Wednesday, February 15, 2006

GTA: Fairbanks

I'm now as done with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (5) as I ever
intend to be. I spent the first two days here finishing off the
Airstrip and Vegas-based missions, two of which were the toughest in
the game. I'll get to those. The last one was to steal a Harrier jet
off an aircraft carrier, shoot down 3 others (more tedious than it
sounds) and bomb 5 boats in Lake Powell. When all that was boring, I
realized it was time to quit.
The only remaining missions are boring return-to-LA, gang-based
missions. But I've played all 3 cities, flown lots of planes, shot
everything imaginable and, yes, beaten up plenty of hookers, so I
think I'm done with it.
So to sum up: The initial part – about 1/5th of the game – is based
in LA ("Los Santos") and isn't that great. In fact, I almost quit
playing. It's dreary, in fact.
The second part – out in "the country" is just bizarre, utterly
different from the LA part. And by itself, I'd have quit playing it
then, too, because, again, it wasn't very engaging. No gangs or the
blight of the LA part, but then, not much else. Strange little
missions based in the strange little towns set in the hill country. I
mean, you have to steal a combine harvester from a hippy commune at
one point. A race on 4-wheelers. Strange but, with so much time
invested in that point – and with now no idea what to expect from the
rest of the game – I had to press on.
Then you get to San Francisco which is a strict GTA-city – urban,
kinda funny missions involving shooting and driving. Straight out of
Vice City. Lots of fun. Quickest part of the game.
Then comes your trip to the desert and, for my money, the game really
You go to the airstrip in the desert and learn to fly planes.
And that takes a WHILE.
Then the city of Vegas opens up and that's where the good missions
are. At this point, you start parachuting onto dams, hijacking police
bikes and running collecting them in the back of a moving van, running
motorcycles up the rear ramp of an about-to-take-off airplane, raiding
a secret desert-based military compound (Area 69) and stealing it's
jetpack (!) and generally raising hell around an amazing replica of
Las Vegas.
The final couple missions are fantastic – in one you take a Lear Jet
(you fly a lot of lear jets) to old Liberty City (Original GTA city)
and do a hit there. It's quick but a nice touch.
And then you rob the vault at Ceasar's Casino (named "Caligula's
Palace" – goes right along with calling Pirates of the Caribean
"Pirates in Men's Pants' and Excaliber the "Came-a-lot'). That's
quite a mission, using night vision goggles, blowing stuff up,
shooting LOTS of dudes and then escaping in a parachute.
Right there with the Steal-the-Harrier mission.

So the hardest missions. Two are "gunner" missions where the entire
mission is from the sites of a gun, and you are shooting at the
landscape. Two are chase mission. And then there's the flight
First is early in the game, a "tail gunner" mission where you sit on
the back of a motorcycle and shoot at the mafia guys pursuing you.
Great mission – lots to see, lots of action, but HARD. Basicly, it
becomes one of those that makes video games hateful – you just
memorize the pattern to get you a few seconds past the part where you
died last time until finally you get finished. It saps all the
creativity and fun out of it.
The second is a goofy subplot mission in San Francisco where you have
to defend a Remote Control store from dive bombing remote control
airplaines – and no, it doesn't even make much sense when you're in
(If you recall, I thought the hardest mission in Vice City was the
helicopter-based gun run mission where you shoot down at a bunch of
mafia around a property – same idea here).
Then there's several missions where you have to chase somebody and
kill them in a roughly equal vehicle. One, between two boats, simply
takes forever. You have to follow him and follow him and follow him…
and finally you can slowly damage his boat badly enough that he dies.
Takes forever.
But that's nothing next to "High Noon", a very late mission which
opens up the final hits I mentioned above. You have to chase a guy
through the desert highway system. And he's a VERY good driver. He
escaped me probably, conservatively, 30 times, before I FINALLY shoved
his car into the ocean, which is actually kind of a backdoor way to
kill him. No, 50 times.
That one was tough.
But not as tough as the Flight School. You have to pass 10 tests
flying a plane – most of which are simple (learn to land, do a loop,
parachute, etc). But you have to fly through specific gates/hoops in
the sky, and a couple of them are unbelievably demanding.
Those took me forever.
Another thing – you have to meet specific girls and 'date them,'
taking them out to eat and stuff. One of which you have to date until
she gives you a key to the vault (or something) at the casino she
works at. Here's how you pass it:
So you go see her, and her boyfriend is coming to meet her – so you
kill him. And he drops a 'weapon,' which is a 2ft purple dildo. And
no, there's no mistaking it.
Then you follow her while she goes shopping and she goes to a sex
store (this is Vegas, afterall). So you figure out that you have to
buy a "gimp" outfit, a full-body leather suit, complete with ball gag.
Then once you are dressed in that, you show up at her house 'armed'
with the dildo – instant night of sex in her dungeon/bedroom.
And the key!

So I've flown most of the airplanes (including the AT-400 Airbus-like
plane), and done all the Vegas stuff. Enough for me.

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