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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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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GTA Online: You must be bored by now

I decided to write a suggestion letter to Rockstar about things I’d like to see:

Hi Guys,

Big fan of the GTA series.

At present I am really enjoying GTA Online and have suggestions for features (No particular order):
– Ability to move cars around in the garage via a hud window (like the context menu) where cars can be swapped into position
– More modification parts for the cars and ability to add more top speed via transmission rather than acceleration or possibly the chance to make a compromise between the two. Love the cars btw, Coquette is officially my favourite.
– Cross platform character progress – I really enjoy the game and have never sunk this many hours in such quick succession into any one game before. I will, like GTA 4 before it buy the PC version of GTA V/Online when it comes out and play with my PC based buddies. I know you’re putting in the work to make the PC version as good as it can possibly be so I ask kindly, no wait I implore you to allow me to import my GTA Online progress to the PC version as well. Currently I have fun with the PS3 version however I can’t help but feel that in some ways I am wasting away time that will be better invested in the PC version where I will inhabit for the foreseeable future when it comes out, what can i say I am a keyboard and mouse guy.
– Post mission passive mode – I have had points where after a game I get shot just because I was running to my car. This isn’t that big a deal but would it be possible for like 20 seconds of god mode while you get away from the lunatics that you were just killing merryweather dudes alongside?
– Crew only or Friend only option from within an Online game – I like the Crew/Friend only session option, it means I can be with people I trust. When starting GTAO from GTAV the option is there to get onto a Crew/Friend only session but I can’t find the option when you are already in a GTAO session. Can that be an option rather then exiting GTAO and starting GTAO again.
– Go back to where you came from – Before a mission if you are on a session by yourself or with friends would it be possible to go back there after a mission? Sometimes it’s necessary to re-invite people again to the server and sometimes resorting to the PSN messaging system which takes a while to write anything. Starting with friends and then ending up alone is lonely.
– Car randomisation – I am not sure if everybody is harking on about this but I find that car spawns seem to be a bit repetitive and not for lack of the selection, for one I know I haven’t seen an Obey Tailgater except the one on Michael’s drive in single player and never in GTAO. There are a shed load of Cavilvades and Issis though when you don’t want one. Handy = Gallivanters and a lot of them to sell so no problem with that.
– Car Armor – Could the glass be armored as well? Drive-bys could make the window go down or something? 360 degree shooting is wildly unrealistic anyway.

Best Regards and great work, keep it up!
Shaun

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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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Grand Theft Auto V: In Brief

I haven’t posted as usual, Friday around midday. The reason for that is GTA V the game I have been waxing lyrical for the last 2 months. The game that makes me write about other games to write about GTA. This is borderline obsession but how can you not be worked up about “the next GTA” on the demonising or praising sides of the fence? I, thankfully love the game, I always have enjoyed and immersed myself into the offerings from Rockstar with the GTA titles. GTA V has not disappointed me one bit due to the vast, vibrant setting and interesting characters to boot, you feel a part of the world they have sculpted so carefully with the technology pushed right to the limit, I cannot praise the level of detail and thought put into everything you can see and interact with.

What I am not going to do now is review the game because I am no super-gamer and I don’t finish games hyperfast and then go online to write up the awesome guides and tips. What I do is take the experience in reasonable sized pieces with gaming sessions around 4 hours long, even then I don’t get through that fast so for me it’s all about taking it in (as I write I am at around 47%). And because I am taking it in I hope I can give you some info on the different way things work for someone as “relaxed” as I am with the pace (No pictures this week, I don’t know how to snap photos on PS3):

