September 29, 2013

My GTA V Unreview

I’ve never been exactly a cutting-edge gamer. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever even bought a games console in my life, but that’s probably another blog post.

A couple of years back I was at Karl‘s house and he asked me if I wanted an original XBox 360 Premium (that’s the one with the 20GB hard drive). He told me that he had a couple that he had used as media centres that he didn’t want any more, because he was replacing them with the slimmer, quieter versions. So that’s how I got my XBox 360.

When we got it home I discovered that the DVD drive didn’t work at all. So I rolled up my sleeves and opened the thing up, and discovered that the mechanism for holding the disc securely in place was broken. A few drops of superglue later and we had a fully functional machine.

6 months later the thing got struck down by the red ring of death. I once more opened it up, did the standard X clamp fix, and we were back on course.

Since then, things went okay for a while. Bernard used it a lot more than me – I only have about 4 games, whereas he has 9 or 10. However, I did start anticipating the release of GTA V with some relish. I was fairly fond of GTA San Andreas on the PS2, and it sounded like GTA V was going to be the true sequel.

But in May this year, disaster struck. Red ring again. I’d already done the X clamp fix once, so it sounded like this time it was probably terminal. We’d already ordered a tablet for Bernard’s birthday, so I knew he’d be fine if I didn’t bother replacing it straight away.

Fast forward to the other Sunday (15th September). The release of GTA V is imminent. Bernard, Karen and I are having lunch in town. I have a beer. Bernard and I decide to take the plunge and replace the XBox 360. So after lunch, we head off around the shops to get a replacement.

I didn’t anticipate this being difficult at all, but in fact it was. Lots of shops advertised having consoles, but upon investigation they turned out to have none in stock, and if they did, they had just one and they were asking top dollar for it. The guy in HMV suggested I wait a few weeks and get one bundled with FIFA 2014.

By the time we got home, the buzz had worn off. I present to you, my new plan. But first, we must aside.


My computer is a decrepit old beast. The motherboard and processor are eight years old. The processor is a AMD Sempron 3000, one of the last of the single core generation. It’s had upgrades over the years (the GPU is a Geforce 6200, which is basically the best thing that I can put in the AGP slot, and it’s been upgraded to 2 GB RAM) and it’s now at a dead end. Once upon a time, I used to play computer games on my PC, but that was a long time ago.


So I was looking at the following options:

1. Wait for an XBox One, with its slightly creepy telescreen-like tendencies, and it’s fixation on US television services. Nope nope nope.

2. Spend £200 on a new XBox 360, a console that is coming to the end of its life, just so I can play GTA V. Also an unattractive proposition.

3. Rejoin the great PC gaming master race! Okay, so it’s by far the most expensive option, but I’ve got dosh to spare at the moment. My computer is long overdue for an upgrade – the main hard drive has been dutifully serving up files for about 12 years, and I’m surprised that it’s lasted this long. The PC release of GTA V is (probably) between 2 and 6 months away, and based upon the reviews of Max Payne 3 on the PC, I think that we can expect the GTA V PC version to be a well-polished port.

So that’s the plan. I’ve specced up a machine on Overclockers UK (Intel Core i5 4670K 3.4GHz, 8 GB RAM, GeForce GTX 760) and I’ve had my finger hovering over the “Order” button for the last week, trying to decide whether to take the plunge or not. If I wait for a couple of months, maybe I’ll be able to get more for my money? But if I get it now, then I can start playing with it now. I can install Fallout New Vegas (probably my favourite of the 4 games I had for the XBox 360), install a few mods (oooh, mods, that’s one of the huge attractions of PC gaming, to me) and replay that to pass the time until GTA V comes out. And the new Terraria update comes out this week too – while my PC tolerates it okay, it would be nice to be able to play full screen instead of in a small window.

Finger still hovering. What should I do? What should I do?


8 thoughts on “My GTA V Unreview

  1. Ah yes, the operating system question. The thing is, I’ve been using Linux on this machine for eight years as well and I’ve always raved about how easy it is to maintain, and how important it is that my computer is under my control rather than Microsoft’s. But if I’m going to be using this for gaming, then I don’t really have a choice. The vast majority of PC games are targeted solely at Windows.

    One thing I have considered is using something like coLinux or VMWare to install Linux within Windows, and use that for non-gaming stuff. But realistically, I think that’s probably a lot of hassle for relatively little benefit.

  2. A cautionary tale: I’m not much of a gamer either, and I thought I’d “give Skyrim a go”. It sucked up around 400 hours of my life (and counting… it helpfully tells you).

    …it’s been **brilliant**.

  3. I’ve considered Skyrim. I think I’d probably enjoy it, as it has so much in common with Fallout. But I think that the Fallout aesthetic probably suits my tastes better. I’m pretty sure I’ll get Fallout 4, when it comes.

  4. I’ve been playing the new Tomb Raider – it’s very good, but after the totally open world of Skyrim, I’ve been acutely conscious that I’m playing the game on rails as I’m channeled down a particular path. It’s fun, but it’s also made me appreciate how vast an achievement Skyrim is. I understand that in GTA, you have a pretty free hand too… I’ve heard you can make the psycho character help old ladies who have dropped their purses and can enter a triathlon and things like that. Come on! Who needs a real life anyway?

  5. I played a bit of Tomb Raider 2 too, back in the playstation / playstation 2 era. Very linear. I think that I prefer a game where you get a more personalised experience – be that an open world game like Fallout where you can choose how you want to play, or something like Minecraft where the entire world is randomly generated so that you get a totally unique experience. The most recent Tomb Raider game is no more appealling to me than watching a film.

    If GTA V is anything like GTA San Andreas, then the storyline missions are fairly linear, but it’s the stuff that happens off-plot that allows you to really make the game your own.

  6. Swisslet, that is my problem with GTA: It reduces charity giving to a one-dimensional transaction, with no development of character or relationships. I don’t think this is healthy, even if it is for science.

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