by Chris Davis
reviewed on X360
Interactive entertainment technology has grown up over the past thirty years and, for the most part, our understanding of and appreciation for it did as well. The advancement of time has not meant universal acceptance however: video games have seen controversy after controversy since becoming a mainstream medium. Perhaps the most controversial of the whole lot caused a revolution for an entire industry: Grand Theft Auto III. Seven years ago on October 22nd, 2001 players were introduced to true sandbox gaming, allowing the person behind the controller to do, go, and see whatever and whenever they desired within the realm of the game’s environment.
The incentives to this newfound freedom did not come without a political price. With the nature of the game being crime-based with the player on the side of the bad guys, the game became the most desired target for political abuse in the following year. With the release of Grand Theft Auto IV – the official sequel to the events that took place in Liberty City – players get to return to the worst place to live in America.
My Country Tis of Thee
Rather than focusing on a nameless mute thug, a Scarface knockoff or an early 90s future rap star, the latest title in the series brings an outsider to Liberty City. Niko Bellic seeks the land of opportunity but hits the shore at the city of mafias, crooked cops, and ethnic gangs that fill the streets with violence and suffering. As a Serbian immigrant – literally fresh off the boat – he seeks a new start in life. Unlike his precursor protagonists, Niko comes to us as a man with a far more prevalent past. A former soldier in the Bosnian war, Niko is haunted by the past and seeks redemption for the horrors he and his former comrades visited upon others.
Unlike the previous main characters, Niko really develops as a person. He possesses a soul, a conscience that regrets his mistakes and failures in the past and only wants to start anew. Alongside his cousin Roman, owner of a local taxi service, the same thing that drove him to Liberty City stands in his way: his former comrades. Traitors to his former squad, of which there were only three surviving members (Niko included), he must seek out and find the truth behind who betrayed them and exact revenge by any means necessary. Along the way he is introduced to a large number of characters, probably the largest group seen in the franchise to date. Filled with plot twists, both somewhat obvious and many others completely unexpected, Niko fights his way up the criminal food chain all the while protecting both his allies, his employers, and his family. With the main quest lasting well into thirty-plus hours in length this game has by far the most inviting story ever produced by Rockstar.
With nothing but the clothes on his back and the few possessions in his duffle bag, Niko arrives on the docks of Liberty City with nary a penny. Drawn there by his cousin Roman’s tales of women, fancy cars, and fortune, Niko’s hopes of being able to enjoy life in the new country are quickly dashed. Reality sets in after he learns that his cousin’s luxury condo is nothing more than a studio apartment filled with cockroaches directly next to an elevated train. It becomes clear to Niko that he will truly has to start all over again, having to work his way to the top one major player at a time.
No Pros and Cons at this time