Archive for December, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV vs. Saints Row 2

Posted in Videogames on December 31, 2008 by kickingupthedarkness

Hullo.

It’s New Years Eve and it’s snowing like nobody’s business.  I’d imagine most would be partygoers are going to be stuck inside watching movies and playing videogames so i thought i’d take a moment or two to reflect on two of the more popular games of the year.

Being the end of the year and all, i’ve been reading a lot of ‘best’ lists.  Time magazine proudly displayed its own list of the ten best videogames right on its front cover.  Grand Theft Auto IV was quite high on their list, as it was on just about every other ‘best’ list I read.  Inexplicably, Saints Row 2 was nowhere to be found.  As a matter of fact, Entertainment Weekly named it one of the ‘worst’ games of the year, calling it ‘misogynistic, crude and humorless’.

The most dramatic difference between these two games is in their tone.  Grand Theft Auto IV was one of the more serious and somber games of the year.  You could tell it took itself very seriously before even playing it because of the Roman Numeral in the title.  Saints Row just uses a boring regular number ‘2’.

Grand Theft Auto IV is a game of surprising depth.  The conflicted and disheartened Nikko Belic makes for a wonderful protagonist.  The nameless hero of Saints Row 2 has no interior struggle, other than which rival gang to fuck up first.

But, is that what we really want out of videogames: depth, inner turmoil, and conflicted protagonists? Sure, sometimes.  However, it is important to remember why we played Grand Theft Auto to begin with.

Did we play because we wanted a good story, thoughtful characters, and an engaging storyline? Fuck no.  We played that game to steal cars, shoot people, fuck whores, and cause general mayhem.  How many of you out there only advanced enough in the Grand Theft Auto verse to be able to have a shitload of weapons? Come on, be honest.  Did you give a shit about any of the missions? Sure they were fun, but wasn’t it more fun to see just how long you could keep five stars on the bottom of the screen?

‘Oh my’, you say, ‘But that means the games are deplorable!’.  Of course they are.  They always have been.  These games tap into that little, mean devil inside of us all who just wants to run amok.  Better to get that agrression out on a flat screen TV, than to actually go running through the street tossing people out of cars.

Saints Row 2 lets your little devil run fucking rampant.  No, it demands that your little devil run fucking rampant.  Try playing the game as a good person.  Go ahead, just try.  You won’t last five minutes. 

The game is filled with devious, demented activities.  My personal favorite, Mayhem, is just that: Destroy as much of the city as possible in the time given and you get a lot of money and even more respect.   Grand Theft Auto never rewarded you for doing such things.

You can also gain respect by throwing people from great heights, spraying shit from a septic truck all over the city, rounding up whores, chaffeuring whores, and another great one: dressing up like a cop and burning people with a flamethrower and other assorted weapons. 

Now, come one, isn’t that what you really want to do? Grand Theft Auto never needed to step into the serious world of gameplay.  The fact that it did is noble and somewhat astonishing, but it was never necessary.  Sure, you may be able to have a long-term girlfriend and make serious moral choices, but can you dress yourself up like a Leprechaun and do a jig after slaughtering thirty people with a samurai sword and gain respect because of it? I think not.

Saints Row 2 is also much easier to navigate than Grand Theft Auto IV.  It takes what feels like fucking decades to open up the entire city in GTA IV, but in SR2, the entire city is at your disposal right from the start.  SR2 also has a wicked sense of humor (Fuck you very much Entertainment Weekly), and the cut scenes are better than most action movies playing in theaters right now.

So, which game is better? Well, that’s easy.  GTA IV is better written, better produced, more intelligent and more complex.  But that is not the important question.  The important question is which game is more devious fun?

You know the answer to that.  So, tonight, while the snow falls and you feel miserable about being stuck indoors, take some of that agression out onto the Row.  Blow up cars, start a gang war, steal an airplane, throw a stripper off a building.  I promise you, you’ll feel much better.  And your little devil will be grateful.

A Final Note: I will never understand why both games give you the option to buy cars.  What boy scout twit would waste precious earned money buying a fancy vehicle when there are about three thousand up for grabs at any given moment?

Fuck You, I’m Blogging (also Happy Holidays)

Posted in Music on December 31, 2008 by kickingupthedarkness

First and foremost, welcome to Kicking Up The Darkness- a blog that does many things like cook and clean and tell you you’re wonderful.  I’m sure we’ll be best of friends.

Well, it’s Christmas… well, it was, anyway.  Since where I work just finished putting on Merry Christmas Charlie Brown a week late, I figured I’d make a little Christmas post.

I hate Christmas music.  Hate hate hate it.  That stupid red shoes song, that “all i want for christmas is you” song, all of it (except “Fairy Tale of New York”–but any bonafide Christmas song that uses the words ‘slut’ ‘faggot’ and ‘junkie’ is going to be okay in my book).  So when I was driving out to my girlfriend’s on Christmas and every single radio station was playing that crap I was, needless to say, miserable.

Until I hit on WUSB, which was playing a marathon of Beatles Christmas records.  As far as I can gather, these were records that the Beatles sent out to members of their fan club, thanking them for paying money for gratuitous things like Christmas records, as well as wishing them a happy holiday (which they mysteriously refer to as Crimble).  They start out innocent enough, but then you get to 1966, which must have been when lysergic acid diethylamide was officially perfected.

First off, imagine being a fan of the Beatles in 1966 and looking forward to another Christmas record. “Ooh,” you say, “I hope Ringo’s really witty on this one!”  Then you open up your package and look at this:

pantomime-cover

“That doesn’t look at all like Christmas!” You say.

Then you listen to this:  CHRISTMAS MUSIC … and you resolve to drop acid as soon as possible.

Happy Crimble.