I set my old phone back to factory settings to see if I could download Jeopardy! episodes on it without having to put my new phone at risk of viruses. But before I did that, I was able to take pictures of these two drawings that I drew in an app on the phone in June last year. I know they look like a child’s crude finger paintings, but in my defence, I hadn’t drawn anything on my phone before and I hadn’t drawn anything at all in about 13 years!
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Then I remembered I emailed this Bandlab recording to myself a few weeks ago, which also dates from June last year. Again, in my defence, when I recorded this I had only been using Bandlab for two days and still wasn’t entirely sure how it worked, so I was just hitting all the keys and drum pads and hoping for the best. I conceived it as a Frank Zappa parody hence the “hungry freaks, daddy” at the end, but I didn’t have the ability to pull that parody off and it sounds nothing like him (I had been thinking along the lines of ‘Ruth Underwood going crazy on the xylophone during Zappa’s concerts’). I showed it to someone around the time I made it and they described it to me as “the worst piece of music I’ve ever heard”.
GTA V’s 10 year anniversary recently passed so here’s my ranking of the main GTA titles:
1. GTA IV (2008) - 5 STARS
2. GTA Vice City (2002) - 5 STARS
3. GTA III (2001) - 4.5 STARS
4. GTA V (2013) - 4.5 STARS (excluding GTA Online)
5. GTA San Andreas (2004) - 4.25 STARS
6. GTA 2 (1999) - 3.75 STARS
7. GTA 1 (1997) - 3.25 STARS
My experience with each: Sometime around October 1999 my uncle, who’s 8 years older than me, told me all about GTA 2 and advised me to buy it. He was living with my family at the time and I remember specifically we were sitting at the kitchen table watching ‘Monday Night Raw’ (on a Friday night which is when it was shown here) when he explained the premise of the game to me, and I was intrigued by what I heard. I probably rented it a few times over the next couple of months and then according to my childhood diary which I looked through recently I bought the game on January 8th 2000. I also rented GTA 1/GTA London during that period which felt like a step down from GTA 2, so I only played them that one time and didn’t rent them again.
Fast forward to two or three days before Hallowe’en 2001 and a few friends and I were collecting wood for a bonfire. The cousin of one of my friends was there and he began telling me about GTA 3 which had just been released. He informed me it was in 3D rather than a top-down view and that you could headbutt people and all this type of thing; I’m sure I tried to keep my composure but I was brimming with excitement. My fondest memories of GTA 3 are playing it on a portable television on my grandmother’s kitchen table. ‘Fade Away’ by Craig Grey is the most evocative/nostalgic song from that game for me.
Vice City was announced seven months later and was the first game of the series that I was aware of ahead of time and actively anticipated its release; buying €7 PlayStation magazines just to see two or three new pictures of it. When it came out in October 2002 I took the day off school so I could play it; I had just moved house and started secondary school the month prior. Its soundtrack was a formative influence on my taste in music. I played it for months. For Christmas that year I got the game ‘The Getaway’ which only held my interest for a short amount of time before I switched back to Vice City.
By the time October 2004 rolled around I had lost interest in video games in general and I wasn’t especially enthusiastic about the release of San Andreas. On the day it came out I was apathetic enough about it that I went soccer training that evening instead of staying home to play it. It simply arrived at the wrong time for me. Throughout 2003 and most of 2004 I had been listening to a lot of rap music, buying CDs, Hip Hop magazines, DVDs about rap feuds, listening to Hip Hop radio shows and recording them onto cassettes, watching ‘Boyz n the Hood’, and so on. Then along came San Andreas which was inspired by that whole culture but at that stage I was already mentally moving on from it. My feeling at the time was ‘this music is saying nothing to me about my life’, over a year before I knew who Morrissey was. If San Andreas had come out six months earlier I might have much fonder memories of it, but I couldn’t get into it the way I could with the two previous games.
GTA IV, in contrast, arrived at the perfect time. Because of my experience with San Andreas I was unsure about whether I wanted to buy it right up until the night before it came out. I sat up until the early hours of the morning waiting for gameplay footage to be uploaded to YouTube because every video was being taken down due to copyright strikes. Finally I found a video of the protagonist riding a motorcycle, crashing into a bus stop and leaving a blood stain on the glass with his head, and I decided I had to buy it. I bought it early the next day; I was 18 and it was the first GTA game I could legally buy. Around this time I had been dissatisfied with the music I was listening to, I was ready to branch out from 90s alternative rock and to hear something new but I wasn’t sure what I was looking for or how to go about it. This game’s soundtrack shaped my taste in music the way Vice City had; even more so.
Rockstar have been keeping a tight hold on what are the exact songs broadcast on the radio stations of Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV. However, now that the game is out, and available to buy t…darkzero.co.uk
GTA IV got a bad rap at the time because it wasn’t as cartoonish and ‘fun’ as San Andreas but I loved everything about it: the setting, the grittiness, the main character, the soundtrack, all the small details that were put into it. I’m not much of a gamer, I haven’t owned a console in years and haven’t played anything from many of the most popular gaming franchises out there such as Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, Assassin’s Creed, so this statement probably doesn’t mean much but I consider GTA IV my favourite game of all time.
GTA V, again, like San Andreas, came along at the wrong time for me. I had just started at university in 2013 when it was released. I was taking literature modules and reading 19th century authors that semester, and there was a disconnect when I tried playing GTA V. I felt like I shouldn’t be playing it, that there were better uses for my time. I still bought it in HMV on its day of release despite some reluctance, and it came with a big rolled up poster which I believe I took although I was embarrassed to be seen with it. I played the game on and off for a few weeks before tiring of it, but eventually came back to it, particularly in 2016 when I reached level 150-ish on GTA Online before my PS3 broke down (which I bought on the day GTA IV came out in 2008).
Now after ten years I’m waiting to read news about GTA VI, because I’m curious. It’ll likely be the first GTA main title that I don’t buy on its launch date since 2001 as there’s no chance that I’m paying €500 for a PS5. Waiting for five months for Vice City in 2002 felt like an eternity so if I had to wait three years back then, let alone ten like people who are anticipating VI now, I would have lost my life. If you’ve read this far I’m sorry you wasted your time because there was no particular point to these reminiscences (other than the fact that I haven’t been watching Jeopardy! and therefore had some extra time on my hands), but here’s five gold ‘wanted’ stars for your effort
I think it's not good for you to live on your own like that in a shack in the middle of nowhere at your age! It's time you settled down with a nice girl! Your minds going to pot!!!!