Retro City Rampage

So, where were we? I had just finished Vice City, a game that can be described as “GTA, but 1980s”. Well, that description also applies to Brian Provinciano’s Retro City Rampage, just in a different way. The RCR project apparently started off as Grand Theftendo, a fairly straightforward attempt at a partial port of GTA3 to the Nintendo Entertainment System. At some point, however, Provinciano decided to abandon actual NES compatibility in favor of something merely NES-styled, and also abandon perfect faithfulness to the material that inspired it in favor of new content that fits that style better. The result is more stylized, faster-paced, and sillier than GTA. Put it this way: the first power-up you get is a pair of magic shoes that let you run as fast as a car and run down pedestrians on foot.

The engine is more like an adaptation of the original GTA than of GTA3, with its top-down view. Except it’s not quite top-down here. GTA, aiming at realism, rendered humans as they’d look from above, just a head between a pair of shoulders when you’re standing still, but RCR is in that naïvist-isometric view familiar from Legend of Zelda and the like, a grid of floor tiles seen from above but with side-view figures walking around on it. Not only does mixing dimensions like this make it look more retro, it affords jumping, which makes it play more retro. One of the player’s most effective combat techniques is jumping on enemies’ heads, Mario-style.

When I’m driving around and running over pedestrians, the style reminds me a lot of certain old coin-op games, particularly Capcom’s Speed Rumbler, which similarly let you use a car to run down enemies on foot. It really makes me realize just how connected GTA was to what went before. Apart from its open-endedness, it strikes me that the main difference is the moral one: even if you didn’t understand exactly what was going on in Speed Rumbler‘s brief opening cinematic, it made it clear that the people you were running over were bad guys. RCR doesn’t have that, but keeps things at a high enough level of abstraction to feel basically good-natured anyway, even as you run around doing slaughter sprees for high scores.

The setting is a big mashup of 8-bit videogame classics, and to a certain extent 80s pop culture and modern indie games. Mario-style green pipes and Sonic-style checkboard-pattern dirt cliffs are just part of the landscape here. Various set-piece missions are based on Bionic Commando, Smash TV, Paperboy, and so forth, probably including some that I couldn’t identify. Storefronts throughout the city have names that pun on classic videogame titles, with signage patterned after their logos. That last point might sound lame, but I’m still comparing it in my mind to Vice City, which also had jokey signage, except the jokes tended to be dick references and similar. I prefer the videogame puns.

All in all, it’s pretty delightful — moreso than I would have guessed from the title. My one big complaint is about the ending sequence. The final mission takes you out of the city and to an island fortress where a long sequence of set-pieces play out one after another. Some of them are quite difficult, but there’s no respite until the game’s end. Or, well, obviously you can just save the game and take a break, but somehow that doesn’t feel the same when you’re still in the middle of a mission. Throughout most of the game, missions have maybe at most three or four stages, after which you’re back into free-roaming mode and can decide what to do next: another mission if you like, or maybe try to rack up some slaughter sprees, or just go exploring and look for hidden packages. The endgame takes that freedom away from you for long enough that it feels like it’s breaking a pledge.

Vice City: Done

I seem to have won. Tommy Vercetti is now undisputed master of Vice City, which is basically what he’s been acting like all along, taking any vehicle he wants and so forth. He’s the player avatar, and the city itself is literally your plaything. Few games acknowledge this, somehow.

Most of the missions in the later part of the game are, for once, part of a larger pattern. You buy a business, then you do one or more missions or other special activities relating to that business, and when you’re done, it becomes a source of cash, which accumulates at a pick-up point in front, building up to a maximum that varies from business to business. Picking up this free money becomes a chore reminiscent of the daily resource pickups in Heroes of Might and Magic and its ilk, except that you can’t keep a separate hero stack devoted to the pickups, as your only hero is Tommy himself. (Expanding the scope of your operations does produce gang members on your side, wandering the streets near your holdings, wearing an imitation of Tommy’s trademark Hawaiian shirt. But you have absolutely no control over them.) You then use this money to buy more businesses. Occasionally you get increasingly agitated phone calls from Forelli, accusing Tommy of cutting him out, which is completely accurate. I should have seen this coming. Recovering the money, the original impetus for the whole enterprise, isn’t even a factor any more. It’s now about who’s in control, and Tommy, having tasted power, isn’t interested in going back to being someone else’s lackey.

