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Today has been an exercise in restraint. On so many occasions in the passing hours of this day I’ve had to keep myself from bludgeoning people with my laptop instead of searching for porn and illegally downloading advanced screenings of Onechanbara: The Movie. To clear it up, the answer is “No I haven’t gotten Grand Theft Auto IV yet!” That was the answer when San Andreas, Vice City and III came out too.

I can’t think of a game that would be a worse waste of paying full price for, and I purchase every repetitive pile of historic and physical inaccuracy that comes from the KOEI Warriors series of games the day they hit shelves. I passingly understand paying full price to jump into a battlefield of warriors with lofty goals for their spears and unrealistic expectations that a unified nation will somehow keep the country from being a cesspool of crime, pollution and further violence. What a coincidence, that’s exactly what the majority of game stores sold en mass today.

I have never understood why an intelligent or even half brain dead consumer would pay the full price for one of countless sequels to a game with poor character development, identical game play and the social merit of learning better ways to club baby seals. After all it is a game about stealing cars/working for gangs/falling in love with prostitutes and doing it all in the most brutal ways possible. Perhaps confessing to having paid full price for Dynasty Warriors 6 wasn’t the best way to start this argument, but what the hell, at least it’s not glorifying tangible, illegal activities. Mouthbreathers who emulate samurai and ancient Chinese warriors are able to be avoided easily, that’s why I’m sitting alone at a coffee shop. A moron who thinks that the bully problems at school will go away with a well placed spray of buck-shot is a little harder to identify.

Honestly, I’m not completely writing off the GTA games. The sandbox series paved way for hours and hours of further entertainment. I played each GTA with friends who would “forget” Vice City in my PS2, which is how I came to own three copies of the game. One to play, one to hold up to jerks who ride my tail with their brights on and another to keep Jehovah’s Witnesses at bay. They’re entertaining games and at this point are worth an XBLA or PSN download because who’s kidding who, there’s only really one entertaining part of the freedom of GTA’s free-roaming environments. All anyone is going to do is jump on top of a parking ramp with an RPG and see how many helicopters they can knock out of the sky before the SWAT team figures out they can just come up the other side and teach better ways to club baby seals by example. That’s it, and eventually that gets boring too.

This leads to the quandary of why the general population was so excited to see this game released. It seems that we’ve forsaken one classical conditioning for another. Someone started saying GTA IV will be the best one yet and then another person repeated it and eventually it turned into people saying that GTA IV comes with a free copy of the even-more-unrated version of Original Sin starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas complete with interactive, battery-powered, fake lips of your choice. At least they know their audience. In fact we were told so much that we forgot saying “Well I’m bored” after trying to actually complete a mission and grabbing the code for infinite weapons, looking for the aforementioned parking ramp then finding the nearest cop car to aim explosive of choice at.

I do understand that this is the first next-gen GTA and it has a lot more to offer, but I still believe that just because McDonald’s starts serving t-bone steaks it doesn’t mean it’s going to be worth waiting in line for. Especially not when I’m in breathless anticipation of games that will prove to have a more in-depth story and challenging game play – like Street Fighter IV. All of the positive reviews and the sleek game play we’ve been seeing so far does give me pause to say that I should withhold judgment, but when there are real strip-clubs I could be spending that sixty dollars at, I’d rather not buy GTA IV.

This doesn’t mean that I’ll never play the game. I’ll definitely play it when one of my friends wants to “forget” another game at my place. A year from now when it’s in the bargain bin I might pick it up. For the mean time though, it is, has been and will always be the answer: No, I haven’t picked up my copy of GTA IV yet.