Monday, March 5

Genuine Drama

For Christmas, I received 'Vice City Stories' the latest incarnation of the Grand Theft Auto franchise on PSP. Vice City, for those of you who are unaware of the geography of this fictional gangland, is split into two islands - with the splendidly named Starfish Island in the centre.

You can't get into one of the islands at the start of the game. All the bridges are closed because there's apparently a huge weather system on the way. Eventually, you get far enough into the game - the bridges open, the weather system fails to appear and you can now fart about in all of the game you paid 40 fucking quid for.

GTA:VCS is dull. You only play it to open up the other side of the islands, so you're able to free-roam through the entire game. All of the excitement is found in finding little nooks and crannies, things hidden away from the level structure of the game, so once you find the secret guns and bikes and whatnot, the game gets massively dull. Today though, I played the most dramatic, heart pounding, wondrous game I've ever experienced. What was it? Brian Lara Cricket on the Xbox.

I don't mean that it's like that every time. BLC has faults, some pretty serious ones at that - you can only return the ball to the striker's end, it sometimes gives you out for nothing, un-licensed test cricket, David Gower commentating with a plum in his mouth and up his arse - but it plays a decent game of cricket most of the time.

Despite it's failings, the test game is quite authentic (except the names) in being not only a test of skill, but patience as well. It's quite possible to score 2 runs in 12 overs (72 balls, non cricket people) so you have to really stick in there and make the most of the chances.

What about the drama, the excitement I hear you asking. Well, I was playing today against the West Indies, on the Test (hardest) level. They bowled me out in my first innings for a mediocre 159. I set about restricting their advantage well, but Lara and Jacobs settled in and I eventually skittled them for 184.

My second innings was much the same, leaving me in front by 144, with 2 days to play. A draw was out of the question, I had to bowl them out, and pretty quickly. Things started well, fifth ball of the first over, Harmison knocking stumps everywhere with a 95 mph sizzler. Two more fell quickly, leaving the Windies 19-3. Things looked promising. Problem was, Lara was back with his mate Jacobs again, Harmison and Flintoff had tired. Giles was brought into the attack but was swiftly disregarded as Lara smashed 18 off him in one over. Shit.

With the Windies on 115-3, and with time running out, I brought Hoggard into the attack. His first delivery arrowed into the head of Lara, knocking him down and reducing his confidence - time to bring the field in. Next ball, another bouncer, and Lara swings and turns one into the slips - got him!

Flintoff from the other end, a wonder over 3 90mph plus efforts, then a 45mph dribbler totally mistimed and caught on the boundary. 115 - 5. If I can take the next man, Flintoff, Hoggard and Harmison can rip through the tail-enders. Come on, concentrate.

Hoggard to Tino Best, oops. Field brought in to the leg side, try a slow ball down the wrong side and he smashes it for 6, onto the roof of the stand. Bollocks. 121-5. Tension is getting to me now. No-balls become common occurences. Windies on 129-5. 15 to win. Flintoff to Jacobs, now on 31, and Freddie comes up with an absolute monster, 98mph, LBW given straight away. 4 to get.

Next ball, last of the over, not very well guided but the batsman swings anyway - caught! 3 to go. New over, only facing tailenders now, Harmison back into the attack, field right in on top. Aim straight at the stumps, they won't be able to play it...and they can't, stumps everywhere again, 2 to get, can't get it wrong now.

129-8. Two to go. Harmison, second ball of the new over, second victim - 96mph inswinger, big swing from the batsman but far too late. Harmison on a hat trick and one needed to take the game. In he comes, and away he goes, first ball, demolition job on middle stump. 5 wickets in 5 balls, nice one.

It might sound a bit over the top. That's how it happened, and while the write up might not sound very interesting due to poor English, I was literally jumping out of my seat when the 5 wickets went down, and sweating with every poor delivery.

GTA:VCS is like a film. It has people paid to write a script to create tension, drama from extreme circumstance and actions. Sport doesn't. Sport makes it's own stories. Be it Man United in the Champion's league final, Schumacher scything his way through the field in his last race to try and take the title, or Harmison's last over dismissal of Kasprowicz in the Ashes in 2005, film, and indeed games, have nothing to match it.

2 Comments:

Mike Heaney said...

You off work like?

Peter Heaney said...

Oooh yes. More soon.

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