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Fan-boys should start throwing and shouting things now so that they can get that out of the way. Because what you’re about to read will probably make you more angry than a Jack Thompson tirade on video game content banning. So brace yourselves, fan-boys, because it’s about to get ugly for a certain green-suited, Robocop wannabe and his see-through, advanced AI sidekick.
If any of you are familiar with the Haze Hype articles of last year you’ll probably remember a good deal of praise going toward development studio Free Radical for their original and risky project, Haze. The very reason Haze was compared to Halo 3 was not because Bungie had a media fiasco surrounding their green savior for the planet Earth, but for the lack of ingenuity that was going into the project, in light of the hype. This is pretty much the same argument, only describing why the hype was well deserved for Rockstar's project and not for Bungie's.
Already, GTA IV is breaking records with its sales, despite the economy being plagued with the overbearing cloak of a recession, and the controversial anti-hype that surrounded GTA IV before its release. But there was one thing that excelled GTA IV to the record busting platform it sits atop: hype. Without promotional ads nearly everywhere, and in all shapes and forms (not to mention the criticism it received from anti-gaming, anti-violent, anti-freedom organizations,) GTA IV would have mustered a respectable, but moderate week of sales. It would not have been the financial giant it is at the moment without the ridiculous amount of hype it received. But having the game showcased everywhere made sure that everyone new it was coming and that it was going to be big.
But that’s the crux of the argument...GTA IV would eventually achieve monumental sales whether it was hyped or not; it simply would have taken longer. The game itself is the very definition of what every gamer should have been expecting since the Xbox 360 came onto scene as a “next-gen” console. The problem – as I stated in many articles prior, regarding Halo 3 – is that H3 was the definition of what everyone expected from Halo 2. This is not to say that Halo 3 wasn’t good, it’s to reiterate my point about next-gen gaming: next-generation is now, and games should be filling out that description, not building up to it. Halo 3 played as if team-Bungie was fulfilling everything they had originally planned for H2, but didn’t have the time or the means to get it done, correctly.
One of the things that Rockstar has always managed to do with spin-offs, (feigned) sequels and new IP, is convince the industry that it’s something worth noticing because it’s something worth playing. The revolutionary step from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to Grand Theft Auto IV is almost staggering, if you neglect the missing airplanes and a slightly smaller play-area. But all of what is absent in this newer GTA from San Andreas is made up for in generationally satiated content (a.k.a next-gen gameplay.) From the implementation of the Euphoria engine, to the improved animations from Natural Motion, GTA IV embodies what gamers have been expecting. In other words, its’ living up to the “next-gen” hype. Let’s face it, this is more than anyone can say for the Xbox-and-a-half sequel known as Halo 3.
Maybe Bungie will have learned a thing or two from Rockstar when it comes time for promoting the “next-gen” Marathon; maybe they’ll make sure the game follows through with something worth hyping. Both Halo and GTA are respected brands (one more than the other) but at least GTA has taken the necessary steps to evolve into a property that has me questioning what could we possibly expect from Grand Theft Auto V? But knowing Rockstar, they probably already have an answer.