Driving/Cars/Motorcycles
I love cars, everyone who knows me knows I don’t like cars, I love cars, just not in some sicko sexual way, I like to drive and think and talk about cars, my name is Shaun and am a petrolhead (Hi Shaun). GTA V is car lovers heaven, high end sports cars, off-road pickups, modern and classic US muscle cars, sleek convertibles and all others because most of it is cool… are represented here. For the first time the vehicular line up is extensive with multiple models from manufacturers (moreso than GTA IV) but also the detail and the diversity on the streets of Los Santos is astounding. I am nearly halfway through the game and I am seeing some cars for the first time in the game. The first foray you would have gotten/get is in the Obey 9F (an Audi R8 amalgam) did what GTA IV did when I first tried it out… it sucked. Why, well it was far too twitchy and turned unnaturally quickly, in the amount of control it had as a handler it was out of control and I disliked it. Since then I have had the chance to drive nearly everything else and I love it. The feeling is definitely like a Need For Speed or Burnout with easy handling and fun easy dodging, however making you work a little to get the drift happening right. So far the highlights of my offline garage is the Vapid Sandking XL (Ford Raptor on roids), Inverto Coquette (Red, carbon bits, looks like 2014 Corvette), Bravado Buffalo (2013 Dodge Charger, Franklin’s default car) and an Imponte Phoenix (70s Pontiac Firebird, Custom for Trevor).

I am rambling but you should know:
– Cars are modifiable, if you modify your default car (for Michael, Trevor or Franklin) the car will always be modified. Find a Los Santos garage and drive/ride in.
– Things you can modify on your car: Suspension (Lows), Armour, Braking, Performance (Turbo, Engine, Exhaust, ECU), Body (Bumpers/Splitters/Diffusers, Spoilers, Wheels, Tyre Smoke, Tint, Colour, Roof, Roll Cage)
– Playing the game I notice adding a turbo seems to negate the need for engine or transmission modifications as the turbo maxxes the acceleration stats (is there any benefit to adding other stuff?)
– Rockstar seems to be on the pulse of car culture, their choice of wheels, cars and modifications shows it. They included wheels that look like Volks and SSRs… WOOHOO!
– Bikes are modifiable too, I love my Bagger (Harley Road King) in matte black.
– You can lose your car if you park it at your character’s home garage. So far Trevor’s parking lot at the strip club (kinda spoiler) doesn’t have this problem. I have lost approx 3 cars and 1 bike this way over all three characters. Luckily I wasn’t too fussed about the cars but that could get annoying if you bought something for a fair bit of change and then lost it. The most secure way to retain cars is by putting them in the large storage facility type garage.

On Foot
Walking around is not such a bad way to get around these days, with the sprawl of the city or the waves on the beach I can’t take in everything fast enough. Shooting and evading baddies and cops has improved somewhat. Aiming with the auto aim function is well executed and when you get shots on target in quick succession you feel like a badass. I haven’t started a triathlon yet but I am assuming I will have fun with the biking, running and swimming events.

Flying
This is the one part that falls down slightly. I remember getting in a chopper in GTA IV and loving the idea of getting around quickly and deadly like in the annihilator. I was the king of the sky until I hit something like a power pole or skyscraper. In GTA V the same excitement was had when I approached the helicopter, then on take off everything was fine until the turbulence from all the strongest winds around the world decided to hit me at once and from every direction. I get that flying isn’t an easy thing to do but the hipster living in Silver Lake, LA can’t drive for peanuts but I bet he’s having fun driving in Los Santos. I am not sure why R* decided to make driving better but flying worse. The same goes for planes where flying is a constant correction and adjustment exercise with what feels like constant turbulence. Are they trying to stop us from flying too much?

Money
We all like money, tricking co-workers into thinking they won the lottery is a low thing to do, it also reveals everyone needs money. The game really makes a big deal of making money and lots of it, items are sufficiently priced to drive the need for lots of cash. Making money in the first half of the game is sparse except for the first heist. I was stupid with this heist so I didn’t make much (no spoilers just make sure when the crap gunman drops the loot, ride over it to pick it up as Franklin). There is a great glitch where you can find an underwater case of money and immediately switch to another character and then switch back to collect again and again until you have enough to buy that house/business/car. Apparently you make a load of cash around 50% (nearly there!) so fear not, you can get everything you want eventually.

