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Old 05-05-2008, 10:01 AM   #1
AgtFox
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[360, PS3] - Evil Avatar: The Liberty City Diaries (GTA IV)



Title: Grand Theft Auto IV
Platform: 360, PS3
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games/Take Two Interactive
MSRP: $59.99/$89.99

Evil Avatar: The Liberty City Diaries

Reviewer: Michael "Dr.Finger" Chauvet
Platform Played: Xbox 360

The single player experience of GTA IV feels a bit different than its last-gen predecessors.
The most obvious way being your cell phone which, in addition to letting you communicate with characters in the story mode, functions as the game's menu. It's a little odd the first time you have to choose between continuing your current mission and stopping to go help your cousin Roman, but it never crosses the line into an annoyance. You'll quickly come to see the phone as an indispensable tool for calling in things like cabs, a gun dealer and even the police themselves. The actual controls in the game took a little bit of time to (re)master, with the cars feeling very heavy at first, but I got used to it fairly quickly. Keep in mind most of the cars you drive are not high-performance works of vehicular art, and it shows as you cruise the beautifully rendered city. Every vehicle handles a little differently, and you'll soon develop favorite ones for each situation. The combat also received a much needed overhaul and it's equally impressive.

Next up is the multiplayer, a first for a console iteration of this series. For a bunch of rookies, Rockstar did one hell of a job. All of the multiplayer modes I've dabbled in are a pure cacophony of chaos. The GTA Race mode eventually devolves into a slightly more homicidal version of Mario Kart, with racers divebombing for weapons that wreak havoc on one another. You haven't lived until the motorcycle you've been riding gets blown up by a grenade tossed from a Vespa scooter going the wrong way. Cops & Crooks saw two groups, both in SUVs, circling one another in a faux Times Square with three guys hanging out the windows of each, shooting automatic weapons until one car explodes. Free Mode saw us loading up a helicopter and raining death down upon the denizens below. My only real complaint about the multiplayer is the HUD radar. It can be very hard to interpret at times, so all too often you end up pausing for a moment to look at the big map and get your bearings. Increasing the size of the radar by only 10%-20% would have made a big difference.

Reviewer: Brian "Everlost_MI" Nichols
Platform Played: Xbox 360

Speaking of the HUD radar, Rockstar's built-in GPS really gives you a leg up on avoiding the authorities by showing you the exact location of the police and where they are concentrating their search for you. The long arm of the law doesn't reach that far in GTA as the AI often follows the rule of "out of sight, out of mind," so keep out of the spotlight for ten or fifteen seconds and you're in the clear. The boys in blue or black, depending on what level you get your six star ranking trouble meter up to, are slower in this incarnation and rarely attempt to set any roadblocks to prevent your wanton destruction. This means the threat of being part of a COPS episode is far less likely but none the less it's still fun to "stick it the man."

The backdrop of Liberty City is gorgeous and the immersion contained within this virtual world is done through the obvious effort Rockstar put into creating a city that is unique from street to street and neighborhood to neighborhood. Liberty City truly breathes, reacts and teems with life as the citizens have conversations, get mugged, interact and have confrontations with each other whether you are somehow involved or not. This giant leap merges with the atmosphere that makes this game exceed the standard single player life of thirty or so hours as well as the multiplayer bliss as Michael described previously.

Reviewer: Derek "torrefaction" Samford
Platform Played: Xbox 360

Not only is the atmosphere extremely well done, but the scope of the game is massive.
At nearly 16 hours, I feel like the surface of the game has barely been scratched. It still feels like new elements are being consistently introduced, although there's not quite as much variety as in previous GTA's. This is partly because they tried to tightly integrate disjointed missions of the past in the story. Your relationships determine what the jobs of the past would have been, such as cab fares, drug dealing, and car jacking. Because of this the over the top feel is somewhat gone from the game, with no jetpacks or katanas to run around with.

This is carried over into the single player, but in a very good way. The story is more subtle, and more about the interactions between the characters. The dialog is extremely well delivered, and the car rides with your associates during missions only help to flesh out this world you live in. The story illustrates consistently the cost traumatic experiences in life have on the soul, and rides a much more philosophical bent than past games. The story is very much a slow burn, trying to introduce exactly who Niko is, allowing you to be part of this through choices the game has you make. There is a very clear turning point in the story though, and it's all incredibly well executed. It's definitely up there with some of the better crime movies, although there is an admittedly juvenile feel to some of the interactions.

