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Massive GTA IV bug leaves PS3 users stranded

So it turns out that Grand Theft Auto IV was shipped before being adequately tested. Not so big a deal for a PC game, but potentially a major issue for a console game - where much better testing and "showstopper bug-free" status is expected.

My wife was kind enough to buy me a 60 GB launch PS3 off eBay for my upcoming birthday - the 60 GB model is the only model featuring hardware-based backwards compatibility ('BC") for PS2 games, so that was a "must have" for me with my large library of PS2 games. Sony in its infinite wisdom does not currently have a PS3 model in the channel that supports PS2 compatibility (the 80 GB software BC version is sold out and won't be replaced until the Metal Gear Solid 4 bundle edition comes out June 12th).

I picked up GTA IV Tuesday on launch day, and all was well with this fantastic game ... until today.

Upon starting my saved game tonight, I was in a cutscene (for the mission "Crime and Punishment," if you care) when suddenly the audio kept running and the video stopped. I had to reboot the system, and when I did I attempted to restart GTA ... only to discover that the game froze at the loading screen. I thought to myself, "oh carp. I bought a console so I didn't have to deal with this kind of thing..."

I checked the "internets" and discovered that I wasn't alone with this issue. It appears to have primarily struck 60 GB launch PS3 owners, but similar issues have also been reported by "new" PS3 owners (20 GB and 80 GB models).

The initial consensus on the web was that a deletion of all the GTAIV game data and a re-installation would solve the problem. I reluctantly deleted all my saved game data and the GTAIV game data on my PS3, then restarted. And then ... same fricking problem. At this point, I am 100% unable to play GTAIV on my PS3, whether I am using saved data or fresh re-installls.The game either freezes during the loading screen, or freezes in the middle of the action in the first mission (this happens after each fresh reinstall).

On one hand, I understand that no software is perfect. GTA IV is an astonishing achievement in terms of its scope and play value ... it's like launching a Nimitz-class carrier when you release a game like this - of course it won't be perfect. However, it's fair to say that with a controlled environment like a modern console, there is no reason that an error this severe shouldn't have been caught. I spent $60 on a game plus $20 on a strategy guide for something that I currently - through no fault of my own - are completely unable to play. And this seriously pisses me off.

What will Rockstar do? What will Sony do? According to this article, Rockstar is working "around the clock" to fix this ... but there is no word on how or when a resolution will be achieved. Frankly, for $60+, I expect much better. Maybe I'm naive - or maybe I'm representative of the current console user market and this will send a nasty message to game developers that crapware will result in major PR backlashes. I have already bought the game so Rockstar has my money - I just want them to step up to the plate and give me the game I thought I was buying.

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