The endgame becomes available before you’ve finished all the available business missions, giving you some leeway to refuse missions you find too difficult. It consists of two missions. First, Forelli sends his men on motorcycles to collect the “taxes” from your holdings, and you have to stop them, which is most easily accomplished by staking out one business and waiting for them. This done, there’s a showdown at Vercetti Manor (formerly Diaz Manor), involving waves of goons charging into your minigun. (By this point I had unlocked the next Hidden Package weapon, the rocket launcher 1The rocket launcher was the final unlockable in GTA3, but there’s three more levels here that I haven’t even reached. Apparently one is called a “Rhino”, but it’s actually a kind of tank, rather than a rhinoceros you can ride around the streets, because this isn’t Saints Row. , but the minigun is still the best weapon.) It’s an old story: an absentee lord tries to claim someone else’s spoils, and a rebellious hero refuses, goes to war with the old power, and wins. Americans will see the legend of their own nation’s origins here, but it’s an even better fit to certain older versions of the King Arthur myth, with Rome in the Forelli role, returning after years to demand tribute after Arthur’s knights subdued the invading Saxons without their help. Except I’ve never seen a version of the Arthur myth that was quite this crass.

Despite its mythic resonance, the final battle feels kind of spare and anticlimactic. It’s a pure shooting mission, and shooting is not a very deep or rich activity in this game, or at least not once you’ve finished experimenting and settled on a preferred gun. Also, the absence of music works against it. I’m not saying that climactic battles in games always need to have music, but you spend a great deal of your time in this game in various vehicles, and no matter what’s on the car radio, it somehow always seems to complement the action, whether you’re evading police cars to a mambo or aiming for a sweet motorcycle jump to Flock of Seagulls. This is the game’s soundtrack, and its absence in the final stretch is noticeable. They should really do a GTA where the end boss is a driving mission, if they haven’t already. Driving is more what the game’s about anyway.

1 The rocket launcher was the final unlockable in GTA3, but there’s three more levels here that I haven’t even reached. Apparently one is called a “Rhino”, but it’s actually a kind of tank, rather than a rhinoceros you can ride around the streets, because this isn’t Saints Row.

Vice City: To the Skies

Much of my last session was spent airborne. First, I found the solution to my problems with that seaplane: switching back to joystick controls. There’s pretty definitely something going wrong with the keyboard input there, because getting into the air was a cinch once I was using a device that the game recognized consistently.

After that, the same mission source (a movie studio, now making porn at Tommy’s behest) gave me a multi-stage mission that involved tailing a limousine without getting too close to it, and while the mission didn’t require that I use a helicopter, it provided one and suggested that I use it. Good thing, too, because the final stage of the mission got me in deep trouble with the cops, and, as before, the easiest way to deal with this is to dash to the helicopter you parked nearby. This has become my go-to technique for evading police in missions that give you a high Wanted rating, which, in this late part of the game, is most of them. The police have helicopters too, but it’s a lot easier to evade them than to dodge all the traffic you’d encounter on the ground.

The final porn mission’s goal was to mess with some searchlights on a rooftop. Considering that it’s already been established that the studio has access to both a plane and a helicopter, you might think this would simply be a matter of flying to the relevant rooftop, but no, you’re supposed to ride a motorcycle into a tall building, up the elevator, through a plate glass window into an adjacent building, and finally over a long sequence of ramps and rooftops, with checkpoints all along the path to guide you. I wound up using a helicopter anyway. I tried to do the motorcycle thing, but fell off and lost my bike after a few jumps, and found it simpler to go back to a nearby safehouse and pick up a helicopter than to find another bike. The thing is, you can’t just go directly to the searchlights. You have to go through all the motorcycle checkpoints, but the game doesn’t care if you’re actually on a motorcycle or not. Of all the borderline cheating I’ve done over the course of the game, flying through those checkpoints feels the cheatingest.

The experience of flying through the Vice City skyline reinforces one of the game’s greatest strengths: its sense of spatial coherence. You’re interacting with the structures of the city at a different level and a different scale than normal, ignoring the streets that channel your path on the ground, instead paying attention to the spires and towers that are your only obstacles but which you seldom look at from below. And yet, everything about the city is recognizable from the hours you’ve spent driving and walking around it. It helps that the city is fairly small. From the air, you can really feel like the whole thing is spread out around you like a gaming table.

