So, two big games arrived at fourhman.home this evening, but I practiced some severe delayed gratification and mowed the lawn first. I saw two neighbors also out mowing and thought "There's two chaps who don't have Grand Theft Auto IV." But then I thought they might be thinking the same about me.
I went for Mario Kart first, navigating the confusing, ill-thought out menus that end up in the installation of the Mario Kart Channel. Game-specific Channels are a fantastic idea. I'm sure we'll see more of them.
I did one four-race Grand Prix with the Wii Wheel and then vowed never to touch it again. It just isn't precise enough. I dived right back to the Wavebird. Had no trouble pulling off the ramp stunts with the Wavebird's d-pad (stunts are just a Remote flick when playing with the Wii Wheel.) Of course, I only did a handful of 50cc races since the evening's main event was GTAIV.
Mario Kart Wii is Mario Kart, on Wii. Doesn't seem to be much else to it. I'll always track Mario Kart as a top pick, especially for multiplayer parties with a mix of gamer types, but this latest edition can't hold a candle to Smash Bros as far as Awesome Wii Experiences goes. It's just, you know, Mario Kart.
I will say that some of the new tracks are downright spectacular, with tricks and quirks that you have to learn in order to fare well (particularly against the top AI drivers). The Coconut Mall level? Pure bliss. Clever layout, still feels like it might be an actual Mushroom Kingdom mall even though it's really a race course. And your Miis are all over it, which is hilarious. But if they hadn't done that sort of thing - really nice new tracks - I don't know what else would have rated a mention. I still don't know why Nintendo hasn't graduated Mario Kart to Smash Kart or Nintendo Kart, and let all the other franchises play.
You still have the age old Mario Kart problem: exceptionally cheap and un-fun computer players. I get that the items can help balance out a human/human/human/human match, but having to put up with that kind of crap during single-player mode just gets obnoxious. Even in the few games I played tonight, I felt like the AI was purposefully trying to stop me from having fun... I'm heading towards a ramp, turbo speed, ready to pull off a stunt, and then some shithead hits the lightning bolt or the red shell and kills my momentum right at the ramp's base so I fall into a pit or whatever. Jesus, I just want to nail some jumps. I wasn't even in first place. Lay the fuck off already.
And I really miss the two-man karts of Double Dash. That was a huge idea, a genuine advancement for the series... it should have remained an option in the Wii version, even more so in light of Nintendo's open family policy with the Wii.
To be fair, you could say something similar about GTAIV. It's GTA, on PS3. It's just about a billion times more compelling than Mario Kart, sorry. I put in about three hours tonight, and did maybe four missions. The rest of the time was spent driving around, trying to learn the streets. The start of GTAIV has a relaxing, exploratory vibe. OK, so there's two scenes where you have to punch somebody out. Everything else has been "drive to point A," "here's how your cell phone works," and "hey Niko, let's go to the strip club." I don't even have a weapon yet.
Loved that the old Genesis song "Mama" is in there. Although, as usual in a GTA game, 90% of the non-talk radio stations are just not for me.
Bowled. Played pool. Enjoyed a cabaret show with a spot-on caricature of an awful one-woman-show vocalist. She does a huge, ridiculous build-up, then sings exactly one line before she announces that she has to go. I only had about $200 to my name, and I blew it all on dates with my new girlfriend (something fishy about her; Rhon thinks she's a cop) and clubbing with my cousin.
There's TV stations in GTAIV. So I watched some TV.
I changed my controls to the "classic" configuration. Try as I might, I can't get used to car games where accelerate is mapped to R2. I wish there was some kind of camera settings you could tweak, because it seems really floaty when you're walking around.
No question about it, this is going to be a huge game.