The Art Of Crime

Niko Bellic

In the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a fierce war at school. Either you sided with the Sega Genesis or you threw your support behind Nintendo’s original console system and it’s successor, the Super Nintendo. Which side you were on determined who you could and who you couldn’t hang out with at school and lives were constantly lost on recess battlegrounds. Ok, not really, but the marketing at the time hyped up the rivalry to ridiculous proportions and I grew up a die-hard Nintendo man – scoffing at those who preferred Sega and even subscribing to Nintendo Power magazine (under the totally 90’s pseudonym, Radd Syckes).

However, when the Super Nintendo gave it’s last gasp in 1996, I felt slightly disoriented. The next generation console by Nintendo, the N64, didn’t wow me. The games seemed to be too “kiddie” for my maturing tastes and I absolutely detested the controllers. I felt like I couldn’t make the move over to Sega’s new console, the Saturn, either, because of the poor reception it was receiving. I was in video game limbo!

For the next few years I instead focused my efforts on studying and achieving academic success in high school (yeah right). Ok, maybe I just did other things besides buying new video games. But right around 1998, I ended up playing a friend’s completely new console system and was blown away. Out of the blue I was a convert to the Sony PlayStation and, as a result, soon became introduced to my two favorite video game franchises, Metal Gear Solid and Grand Theft Auto.

Well, due to my extremely long backlog of games to play, I recently just finished the latest GTA game (GTAIV) and let me confirm what everyone else has been saying about it (for 3 years now): the game is a masterpiece. You play as Niko Bellic – a Russian immigrant who has just landed in Brooklyn – who seeks to find fortune and redemption in the city. Unfortunately for him (but fortunate for you!), Bellic is an unsavory fellow who just has one elite skill he can ply as his trade: killing people. So, you begin to become well acquainted with the seedy underbelly of New York: drug smuggling for the Russian mob, bank robbing for old Irish gang holdouts, and even conducting assassinations for the New Jersey maffia.

New York City (or Liberty City as it’s called in game) is the perfect backdrop for a GTA game with it’s instantly recognizable landmarks, sprawling area, colorful and varied scenery between boroughs, and sea of interesting people (and their cars) to interact with. Sure, most of the game missions are either escape in a car under these circumstances or kill this person under these circumstances but the story is so great you never really notice and the small unique changes to each mission are good enough to not bore you.

Although I loved every minute of the full GTAIV game, I did make one big mistake. In each of the games (since at least GTAIII), you can achieve 100% – by doing every scripted thing in the game including completing all sidequests, collecting all gear, finding all the hidden items, etc. It’s a massive undertaking and one I’ve never felt the need to do – except for now. Well, I got damn close, but am still missing 1 (of the 200) pigeons and 5 (of the 50) unique jumps. Who knows where they are, but I’ve lost my patience in finding them so I’m moving on to my next video game.

Some little program called Metal Gear Solid 4! I love the PS3!

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