Reviewer: Riley "Disgustipated" LaRock
Platform Played: Xbox 360

I think the most important thing Rockstar has done with GTA IV is in the technical aspects. Rockstar has created what may be the most believable game world yet. The visuals and the physics are almost astounding. The amount of stuff going on in the world is just amazing. Developers and the media alike love to throw around the phrase “living, breathing world”, but GTA IV is just that. Steam rises from manholes, dynamic lighting casts shadows on every object, large and small, homeless people warm their hands in burning trash cans under bridges… it’s the big city, baby, and it’s popping out at you on your HDTV.

Ultimately, I think the details are what defines Grand Theft Auto as more than just the sum of its parts. For example, I shot a taxi cab driver in the face while I was playing. Blood sprayed on the windshield, the glass cracked, and his head slumped forward, sounding the horn indefinitely. Unfortunately for me, his foot fell on the accelerator and he ran me over. These small intricacies make GTA IV believable and immersive.

Reviewer: Philip "Evil Avatar" Hansen
Platform Played: Xbox 360

The last Rockstar Grand Theft Auto title that I played was a port from the Sony PSP to the Playstation 2 and before Liberty City Stories was published San Andreas pushed the limit of what the Playstation 2 could do.
Still, San Andreas was not a next generation title and graphically it wasn't even optimized for the Xbox. Grand Theft Auto IV abandons its reliance on the PS2 and makes the graphical quantum leap onto the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. Everything in Liberty City is upgraded: the character models, the facial expressions, the vehicles and the environment. Oh, you have to love the environment. It is more interactive, more lifelike and more gritty than ever.

This level of detail comes at a price. While you can learn a lot about the characters as they converse while you are driving around as well as laugh when a Liberty City cop points his gun at someone other than you as you witness a mugging, something is still missing. Despite the graphical upgrade and the multiplayer, I still find myself asking "Is this the feature that adds the fun?" when I'm playing. I don't love the main character and I'm not sucked into the storyline. It seems like an element of fun was lost somewhere while they were busy upgrading the texture quality and adding polygons to the vehicles. If the devil is in the details, then Satan painted a masterpiece with Grand Theft Auto IV, but like any deal with the devil: what you see on the surface may be all there is.

Reviewer: Sam "Sazime" Sorenson
Platform Played: Xbox 360

In a game which once had more in common with an arcade shooter with very little consequence, you and your alter ego Niko now have to deal with the more real side of crime. It does not always pay, and even skipping out on bridge toll can get you shot at. What it comes down to is Rockstar's effort to lend more consequences to actions out of line with local law enforcement. When you're dealing with a mission, fine, you'll be left alone unless the mission is one where you need to run from cops. But if you try to run after bumping a police car, you'll get shot at. Couple this with just a few Pay n' Sprays, no bribes you can drive over to lower your wanted level, and cops that spawn outside the search radius (which then moves your radius) you'll find yourself keeping out of trouble more often than not.

So be careful kiddies, the city isn't safe for us criminal types any more. Time to keep a low profile and a good lay of the land, because if you are anything like me you'll be doing a lot of running. And really, if you were not, would the LCPD be doing their job very well?
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:01 AM   #2
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Reviewer: John "Ten19" Sampson
Platform Played: Xbox 360

I currently have a playtime of over 19 hours clocked in, with just 35% complete and I feel like I've already completed a full game's worth of content.
My only regret is reading so much about the game prior to its release, as I would have preferred to stumble upon some of the more unique concepts without any prior knowledge. What really blows me away, though, is the excessive attention to atmospheric detail that has been put into the game, especially with the ambient audio. There must be a hundred examples of unique sounds that help convince you of the environment you're in, but I'll just name a couple. Cell phone users may be familiar with the quiet bursts of noise that are emitted in nearby speakers or headphones when your phone is receiving a call or text. This element of the real world is faithfully recreated in-game. Listen for it next time just before you get a call in-game. Another example is the unique sound of rain falling on a pedestrian's umbrella as they walk past you. These tiny yet significant examples of attention to detail strike a strong chord with me and truly show the work that has gone into the game.

