Like overalls, flannel shirts and snapbacks, I’ve come back! It was an amazing 3 weeks away from work, technology and current events, but I quickly fell back into the swing of things when I returned late last week. FYI: Using a mouse felt weird at first, but you adjust pretty quickly.

What better way to tackle jetlag than to play Grand Theft Auto V for hours on end? I’m about 13 hours and “23%” done according to the checklist, but I barely feel like I’ve scratched the surface of what this game has to offer. I had planned to play some more Last of Us to break up the GTA V sessions, but that didn’t happen. At all. Not even a little bit. I’m going to need to make a conscious effort to play other games over the coming months.

So, what else did I miss?

Friday, 2:28 pm – Ricky

GRAND THEFT AUTO 5 IN MY LIFE.

It’s all consuming at this point. I worked out yesterday, and felt bad about the amount of time I’ve spent in front of the Xbox this past week. Then I turned the Xbox back on and forgot all about it.

Interesting opinion article about the scene I mentioned on Wednesday, compared to the activities you engage in throughout the game. If you’re strictly avoiding spoilers, avoid the article, but if you know about “the scene” in question, it’s a great read.

Wednesday, 2:54 pm – Ricky

It’s been a long time since I’ve dedicated myself so completely to a game, ignoring outside forces in my life in order to squeeze in one more mission. I’d have to say Skyrim was probably the last time that happened.

I’m not trying to rush through the game of course, but I know that eventually my time will become limited once again. That, and with GTA Online officially coming October 1st, I know that, when I do hop onto my Xbox, it’ll be to play online. Here’s the latest rundown of what’s happening with GTA Online, straight from Rockstar’s mouth. It seems like Heists will come in a free content update later on, but I’m sure there will be PLENTY to keep us busy while we wait.

Wednesday, 2:34 pm – matt

wait a sec, I haven’t gotten to that part yet. which means ricky’s further in GTA 5 than I am? shit this cant happen… when have you ever beaten a game before me? crap my schedule is pretty busy, how can this be?!?!?!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR(inhales)RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Wednesday, 9:58 am – Ricky

GTA V made me full really uncomfortable last night. I was asked to do something as Trevor that I really don’t think was necessary, and I felt a bit dirty while doing it. Spoilers ahead, highlight it to see it:

Torture. Straight up torture of an innocent person. Barbaric torture too. It was performed by the game’s resident sociopath, Trevor, in the name of the fake FBI, and it was pretty needlessly brutal. I’ve done “torture” scenes before – Splinter Cell: Conviction immediately springs to mind – but this felt different. It felt like Trevor was doing it for fun, since he had no stake in the situation – he showed up, got the nod, and got to torturing. 

Is it better or worse than other moments in the game? I’m not sure, but it certainly felt like a part that could’ve been done differently, or left out entirely.

Tuesday, 3:14 pm – Ricky

The GTA V soundtrack – or rather, part of it – is now available for purchase.

That is all.

Tuesday, 11:03 am – Ricky

It’s entirely possible I’m talking out of my ass. There was a passing comment made by a friend at work yesterday about how they can’t commit to games like GTA V because of it requires them to progress through the story to see the game. I took that to mean that they they thought the game is restrictive, and when I thought about the missions I HAD to do to get access to all of the characters on the front of box, I kind of agreed.

Via text messages, matt pointed out that nearly every game, and certainly open world games, require you to do at least some small something before letting you loose. The freedom in an open world game is usually there right at the start, but you’re not all powerful / all knowing. Sure, you COULD go to the far north in Skyrim right away, but it would be a cold, dark trek, and a few yetis would probably cause you some issues along the way.

Monday, 3:15pm – matt

Im actually not too sure what ricky is referring to, because in my experience with the game ive had absolutely no limitations on where I want to go, or what I want to do. (aside from completing the very first mission of the game which takes place in the past to set up the rest of the game). I can drive for hours on end listening to music, play some golf or tenis, head to shooting range etc… Ive been able to explore a ridiculous amount of the map with no restrictions at all.

are you referring to only having all three playable characters opened after a bit? I mean that’s just normal game progression, they haven’t placed any “instant 5 star” wanted levels for crossing a bridge like in the previous installment, where only sections of Liberty City were open to begin the game.

Monday, 2:40pm – Gavin

Welcome back, Ricky!

Your third bullet would highlight my main problem with GTA V, if I were playing it.  I can’t abide by open-world “sandbox” games that don’t let you explore the open world until you’ve done X or Y.  I hate to keep coming back to it, but Just Cause 2 was my jam when it came to that.  As long as you weren’t actively out on a mission, you could go anywhere you wanted.  There were no blackouts, no skill trees required to access a new area, none of that.

Still, as you said, Rockstar knows what it’s doing.  Perhaps I’m just no longer the target market for this game.  I don’t feel a strong pull to go out and buy this game – I will be fine to never play it, in much the same way that I’ll probably be fine to never play Fallout 3, Bioshock Infinite, or any other number of massive epic games.

It’s been a pretty busy time around my house, so I haven’t had much gaming time at all.  Near the end of last week, I picked up A Ride into the Mountains, and I finished it over the weekend.  Aside from gunning for achievements/trophies, the game doesn’t have a great replay value in terms of discovered new things.  It’s perfectly linear, putting you on rails in much the same way that the BIT.TRIP series of games did.  I’ve unlocked a few different bows now, but I don’t feel much push to play the game for much longer.  But for $1.00, I easily got my money’s worth out of this game.

In other news, Valve announced the first of three (cue the jokes) announcements this week: SteamOS.  It’s a Linux-based Steam operating system, designed for living room machines.  Presumably this is warmup for the inevitable SteamBox announcement.  At this point, I’d just like to see some information about the future SteamBox.

No idea on the third announcement.  But we all know Valve can’t count to 3 anyway.

Monday, 9:35 am – Ricky

A few quick thoughts on GTA V:

– Every 5 minutes or so, I laugh at the dialog or my jaw hangs open in wonder. Every. 5. Minutes.

– This is the ultimate virtual playground.

– Unfortunately, much of this virtual playground is only unlocked after hours and hours of single player missions. Not a big deal for most gamers, but for those that want to skip the story and dive in for short bursts, perhaps not the greatest approach.

– Then again, who the hell am I to argue with Rockstar when they sell over $1 billion in 3 days. They know what they’re doing, and it shows.

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