TAKE-TWO DESERVES WHATEVER IT GETS.
Now, I had written a very nice article on the evils of year-end lists. The best games of the century, games that have defined us as a nation and a species… things like that. It is, of course, filled with the requisite amount of bile and hatred I hope you’ll all come to expect from me in the future. But events of the past couple weeks have incited…. nay, inspired me to write something to take its place. Take-Two and its subsidiary Rockstar Games have been sued. By whom do you ask? Well I guess everyone under the sun, and a few people on Mars.
I’m sure you all have heard the story before: Little company makes good in the big city. The original GTA was born into fire and hurled stones from different police and parental groups, and its ilk have never had it any easier. The game features cop-killing, hookers and drug use and sale. It glorifies the mafia, “the life” as the call it, and it puts those who rob and kill on the pedestal. And God, we all loved it.
GTA has sold over ten million (did I just say that? yes I did) copies since its birth. Vice City is sure to catch up at some point, and I’d say its a far better game. I’ve played through both twice, and I still want more. They are good, solid, fun games. There’s no denying it. No matter how much anyone wants to poo all over them, you can’t deny they are great fun for those who play, and they don’t actually promote anything other than cartoon characters stealing cars. Hell, I already knew that from watching any cartoon in the 80s. But I digress.
The real trouble started last summer with the “Hot Coffee” thinger. That, and I don’t say this lightly, was THE first hole in GTA’s armor. The game is basically the same, albeit a bit longer. It has more options. It’s flashier. But oh, look! Cartoon sex. Well dang. That messed it all up right there.
For those of you who, you know, live under ten rocks: Hot coffee is a minigame in GTA San Andreas that you get after reaching a certain level of… comfort with one of your lady friends. In normal gameplay, after a certain amount of dates she invites you in to her place for a bit of the “hot coffee.” But she totally means sex. I read the FAQ on it—it’s totally sex. After you go in, the game switches to an outside view, and you hear the sounds of love coming from in her house. End of scene, you start going out and capping bangers again.
With a Game Genie-like device (Gameshark or what have you), you can unlock a secret minigame that was left out of the final cut. You have to do some sort of button timing and get the rhythm right to make her… “happy.” I won’t go further, but we’re all gamers here, and you’re reading this on the Internet. Go type in “make girls really happy.” in Google with the safety off. Then shut the door.
See, the problem with all of this is Take-Two didn’t immediately come out and say, “Well shoot. We left some code in there that we thought was too racy, too much for even OUR games. Some guy got lazy, locked the code for that minigame under some other stuff and went to have a beer. That guy is now fired. Sorry about that.” No, they said that hackers did it. Some evil group of people got together, messed with the code on the game and made it all icky. Then it came out that, no, it’s on the PS2 version, too. Rockstar actually DID do that, and then they lied about it. Strike two.
Now this—this what we can only describe as a scandal—has released a torrent of anti-violent games laws, it’s unshackled Jack Thompson to growl and froth upon us all, and lo on the horizon it’s gaining popularity throughout the union. This is not good. Strike three. The game industry as a whole is acting like Republicans fleeing from Tom Delay—like rats from a sinking ship.
No, I don’t agree with ALL the legislation. Some of it yes, but not all of it. What angers me about all of this is thus: Rockstar, what the hell were you thinking? You own up to what you did and you look the people attacking you and say, “Yeah. That was us, and we apologize. We’ll start making versions without this thing in it, and we’ll pay a fine.” I mean, come on guys, at least give us a scapegoat. Let the media lay into him until the next flavor of the week comes by, and give him a fat severance pay. It’s how politics has been run for decades.
All in all, Rockstar and Take Two screwed the pooch. They had their chance to let this blow over, and now their stock is in the dumpster, I’ve counted 5 lawsuits against them so far, and there is no end in sight. You know what the worst part of all this is?
San Andreas really didn’t garner any good reviews other than the ones pumped up by the hype. Liberty City Stories isn’t selling well at all. Rockstar is in for a hard year, and I can’t really feel sorry for them. But thanks for VC guys… it was sweet.