There were more than a few Singaporeans who scoffed when MDA announced the new game rating system in Singapore; after all, they’ve been getting their fix of ‘disallowed’ games in Singapore through a variety of means, including from our neighbors up North, and – if they knew where to find it – certain temporary shops in the heartland area.
Funnily, I was one of the Singaporeans who was actually happy with the new system, since it meant that games that weren’t previously available could now finally be bought here. And what better game to celebrate that with than gaming’s arguably most hyped, and definitely the most expensive, game ever – GTA IV?
This game has special meaning for me for two reasons: firstly, it was Matt who introduced me to this series what 6-7 years ago with GTA III. Secondly, a colleague at work was one of the designers on the game before moving to Singapore.
As for the game itself, it’s possibly the best example of single-player sandbox styled gaming, or in layman’s terms, a game that is open-ended and doesn’t require players to rigidly follow a well-defined path to game victory. It’s also lived up to its massive hype, with critical acclaim coming from all review sites. One source even notes that at 609,000 copies sold on day 1, GTA IV is now the fastest selling game title within a 24 hour period in the UK.
That said, the game is marked for adult players only and it means just that, and it isn’t just the language spoken by characters in the game. The themes of gangland wars, racism, drug wars, prostitution, crooked cops, and politics Americana provide quite a reflection and social commentary of the type of life that exists in some parts of the civilized world that until the GTA series had been largely seen only in non-interactive media. Sure, the game is unflinching in its representations of brutality, but its tie-in with story telling is intricate, and I’ve never felt in the 20+ hours I’ve played so far that some act of violence is there only for its sake.
Eh – since I have a colleague who was in the development team for it, I should get him to autograph my copy of the game.:)