I did get some gaming time in, though, because, well, that's what I do when I'm home sick. And since all I can think about these days is the impending release of GTA4, I spent most of the day playing Rockstar games.
I even put aside God of War on my PSP to get into GTA: Liberty City Stories, and it must be said that while the game itself is definitely showing its age, it's still a pretty remarkable feeling to be playing a fully fleshed-out GTA game on a handheld, especially when it arguably looks better than the original PS2 version.
The vast majority of yesterday, though, was spent getting back into Bully, a game I'd put down a few weeks ago and, for whatever reason, never got around to picking back up. Basically played through all of Chapter 3 and am now a few missions into Chapter 4; I've finished all my morning classes and I think I only have 2 Shop classes and 2 Photography classes left; I've found all 6 transistor radios and as a result I'm almost unstoppable in a fight, even against 5 or 6 jocks. There's a pleasant mix of missions now; some are a little harder than others, but most of them can be beaten in one go. At first I wasn't sure how much of a completist I was aiming to be, but I've all but abandoned the idea of getting 100% now; I'll get all the rubber bands, gnomes and G&G cards (now that I've got the maps) and that'll probably be the extent of it.
One mission cracked me up, and then also kinda made me cringe: Photography 3, I think it was. The mission: go to the seedy part of town (New Coventry) and take 5 pictures of "hobos or dogs". If anybody wants to know why Rockstar's sandbox games "work" on a level that other GTA clones don't, this has to be Exhibit A. Let me pull back the layers on this one:
- Photography 1 was taking pictures of flags; Photography 2 was (if I remember correctly) taking portraits of classmates. But the idea of having high school students actively seeking out and taking pictures of homeless people as a class assignment - especially when the pictures themselves are graded on how crazy and decrepit the people are - is a spot-on impression of every stereotypically pretentious art student out there, and BOY OH BOY did this remind me of people I knew in high school.
- But then, when I got to New Coventry, it took me a while to find the hobos, because the seediness of the town ends up making everyone look a little shady and suspicious, and suddenly I found myself making off-the-cuff judgments of character of everybody I rode past.
- And then, when you do find the crazy people - or, at least, you take enough pictures of random people and suddenly one of them gets marked as a successful photograph - you now recognize what you're looking for, but the fact that the mission is timed lends a degree of urgency to the mission, because suddenly the mission isn't about documenting the plight of the homeless and the poignancy of the human condition - it's about making sure you snap a picture with enough time to get back to class.
Still hoping to have it finished before the 29th, because after that I'm toast. I was thinking about liveblogging my GTA4 experience; as it happens, when GTA4 comes out, my wife will be home recovering from a surgery and I'm taking vacation time to take care of her, and her office is giving her a laptop so that she can work from home; she may or may not still be taking painkillers that week, but I doubt she'll be working, at any rate, so the possibility exists that I could play and type at the same time.
There's also a part of my brain that says: "Fuck that. I want to play GTA4, not document the experience of playing it." And you can't get immersed in a world when you're constantly pulling yourself out of the experience.
Maybe I'll just keep a tape recorder handy.