Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I’ve fallen for Grand Theft Auto IV a dozen times in a dozen different ways. Only the first period of time spent with it was concerned with making headway through the miserable singleplayer missions, and that ended with the bleakness and grind became too great. Every other re-visit since then has been far more fun and uplifting.
There were the weeks I spent mucking about in its freeform multiplayer which, when it could run the gauntlet of Games for Windows Live and Rockstar Social Club and find its way to actually working, provided ample opportunity for creative japes. Hey everyone – let’s race motorbikes! Hey everyone – let’s ride our motorbikes over this ramp! Hey everyone – let’s jump our motorbikes over the spinning blades of another friend’s hovering helicopter!
There were the weeks I spent endlessly tweaking angles and timings in the wonderful, PC-only replay editor, which let you cut together short films of your multiplayer or singleplayer chicanery. I enjoy the solipsism of watching my own behaviour back in slow motion, doubly so when it involves physics glitches, comedy pratfalls, and accidental but beautifully timed NPC barks.
There were the weeks – nay, months – I spent futzing with mods. Grand Theft Auto IV didn’t have any official mod support of course, but that doesn’t stop the community making it happen. Superman, Iron Man, the Hulk, all are represented with models and mechanics. Want a gravity gun? Sure. Want to increase the world’s population density, to make Liberty City’s take on New York feel more real? Go for it. Want to witness this all in first-person? You got it.
Eventually, with a few of those mods and a few graphics tweaks more, there were the long hours I spent simply wandering that city and taking screenshots – whether Will Selfing my way from end to airport, or simply trudging through shopping districts and hoping it rains. I’ve tried it with the Oculus Rift, but you don’t need it. Grand Theft Auto IV is a marvelous place to visit, even with GTA 5 only a month away for PC players.