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    Jul 26th, 2009 at 14:43:54     -    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (360)

    After playing more of the game, CJ's view of the world has become more tangible to me. He sees the current state of Los Santos - where families once united now are fractured and in a state of constant violent tension. The prevalence of crack cocaine in the 'hood has led to old gangbangers' ambivalence towards their old ideals of brotherhood. Even CJ's mother was a victim to the disentigration of the old guard: she died in what was meant to be a hit on CJ's brother, Sweet. The perpetrator is still unknown to the all-but-disappeared Grove Street gangsters.

    CJ's reaction to all of this further cements his (and by extension, the game's) closeminded approach to situations. He and his allies begin striking back at their local enemies, the Ballas. First, they cover nearby Balla tags with their own graffiti. Then, CJ and Ryder, upon seeing the depths of helplessness crack can send a person (an old homie, Big Bear, has gone from a tough gangster to a veritable slave of the manipulative pusher, B-Dup), they take out their aggression on some Balla crack dealers.

    It was about this point I decided to cheat in order to make my playing of this game a little less frustrating. Usually I don't cheat, since I feel somewhat honor-bound to play a game at its intended difficulty level, but since I've already beaten this game once before, I don't feel too bad about it. To me, cheating kind of ruins the experience of a game.

    The violence is racked up even higher during a food run CJ and his friends go on. A bullet-filled chase ensues after they are targeted by a Balla drive-by, which then prompts CJ to seek some firearms from old-timer Emmet. I found Emmet to be particularly interesting in a ethical sense. He claims he has been helping the neighborhood for over 30 years, but his definition of "help" seems to involve selling guns to gangbangers. Obviously, he's somewhat deluded, but the 'hood seems to be an overly-close-minded place.

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    Jul 26th, 2009 at 00:17:46     -    Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (360)

    GTA:San Andreas is notorious (like its bretheren) for giving the player the ability to act with flagrant disregard to modern society's rules of law and morality. However, upon booting up the game for the first time in many years, I was suprised to see that the protagonist, Carl, actually does possess some moral fiber. Indeed, he is motivated to leave the relative safety of Liberty City, where he was far away from the gritty, no-holds-barred streets of his youth, by a sense of loyalty to his family. This idea of loyalty plays a large part later in the game, as Carl struggles to keep those loyal to him close. In terms of ethics, having some sense of loyalty is a positive thing, since it means people can expect you to help them out when they are in need - a thing that Carl and his fellow GTA protagonists find themselves doing for much of the time.

    Carl's loyalty is very soon questioned. We find out that his asylum in Liberty City has come at the cost of connection to his family. His brother, Sweet, is angry at Carl for missing the final years of their mother's life. Their altercation is cut short when some rival gang bangers attempt a drive-by, forcing CJ and his friends to flee home atop bicycles while being fire upon. This is the first in-game display of one of the GTA series' main tropes: the "us versus them" mechanic of rival gangs. It shows a very tribal (as one of my old religion professors would describe it) way of viewing the world, where the other side is nothing more than the enemy and you only care about those close to you. There is no discussion or attempt to understand the rival gangs. Rather, the player is rewarded for killing them. In the end, I do not believe Carl is a sociopath. He does not completely lack morals, but he isn't the most socially-evolved person.

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