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Hindsight is a 10 out of 10

A fairly large game came out recently, in case you hadn’t heard. Some video game named after a crime… something that I’m sure all the hip kids are playing right now. I’m also hearing that the critics are lapping the game up, no mean feat in this dog-eat-dog industry. Just what game was it, though? I haven’t the foggiest.

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Oh wait, that’s right, it was Grand Theft Auto IV, the game I’ve been glued to ever since it came out. GTA IV has wowed audiences around the globe, and is being hailed as the finest video game ever created. I agree. The world of Niko Bellic is one of intrigue, finesse, and intelligence – comparisons to The Godfather are not unwarranted. To make a game centered around crime feel as mature as GTA IV takes extreme talent and poise, and developers should look to it as a milestone in gaming history. However, there is a problem. See, there have been quite a few milestone moments in this industry. GTA IV is the latest in a long line of smash hit games that have changed the way the world views video gaming, breaking sales records as well as bringing in lots of love from critics and gamers alike. And, unfortunately, this success is not frozen in time. People will move on, newer and better games will come out, and in fifteen years you’ll be shocked when your niece or nephew questions “Grand Theft Auto IV? What was that?”

Unfortunately, there is a streak of arrogance that runs through the gaming culture. When someone finds a game that they like more than any other, they often latch onto it as if it were a mother figure. Any criticism of the game is taken as an insult, and any other title – be it a past release or an upcoming one – is treated as a usurper to the throne. This behavior is both childish and pervasive, invading practically any discussion about software on the Internet. Once a new game has revolutionized the medium, time ceases to exist for these people – this is the greatest game ever, period, and a fat middle finger for anyone who says otherwise. Normally, this kind of rivalry subsides after a few years, or the competing fanbases learn to coexist – Halo and Half-Life die-hards live side by side, however hostile they may be to each other. Mario and Sonic have even appeared in a few games alongside each other! The two contenders at the moment, however, are an interesting case. Since its release in 1998, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time held the record for the highest aggregated review score of all time. Grand Theft Auto IV, however, has challenged – and beaten – that record, although the two titles are now jostling back and forth for supremacy.

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Rabid fans of Ocarina of Time bitterly denounce Grand Theft Auto IV for stealing this spot. After all, Ocarina has been on top for ten years – who is this scrappy little street urchin butting in all of a sudden? The failure to move on has crippled the judgement of legions of gamers, holding on for dear life as the spooky future offers them modern delights. Do we realize how stupid we look? When an old man refuses to use the Internet because he has been mailing letters since he was a boy, dagnabbit, we call that an oddity. Why, then, should we refuse to acknowledge that new games can be just as good as old favorites? Play Zelda for two hours and you will find no Euphoria physics engine, no free roaming replica of a real city, and no intriguing crime plot. If it had been released on May 1st, 2008, it would have been booed out of existence by the gaming industry as a whole.

Still, it’s important to remember that back in the day, Zelda was a groundbreaking experience. Liberty City wasn’t on anyone’s mind when they were traversing Hyrule Field, making the long trek up Death Mountain, or clashing blades with Ganondorf at the top of his floating castle. The rabid GTA IV fanboys are just as guilty as the Zelda freaks. Believe it or not, time will keep marching forward after Niko Bellic walks off of the boat to America. Soon, another fantastic game will steal the spotlight from Grand Theft Auto IV and a new war will begin, with the roles being reversed for those who hailed GTA so lavishly – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but someday. Just as modern movies have trumped Casablanca for film industry dominance, GTA IV‘s grip will falter, just like Ocarina of Time before it. To be honest, I hope by then we can realize that Ocarina of Time and Grand Theft Auto IV were some of the greatest games ever made.

Some of.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in October 2006.

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