15/03/15: Heists

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I’m Sam Brooke, and I’m the new kid on the block at Gamevolution (Quite literally. I’m in high school!) and, while I’ll be doing other articles in the future, I’ll be sticking to writing my weekly gaming experiences every Sunday for the time being.

This week? Easily one of the best and worst weeks of my gaming life this year. Never have I had a week so full of anticipation, disappointment and happiness just because of an update and a patch.

Monday was like Christmas Eve. GTA: Heists was to release in a day, and I was half preparing – slogging through the bland and deadened Contact missions I’d played numerous times before – and half bored out of my mind. I tried to play a succession of sports games that were supposed to last the year. I scoured my Steam library for sustenance. I downloaded (And subsequently deleted) the month’s new wave of PS Plus games, yet they all seemed pale in comparison to what was to come the next day. My friends and I were in a state of limbo (not to be too dramatic) so we all called it a night.

"...And visions of sugar plums danced in our heads..."

“…And visions of sugar plums danced in our heads…”

But like a racist great uncle on Christmas or a lactose-intolerant at the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Event, GTA soured the tail-end of the day. And it all started so well. Downloading the update in the morning and discussing it at school amplified my hype, but that was all dashed as soon as the moment came; I was kicked from the game, blocked from coming back on, and somehow my game uninstalled itself. An anticlimax if there ever was one.

Wednesday proved a slight antidote. playing out the Fleeca Heist and its set-up missions impressed me much more than it should have, but the combination of the Snake-like hacking minigame, the drilling mechanics and the thrilling climax – which involves money, police blockades, a giant magnet, an armoured car and a lot of smashing – told me to automatically forgive Rockstar for how long I had to wait. The way that Rockstar have made the gameplay asymmetrical for everyone is hugely impressive – in this case, I drilled the safety deposit box, while my partner kept the hostages under wraps – but, once again, the servers proved the undoing of my happiness. Somehow, playing a mission and being wrenched away from playing the next pleased me: I’d be able to drag out the heists for longer.

Thursday was a scramble to get the next set-ups going as quickly as possible, trying to get as much done before 6pm, when the servers would usually crash. That was just a usual day, but it was Friday that cemented this week as being worth it: the pain caused was soon healed, as I read that Rockstar had finally patched the servers. The game was fixed! I could finally enjoy GTA again, after the frustration of the past days, and the delirium of the week before.

What makes Heists so amazing for me is how the set-ups and levels vary so much: setting up for the Humane Labs Raid had two of the best set-ups so far, and both of them had completely different tones. The first was a hunt for a Hydra, the new VTOL jet that was introduced in the update. Riding towards a nearby aircraft carrier on a dinghy and spraying the interior with bullets was a tense but exciting affair, but the highlight was the climax: one player would get into the Hydra and fly to Sandy Shores, while the others would get in LAZERs and defend him. Not only was the fight thrilling and utterly awesome, but Danger Zone started to play, just as I thought that the game could use it.

The other was more low-key and stealthy: we had to dispatch the many guards and scientists in the Humane Labs compound in order to place an EMP in the garage. Coordinating shots was key, and being stealthy with 3 other teammates is surprisingly hard. We failed a lot, thanks to dead bodies, monkeys and scientists. It felt so rewarding to clear it, though, and the end of the mission was punctuated with a new little hacking game.

To say this week’s been eventful in real life is a stretch.

But in my head, it’s an understatement.

 

Currently in high school, I mostly play open world games and binge-watch anything on Netflix.