Initially, I had trouble deciding on what to write about.
No, I didn’t get stuck in a literal bear trap, though playing RE4 on an incapable computer certainly felt like it. Though, I guess if there was just a single performance issue, it would have been more manageable and akin to just one trap. Unfortunately, due to the abysmal differences in specs needed and the specs required, it was as if stuck in a field of traps.
I was super excited to play the title too, despite having already quadruple dipped on the game. At $20 bucks with enhanced performance (and Steam related goodies), it was hard to say no. Needless to say, unless you want me to bullshit my way through how exciting Spain was at 5 frames per second, we’re skipping the RE4 sh-peel for now.
But just for fun, I will give you a small taste of what Spain would actually be like at 5 frames per second.
The other game I was going to write about isn’t very topical in any real sense. It’s not apart of an anniversary celebration, nor is it a reexamination of an upgraded experience. No, the other game I wanted to write about was simply an old favorite, the PS2 version of Vice City, in all of it’s classic freedom. I know the mention of the game seems kind of random, but a PS2 was given to me as a gift not too long ago. The gesture was pure charity, and in response to a series of events I would rather not discuss here.
Regardless of the circumstance, I felt obligated to acknowledge the gift by immediately enjoying it. All too often, I take what I have for granted, almost self-destructively so. My own procrastination can give way to severe degradation, acting out as the most painful kind of slow death I can imagine.
The first step to not being chainsawed to death in a field is the acknowledgement of both the field and the chainsaw, and how to avoid either. With Vice City, my acknowledgement of both the generosity and the fun to be had was enough to avoid my usual trappings, so a victory for everyone involved.
I always thought Vice City was one of the poster childs of the safe sequels done right in video games, following in the vein of Doom II, Sonic 3 and Majora’s Mask. I know those seem like random games, but they all kind of played the role of sound remixer with many of the previous game’s resources and assets, but provided fresh experiences regardless. Best of all, because all of them used a lot of the same virtual equipment of their highly successful predecessors, they all had a quick turn around. This is awesome to fans and non fans alike, as anyone who wanted more got it fast, and everyone who didn’t know what they missed got a second chance to understand why.
Kind of a double your pleasure, double your fun scenario.
In some insanity, I do believe GTA isn’t entirely a game that’s solely about mass destruction, it goes way deeper I think. Sure, who doesn’t like to “drop a tank”, pop on god mode and go on a never ending rampage? Everyone, that’s who…but you can only kill the entire population of a city so many times before you really can’t do it again. GTA is way more than just immersing yourself in a mass grave of your own creation, it’s about being unashamed of just being you, and letting you be the most you you could imagine you being.
I do like the idea of believing in the you that believes in yourself, and it often acts out as an unspoken aspect of great game design. I feel most video games kind of facilitate that on a subtle level, GTA just seems more successful in doing so, reaching a far broader audience than most others. As mentioned, while the game does allow you to go ape shit in your own little virtual playground of destruction, I never really have those types of conversations with others. More so, those dialogues always seem to take a back seat, secondary to the much larger picture you help to paint when creating your own GTA experience.
Much like with GTA III, a lot of people will talk about feeling comfortable with themselves just driving around, as if the city helps them find relaxation though curiosity. People talking about how they like their favorite vehicle to be a certain color, or how funny they find the pedestrian dialogue to be.
Self-awareness, color coordination, and people watching, not stuff you’ll find the back of the box bragging about.
The soundtrack was phenomenal, I won’t be the first nor last person who says so. Whether it be Lazlow bringing the metal or K-Chat delivering the funny, there isn’t a radio station that you can’t get addicted to in this game. Even without Lazlow making us chuckle as Vice City’s talk radio host, his very absence in that role during VC somehow makes his performance in III all the more legendary; fun culture connection and world building at it’s most engaging.
The acknowledgement of the soundtrack is just one more tick in the category of non-blood shed GTA supplements; music, but to a further extent personal celebration. That feeling of being virtually alive, and often times without needing to do so through taking virtual life. I know this seems like an odd point to drive home, but I think there’s a large truth in these games people really take for granted.
There’s a facade present, one that can be quite brutal, but the visuals really cover up this entire other level of meaningful connection. I referred to it once as “virtual theater”, enjoying the act of playing a role or being on stage, without ever really being that character or in that location. You relate through a villain or a place you’ve never been to while acting, but never really fully transform or travel to the fictional locale in question. Unlike a play, in Vice City you can petty much choose which ever role you’d like to play, and control when the scene changes take place.
Some hyper realized sense of creating your own screenplay, one action at a time. Virtual theater, truly, and Vice City is one of the best shows in town.
Like many video games, and the virtual realities they portray, it really is the easy way out saying the game is a form of escapism, but not the entire truth. Escapism gives you an idea of it’s meaning to someone else, but doesn’t further imbue the idea with the richness of it’s meaning. To some, GTA may always be a murder simulator, and that’s their choice in how they enjoy it. To others and myself, it is life on a stage. It can be an honest form of self discovery, a delightful act of virtual burlesque, and a true indulgence in the form of interactive experience…one that holds a world of opportunities to both the wicked and the sublime.
And that’s the real beauty of Vice City, in all of it’s persuasive glory.