And for what it’s worth, I found that flying in the plane produced this sensation more strongly than the helicopter. In a helicopter, you essentially levitate: you take off vertically, you have buttons to ascend and descend and can rotate in place. Accelerating means tilting the rotor and therefore losing altitute, but since you can just gain more altitude at will, this isn’t very significant. In an airplane, you swoop around madly. You have to struggle to keep the thing level, you can’t stop, you have to swerve around obstacles because you can’t rise fast enough to go over them. In short, as with cars, your control is imperfect, and this forces you to engage the environment more. This reflection really makes me regret cheating on that motorcycle mission, because it seems like I’ve missed out on more of the same thing.

Vice City: Vehicle Choice and Lack Thereof

I made some progress last night, and as a result all of my remaining missions involve difficult driving. I suppose this was predictable, seeing how the minigun zips me past the more combat-oriented missions. One mission is a bit like the premise of the movie Speed: you have to drive through city streets in a limousine containing a bomb that goes off if you don’t go fast enough. One is a race-a-boat-through-a-series-of-checkpoints missions, and somewhat trickier than the earlier such. And one involves piloting a seaplane with controls like GTA3‘s Dodo through a bunch of checkpoints at varying altitude. I’m having so little luck getting that seaplane in the air that I suspect I’m having input problems similar to the ice cream jingle from a few posts back.

It strikes me that part of my problem with these missions in particular is that they don’t let me choose the vehicle. The vehicle is a fixed part of the mission parameters, and that makes success purely a matter of skill, rather than of choosing the thing that makes it easier. This was a big part of some of the earlier missions, and the right vehicle isn’t always the fastest one. For example, the mission that leads into ousting Diaz involves rescuing an injured comrade in a junkyard, and taking him to the hospital. On the way out, you’re attacked by four cars driven by Diaz’s goons, which basically just ram you and make you spin around and run into walls so you can’t get anywhere. After enough of this treatment, your car explodes. Now, getting to the junkyard in time to rescue your partner requires a fast car, but once there, the simplest approach is to ditch it and switch to a garbage truck that’s conveniently nearby. It can take a lot of damage, and it’s heavy enough that it’s hard to knock off course. (It took me multiple attempts at the mission realize this, though. I kept exploding the garbage truck with my minigun on the way in just to waste the goons around it.)

That example is at least one that the designer pretty clearly set up for you. Here’s one that wasn’t: There’s a mission to blow up a store whose owner went to the police instead of giving you protection money. The place is crawling with cops, so you’re told to disguise yourself as a cop and drive a police car to the store. Once there, the bomb goes off before you can get away, and your Wanted rating immediately goes up to near maximum. Suddenly there’s police all over the place chasing you, setting up roadblocks, heading you off, etc. As always, they’ll be off your back the moment you make it to a spray shop to repaint your vehicle and give it new plates, but it’s difficult to even make it that far. Far easier if, instead of driving a cop car to the store as instructed, you bring a helicopter and simply take off into the skies, out of reach of their guns. Helicopters are very conveniently available at several of my hideouts at this point of the game.

Solutions like these take advantage of the open-world genre’s greatest strength, its freedom of action. The missions that lock you into a specific vehicle take that freedom away from you, and with it, the satisfaction of exploiting your freedom in clever ways. It strikes me that there are probably also missions where solving problems through clever weapon choice could produce similar satisfaction, but I pretty much spoiled that for myself by unlocking the minigun so early. There’s not much point in ever choosing any other gun once you have that.

Vice City: Loading Screens

Vice City consists of two parallel islands that span the map from north to south like an enormous pause button, plus a few smaller islands between them, all joined by bridges (although you can also travel between them by boat or helicopter). This layout seems to be at least partly intended to aid in memory management by dividing the city into two zones. My chief evidence for this is that, when you drive across the zone boundary, a loading screen pops up briefly. Very briefly. I assume that it tended to stay up longer on the game’s original target hardware, but on a modern gaming machine, the loading screen stays up for a mere fraction of a second, registering as just a flicker, but a highly distracting flicker. The first few times this happened to me, it was startling enough that I lost control of my car. Now, the game is good about maintaining continuity across the zone boundary: the same cars will be around you after the flicker as before. So the chief thing indicating any discontinuity is the loading screen itself. If they left that out, and simply froze the contents of the screen for the moment that it takes to load the other zone, I might not even notice.

