Magic Moments

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Like the rest of the country, I’ve become hopelessly addicted to Grand Theft Auto IV. It’s not often that I turn my Xbox on at 2am and still see TEN people online all playing the same game. In fact, if I’m honest, its not often I turn on my Xbox AT ALL, recently, but that is another story altogether. There are many tell tale signs that someone you know is addicted to GTA IV, including ignoring significant others, lack of sleep, calling in sick to work and developing an incredibly poor diet of junk food. Lucky for me, your intrepid journalist, I am already a single, insomniac, unemployed male currently living on a diet of Rustlers sandwiches and “2 for £2” cans of Relentless, so the signs are currently unnoticable. Either the GTA addiction will finish me off, or diabetes.

I’m addicted to the single player game. I’m addicted to the multiplayer game. Most importantly, though, I’m addicted to the “moments”.

I’ve always been a big fan of gaming “moments”. Now, before you start firing off coments about the death of Aeris in Final Fantasy VII, or the ending of Metal Gear Solid 3 being gaming “moments”, I’d like you to shut up for a minute. Sure, they are landmark events on the average geeks gaming life, but genuine “moments”? To me, moments are unplanned, unscripted and unique events that happen when playing a video game. The kind of thing that has you holding your breath with tension, laughing until you cry and above all else, has you boring the fucking life out of everyone you know for weeks after, as you recall your war stories.

OBVIOUSLY, a sandbox environment has far more scope for these wonderful random things to happen than say, a Mario game, but that is why I love GTA IV so much. The multiplayer is one huge, “moment-creating” machine! A single play session with a few friends will create the kind of stories that will irritate everyone you went for a drink mere hours after you were stood on the back of a boat, a good friend behind the wheel, while you shot several police helicopters out of the sky in front of the Statue of Liberty. Do they want to know about these things? No, probably not – some of your friends simply won’t have a vested interest in your online multiplayer exploits – but will you tell them anyway, hoping that maybe, just maybe, they’ll find it as interesting as you found it exciting at the time…

I think I’ll be hard pressed to find a game as entertaining as GTA IV for quite some time. The single player is like the best crime-based action movie you’ve ever seen. The multiplayer? Well, I’m sure the Kane and Lynch developers are gutted that their firefights were nowhere near as thrilling as being trapped behind a burning car in Liberty City, providing covering fire for one of your friends as they try and pick you up in a stolen helicopter. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Mann, director of semi-legendary crime-thriller Heat, isn’t slightly upset with the fact that a random event within a virtual world sometimes ends up far more compelling than some of his classic gun battles. Providing, of course, if he has an Xbox Live Gold Account.

So, feel free to tell us all about your favourite moments so far in Liberty City. We’re all friends here – we’d love to listen.