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Friday, May 2, 2008

GTA IV Review

In any class on the finer arts you'll come across this idea of verisimilitude. How a piece of art, or a work of literature begins to so closely approximate the reality it is describing that you can begin to experience it through the work itself, how a certain life begins to emerge from the work.

Any great masterpiece has this quality. In The Grapes of Wrath, the accents and voices of Steinbeck's characters become audible through his written word. A close listen to early Hendrix shows how he made his internal visual landscapes come alive through the manipulation of a six-string guitar. Picasso's Guernica enobdies the torture and anguish of innocent villagers being bombed by air raiders:

These and other great artists spent years mastering the technical details and conventions of their art form and, in their stokes of genius, they blew those conventions to pieces through amazingly creative and ground-breaking pieces of artistic perfection.

The designers of Grand Theft Auto IV have achieved this same extraordinary feat. They have mastered the techinical details of real-time interaction in a completely virtual environment. From the character modeling and realistic physics engine, to the voice-over acting and Hollywood caliber plot lines, this game is perfection on many levels. Considering the jaw-dropping level of detail - from the way the main character rotates the steering wheel hand-over-hand, to the voice-guided GPS system in yuppiemobile hybrids, and the way your car speakers buzz whenever you receive incoming phone calls (just like mine do!) - this game is also amazingly true to life, it is verisimiltudinous to the reality it approximates.

Other reviews will tell you more about gameplay, multiplayer options, and how many hookers you get to bang. I'm here to say that yesterday when I was taking a cab to work and watching the motion-blur of the tree leaves and street lights pass me by, I remembered seeing the same things in the same way in a scene in GTA IV. The reality of the game was still with me, indelible like the Hendrix's tortured guitar tones. I knew then that this game has achieved the same life-emergent and immortal quality of so few masterpieces before it.

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