While this might be the ideal approach for Vice City in particular, I can’t in general advocate the removal of loading screens from games where their primary purpose is unnecessary. I have played many older games where the loading screens flit by, and very often my reaction is that I wish they’d linger. A well-designed loading screen isn’t just a waiting room you have to tolerate on the way to the actual game content, it’s part of the the game content itself, whether it’s by providing extra background information or gameplay tips in text, or by adding to the atmosphere with additional art and animation. I’m not saying it’s always good, but when it is, it’s unsatisfying to lose it. If only more developers thought to throw in a “Click to Continue”! It might not be ideal when zoning as in Vice City, but letting the player decide when the level starts is a valuable corrective not just for loading screens that are too short, but also for ones that are too long and temporarily lose the player’s attention.

Vice City: “Ice Cream”

I once joked about a nonexistent special activity for ice cream trucks in GTA3. Well, guess what? Vice City has a special activity for ice cream trucks! Sort of. When you buy the ice cream factory, it turns out that it’s not really an ice cream factory, and that they’re using the trucks to distribute something else that slowly gets you in trouble with the police as you hand it out. The game is oddly coy about exactly what it is — one assumes drugs, but it’s only ever identified as “product”. In most games, I’d assume that they’re trying to skirt around drug stuff in order to maintain a content rating and avoid being banned in the more persnicketty nations, but that doesn’t really make sense here, because there’s been so many references to drug use and drug dealing already, starting with the premise of the whole game. I suppose it’s possible that the various ratings bodies and other moral watchdogs would be harsher on an interactive drug-dealing mission than they would be on a cutscene.

At any rate, most of the businesses available for purchase have a similar story: once you buy them, you discover that they’re already involved in crimes, even before you can exert your corrupting influence. The used car dealership deals in stolen cars, the print works does a little counterfeiting on the side, etc. This serves as a way to introduce business-specific missions where you expand these operations, but that doesn’t really require the crimes to already be in place. But I suppose that having Tommy Vercetti be the source of all crime, rather than its mere discoverer, would make the whole thing darker and less comic. As it is, no one in Vice City is innocent, and that absolves the player of a certain amount of responsibility. Tommy isn’t a monster if everyone else is just as bad as him, if the only thing that separates him from them is that he’s better at it.

I’ll note one strange technical problem I had with the ice cream distribution in particular. The game tells you to use the shift key to turn on your ice cream truck’s jingle and attract customers. This is in fact an essential part of distributing “product”; no one will come to your truck if it isn’t jingling. But somehow, I found I was usually unable to turn the jingle on, and had to try over and over again before it took. The jingle toggle uses the same key as the horn on most cars, and that works fine, so it’s not like the game was failing to register the keypress. My best guess is that the difference lies in it being a toggle, which you press to start and press again to stop, whereas the horn toots for as long as you hold the key down. This is the sort of thing that I can see being affected by framerate or CPU speed, in which case it’s probably broken forever now, and will only get worse.

Vice City: Radio

I’ve mentioned the in-game radio stations a little, but not enough to really get across what an important part of the game they are. Outside of the intro cutscene and presumably the ending credits, all the music in this game is diegetic. Car radios provide the bulk of game’s soundtrack.

Every civilian vehicle 1Police cars and fire engines and the like are excepted. Strangely, motorcycles are not. has a radio that automatically turns on when you climb inside, tuned by default to a station that’s appropriate to the stereotypical owner of that style of vehicle, although you can change the station at will. There’s a rock station, a hip-hop station, a synth-pop station, a Latin music station with Spanish-language announcements, a talk radio station, an NPR affiliate, and so forth. Eleven in all, each playing a loop more than an hour long, synchronized to real time: if you leave the car or switch to another station for a while, the radio playback keeps advancing.

Mechanically, this all proceeds from the basics set down in the original GTA, just with different content. There’s considerably more content now, for one thing; back then, some of the radio stations just looped one song repeatedly. But also, by the time of Vice City, the success of the GTA phenomenon meant that Rockstar had the wherewithal to license well-known music, turning the whole thing into a sort of 80s retro hit parade: Billy Jean, Video Killed the Radio Star, Broken Wings, 99 Luftballons. In the earlier games, most of the music was original, written for the game, and much of it was satirical. There’s still a certain amount of that going on, mind. There’s a fictional band called “Love Fist” that gets interviewed on one of the talk stations and apparently has some songs mixed in with the real 80s music. But I couldn’t tell you which songs are theirs, even though I’m sure I’ve heard them multiple times over the course of playing the game. I suppose it’s because popular music in the 80s was so frequently close to self-satire to begin with. I mean, I don’t know what I would have made of the song Poison Arrow if I had heard it for the first time in this context. (“Stupid! Stupid!”)

