Ultimately, there is just too much to tell about GTA IV; it’s a game that should be experienced firsthand, rather than explained
The Grand Theft Auto series needs no flowery,
superfluous introduction, since everyone from hardcore gamers to
activists groups know of its existence, and its (over-satirized)
gameplay. Basically, if you have access to some sort of mass media, by
now, you know just how amazing the franchise’s first go on this
generation’s hardware is. What has already been said isn’t exaggerated;
Grand Theft Auto 4 is a masterpiece in just about everyway. Let me save
you some time: If you haven’t picked up the game already, for whatever
reason, and are still reading this, stop, and go buy your copy now.
It’s not very often we, as gamers, see a game so
complete, that’s it’s nearly possible to pick apart in an objective
manner. Hype can be a fickle catalyst for disappointment, but, in this
case, the hype machine has fully delivered. The game has already been
applauded, hailed and revered (rightfully so) as one of the best titles
we will see this year—and maybe, ever. Thus, to change things up, we
present to you the very, very minor faults of GTA IV.
Obligatory Niko Bellic shot
Man arrives from Eastern Bloc, lives in awesome game
When the GTA series went the path of the third-person action game,
we were first introduced to Liberty City, along with a mute
protagonist, who didn’t seem to have a whole lot of luck. Grand Theft
Auto 4 marks a return to Liberty City, with a whole new look, and a
much more vocal, complex character at our hands: Niko Bellic.
from the start it’s possible to figure out the conflict in the story,
as the Eastern European Niko makes his way into America via a shipping
tanker and a clandestine rendezvous with his “big-time” cousin Roman.
Niko has traveled to America for a fresh start from a troubled past,
but it’s a GTA game, and we know Rockstar wouldn’t have us raising
puppies or taking up a routine day job as we play. Instead, Niko finds
his way into trouble as he looks to right the wrongs of his past,
taking up gun-for-hire jobs from shady, illegitimate “entrepreneurs.”
Missions are all handled via a cell phone that you use to contact
acquaintances for missions or social adventures, and it has been
integrated seamlessly into gameplay.
As your playing, expect
spot-on voice-over synchronization, with stellar writing. Each
character has their own unique persona, and each is captured and
portrayed by their respective talent. Great detail has been taken to
ensure every character comes alive, and such is exemplified if you end
up having to replay missions, as dialogue will explain a certain
sentiment in a number of different ways with each take.
IV’s story captivates, and can be played in a few deviating ways; there
are choices to be made which will determine what happens next to Niko.
Unfortunately, in a game where the world is your playground, this isn’t
a choose-your-own-adventure. Choices are dichotomous, and don’t pop up
too often. It’s just one of those situations where, if something has
been implemented into the design of the game, it would be nice to see
it more often. GTA IV has a story to tell, a well executed, intriguing
story, but if Niko is here to make a change in his life, among other
reasons, why can’t he choose a quiet life as a driver for his cousin’s
But, again, griping about a semi-linear story is
searching for flaws in the game. For the most part, gameplay overall
has been refined and uses the current-gen hardware to create a living
city. Liberty City is the cheapest way many will ever get to explore
New York, and even though it’s not a street-for-street replica, many of
your landmarks are there: Statue of Liberty, Manhattan Bridge,
Boardwalk, Coney Island and its Ferris Wheel, Times Square, and a host
of other noticeable attractions.
To give the streets a
realistic feeling, lines of dialogue populate the city through an array
of characters that range from the evangelical to the down-and-out
drunk. People aren’t simply pedestrians either, as they work on broken
down cars or perform janitorial duties.
However, to fulfill
our mission of trying to find flaws in the game, Liberty City doesn’t
fully recreate real life. Star Junction, the game’s Times Square
derivative, may be impressive in its visuals, but it lacks the sea of
hustle ‘n bustle that makes the real intersection an exercise in
patience and determination. Similarly, for a massive city, the
waterways feel a bit boring with only a handful of boats speeding
around—where are the massive tankers or ferries?
Wanna drag coppa’?