GTA IV succeeds because these thousands of little touches are threaded into a solid core gameplay experience. The graphics are amazing, though a few collision issues crop up from time to time. The controls take a bit of getting used to, and some cars can be an outright pain to handle. In the end though, all of the praise and hype is strongly validated, and other game developers will have to majorly step it up to stay competitive.

Reviewer: Joshua "Sandman" Wallace
Platform Played: Xbox 360

Believe the hype. If you are a fan of the Grand Theft Auto franchise this is the best one yet. If you are not a fan of the franchise maybe it’s time to give it another chance because GTA IV makes a strong case for game of the year and it is only May. The single player experience is similar to previous entries in the franchise but the experience is more detailed than anything we have seen before it. The city has more life to it than ever before and it is a very good parody of New York City. Radio stations return to the franchise and there is something for everybody as usual. New to GTA IV is a watchable television. I’ve seen cartoons, a history of Liberty City documentary, a parody of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous and many more. The detail and life in Liberty City is unlike anything we have seen in a single player game before. I’ve only scratched the surface here, however like any major metropolis there are tons of things to do around town if you don’t feel like tackling the massive 30+ hour main story.

If for one reason or another you get bored of everyday life in Liberty City relief is only a phone call away. All you have to do to start a multiplayer match in GTA IV is bring up Niko’s cell phone and follow the menu. There are many different multiplayer modes to enjoy and the whole city is available to you. One of my personal favorites is GTA Race. You can run a race where you select the vehicle type (I suggest Cannonball Run). This mode captures the true spirit of Grand Theft Auto. It starts everyone out near each other on foot and it begins as a race to find a vehicle. Once you have found one there are checkpoints scattered at different points of the map and the race to the finish is complete mayhem. This is only one of the modes avialable and any mode you choose is sure to provide moments that will make you wish you had a game play recording feature like in Halo 3.

Reviewer: Scott "Psykoboy2" Benton
Platform Played: Xbox 360

From the opening credits, you get a sense that this is something big.
Something beyond anything you've played before. The opening credits remind me of the first time I saw Metal Gear Solid - the way it opened was so cinematic with the credits, as though you were watching a movie rather than playing a game. Then you meet your cousin Roman. At first, the most annoying supporting character I'd ever met in a game. Not in the "Otis-from-Dead-Rising" sort of annoying, but the sleazy car salesman type of annoying. And that's a bit of an example of how things are different this time around. It wasn't his actions that got on my nerves, it was his personality. And then...then Roman changed on me.

In fact, everything changed on me. Everything grew on me and I began to settle in to Liberty City and the way things worked there. I began to love this city and the people I was meeting within it. Some of them made me angry. Some of them made me laugh. And even some of them made me sad. In fact, hell, Roman has given me all of those emotions at some point or another.

This is a game that everyone who takes gaming seriously should play. Like it or not, it's a milestone. And when people compare games to GTA, they are no longer talking about GTA3 and the expansions that followed. Nope. GTA IV is now the yardstick we'll use to measure these types of games. And no longer will we be measuring only the city's size and freedom it allows. So many other things will be compared to and from here on out...things will be different.

Reviewer: James A. 'fitbabits' Young
Platform Played: Xbox 360

Given the hype surrounding Grand Theft Auto IV, you'd be fully entitled to expect, actually demand, it to be the absolute best game ever. Not the best Grand Theft Auto (GTA) game ever – the best GAME ever, period. And, sadly, you'd be wrong. First things first, it looks and sounds wonderful. Liberty City has been brought to stunning life by the folks at Rockstar North, both visually and aurally. The attention to detail lavished on the city is apparent the second you step off the ship and onto the docks of the aforementioned city. Street lights work as you'd expect, traffic flows well (both foot and vehicular), the city positively reeks of independent life. Then there's the street vendors, stores, food joints, etc. It's as close to real as I've seen in a game. All of this is to be rightly commended.

It's a shame, then, that the closer you look, the more you notice just how wrong certain things are. Take, for example, the aforementioned traffic. Where on God's green earth did these people learn to drive? Running red lights, bending fenders with the many law enforcement vehicles patrolling the city, cutting corners, mounting sidewalks on some sort of homicidal adventure... - these are just a few of the more egregious examples of vehicular madness I witnessed in just the first few hours of playing.