Now, Love Fist isn’t just a thing on the radio. Their interview mentions that they’re doing a concert in Vice City, and sure enough, you can find the arena where they’ll be performing, all festooned with concert posters. Later in the game you even meet them and do missions for them (fetching them drugs and such). So the radio isn’t just a simultaneous and parallel amusement: it’s world-building. There’s actually quite a lot of this, even on the music channels, which have ads for fictitious products endorsed by local celebrities who might or might not enter Tommy’s story at some point. And owing to the way radio works, it’s a particular sort of ambient world-building, where you get the background in small pieces and at random times while you’re paying more attention to something else. Occasionally I’m tempted to just sit in the car and listen to the radio for a while so as not to miss any information, but I remind myself that I’ll have plenty more opportunities to hear it all over the course of the remaining missions.

1 Police cars and fire engines and the like are excepted. Strangely, motorcycles are not.

Vice City: Rise to Power

I’ve reached a major plot turn. There’s this crime boss named Diaz, who the player character Tommy Vercetti has good reason to believe was involved in stealing the drug money that kicked off the whole story. You do some missions for him in order to gain his trust, but, for reasons I won’t go into here, that trust is suddenly shattered, and Diaz’s men are suddenly out to kill you. So Tommy replies in kind, storming Diaz’s opulent mansion in the rich part of town and killing him first. This leaves a power vacuum in the Vice City crime scene, which Tommy immediately fills. He moves into Diaz’s mansion and sets about taking over the town.

This is a dramatic change from the way the game has gone so far, and from the way that the rest of the GTA series had gone previously. The hero had always hitherto been a lackey. With very few exceptions, the missions had always been about satisfying someone else’s needs, or even someone else’s whims, accepting whatever limitations they put on you to determine success, even if they don’t make practical sense. But now, for the first time, Tommy’s actions are mainly self-directed. He still has missions, but they’re things that he decides to do himself.

This isn’t really reflected in mechanics, mind. I mean, okay, there’s a pretty big structural change: suddenly you’re allowed to purchase all the various businesses you’ve noticed around town with “for sale” icons on them, and that means a surge of new options and new mission sources. So your rise to power is accompanied by some ability to make consequential decisions, about which properties to spend your hard-won money on. But the missions, for all practical purposes, are still just missions. You, the player, don’t have any more control over them just because the objectives are now being articulated by the player character. It’s a bit like the moment in Bioshock where you overcome the mind control, only to find that you’ve just exchanged one master for another, except that the in-fiction aspect makes it feel a great deal less cheap here.

Early in the game, Tommy is given a (big, clunky-looking, 1980s) portable phone, and from then on occasionally receives calls from various characters, mostly directing him to new mission sources. After you replace Diaz, you suddenly get calls from pretty much every surviving named NPC in rapid succession, some of them basically just checking in with you to reinforce the idea that everyone is waking up to the notion that Tommy is important. But to my mind, the strongest indicator of your change in status is a subtler one. Any place where you can pick up missions is marked on the minimap with an icon. Some of these icons are pictoral, like the voodoo doll icon that marks Auntie Poulet’s place, but others show letters, like the “D” that marked Diaz’s mansion. After you kill Diaz, his mansion’s icon changes into one that I had difficulty parsing at first: it looked to me like a pixelated and stylized rabbit head. I didn’t know what to make of that until I realized it was just a somewhat lumpy letter V, for Vercetti. All the major mob bosses had their marks on the map, and this was a very direct and automatic acknowledgment that Tommy had joined their ranks. It’s just a little thing, but all the more powerful for the lack of fanfare.

Vice City: Voodoo Mind Control Drugs

I’ve just wrapped up the Haitian/Cuban gang war subplot, and have a bottleneck mission relating directly to the main overplot before I can get any more side missions. Once again, Vice City is doing a much better job of keeping the frame relevant than GTA3 did. According to a brief and spoiler-risking look at a wiki, this means I’m something like 2/3 done with the story. But before I go on, I have some small observations about what I’ve just been through.

