PS3 + GTA4

Last week, Sony finally released a PlayStation 3 bundle that actually shipped with the rumble controller included, rather than expecting people to spend an extra $60 to get one. The bundle also comes with Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the new iteration of one of my favorite games.

This new MGS4 bundle promptly sold out everywhere online. So on Saturday, while rothko was helping to run a local election, I figured I’d try a few stores to see if anyone had one in stock.

I was pretty pessimistic, expecting another Wii/Wii Fit scenario, based on the lack of online availability. However, my first call (to Best Buy) turned up a small cache of units. I wolfed a breakfast burrito and dashed over there. Sure enough, they had 8 new PS3 bundles, so I grabbed one.

However, while I like Metal Gear Solid, it wasn’t the game I had been waiting months to play. So I picked up a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV as well.

I already had an HDMI switchbox and suitable cables, purchased from the excellent and awesomely cheap I was a good husband and got everything installed tidily in the TV stand, no trailing cables. I even cleaned and dusted. Then I settled down for some quality time.

My early impressions of GTA IV are that they’ve pretty much gone in the direction I wanted: greater realism, more interesting locations, and less empty space. Motorcycles are less unbalancing now; it’s harder to corner, and if you hit something, rather than just getting back on and continuing, you tend to tumble like a rag doll across 20 meters of asphalt and cripple yourself. It’s also possible to drive a car into a solid object fast enough that you fly through the windshield in a shower of glass and end up bleeding in the street.

The violence level has been toned down as well. Rather than ridiculous overkill missions with rocket launchers, the initial focus is on small-scale crime. You, a handgun, and a baseball bat. The story is better too; the protagonist gradually gets drawn into crime, reluctantly.

Haven’t tried multiplayer yet.