Lilith doing a selfie with a recently stolen Baller (Range Rover). I think she looks fine, nice grey leather jacket

Things I do
My mission from the beginning was to buy the most expensive apartment from the get go by being fastidious in money saving and robbing loads of stores as well as stealing and selling many cars. Doing missions was actually a side note to me as it took time to load up a mission and then drive to the location and then fight it out with some NPCs alone or with other players (more on this too). Initially the take was merely OK and I found that in the time it took for me to get a mission done I could be out earning a fair bit of cash by knocking over approx 5 small convenience stores in a row with a take of around $9K all said and done. The trick is to use a helicopter (from the heliport east of Vespucci or the airport or the Sandy Shores airfield or wherever you usually see a helicopter) to get away from the cops without having to drive on a 4-star wanted level. So you start the day by stealing a Lampadati Felon GT or a Gallivanter Baller netting you $9.5k or $9k respectively and as you can’t sell another for 24 in-game hours you just fly about robbing stores for their cash.

Ill gotten gains are then spent surprisingly easily especially because I wanted to allow for outfit changes due to the feminine nature of the character. Outfits can get expensive with a female tux jacket setting me back approx $10K, so she works hard for the threads. Other than that I’ve really been on and off with friends completing missions and races, most memorable of which was stealing a C-130 type aircraft from a hangar by gunning down loads of private security mercenaries.

Pain, so much pain… and ranting!
If I were still in kindergarten and GTA O was my education system then the comment “Does not play with others” would come up in my report card. Why that is isn’t because I’m anti-social it’s mainly because everyone else is. I recall getting out of a successful mission and immediately banking my cash out of fear of being killed with 10k in my pocket only to get killed running to my car… which is tracked for me and is pointless for anyone else to drive except myself. The d-bag who killed me decided to kill me just so he can steal my car which was a very sexy orange/yellow C63 coupe looking thing with a load of custom parts. How could he/she think that the car was a random spawn, I am not sure. I died and because of this person’s ineptitude and lost $2k to “health bills” and my car went a grand total of 50 metres before it shut itself down as it was locked… to me! (why the inbred thought it was worth someone else losing $2K just so they could drive 50m is beyond me and I hope alfaalfa-whatever your silly name is dies a lonely and painful death IRL). In another situation a friend and I just completed a mission to be foisted upon the mean streets with a crazed player running my friend over and then proceeding to try that on me from which my trigger finger responded with much squeezing and spraying into his car causing a swift retreat. Why do people assume it’s a good idea to kill other enterprising criminals, you don’t even gain much from that and all you look like is a great big twat. There is much money to be made if you work TOGETHER, but that is too difficult for these ignorant, sociopathic, small-minded loonies whom for the most part (or all of it) must be terrible at life and are failing at it miserably on a drool covered, snot-slicked, smelly, wooden, dunce stool in the basement of their probably meth-addicted mom’s hovel in semi-darkness, and I say probably because they haven’t surfaced to find out yet. Play nice, kill people in death-matches where it’s appropriate and make friends amongst the criminally minded to take down the man together.

It’s fun
I apologise for the diatribe above because it’s easy to avoid the trolls by just starting a crew or friend only server and wreak havoc like you’re the only criminal in Los Santos who’s friends pop into town every now and then to make some criminations cooperatively. The game really does come together when you have people with you in the situation too, however it’s when the objective ends is when I wonder who is going to shoot me in the back which isn’t so much a worry when you have people you can trust, stand up guys. Also forging ahead in your own story with your own way of doing things is refreshing and even if the story from the single-player side isn’t there to gel it altogether what is more tantalising is that this is your story, yes you, this is your chunk of San Andreas to carve and hewn into your own masterpiece and how you get there is your own choice.

Pursuit of Happiness/Money
It dawned on me early that there would be no point buying anything other than the best apartment. Yes most of the homes have the same interior and yes the cool 10-car garage is the same if you have a $200k or a $400k place. From that point I didn’t care for the fripperies of collecting anything except cash to make 400K for my new digs. If you bought any other place you’d only retain 50% (or something like that) of your previous place’s value as a residual on the trade to the new one. You can’t own more than one property either so it makes sense to invest initially in the one you really want and then buy that and not lose 50% of your cash just because you started at the bottom or middle of the ladder. By the time I wanted to buy and had the cash I realised that the most expensive apartment actually did not have the view nor the highest level in the building so I ended up saving $9K and purchasing the second most expensive apartment in the game therefore solidifying my wanker status.

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My garage last week, oh how I love this room

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Would you like to lounge?

The view of Vinewood, the city is quite nice too
I kill people and love cool toys… and I take selfies just outside the military base for fun

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Fifteen52: The Tarmac

Hi Everyone, the past few weeks have been full of stuff happening. I have been madly playing Grand Theft Auto Online and I just bought Appt 40 in the Eclipse Towers because it’s 9K cheaper than the most expensive apartment and it’s the one with the view of the city rather than the mountains (because I prefer that). If you want to go on a crime spree with a willing partner in crime, my PSN is “Koksters”. Cards against Humanity arrived and we’ve had a bit of a geez at that. The other big item is the Fifteen52 Tarmac wheel which also just arrived at the Kok household, which if you don’t know what that looks like:

Yup, it's a wheel.

Yup, it’s a wheel.

I was in the market for a new set of wheels for my car for a while now and I was kinda bored with the usual offerings, great solid offerings from Work, SSR, Rays Engineering and all other stuff cheap/expensive or in between. So when Ken Block decided to use what is arguably the most polarising set of wheels on his mad as a pair of cut snakes Ford Fiesta it set my heart racing and my thoughts combobulating with all sorts of combinations of colour and fitment.

I can spiel forth the virtues of having a cool wheels with little to no regard for trend except to set one, this will mean little to most as it has love it or hate it looks from the golden era of rally. At one stage I was thinking of putting a set on the Toyota 86 (should I have taken delivery) which shows how much commitment I have for the wheel (because that would have been a massive mistake). I haven’t seen this wheel on the street in Australia as yet so here’s to being one of the first.

Without much more diatribe here are the results of our long wait and subsequent taking of delivery and then installation:

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Note burnout marks

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I painted the centre caps to give it a bit more definition and some props to Fifteen52

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This is my best side – MINI

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Flat, very flat wheel for more pop when you look at it. The fitment request was “Flush”. With some lows it could be hella flush but I daily drive so that might not be advised.

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Brothers

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The MINI was the more exciting change as the WRC MINI is a Countryman and this is a little bit of an ode to that with some rally style wheels. The stance is OK at this time. More to come for this ride.

Thanks to Tuner Warehouse for getting the wheels into the country: http://www.tunerwarehouse.com.au/