Speaking of the cops, I'm deeply disappointed in them. Their behavior is maddeningly inconsistent. For example, you can gleefully rear end a police car and nothing happens. You can drive around a stationary police car and run the red light they so obediently observed and...nothing. Not a darn thing. Hell, I even managed to surf on the roof of a police car for approximately two virtual miles without them seeming to notice or care. Maddening, infuriating, and above all, disappointing.

For all that GTA IV gets wrong, there's an equal amount that it does very well indeed. The story and acting, for example, are pretty stellar. The city is vibrant, full of life (and crime), and functional. It's just a shame that Rockstar North didn't lavish the same attention on the actual gameplay as they did in bringing Liberty City to life.

Reviewer: Loren "AgtFox" Halek
Platforms Played: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3

Wow, James pretty much said what I was going to say.
I went into GTA IV with a bit of trepidation. I absolutely despised San Andreas, but loved GTA III and Vice City. The more I read about GTA IV prior to release the more excited I became. Gone was the stupid need to keep your character fit, my biggest problem with San Andreas along with the overall story. Coming back was Liberty City which I learned to love in the last numbered title. This game also made the jump to the next generation of systems. I am in the same area as James with my feelings on this game and it certainly is not the 10/10 many sites are bestowing upon it. I could go into a diatribe about how the GTA series has basically become unreviewable via the score system, but we'll save that for another day.

Much like James I have exclusively played the single-player portion of the game, but on both the 360 and PS3. I have yet to touch the multiplayer section of the game simply because I knew a bunch of my peers on this piece would spend a lot of time there. Although the main character Niko is still a bad guy, I do have to say that the story is well fleshed out and the characters you meet are certainly not cookie cutter and have histories themselves. I thought the opening credits were possibly the best I have ever seen on a video game. Also the fact that Rockstar North spent so much time doing the TV shows and commercials, the 18 radio stations and the other things that constantly go on in Liberty City is amazing. This game is easily the most content rich game to possibly ever come out. For all this Rockstar North should be commended, but as James said above there are many problems in the game as well.

Also of note since I am the only one to have played both versions I’ll talk about what differences I saw between the 360 and PS3 versions of the game. Most of what you've heard on the internet is true: the PS3 version looks better in the color department, but the 360 version looks "cleaner" on the edge lines to me. I am using HDMI for the PS3 and VGA for the 360 on my 22" WS monitor, so that may affect my graphical perception. Outside of the visuals, the versions play the same and you'll enjoy yourself either way. The big questions are what controller you like and whether future downloadable content is of interest to you or not. In the end GTA IV is certainly leagues better than San Andreas, but it also isn’t the be all, end all of games.

Reviewer: Nicholas "bapenguin" Puleo
Platform Played: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3

For all its rights and wrongs, GTA IV is something of a masterpiece of modern culture. It transcends games, arts, movies, books, and music - and does so by uniquely combining everything into a living breathing organism that is Niko Bellic in Liberty City. The character of Niko is one of the most interesting to come along in entertainment in quite some time. With witty dialog, emotion, and a general sense of something deeper it's hard to not be interested in this Eastern European's mysterious past. The city itself is filled with everything from radio to internet which in their own unique way deconstruct and examine the real world. The game in itself is more or less a political and cultural statement.

All of this of course is meaningless without a fun game. Really, if you can't find anything fun in Liberty City, you aren't looking hard enough. There are literally hundreds of different things to do, and ways to play the game. From simple things like playing darts, to more complex tasks of performing jobs to further the storyline - Liberty City has something for just about any type of gamer. There's even a puzzle game in some of the bars and strip clubs. It's easy to complain about the more realistic driving model, or the incompetent law enforcement, or even what seems like totally empty areas to the city - but the fact is the entire picture is much more beautiful than a part of it.

