I am actually not much of a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series. I actually haven't played one since Grand Theft Auto 3. I always enjoyed Saint's Row more because of the more humorous take on the criminal element.
But something about GTA4 drew me in when I was watching a friend play it. The main character is a criminal, but he's legitimately a likable guy. His cousin keeps calling to hang out, even at the most inopportune times, but hey, what's family for if not bugging you when you're busy? And despite my occasional annoyance with him, I actually liked hanging out with Roman.
I liked hanging out with the NPCs, I liked Nico, I liked the way the cars handled and I liked taking the police on a 2 hour chase while Nico was drunk and the camera wouldn't hold still.
Grand Theft Auto 4. Well, the series itself doesn't need much introduction, but this was my first GTA game. I was impressed the second I turned on the game. The story line was excellent, and the characters were developing quite nicely as the game went on. There was a great selection of cars, and I got myself into more than a few long police chases ;) overall, a great game. Only deducting one star because for some reason, a few weeks into playing, my Xbox 360 came up with the "Disc Unreadable" message.
Great story line
Amazing selection of cars
Character Development was solid
Disc crapped out about 3 weeks in. This however should not stop you from purchasing this game, as it was most likely just my specific copy.
RECOMMENDED? Yes, I would definitely recommend this to a friend.
Even though I have GTA V now, I love this game. I would recommend it to anyone who likes dramatic story and cars, even if you don't think you'll like it its only like $13 so it won't put a big hole in your pocket if you end up not liking it. This was the first game I got for my 360 when I bought it because I tried this game at my friends house. Its story is better than GTA V (Don't get me wrong, V has an interesting story but IV has a much more dramatic and realistic story line) I bought 3 copies of this game I gave one to a friend, I used one, and I wrapped the other up in packaging in case anything happens to my disk copy. (I then later bought the game from the xbox marketplace for download and gave my disk copy to another friend, and kept the one I had package in the package)
The Good: Amazing story, memorable characters, subtle details really stand out, superb graphics, fun online play
The Bad: Crappy car handling, minor control issues, online lags more than it should, nothing earth shattering but perfected
I remember playing GTA III when it first came out. I didn't have a PS2 yet and I went over to a friend's house and played it for hours every single day. While we mostly just messed around it was something I never played before and was just so addictive. Thankfully GTA IV goes back to it's roots and brings us to good ol' Liberty City. You play as none other than Niko Bellic who is a Russian immigrant who came to LC with his cousin Roman to start a new life. The game's main attractions are it's story for once. GTA IV has a superb story that makes you want to keep playing. Gone are the lukewarm stories from previous GTAs where only the main character is the main attraction with just OK side characters. In previous GTAs you never really got a good feeling of the employers due to the lack built up story. You were just in and out of the short cut scenes only knowing what to really do. This kind of was solved in San Andreas, but even then only a select few were really fleshed out. In IV you feel every character in the game and there are tons of plot twists and it really keeps the game fresh through every single mission.
On another note, the graphics are amazing. While not Assassin's Creed or BioShock amazing they're really good. It's mainly the subtle details though such as people now put their blinkers on, cars are damaged in real time now with realistic physics so half broken fenders and bumpers sway as you turn the car, the paint can get scraped up, crowd AI is more efficient (yet not by much), better enemy AI (still not by much), further draw distance, everything has high-res textures, bump mapping and the whole next-gen works. There are a few things that they stripped away such as the whole working out system, swimming underwater (you can still swim though!), and territories. There are other subtle details such as the internet you can now use. It's a virtual made up internet, but it's still as funny as hell and has a dating system (yes it's still here) implemented on the dating website. You can get emails for side missions from employers as well. You can now take taxis around the city and either watch them drive your skip it if you want. This really helps a lot if you are tired of driving everywhere. There is also a new route system where the game will plot the safest and most legal course to your destination. Red is a target, blue is a friendly, green is a waypoint you made on your map, and yellow is an objective. This is probably one of the better additions because it keeps your from getting lost during time sensitive missions.
Another thing is the revamped wanted system. You now have flashing "zones" for every star. The more stars the bigger the circle will get on your radar that you have to escape. Cops are now showed as flashing blue and red blips and copters are now flashing X's. While we're talking about characters again the voice acting is amazing. I really felt like I was watching bits of a movie every time there was a cut scene. The characters are really fleshed out here every...single...one. You'll remember every character in the 60+ hour game and that's a really hard thing to achieve. Rockstar really went the extra 20 miles with this game and you can just feel it.
The game is huge as well, while not as huge as San Andreas it's about as big as GTA III yet it's also big as in taller as well. You can fly planes, and copters again in here and while it's a lot easier than San Andreas it's still not very fun. Speaking of controls they are more refined this time and the auto aim is a lot better yet there's still that stupid camera! Switching targets is NOT very easy. You have to press the right stick EXACTLY left or right or you won't switch targets. Whenever you do lock on Niko always aims for the wrong persons and ends with cheap deaths and what have you. The cars are also a big pain because they just don't feel right. They all feel really heavy and they slide way too much no matter what car you use. You try to put the brakes on and your car will slide and slide and you'll miss your turn, and the same goes for the handbrake. You hit it and your car spins out a few times no matter how good you are with the handling. I found this very annoying with the driving missions because it would lead to cheap and frustrating failures.
Apart from all this the game as 16 player Xbox LIVE support. You have tons of game modes from deathmatch, to cops and robbers. In cops and robbers it's pretty self explanatory. You all get in a car and try to kill each other. This is also very fun yet annoying because the game can lag a lot especially with people who have crappy connections. It also may take awhile to start a game due to everyone wanting 16 players and they just won't start the game. Aside from the minor issues GTA IV is probably game of the year worthy, but it doesn't do anything as ground breaking as GTA III did. It just perfects it 100% this time and gives us what we've always wanted. The perfect GTA game.