Stock Trading
i thought this deserved a section on it’s own because it’s very much like gambling except you can influence the outcome. I don’t profess to be some super trader dude so I rely on the tips everyone else has. You can influence the ups and downs of stock by just being destructive or through the assassination missions where if you get the intel before you start the mission you can get all 3 guys bought into a particular stock with a guaranteed profit after the assassination mission is over. Generally you are killing company execs, developers or jurors so you can see where this is going. I highly recommend you leave these to after you do the big union depository job as you can bet big and make a load more than I did by playing them and putting in all I had at the time (~$800K per character)

The Law
One leap I am happy with is the Police. They are more accurate with the gun and fast with the driving. This is usually a bad thing for the aspiring criminal however what they have also done is make line of sight realistic.
What I mean by this is best explained by comparison with GTA IV:
– Running up wanted stars is easy in GTA IV and GTA V – I was t-boned by a cop car in V as I pulled out and then immediately got 2 stars. IV would have let that go. Walking near to people setup in locations i.e. a picnic or around a camp tends to make them want to call the cops for no reason. Makes me stay away.
– Hiding in a carpark in IV would spell trouble if you were still in the “dragnet”, no matter how well you were out of the public’s view, the cops would turn up and surround you, choppers were near impossible. In V as long as you were one turn ahead and then out of sight down an alley cops would convert to “point of view cones” on the map and as long as you kept out of their “view” you were safe and then you would lose your wanted level after long enough.
– Swapping cars in IV did nothing to stop the chase, in V it dropped the amount of stars as long as you were out of sight.
– Police AI in IV was quite simple, in V they have your number and will work hard to get you and your friends

San Andreas: The town the country and the vibe
I truly enjoy the sprawl and lights, I have always wanted to visit LA and this is the closest thing to that so far. You watch the movies, the tv shows about LA and there is a made up vision of the city and what is there. R* captured the gritty monumentalism of New York for Liberty City and almost in a complete opposite they got sunshine and urban sprawl as well as outback country of Blaine County just right this time around. Downtown and then the dusty plains and undulations feel like completely separate parts of America. Once again I don’t know what real life LA is like but my word, LS feels authentic, glitzy glamour and dilapidated projects have never looked or felt so right together. Buildings are not simply copy pasted round the place, every building feels individually constructed to be unique, if you want some tips on architectural design then walk around Franklin’s Vinewood home on the hills. Roads are textured and varied, it all looks sunburnt and a cool feature is they even got the ripple strips along the side of the highways to make that noise you get from driving over them. Draw distance has also changed somewhat with nearly all of the surrounding city completely visible and defined even at distance, this turns up the realism from GTA IV’s draw distance although I will say in my first foray there was one or two instances of a whole building popping in from what would have been less than 50 metres away from the character.

Online
Can’t wait to try this out, the game has had some issues with the online system dropping out for hours at a time (BAWSAQ, Social Club) probably as R* is ramping up the GTAO servers and such, if the response to the start of GTAV is anything to go by they will most likely be beefing up their servers to contain the overwhelming demand for game servers when everyone, no doubt would have finished the story and be vying for the 500 missions with their own custom character.

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Grand Theft Auto V: I’m packed and ready for my vacation

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That will be me, minus the 20+ years of sun and plus some Clooney

If you are reading this then you, like me are waiting anxiously for the release of the much hyped, much loved game in the line of the one of the greatest most storied franchises in the history all thumbstick and keyboard history. In some ways it’s a chance at a vacation to LA except it’s Los Santos and people are going to be trying to kill me.

I will admit that there is some paranoia in my mind for tomorrow when the doors open and I am allowed to pick up my copy of GTA V. Why? Well I could get mugged, I’m not some muscle dude with a penchant for beat-em-ups IRL. I like puppies, small kittens and motorcycle accidents when I watch youtube, ASMR videos are also great, straight up violence is reserved purely for the virtual world.

But who cares about that stuff because what do we know about the game for sure?