It's been almost 7 years since GTA 3. I think you'll find there's a good reason that despite having 2 other GTA game's since, GTA IV is well deserved of the numerical increment. While the media look shallowly and argue endlessly at the game for it's violence and sex, gamers can actually enjoy it for what it is - a fun and unique look at our society, and a twisted look at the American dream.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:06 AM   #3
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Sorry about that. The piece was so massive it hit the limit on characters, so I had to split it in two, 6 and 6 on each one.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:07 AM   #4
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I was wondering where the second half was!
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:12 AM   #5
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I was wondering where the second half was!
Yeah, we knew there was a character limit as I was putting it together yesterday although there was a thought that In-House had a higher limit, but no. Needless to say there is quite a large limit here...heh. We'd have to take out the last review to fit within the limit.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:12 AM   #6
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It's good, but I think we need about 13 more 360 reviews.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:14 AM   #7
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It's good, but I think we need about 13 more 360 reviews.
I was very surprised I was the only one to have played the PS3 version (I'm second to last for those looking for somewhat of a comparison which I talk about).
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:15 AM   #8
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I was very surprised I was the only one to have played the PS3 version (I'm second to last for those looking for somewhat of a comparison which I talk about).
Honestly, I think you should remove it from your review and have it removed from the title. To come in here for a proper PS3 viewpoint is somewhat of a joke.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:15 AM   #9
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I wanted to get both versions but I only had the cash for one CE version instead of two regular editions.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:17 AM   #10
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Well written pieces ... so what's the score?
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:18 AM   #11
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Honestly, I think you should remove it from your review and have it removed from the title. To come in here for a proper PS3 viewpoint is somewhat of a joke.
Come now buddy, you know that's not true with me. I give the PS3 a lot of love. Nick also played the PS3 version, he just didn't mention it in the review since I had already noted what I saw different.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:20 AM   #12
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Is there sex in the game? Thanks, walkstheplanes!
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:20 AM   #13
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Fits, do you really want the cops to pull you over every time you run a red light? The game would be damn near unplayable.

Overall, cool idea guys. Nicely executed. Bap's writeup was pretty much in line with my thoughts on the game.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:21 AM   #14
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Honestly, I think you should remove it from your review and have it removed from the title. To come in here for a proper PS3 viewpoint is somewhat of a joke.
Frankly, the PS3 versions difference isn't enough to warrant a mention. Unless you want to talk about all the network trouble and lockups. But that really wasn't what the review was supposed to be about.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:21 AM   #15
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Come now buddy, you know that's not true with me. I give the PS3 a lot of love. Nick also played the PS3 version, he just didn't mention it in the review since I had already noted what I saw different.
Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your writeup. In fact, I wish more had followed suit on the matter. It just seems funny, the title of the thread and what it actually delivers. This is just an opinion. I think the writeups are all great. The whole thing though is simply a bit inaccurate is what I'm saying.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:22 AM   #16
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Frankly, the PS3 versions difference isn't enough to warrant a mention. Unless you want to talk about all the network trouble and lockups. But that really wasn't what the review was supposed to be about.
Agreed. But if it didn't warrant a mention, why even bother including it? Listen, I'm not trying to give shit here. We can drop this right now and be totally cool. I just found it interesting is all.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:24 AM   #17
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Does anyone know if there are plans for a PC version?
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:25 AM   #18
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Don't get me wrong, I appreciate your writeup. In fact, I wish more had followed suit on the matter. It just seems funny, the title of the thread and what it actually delivers. This is just an opinion. I think the writeups are all great. The whole thing though is simply a bit inaccurate is what I'm saying.
Generally when I do reviews I put the lead platform (usually the one I am provided with if I am provided with a copy) first in the list of platforms. I attempt to also get the other version via Gamefly to note any vast differences. Usually there is not many differences nowadays and this game was really no different and really comes down to taste.

Since I knew the amount of 360 players versus PS3 players of this game was greater the 360 got the lead. To be honest with you, I kind of knew there would be a 360 heavy contingent here so I played the most of GTA IV on my PS3.

Also, since no one else could note the differences before me I put them in my piece in case people are reading through wondering what the differences are. I believe bap didn't put anything in there because I had already noted them and my piece was written right before his. We generally tried to bounce off previous writers here as well as try to touch on things that were not touched on before.
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Old 05-05-2008, 10:25 AM   #19
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Oooohhh VARIABLE GEAR. Tell me MAORRRR! Tell me INTERESTING THINGS!! You're so SPECIAL! OHHHHH GEAR!

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Old 05-05-2008, 10:28 AM   #20
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Agreed. But if it didn't warrant a mention, why even bother including it? Listen, I'm not trying to give shit here. We can drop this right now and be totally cool. I just found it interesting is all.
I'm willing to drop it, I just wanted to explain why I put it in there.
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