“What?” I hear you say. “Anthony, you bought Grand Theft Auto IV years ago!”

Yes, but I hadn’t made a concerted effort to actually get through it until this last weekend. And now it goes on the pile with all the other Grand Theft Auto games I could never get through (which, incidentally, contains all of them. Why do I keep buying these games?)

So what happened? I am at a point about halfway through the game. The missions I’m stuck on are, specifically, The Snow Storm and Holland Nights. Both involve fighting your way through a long area (a burnt-out hospital in Snow Storm, a project in Holland Nights) and eliminating a specific enemy. Once you do so, cops teleport to your location and you gain at least a two-star wanted level. You must now fight your way out of wherever you are, facing much better armed-and-armored cops (or even SWAT guys, in the case of The Snow Storm). Should you manage this impossible feat, you must then get to a vehicle alive and lose your wanted level.

In the end, I think the real problem is the whole “I’ve got a hammer, so every problem is a nail” thing. “We need a GTA IV mission.” “Okay, what does the engine support?” “Killing bad guys and/or cops, getting a wanted level and then shaking that level.” “Okay, I guess that’s the mission, then.”

And the thing is, with enough retries I know I’d probably get through one or both of those missions. But what’s the point? The next mission is just going to be the same thing, only harder. Oh, and of course, there’s no way to trade time for skill. There’s no way to gain more health, get better at driving or shooting, or get better armor than the stock body armor. You play the game their way or you don’t play it at all.

And this really pisses me off because I really would like to see how at least one GTA story turns out.

Plus, what the hell is up with the complete lack of checkpoints during missions? Saint’s Row had them, and it made that game much more accessible than GTA. I really expected Rockstar to steal back the improvements Saint’s Row made to the gameplay, but of course they didn’t. Because that would make sense.