Top critical review
50 people found this helpful
Adds Little to the Franchise
on May 5, 2008
Gameplay 6/10 - in essence a glorified GTA III with almost all the same features, some new minigames and side quests, but realism kills a lot of the fun
City 9/10 - incredibly well thought out and realistic city, massive, detailed, has everything that a metropolitan city should have
Vehicles 4/10 - very unimaginative, horrendous driving capability, many cars will roll on turns and will skid on dry pavement, only two special vehicles (helicopter and speedboat)
Controls 5/10 - sloppy, unintuitive, running and walking are nearly useless, weapon cycling is difficult in a firefight
Graphics 6/10 - great visuals on the city, very realistic / cars and other moving object look ok / people and clothes look slightly better than old xbox games rough facial features
Story 8/10 - very good story, considerably different from previous games, a lot of thought put in here
Grand Theft Auto IV is a game that was years in the making. However for such a highly touted title as this I really expected more. GTA IV follows the story of an eastern European immigrant to Liberty City named Nico Bellic. He and his cousin Roman start off with small time crime and then Nico moves to more serious stuff such as grand theft auto, arson and murder. All the previous mainstays from the original GTA III are present here, massive city, immersive story, a good amount of weapons and tons of cars.
There is not a whole lot different in GTA IV from previous GTA games in essential terms. You can jump in any car, truck, motorcycle or van and steal it. You can: run over anyone you want, run into anything, beat up anyone and do all of these things with little virtual and no real consequences (well most of the time). However there are a considerable amount of minigames within GTA IV. You can go to cabaret shows, play darts, play pool, go to strip clubs, go bowling and even use the internet in cafes.
Also you are given a cell phone which helps you keep track of your contacts, text messages and allows you to call people up to get jobs or just to hangout. The phone also serves as the cheat interface. This is one of my favorite features. Instead of having to drive to the person's house or wondering if you were supposed to talk to them, you can just call them up on speed dial. They will also occasionally call you to see if you'd like to do things. It is akin to The Sims ® in this respect, because you'll get a thumbs up or down based on how the date or whatever went. Also, you are able to meet women whether on the internet or through other friends.
There are a ton of missions. From what I can tell you just work your way up through small mobs up to larger ones. This is what happened verbatim in the previous GTA games. There is more story here though and I'll get into that in the story section.
Overall the gameplay I felt was good, but nothing new or revolutionary. I've played other games with minigames such as these and I played GTA III when it first came out. The sad thing is that Rockstar managed to set the bar so high with GTA III that it would be difficult to top it. I was expecting this really over the top GTA IV that would just have so much stuff to do that I wouldn't be able to quit playing. Instead they ended up on the other side. In my opinion the gameplay is bare bones and in terms of pure fun it really falls short. Another thing that is very apparent after playing for a few hours is they wanted to create as realistic of a game as possible. In the process they made the game so realistic it has many of things that suck about real life. When I play games, I want to escape
I must applaud the attention to detail and realism the game designers took to create Liberty City. From the slums to the high rises, you really feel like you're in a metropolis. Graffiti, misshapen fences, partially lit up buildings at night, dirty old carnivals, trash and variety of buildings are just some of things that add to the masterpiece of the city. You'll actually run into traffic on the tollway bridge. People will talk to you as you pass them by. There are four areas and you are only able to get to the other parts once you have completed certain missions. It is referred to as a terrorist threat in the game.
I think what makes the game truly realistic is the minigames and side quests or activities. The ability to get on the internet in a web cafe and go to something like 40 websites is astounding. The time to create the content for this must have taken weeks to come up with. Even the police vehicles have a database where you can look up people and the most wanted in the city. In terms of realism, this city is by far the best recreation of a city and by extension the closest thing to virtual reality. The only problem I have is that you can't get to the other parts of the city until later in the game (without immediately becoming public enemy no. 1).
Cars / Vehicles 4/10
I'm sure plenty of people will have a problem with my take on this, but I really feel this is a weak point in the game. Granted there are tons of vehicles-something like 200 in total. My problem is not with the variety, it is purely with the controls and drive of almost all of the cars in particular. It seems as if all but 10% of them are is severe disrepair or are in need of maintenance. I've never seen so many sloppy turning vehicles in a videogame. There is so much body roll in many of the vehicles that you can go around a reasonably normal curve and easily flip a sedan. This harkens back to the realism.
Unfortunately, they developers based few of these on actual physics and attempted to show that normal cars can't take a turn at 75 mph. They can however take them at 45 mph without flipping. Oh and yeah there was an invention a couple of decades ago called ABS. I had some rather high end cars skidding for half a block. If you don't believe me try it for yourself in the game and you'll find it to be true. My qualm with the cars is directly related to the fact that they are obvious replicas of some very common cars. If the cars resemble the real thing, they should drive like the real thing.