– It’s set in Los Santos and the game map can fit Liberty City (GTA IV) as well as all of the map from GTA: SA
– 3 protagonists, 3 different points of view to get you grounded in all aspects, from glitz and glamour to the hoods to the stix, quickly and without using just the linear storyline to take you there.
– Modifiable cars – More than that you can purchase cars and own them, you can retrieve cars from the impound lot if lost (destroyed?).
– Customisable weapons – Guns are not lost after death which is handy
– The Almighty Dollar – Not just cars but homes and planes can be bought and stored, think Test Drive Unlimited with more freedom to do even more
– Mission Customisation – Not only can you plan and execute missions/heists according to your choice, you can play the characters you want to play during the mission. 3 different perspectives. What I am not entirely sure of is whether the perspectives can be forced, can I play just Michael during the whole mission?
– Better car physics – GTA IV wasn’t to everyone’s taste last time around, I for one did not mind it although I remember loading it up back in 2008 to find that I had no idea why cars were so weird to drive versus the lo-fi GTA: SA which was actually fun. Cars handle more arcade racer like for a better experience because driving is great and a part of GTA V but it’s not everything so why not make it fun?
– Side Missions – A lot of them, diving, hunting, racing (always), extreme sports, triathlons (returning from SA), bounty hunting the list is quite long.
– Television – GTA IV had some TV on the… TV (in game) but it was just a footnote. It seems that the player’s actions could be recorded to be played back in a television bulletin or a “Cops” style TV show. I was watching the TV spots on the GTA V website and I was blown away at the production quality and attention to detail that went into what would generally be a throw away side note, may now genuinely be a fantastic component of the game. Do crime, go home at the end of the day after being chased by the cops to review all the carnage and chaos on the news!
– Checkpoint mid-mission saves – So you don’t have to replay the whole mission again if you fail just like TBOGT
– Inside house can see outside house – Interiors are a big deal in GTA V with shop fronts and homes/apartments having an uninterrupted view of the outside, possibly (finally) even seamless transition.
– There is a car that looks like an Aston Martin DB5 – you can pretend to be James Bond in LA
– Animals make an appearance under the section of things that can you can hunt or be hunted by. Franklin has a dog which is great because COD Ghosts also has dogs and that is a big deal for the COD universe (lol).
– Missions are replayable – Fantastic, you now have 3 different perspectives and endless iterations of that to play again and again.
– Rockstar have almost deliberately setup the PS4 and XBox One launches to fail as everyone will still be playing GTA V and GTA Online and won’t be bothered with anything else.

Tonight on Los Santos' Most Wanted

Tonight on Los Santos’ Most Wanted

Things that are hinted but not confirmed:
– GTA Online hints at the possibility that San Fierro and Las Venturas might make a return in the “constantly expanding world” (fingers crossed!)
– You can change the clothing of the 3 protagonists however it doesn’t seem to be possible for the haircut as it might detract from the trademark look.
– GTA Online player characters seem to not have a voice hence “That was awkward”
– Seasons – Postcards on the official page appear to have landmarks in different seasons, could the game run through different seasons?
– Want to buy a house in a nice neighborhood? Cause a lot of destruction and chaos in the place where you want to buy and drive house prices down so you can buy on the cheap and then cause chaos in another neighborhood to take the heat off your county to let prices go back up again. Same goes for shares except cause destruction for the entities linked to the company i.e. securavans, airplanes, offices and branches.
– Grove St is back and bigger (Thanks to Carl) – Everyone is wearing green in Franklin’s intro video. Purple features too, so the Front Yard Ballas might also be making a return as Franklin’s enemies.

