Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Grand Theft Paypal

I have recently been made to experience a period of great suffering followed by great joy. Last April I was suspended from Paypal for breaking the terms and conditions for age, for months I suffered the horror of a countdown to nowhere believing Paypal would one day give me the freedom to use their service again. Last month I reached the legal age required to use Paypal, I was optimistic in my hopes of being able to sell on eBay again, selling all my unwanted items.. My optimism was almost completely crushed following a saga where I learned to never trust male telephone operators. I phoned Paypal on three different occasions, the first helpline operator told me to just open a new Paypal account, the second helpline operator gave me a stern telling off after I was suspended for a second time telling me I was banned forever. I went for one last attempt after my bank had upgraded me to a new account, perhaps this is what the first telephone helpline assistant was referring too. Well plan B ended up being a failure too and with a third suspended account I was ready to give up for good. I phoned Paypal one last time, ready to get on my knees and beg for a second chance. This is why I love women, they are more forgiving than men, unlike moron and twat little miss helpful actually wanted to see my problem resolved. I recently read an internet article about how small things like good customer service can be great sources of joy and happiness. The article was no exaggeration, as I type this I am using eBay to sell a years worth of unwanted junk and you know what? I couldn't be any happier.

While the Paypal debacle was ongoing I passed the time by playing though the games I purchased from the recent steam sales. I decided to play a game I had grown up with but never completed, a game currently celebrating its tenth anniversary. Can you believe it has been ten years since the release of Grand Theft Auto 3?

GTA 3 follows the story of a criminal who after being betrayed in a bank hist finds himself having to work his way back up the food chain by taking jobs from various crime lords ruling over Liberty City, the self proclaimed worst city in America. The narrative of the game is straight forward and has good pacing, within the first 3 hours of the game I had gone to war with the Chinese Triads, burned my bridges with the Italian Mafia, opened the second island and joined the Yakuza.
The core game is still incredibly enjoyable and will make you over look some of the more glaring flaws in the game. By today's standards the combat in GTA 3 is a mess with hopeless lock on system leaving the deck strongly stacked against you when it comes to anything involving guns, I gave up on the combat and just ran people over with a Jeep. By the end of the game I found myself forced into using guns giving me no hope of ever completing the game. In the end I switched to a mouse and keyboard set up which at first felt alien, almost unnatural. I grew up only knowing how to play GTA 3 with a controller, it didn't feel right playing with anything else.. Then of course I played the game using the mouse and keyboard and realised how mind blowingly stupid I had been this whole time, had I switched sooner the game would have been ten times easier and twice as fun.

Once you rectify the control issues you begin to see how well GTA 3 has aged, the graphics weren't great even by 2001 standards but it works for this game, it gives the violence a cartoon appeal making the game not come off as too serious. As a sandbox game GTA 3 is very small compared to more recent sandbox titles ,bear in mind though the PC version doesn't provide a map on the pause screen so consider the smaller game world a positive.
In all Grand Theft Auto 3 is still a great game by modern standards, it finds the right balance between the main game and the sandbox never feeling padded out or over bearing.

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