The New York Times calls it “a thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire.”
Borough President Markowitz calls it “repugnant.”
My roommate calls it “the pinnacle of human achievement.”
But for this Brooklynite, Grand Theft Auto IV, the hyper-violent videogame set in a fictionalized New York has one major flaw — there’s not enough Brooklyn in it.
The graphic game follows an immigrant as he pursues the American dream (which in this case, is a dream about strippers and guns) in a thinly veiled Big Apple called “Liberty City.”
So when I picked up the joystick, I was sure I’d know my way around the game well enough to bring my character to the best dumpling house in Sunset Park and the hippest hipster bar in Bushwick.
The Brooklyn of GTA — it’s actually called “Broker” in the game — doesn’t match up with any map I know.
Yes, Brooklyn’s major landmarks are easy to spot. The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch in Grand Army Plaza looms over traffic, just like in real life. The Cyclone roller coaster (aptly renamed “The Screamer”) and the Wonder Wheel (dubbed “The Liberty Eye”) are postcard perfect, as are the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges and Park Slope’s brownstone blocks.
But for every landmark that the game’s designers created (with photorealist precision, I must say), entire neighborhoods morphed, shrank and became mostly unrecognizable.
It took me a few hours of furious gameplay to find a single block that might or might not constitute Bay Ridge (though to the designers’ credit, that block did have illegal curb cuts!).
As I drove around, Brooklyn Heights appeared as nothing more than a strip of townhouses bordering the Promenade.
The game also merges DUMBO, the Navy Yard and Red Hook into a single industrial site, which complicated my attempts to replicate my morning commute in a stolen police car.
Prospect Park is no bigger than Fort Greene Park, and much to Smartmom’s dismay, Park Slope borders both the Fulton Mall and Coney Island’s public housing.
But for every neighborhood included in the game, a handful didn’t make the cut.
Where are Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Flatbush and Cobble Hill, among others?
Brooklyn is nothing without its neighborhoods and with all of Grand Theft Auto’s omissions, my character might as well have been committing senseless acts of violence in some other borough.
That’s not to say that the new game isn’t fun — it very well might be the best videogame I’ve ever played.
But Brooklynites shouldn’t expect to know their way around.
©2008 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.