The Elder Thoughts

Counts Grand Theft Auto V as an RPG?

After more than 1.5 years of wait, we PC games finally have the pleasure of being able to play GTA V in all its glory. I had already pumped some 20-something hours, maybe 30, in the XBox 360 version but now I aim for, if not a 100% completion, at least doing every mission and at least attempt every challenge. And oh boy, playing it for a second time feels just as great as if was new (I'm just more proficient with the controls, know a few tricks and remember how to complete most missions).

Los Santos

While I'm playing it, slowly, enjoying the story, trying to catch all the small details, the almost alive city, the animals, the pedestrians with their impressive artificial intelligence, the random chases, robberies, accidents or traffic jams... The world feels so alive that I can't but wonder if actually GTA can be played as an RPG, because it really feels like an RPG.

I'm the kind of videogame player that tries to maximize Final Fantasy character levels (except in those like FF VIII where enemies level along with you), the one that pumped dozens and dozens of hours on Fallout 3, finished all DLCs and got the explorer achievement (IIRC, exploring 100 different points of interest from the map). When I finished Elder Scrolls Oblivion, my character was so powerful I did all the main story arc almost in a speedrun. But the amount of things you can do in this GTA entry... is so amazing.

Michael

You can invest in stock options and alter the world to make them go up or down (e.g. invest in a car firm after destroying many cars to buy low, then destroy other firms so their price rises and sell your stocks), you can buy houses and fine-tune cars, buy clothes and each character has their own stats you can increase... you can even change the haircut or tatoos. World setting aside, it is quite similar to any Elder Scrolls game, and ages above the degree of customization you can do at most "action RPGs" like Diablo 3, which many times are quite linear and only the loot or the chosen skills actually "customizes" the character.

Here you can literally spend hours doing side-missions, travelling by cab or train, learning to fly planes, or even diving in search of UFO pieces. NPCs get scared if you follow them and might call the police or not. Steal a car and many things can happen, from them running to even taking out a gun and shooting you. So many variants in general that as I already said the world feels almost real. Hell, even the radio news reflect the latest events that have happened (of course all around you, but anyway adds a lot of inmersion).

So what makes an RPG so? Old school ones had lots of text, GTA has hours and hours of conversations, phone calls, sms and emails; RPGs have stats, GTA has them (even money and owned properties are separate for each character); Visual customization as said is present; Lore, NPCs and a credible world, more than present; Choices and side-missions, a lot of both. Free-roaming, more than any Final Fantasy title would dream about.

Yes, is not turn-based or pausable; No, you cannot fully customize the main characters but you can create online characters and there you have way more freedom... I am no expert in the subject, but I think many of the last years' so-called xxx-RPGs have way less right to use that acronym than other recent titles like Grand Theft Auto  5.

In the end, it's all about how you play, how you live the virtual setting created for your pleasure.

Trevor

 

Note: Photos taken from Snapmatic uploaded trending photos, another clever idea from Rockstar: use the in-game phone to take photos (even selfies) and upload them so people mimic real-world Instagram.

Book Review: Lords of Mars

Lords of Mars book cover

Following the events of Priests of Mars, this second book Lords of Mars narrates how Magos Kotov comes apparently near his objective, along Black Templars and Cadian forces, but some unexpected events will make the journey harder, way harder than anyone expected. Being a trilogy of course we don't read how things finish yet but we'll enjoy new adventures, perils and amazing discoveries along the Speranza spaceship. I won't enter into spoilers but expect more of the same [high quality content].

This book took me more time to read due to lack of spare time. Sadly I've felt asleep more than once not due to lack of interest but pure exhaustion from work. The same intrigue and pacing of events, discoveries and "internal affairs" from the first title is replicated, adding to the mix quite interesting plot twists. I've directly started reading the third and final book and I am eager for more adeptus mechanicus lore and tales...

Again, highly recommended if you liked the first bok. Let's see if the trilogy ends as good as has been so far.

Total War: Warhammer announced!

Total War: Warhammer logo

Wow, this is so great! In a smart move after launching all Warhammer End of Times books and miniatures but before announcing "the new" , Warhammer 9th edition, and of course with the incoming Mordheim and Warhammer Vermintide videogames, it looks like Warhammer world might change, but the franchise is far from dissapearing.

Empire and Dwarfs versus Orks, Undead and chaos (at least Tzeentch) can be seen at the video, including "mighty beasts". Also the company behind, The Creative Assembly, are really good making strategy games and have a long story (15 years), so we can exppect a top-notch title (unlike the latest avalanche of mobile-based not-so-good-and-money-grabber titles).

 

This really got me excited, it's been quite a few years since we last had a Warhammer Fantasy strategy title...

Anyway, here's the nicely looking video:

Awesome Space Wolves custom Imperial Knight

The Space Wolves custom Imperial Knight

This awesome customized imperial knight, called "Iron Werewolf", is an incredible piece built by ComradeQuiche. I had been following his progress throught his Instagram Account (browsing Instagram by some warhammer tags it is so easy to find nice photos) but this last weeks have been really busy and I hadn't seen the finished results... and oh, boy!

Such a great modding (and 3D printing) job that Forge World should hire him to design an official resin kit. The painting is also so well done that makes the miniature shine even more.

There's a nice gallery and details on the construction of some pieces on this Tale of Painters article.

Games Workshop and hobby (incomplete) stores map

Many people do pilgrimages to Apple stores when they travel. Others like to go shopping at a famous place. As for me, I tend to have a sixth sense for finding gaming stores, comic stores and official Games Workshop Stores whenever I travel (inside and outside of Spain) and maybe buy a miniature or two to remind me in the future of that trip.

This is more related to chance, so, a few months ago I decided to build a map with the official GW stores and other RPG, boardgames and miniature stores so that if I travel to one of the countries I have data for, I can directly see where I can find stores.

It is not full as the data I gathered was mostly from Europe and USA, but I'll probably try to add Asia and Australia whenever I have time, but anyway it can be handy even at current incomplete state.

London stores map screenshot

You can check the map here: http://theelderthoughts.blogs.kartones.net/page/gw-stores-map. There's a button at the top left area to go fullscreen, and the map works in smartphones and tablets, although instead of moving the mouse over a point to see the name you must click/touch it.