Game Description: For Niko Bellic, fresh off the boat from Europe, it is the hope he can escape his past. For his cousin, Roman, it is the vision that together they can find fortune in Liberty City, gateway to the land of opportunity. As they slip into debt and are dragged into a criminal underworld by a series of shysters, thieves and sociopaths, they discover that the reality is very different from the dream in a city that worships money and status, and is heaven for those who have them and a living nightmare for those who don’t.
Liberty City is so dense with culture, from its varied architecture to its faux-internet websites and range of satirical television and radio programs, that it is easy to forget the boundaries the game has set and easier to get lost within it. The improvements on graphics, sound and design were always going to be a given though it is significant that the game controls are now adequate enough to foster a sense of empowerment in every shootout or cop chase.
Some of GTA4's problems can be attributed to the developers' desire to hold features over from previous incarnations, and the rest seem to be caused by the understandable lack of focus that results from attempting to create a truly epic game world. All of these problems are outweighed by what the game gets right, both in the superlative story it tells and the unprecedented freedom the multiplayer mode offers.
I wish I could talk about Manhunt 2 without addressing the endless debacle over its censorship. The press coverage of the game's AO rating, its near-cancellation, and eventual bowdlerized release has been so overpowering that it drowned out any discussion of the game's actual merits and flaws.
Game Description: The sequel to Rockstar's sinister action game about a man who wakes up in a living nightmare where he is being stalked for sport and must sneak through the shadows and kill by whatever means he can devise in order to fight his way out. The sequel picks up with a new lead character, new gangs, a new storyline with gruesome twists and turns, and much more. The urban horrors of Cancer City are gone. Manhunt 2 takes place in a dark, shadowy, asylum filled with dark realities and psychological turmoil.
After reading Scott's main review for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, I wondered what I could possibly add. Scott's writing is always a tough act to follow, and he covered it all— gameplay, story, sociological aspects, role-playing elements, and even the optional cornrows. I agreed with everything he touched on, so I sat down looking for words I could say that he didn't. It was tough, but eventually I did come up with something—"ten."
That funeral scene, along with a touching moment when a grieving son walks into his now empty childhood home and looks at his dead mother's photograph, are surprisingly emotional moments, moments that had me checking the disc to make sure that I'd loaded up the right game. Has GTA gone all Dr. Phil on me?
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