It's hard to believe there was a time when people were actually impressed by The Getaway. In a world where Grand Theft Auto is the champion of open-world crime simulators, it's hard to believe that there was a time when people were looking forward to driving through the streets of London. Yet years before The Getaway was released, Next Generation magazine called the title the "most ambitious game of all time." Sure it was ambitious, but that doesn't mean it was very good. Yet despite the critics piling negative criticism against the series, Sony has continued to release new editions in the franchise.
This week marked the release of Sony's third version of The Getaway, called Gangs of London for their PlayStation Portable. It may have a new name, but the action, graphics and world are all exactly the same. Like the rest of the series, Gangs of London is getting poor reviews
This scene sure looks exciting ... but it's not!
and will likely be lost in the shuffle when Rockstar Games releases their second PSP Grand Theft Auto game, Vice City Stories.
Gangs of London is yet another gritty crime drama set in the middle of London. A good chunk of your time is spent chasing down other gangs, dealing illegal substances and killing anybody that gets in your way. This is not the type of game you look for when you want an uplifting game experience. We're dealing with the lowest of the low, the dregs of society. These are people that will murder their way to the top and have no remorse for what they've done. It's a violent game that is appropriately rated M for Mature.
Yet, when it comes to the cinema cut-scenes all of the filthy language has been edited out. Instead of seeing words like "fuck" and "shit," we see sanitized symbols representing foul language. In almost every cinema you have to guess what the characters are saying, but all you see are "@#%&!" where the profanity would be.
Sometimes well meaning people can over react when it comes to profanity!
So let me get this right, the people behind this third Getaway title are okay showing you scenes of graphic violence towards both men and women, but when it comes to bad language that's over the line? This is a game filled with non-stop legal issues, many of which would get you locked up for the rest of your life, but when you say a word like "fuck" you are going too far. The one legal aspect of Gangs of London is completely edited out, despite the fact that it's the least offensive part of the game.
Had this been rated T for Teen I would be more willing to accept this self censorship, after all, it would make sense given who the game is targeted towards. But
There is nothing "mature" about Conker's Bad Fur Day!
this is an M rated game; it's a game that has no problem showing you non-stop violence. If you're going to bring us into a world of gangsters and make us believe, then perhaps it would be wise to go all the way and show us how these lowlife's talk. In an M rated game you are allowed to get away with profanity, especially if the story calls for it.
Substituting symbols for profanity does not make the game less offensive, the profanity is still hinted at even if you can't tell exactly what it is. Using these symbols only makes you more aware of the profanity, you read what is being said but you zero in on what isn't being shown. It seems troubling that the developers were willing to build a game full of murder and gang violence, but not go all the way and show you what the characters are really saying.
Forget Gangs of London, just get out there and pick up a copy of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories!
This is not the first time we've seen companies shy away from using profanity in a mature rated game. When Conker's Bad Fur Day was released on the Nintendo 64 it was touted as being one of the first mature games on the system. Yet Conker only hinted at profanity, it refused to go all the way and actually say the words (or show them on the screen). Instead we got hours of poop jokes and a drunken main character. There was nothing "mature" about Conker's Bad Fur Day; it was the type of game that tested the limits of toilet humor and nothing else. But like Gangs of London, Conker could have used profanity but opted not to. They bleeped and censored the language, which only drew more attention to what was being said.
Not everybody likes profanity, but that shouldn't change the authenticity of a game like Gangs of London. When you watch something like The Sopranos you expect them to act in a realistic manner, and like it or not, these types of people use four letter words. Censoring yourself plays into the notion that video games are for kids, even though Gangs of London is certainly not for the youth. Cleaning a game like this up is completely unnecessary, it's the type of design choice that makes me want to cry. Then again, the Gangs of London is a completely unnecessary game ... so maybe it doesn't matter. Either way, just use the fucking words!