The gang war is something that the player character both starts and finishes, and at both ends it’s done with aggression towards the Haitian side. Starting the gang war involves conspicuously whacking a Haitian gang leaser while dressed up in Cuban gang attire and driving a stolen Cuban gang car. In a nice bit of symmetry, ending the war involves stealing a Haitian gang car, although this time the aim is to be inconspicuous: the car gains you access to a Haitian gang drug factory, so you can plant bombs.

Being a purely mercenary sort with no loyalties in this struggle, you have missions for the Haitian side as well. Curiously, however, the authors decided to imply that they’re not entirely voluntary. Whenever Tommy Vercetti visits Auntie Poulet, the voodoo priestess stereotype who gives him the Haitian-side missions, he acts muddled and confused, apparently not remembering any of his previous visits, then extremely compliant, not even mentioning payment. Auntie gives him tea, or at any rate something in a teacup, and he leaves in a daze, ready to do whatever she asked without quite knowing why he’s doing it. At one point she sends him to recover some “powders” that the feds are after because “dey tink it drugs” — implying that it’s not mundane drugs, but might be some kind of crazy voodoo mind control substance. Well, whatever it is that’s affecting Tommy here, it’s clearly capable of affecting him from just inhaling it, because he’s affected the moment he walks into the room.

And that makes me wonder about the factory explosion that closes out this section of the game. Were the Haitians making mundane drugs there, or mind control stuff? And if the latter, what’s going to happen when a building full of the stuff gets released into the atmosphere of Vice City? Well… probably nothing. Even if the authors were thinking of it in the same way as me, it probably wouldn’t lead anywhere just because that’s how most of the stories in GTA3 went: the writers set stuff up and then just kind of left it set up. It’ll be cool if I’m wrong, though.

Vice City: Shortcuts

I’ve had something of a breakthrough: I’ve recovered 60 Hidden Packages. The reward for this is a minigun permanently available at your hideout. This may sound like just another gun, and unexciting, but the minigun’s destructive power (and effective range, and ammo capacity) is so much greater than most other weapons, it renders even the most difficult combat missions all but trivial. For example, there’s one mission where you confront a couple of boats swarming with enemy gunmen, and have to kill them all before proceeding. About a half second of concentrated fire from the minigun is enough to simply sink the boats.

Now, not all missions are about killing. There’s still plenty of driving to be done. But at this moment, it looks like the driving is going to be the focus of all my actual effort from now on — which, to my mind, is entirely reasonable for a game with the word “auto” in its title. Still, this gun seems almost game-breaking. But only almost, because breaking the game is, in an open-world game of this sort, part of the game.

Really, I’ve been taking shortcuts all along. There was one early mission that was clearly set up to be a motorcycle chase: the man you’re pursuing flees the building where you find him and gets on a bike, and there’s a second bike conveniently close to the exit you follow him through. I found it much easier to steal a car and ram him with it, throwing him off the bike. There’s another mission on a golf course, where you have to check your weapons at the door. When you approach the victim, wielding a golf club with deadly intent, he leaps into a golf cart, drives around aimlessly for a while, then makes a break for the exit and escapes. Clearly you’re supposed to grab a golf cart of your own and try to catch up to him, bumping or blocking his cart until he’s forced to get out, at which point you club him to death. But you can instead just make a beeline for the exit, pick up your guns, and wait for him.

Probably the single biggest shortcut is the helicopter. I mentioned that there were toy RC helicopters that you could control remotely. Well, there’s a full-sized one you can steal on top of a skyscraper in the northern part of the city. It’s still kind of tricky to control, although it’s a breeze compared to the Dodo in GTA3. And it makes it downright trivial to get Hidden Packages in places that would otherwise require tricky sequences of motorcycle jumps. I have yet to use the helicopter in a mission, but I’m keeping an eye out for situations where it makes sense.

So, any of these things might subvert the intent behind a particular mission, but I can’t say they’re against the spirit of the game as a whole. Alternate solutions, like spending the time to hunt down 60 Hidden Packages, are intended by the designers. And if they’re not intended in particular, at least alternate solutions as a general concept are a core part of the design, and therefore cannot really be regarded as “breaking the game”. That’s one advantage of using a criminal as the hero. It effectively gives the player permission to cheat.

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