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Ducati 1098 – Also good as rolling gun platform

Things I am hoping for:
– Meet characters from the older series in LS – I love the idea of meeting Niko, Carl, Tommy or Claude again and not just for some passing scene but a whole mission maybe and seeing how they developed after their storyline ended in the previous game? We embodied the characters for a short time, want to see them again for old times sake.
– The other 2 cities from San Andreas later on with possibly more storyline for the main game. Doubtful on more main story addition as the end of a GTA usually comes with a finality

Things I am wondering:
– How would a purchase of an apartment work when you are on your own 16 player server? What if someone bought the same apartment on another server and then joined you on yours? Would you own the same place or would you magically warp to another level on the same apartment. Assuming the outside could see inside (i.e. the kidnap mission from the gameplay trailer). Would there be a problem with dual ownership and locations on the building?
– When you steal a car can you then respray it and then “register” it so you own it properly?
– Would money earned in the SP missions be used in the MP world?
– Does wearing the hat from the collectors edition, while playing the game automatically make you a big baller and does the Playstation Eye/Kinect see that and make you a level 100 badass in the game? (ok maybe not)

Bring on September 17th!

Gallery

Saints Row IV: Same stuff, now with more fun

saints-row-iv-logo-600x335

Carjacking, shooting dead, speeding, flying, running, insulting, punching and blowing-up these are a few of the things you are doing in Saints Row IV. If you isolate them like that it seems like a ticket to a penitentiary, what i didn’t say was speeding faster than a car while running, punching so hard that the target explodes, flying/gliding like a bird after jumping off a building. What is obvious is that realism really isn’t the key, non-stop excessive fun at the expense of virtual NPCs is. When a game includes the ‘Dubstep Gun’ alongside the usual armaments for pixelated purveyors of death and destruction, you just know it’s time to suspend your disbelief and pop your huge sociopath cat shaped hat on.

The Boss and Crew. She looks a heck of a lot like Lara Croft don't you think?

This is not the same world as before, Zinyak has taken over. The Boss looks like a sexier and more dangerous Lara Croft, now with 400% more posse

The Boss has never looked better

Just in case you needed convincing, that she looks like Lara

and another picture just to make absolutely certain

and another picture just to make absolutely certain

Saints Row has proven itself to be a viable contender in the Grand Theft Auto-style or sandbox game genre. It makes no attempt at trying to be better than GTA or wanting to compete directly with GTA except that it’s also an open-world albeit a wacky and insane one. They might be doing this out of respect, it might also be fear because Rockstar, makers of the GTA series gives as good as anyone else and when they feel threatened (outside of the legal aspects anyway) they strike with parodies or in-jokes about the offending game or developer within their own games. For Saints Row being so off kelter is not such a bad thing and with the hijinks players got in the previous installment, Volition must have thought ‘let’s turn this s#!t up to 11, no screw that how about 12 or 13?’. Care towards character development or a deep storyline were kind of set a side to allow for the craziest set pieces, weapons you probably haven’t thought of and strippers, lots of near nude women walking around Steelport’s streets.

That's big, the UFO thing that is

That’s big, the UFO thing that is

For this instalment of the Saints Row franchise we see the addition of super-powers to the player character and weird happenings in the city of Steelport (similar in most ways to the previous version). Without giving away too much it’s kind of like ‘The Matrix’ except not so full of itself as well as Mass Effect 3 except not serious… in any way. Also I made my character look almost exactly like Lara Croft and that is cool because walking around kicking-ass and taking names is much better when the character looks like the hottest virtual female character ever to grace the computer monitor, chase camera is a grand thing. It’s this customisation-ability that sets Saints Row apart from the average, I was bored playing The Bureau, I needed something to liven things up and fill in the gap between now and GTA V. Playing this game now, I am wondering how much fun GTA V will be when you can’t leap buildings in a single bound or perform super smackdowns.

Launching from static. like Neo

Launching from static. like Neo

Leaping buildings in a single bound, as opposed to 2 or 3 bounds

Leaping buildings in a single bound, as opposed to 2 or 3 bounds

Super speed makes cars redundant

Super speed makes cars redundant

Speeding, not a crime when it's sans vehicle

Speeding, not a crime when it’s sans vehicle

Gliding, falling with style - As your powers develop you can run faster and glide further

Gliding, falling with style – As your powers develop you can run faster and glide further

It looks like she's tickling this zin alien...