Obligatory Niko shot #2, less direct sunlight
Also, GTA IV may be a bit smaller when compared to the earlier San
Andreas, but in return we get access inside of buildings. Once again,
however, the mechanic is just short of being fully realized. Finding
buildings to go into and explore is easier as you play through the
story and other side missions, but trying to find all of the explorable
dwellings is a bit frustrating as there are no discernable differences
between doors that open, and ones that don’t.
Among the most
legitimate concerns, are by now, GTA staples. Minor technical issues
literally pop up in the game. While driving about Liberty City, expect
to see a fair amount of objects popping in between passersby, cars,
buildings and foliage. Drops in framerate are also prevalent, as
extreme amounts of action tend to slow the game down for a few seconds.
thing that is unusually bothersome is the excess money that you might
find yourself with. Although it’s possible to buy a few “tricks,” new
outfits, additional weapons and other various services (food, Internet
cafes, tolls and fares), there’s little else to do with your cash.
There are no properties to buy or invest in, and no way to customize
your living quarters. For a guy who is fresh off the boat, and who is
looking to establish a nice life, there’s not much to do with the money
The biggest let down, however, comes on the
Playstation side of things: SIXAXIS controls. The motion integration
feels overly obligatory as you try to maneuver motorcycles, helicopters
and boats by tilting the Playstation controller, along with snapping
motions to reload weaponry. While it may be fun to experiment with the
motion settings, the ability to stick with all-analog controls is duly
To be honest, nitpicking and searching out flaws in
the game is simply ridiculous, but the fact that it requires great
effort to point out lacking features is a testament to the game’s
brilliance. The art direction is sublime as the city comes to life,
vehicles noticeably resemble their real-life counterparts, and
character models have their own stylized quality that is a perfect mix
between photorealistic and fictional.
It’s the little things
that make GTAIV the best game of the series, including the added
Euphoria engine for advance physics computation. Cars have actual
weight to them and are affected by the kind of drivetrain they use.
You’ll oversteer and understeer a fair majority of the time, and it can
be a bit frustrating at first, but it overall makes for a totally
Euphoria also allows for detailed,
unique reactions to situations; so driving into a post head-on will
send your character flying through the front windshield, and hitting
pedestrians will cause them to contort as they fly through the air.
Such realistic reactions create situations where you’ll think twice
about bowling for pedestrians on sidewalks.
Other little things
like being able to surf the Internet through hundreds of sites, watch
Bas Rutten host a talk show with a more effeminate co-host, listen to
fully licensed music tracks and quirky radio shows, complete the
organic experience that makes up a game that can last anywhere from 40
to infinity hours of single player gameplay. Plus, a new cover system,
which works competently, allows for both you and AI to engage in more
realistic firefights—even if the enemy AI still isn’t the brightest.
Car + pedestrian? Last I checked, those two don’t add up so well when they meet…head-on
Do you see it? The Infinity Ward symbol behind Niko? It’s an allegory, to the dethroning of CoD4.
However, GTA IV extends gameplay online with 15 multiplayer
options. By using the cell phone while in-game, it’s possible, for the
first time in any GTA game, to hop into multiplayer games; and for a
first go, Rockstar has done a stellar job. Hours can be spent just
roaming (see terrorizing) around Liberty City with 15 other players in
Free Mode, or you can choose to play any of the objective-based games,
including your usual deathmatches, territories derivatives, and even a
cops versus robbers type game. Each player can customize their
appearance as they buy new clothes in-game, but the fact the city
remains just as alive and vibrant online as it is offline, is simply
Ultimately, there is just too much to tell
about GTA IV; it’s a game that should be experienced firsthand, rather
than explained. There are minor discrepancies between both the PS3 and
360 versions with load times a bit shorter and pop-in less frequent on
the PS3, and reportedly exclusive content on the way for the 360; but
no matter how you look at it, you can’t go wrong with either version of
the game—though there has been reported issues with the PS3 version
online. We’ve tried to make a case that GTA IV isn’t a perfect title,
and although it isn’t, it’s one of the most complete experiences to
date. So if you’ve actually read throug
GRAND THEFT AUTO IV VERDICT
h this, and don’t have the game, we appreciate it, but seriously, just go buy it already.