I've finally got my hands on L.A. Noire, and it's pretty awesome. It's like Grand Theft Auto mixed with a Raymond Chandler novel. Last night a couple friends stopped by with a bottle of Redemption Rye to check it out. It made for a lovely time. The whiskey went well with the game. I'm going to do further research and write a more lengthy post in a few days.
Given the horrifyingly homophobic nature of the online gaming community that I was exposed to during my six month addiction to World of Warcraft back in 2006, I was a bit surprised when Rockstar decided to title their second and final Grand Theft Auto IV expansion "The Ballad of Gay Tony."
The Ballad of Gay Tony puts one in control of Luis Lopez, the business partner, bodyguard and all around right-hand man of Tony Prince, a.k.a. "Gay Tony," the owner of the largest chain of nightclubs in Liberty City. I don't want to over-analyze the sociopolitical implications of this game. It does contain its share of homosexual stereotypes. I believe that the game developers were striving for a message of tolerance by means of featuring gay characters whose sexualities are not the most prominent part of their personalities. I'm not sure how much they succeeded.
To gracefully segue from a serious issue to one that is most absurd, I needed a drink to pair with GTA4:TBoGT. The game involves managing nightclubs, which includes dancing and taking shots with customers. It also involves a whole bunch of missions where Luis agrees to accompany a character to casual meetings that quickly devolve into gunfire and explosions. My first thought was to drink vodka-Red Bulls, but because I hate energy drinks, and because I have to sleep sometimes, I decided on vodka tonics.
I used Svedka vodka and Canada Dry tonic, with a slice of lime. I generally prefer gin with tonic, but for this occasion, vodka seemed very much appropriate. While gin has a pleasant, fruity, floral bouquet, vodka has a more stark, antiseptic quality. This particular drink struck me as particularly analogous to the nature of a dance club, where aesthetic distractions are employed to mask the basic instincts that underlie. And this is not so different from Grand Theft Auto IV, in which a glossy interface allows the player to enact frightening acts of violence upon innocent people, should they choose to do so. I enjoyed the vodka tonics that I drank along with The Ballad of Gay Tony, and I believe that they added to my gameplay experience. I recommend this pairing.
Many months ago, I met a man who makes wine for Murphy-Goode Winery. When I met him, his arm was in a cast. He enthusiastically explained that his injury occurred in the course of escorting his children to the local playground a few nights prior to our meeting. Just like parents do in Chicago, this Californian vintner was escorting his children to the playground while riding a skateboard, with a glass of Pinot Grigio in his hand. Unfortunately, at some point he bit it, and while he was able to preserve most of his glass of wine, his arm was not so lucky.
A while after meeting this man, I happened upon a bottle of 2008 Murphy-Goode Pinot Grigio. I knew that I had to pair it with some sort of skateboarding game. Old school games like Skate or Die! were tempting, but in the end, I went with my gut instinct. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 provided me with endless hours of entertainment when I was in high school. While Pinot Grigio might not be the first drink that comes to mind when conceptualizing pairings for this game, it was my god-given duty to try it out.
After literally dusting off my Gamecube controller and plugging it into my Wii, I booted up Tony Hawk 3 and, as always, was greeted with Motörhead's Ace of Spades. Oh hell yes. I was immediately swept away into wonderful memories. Memories of dominance. See, the thing is, I used to be, for lack of more polite verbiage, fucking ill at Tony Hawk 3. While I worked through the game's menus, I started to worry that perhaps I was no longer quite so ill at Tony Hawk 3. These worries proved to be unfounded. I'm still so ill at Tony Hawk 3 that the Beastie Boys are rolling over in their graves, concerned that their favorite adjective can't possibly do justice to the degree to which I wreck shit in this game. It took me about 30 seconds to get my feel back for the game. The kickass soundtrack featuring The Ramones, Motörhead, KRS-One, Reverend Horton Heat, Del the Funky Homosapien kept me continuously pumped as I navigated old but familiar landscapes on my skateboard. At one point, it occurred to me that the music in the game was almost too good. I then stopped to think about how old the game is (it was released in 2001), and this made me feel so very old that I stopped worrying about it. But y'all didn't navigate yourselves to videogamesandbooze.blogspot.com to hear the sentimental drippings of a nostalgic 27 year old. You came for my unbelievably sound advice on what to drink when you play video games. The Murphy-Goode Pinot Grigio was tasty. A hearty body was accompanied by a pleasantly floral nose, flavors of green apple, lemon zest, and pineapple, with a somewhat spicy, minerally finish. I enjoyed this wine with this game, although I can't really explain why. White wine doesn't do as much damage to my gaming skills as certain other boozes do. I also could have been drinking straight ethanol and I probably still would have torn Tony Hawk 3 apart. In any case, I recommend this pairing, 'cause why the hell not?