The engine sounds are ok. The V8 engines don't sound bad, but the 6 cylinders have very little variance between cars. The cars also seem very slow, even if they aren't. The Comet and Turismo are a couple of the top end cars which very closely resemble some German and Italian carmakers. The only difference is acceleration can be felt between a car and a dump truck. You can always go back to the argument that they are just artificial and this is a moot point. I don't remember how the car's drove in previous GTA games, but I know they were somewhat easier to drive and much faster. It makes it considerably more difficult to run from the cops when you have a dog of a car that has a high chance of rollover, can't turn properly at over 15 mph and will slide on DRY pavement.
By far the worst part is that there are only a few special vehicles (as far as I know). There is a speed boat and the Annihilator - some sort of military helicopter. The only thing I can think of here is marketing. Rockstar planned on selling better vehicles (and weapons) on Xbox Live in the near future. It is brilliant, but I'm one of those crazy people that think for $60 you should get a good amount of extras built-in.
I'm not really sure what they were going for here. Controls are clumsy, slow and hardly intuitive. The jump button is X? Your character actually leans when you turn while walking or running. I don't know many people that do this. The part I like the least is that Niko does everything so incredibly slow. He walks as if someone laced his drink with Ketamine. Running is not mush faster. Going along with that, if you happen to get thrown off your bike or out of your car while chasing someone you lose at least 10 seconds getting back into the car. In essence there is absolutely no point to walking if you don't have to. Controls for the cars are not bad. The triggers are the accelerator and the brake.
Weapons control is ok. You can lock on to people with guns, but you also have to lock on to people with a grenade. How exactly does a grenade lock on? It takes a great deal of time to cycle through weapons if you have more than two. The helicopter is a joke. To speed up you hold the trigger and you'll simultaneously raise altitude while moving forward. You need to push the nose down to get it to go faster. This is all well and good until you try to land it. It is nearly impossible to land as you can't get the thing to stay in one position for any length of time. I almost always trash the blades. There is hardly anything different from previous GTA games. Controls are mediocre at best.
The city graphics are really breathtaking. They are very detailed and quite well done. Everything looks very crisp and believable. The water especially has amazing reflective qualities. The cars look decent for the current gaming generation. There was obviously a good amount of time spent here. More importantly it is hard to fault the designers on the visuals of the vehicles because there are just so many of them. I was considerably impressed with the movement of the vehicles on the suspension.
Character detail is average at best, maybe even poor. Even the main character has a very unrealistic graphic quality to it. The faces remind me of Halo 2 from the original xbox which was about four years back. The clothes look really lame. It appears as if the people are wearing construction paper. Everything in general on the people leaves a lot to be desired. They look polygonal and don't have much human quality. Despite this, the animation as always is very smooth and realistic, which I don't understand. If you are going to spend that much time on the animation mapping, why not spend more time on the people's faces.
I was pretty impressed with the story from GTA IV. It has the makings of a good criminal story. Niko-a former Russian (or eastern European) sailor with an infamous past comes to Liberty city to get a new start and for revenge. Without giving away too much information: Niko plays the role of saboteur, hitman, hired gun, lackey, car theft extraordinaire and just all around criminal. The story follows him and his cousin Roman who owns at cab service. Along the way you'll meet new people who will have various "jobs" to do and some of the story will overlap with other parts of the game.
Each mission has a rather lengthy movie attached to it; probably about five minutes on average. This was the only downside I could find to the story. Other than that, the movies are very informative and give you an insight into the character's personalities and life. The writing was very well done and a lot of the movies had hilarious jokes in them. I will admit I skipped a few however.
Am I happy with my purchase with Grand Theft Auto IV? No, but I was kind of expecting this. With the current trend in games moving towards ultra realism Rockstar was following suit. They are catering to an older crowd which demands more of a top notch entertainment experience instead of swing a remote at a TV. However, I'm a pure gamer and to me any of the previous GTA games is better in relation to exhilaration, which I just don't get with GTA IV. The first day I played the game I became bored very quickly after realizing there just wasn't much to do if you don't play the mission.
Unfortunately there seems to be a divide between these ultra realistic games and one that are purely for fun. GTA San Andreas I felt had a great mixture of both. Sure you can still steal any car, run over people, shoot people, beat them up, but the game just falls flat on its face when it comes to heritage. Where are the insane vehicles, where is the innovation? This game is not revolutionary in any way in my opinion. In fact, when you put this up against current games on this system it is quite inferior in most ways except for playing time. But if you're bored while you're playing who cares how long the game is? Grand Theft Auto III was. It is an ok game, plain and simple and I'd give it a 6 out of 10 overall.