It looks like she’s tickling this zin alien…

...Nope she's just stuck her hand right into his chest cavity

…Nope she’s just stuck her hand right into his chest cavity

This looks like a sex act in mid-air...

This looks like a sex act in mid-air…

...Ends with a slam so hard he pulverizes

…Ends with a slam so hard he pulverizes

This could be painful for the zin

This could be painful for the zin

Swinger

Swinger

Heart-touching

Heart-touching

Puny human

Puny human

Wrestling moves are awesome

Wrestling moves are awesome

More awesome when you have superpowers

More awesome when you have superpowers

Blur of blood and pain

Blur of blood and pain

Have you ever been so mad you just swung an alien by the leg?

Have you ever been so mad you just swung an alien by the leg?

Lara... flexible

Lara… flexible

So in essence Saints Row IV is crazy fun, it’s kind of like a big block of DLC except the graphics engine has been polished somewhat. The lighting effects are nicer and all the more important as most of the game is spent in darker hours or aboard a large moveable object suspended in the void of space. Play to run faster than the fastest car, jump so high you can flip off invading aliens and then smash them so hard on the ground with super strength they become pulverized, this is the game Infamous and Prototype avoided being. Saints goes far to be ridiculous, so much so that it includes a wheel modification at an in-game shop called ‘Rim Jobs’ that looks like glowing dicks for spokes, I think you see where this is going – nothing is sacred.

One of my favourite guns in the game, the Dubstep Gun. Makes music and kills baddies dead. Also civilians dance to the beat

One of my favourite guns in the game, the Dubstep Gun. Makes music and kills baddies dead. Also civilians dance to the beat to cool lights

Same city, new objectives

Same city, new objectives

Tomb Wars

Lara taking on the aliens with a laser sword, this = awesome

Steelport - Not the same as we remember it

Steelport – Not the same as we remember it

You go around collecting these "Clusters" to upgrade powers

You go around collecting these ‘Clusters’ to upgrade powers

Another of the side quests is destroying power generators to take down shields

Another of the side quests is destroying power generators to take down shields with your bare hands

Power generator destroyed!

Power generator destroyed! Look at the lighting effects

Mad-Tomb-Wars

Mad-Tomb-Wars-Max

These things change from red to blue when you take them down

These things changes from red to blue when you take them down

For all the super powers a girl still has needs, like this supercar for instance... requisitioned from the local police

For all the superpowers a girl still has needs, like this supercar for instance… requisitioned from the local police, cheers Mr Wayne

I wish there was something important to say or a segue to something profound and deep about how Saints Row IV is a commentary on the deepest desires of the teenager and young person in western society but it isn’t. What is for me is a whopping good time, a generous serve of lunacy sprinkled with crack.

Oh you came for pictures? Have some more freshly snapped ones (click for hi-res)

Kinzie makes a return

Kinzie makes a return as your guide… oracle if you must

That's Keith David!

That’s Keith David, Vice President of the USA

Walk into the glowing door

Walk into the glowing door, the fate of the world rests on your lithe, toned shoulders

SR4 takes you to interesting locales like this virtual world... again

SR4 takes you to interesting locales like this virtual world… again

Text adventure SR4 style

Text adventure SR4 style

The Boss and Keith David share a moment

The Boss and Keith David share a moment

The team near the beginning, about to gain a fourth

The team near the beginning, about to gain a fourth

Matt Miller! escaping the alien ship with goop all over... reminds me of a movie

Matt Miller! escaping the alien ship covered in goop… reminds me of a movie

Oversized mech suit, nothing is beyond SR4

Oversized mech suit, nothing is beyond SR4

Boss calls dibs

Boss calls dibs

Keith David recreational

Keith David recreational

Pods with humans inside... where do I find Neo?

Pods with humans inside… where do I find Neo?

Some rail shooting action

Some rail shooting action

Do you play Saints Row IV and want to know how to get your character to look like mine? Check out youtube for a tutorial video for all the settings at Image as Desired.