Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gamer's Diary - GTA Vice City Stories, The Circus

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories - After finishing my blog entries, I still had time in my chemo session, so I put the Pocket PC away and pulled out the PSP. I haven't gotten that far in the game (finished the Phil missions in this session), but so far the missions and Vic Vance's character have seemed to jibe.

I've seen remarks on GTA IV from such luminaries as Newsweek's N'Gai Croal and MTV's Stephen Totilo that Niko's reluctant life of crime has a cognitive dissonance with the missions the game requires him to perform. He seems turned off by violence in the cutscenes, but has missions that require him to massacre entire groups of small-time nonviolent criminals.

Based on what I've seen so far, I don't think Vic Vance has the same problem. He needs money to help his brother, and will pursue any means necessary to get it. He tried an honorable route - the U.S. Army - but got almost immediately dishonorably discharged for following the orders of his corrupt sergeant. Bitterly disillusioned by his experience in the honorable world, Vic becomes willing to do any job that pays, though some of it still rankles.

Once while repossessing cars for Phil, Vic learned that most had actually been paid off, and he was just stealing the cars for Phil to sell again. This bothered him, and he said as much to Phil. Phil was unrepentant, and Vic dropped the issue - probably because he needed more jobs from Phil.

So I don't think the case holds, as either Mr. Croal or Mr. Totilo suggested, that how GTA characters behave in cutscenes always has a disconnect with how they are required to behave in missions.

And have I mentioned? If you can get past the idea that your in-game character belongs to the Bad Guys, or if you revel in that sort of thing, there's a lot of fun to be had in all the 3d GTA games - including Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus - It became clear to me again last night that you do not need video games, movies, or television to have an evening of entertainment filled with rip-roaring fun.

The last time, a few months ago, I took my fiancée, S---, and her youngest, J---, to Disney on Ice's Finding Nemo. It reprised the events of the movie, but with ice-dance numbers and songs. It comes across as a whole different experience from the movie; live performers and the possibility of mistakes and the live immediacy of it all has something about it that lends it a certain extra intimacy and excitement.

The Circus comes across the same way, only more so. The audience is more involved; the clowns interact with the audience, and some lucky patrons who'd won some kind of contest came down onto the floor in trams among the performers. And certainly more excitement came from the acrobatic stunts, live animal acts, and clown comedy than the Disney production delivered.

After these two events, I think I understand why people still go to the theatre and sports arenas, even though television makes it easier to see everything up close; all these get their true magic from the live human experience.

Next: no worries, more about video games.

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