Game Diary - February 23, 2009: Hardest 'Lost and Damned' Mission So Far

"GTA IV: The Lost and Damned" has caused me to do something that "Grand Theft Auto IV" failed to trigger: curse at my TV.

***

I played about five hours' of "Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned" on Sunday, a generally good meal of gaming that involved one unfortunately bitter bite: the pipe bomb mission.

I had forgotten that "GTA" missions could be hard in this way. The open-world dynamics of a "GTA" city can make the execution of a simple task miserably unpredicable. In this case, the goal was to drive through the suburbs, detonating hand-tossed bombs under three moving vehicles. It's better just to shoot them. But, low on ammo, I wound up chasing these vans for more than one full game day, succeeding with the first van because of luck, and the last two because I finally had protagonist Johhny Klebitz get out of his car and shotgun their engine blocks.

It's strange how time slows down when you're playing the hard part of a game. What feels like hours spent battling through a section of a game is usually only a couple dozen minutes. But the mounting frustration dilates my experience of time.

Thoughts race through my mind:

How could they do this to me?

What were they thinking?

Why am I wasting my time?

How dare they?

And my go-to line, which isn't really a question and which I never realize I'm about to say: You've got to be [insert curse here] kidding me.

And then I passed it and the anger drained. A few easy missions later, all is forgiven. At least this wasn't like the toy plane mission in "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."

***

For Diary readers wondering about the PSP games I took to the DICE Summit:

-The twin-stick shooter "Super Stardust Portable" plays well but hurts the fingers in my right hand -- another argument for the PSP needing a right analog stick.

-I played very little of "Loco Roco 2," but do think that the game's second level is one of the best-designed side-scrolling levels I've played in a few years.

-I tried some "Rayman 2" and was shocked that the voice-actor pronounces the "man" in the title character's name like the "man" in "Hugh Jackman," not like the one in "Batman." The PlayStation/N64 era of 3D graphics is an important one, but the works from that time, this game included, are garish and ugly. The game was playing fine, but after two levels, I think I had enough. All the platforming, climbing, hanging, and shooting that I was doing in this game has been done in so many other games. I fear that whatever was original and important about "Rayman 2" when it was released at the turn of the century has been bettered by what has come since. Or am I missing greatness deeper in the game?

Next: Tonight, I hope to finish "The Lost and Damned."