Review by setzertrancer
"GTA4 = Not as good as San Andreas"
This review assumes you've played a GTA game before.
I was really excited about this game, I was looking forward to the greatest sandbox game since San Andreas and it look a while after I turned on the game before I realized that this unfortunately lacked in too many areas that San Andreas excelled at. The very first impression when you see the game's intro going along to a really good theme song. You immediately feel like this is going to be the best game you'll ever play, but unfortunately this awesomeness runs out after about 2 hours when you begin to realize that the missions still feel generic even though you've learned the game mechanic and you're ready for the game to throw some fun missions your way. However every mission is pretty boring and basic, occasionally you'll see something pretty cool, like chasing bikers through a subway and climbing to the front of a truck going at full speed. But these are nothing compared to the many missions on San Andreas that I actually liked so much that I gave them separate save files so I could play them again. There is nothing in the missions that are as fun as the chases in San Andreas where someone else is driving and your focusing on the shooting, chasing a plane along the runway so you can jump inside and then para shoot out from above the clouds and Infiltrating Area 51 for the jet pack. These and many other missions in San Andreas were a lot more fun then any of those in GTA4.
There are certainly some areas in which this game surpasses San Andreas like the voice acting, physics and graphics. The voice acting is superbly done all through the game and never stops being blockbuster movie quality all through the game. Especially fun to listen to are the arguments between character where they will be yelling and screaming at each other and you'll actually feel like they're going to rip each other's heads off. Also there are actually 2 or 3 audio clips that can randomly play when you've started are mission and are taking the people involve to the objective. So if you fail a mission you can hear the characters saying something different on your next attempt. In fact the voice acting was so good that they took it a step further by adding some awesome features in the form of actual in game TV Shows. You can go into your safe house turn on the tv and sit back while watching your character sit back and watch tv. There is about an hour of total footage as far as I know, there could be more. Which is a variety of comedy shows and parody advert all of which are good enough to bring out a few laughs, just like real comedy shows. In addition to this there is a comedy club you can visit in town which features two comedians with about four five minute stand up acts each that are chosen randomly and these are comparable in hilarity to real comedians. There is also a Cabaret Show which is like the comedy club except it features a magician who's tricks always go wrong, juggling and a singing woman (More like a woman talking to music). All of these are good evidence of the great motion capture of these characters, if fact in a lot of acts what you are seeing is more important then what you are hearing and their movement is just as good as their voice acting and this trend continues throughout all the cut scenes in the game. There are also now 3 talk radio stations, that are pretty funny. However as great as all these extras are, that's all they are and makes you think that they maybe focused too much on the extras rather then the main gameplay.
The physics in the game are very impressive and when you smash head first into another car every little slight deviation effects what happens to every inch of the cars, from scratches that are mapped to exactly what pixel of the car made contact with something and dents that correspond exactly to the force of the contact. In other words no two trashed cars are likely to look the same. Also the handling of the cars has been made more realistic, which unfortunately makes then harder to handle and even a small impact in the wrong place can send your car spinning out of control. Another initially hilarious, but later annoying thing I found is that because your character never wears a seat belt if you crash into something hard enough you can actually be sent flying miles out of the car's front window. So now you can fall off of cars as well as bikes. This in addition to the car's harder handling have on a few occasions made we fail a mission so that's why it's annoying. An option to wear a seatbelt would have been nice. Now this is the category for me to bring up the new option of getting drunk in this game. When you are drunk your character can barely walk and will keep falling over if your now careful, your vision will also get blurry and start swaying from side to side, which is enough to actually make you fell sea sick. But I think it's awesome that they emulated being drunk well enough to actually make the person holding the controller feel like they are drunk while watching the screen. When you drive while in this state it is extremely hard to control, but fun.
The graphics are really good, but not really groundbreaking like San Andreas was and essentially looks like San Andreas but with a lot more polish and detail on each individual building, especially on HD and I actually played half and half of this game on high and low definition, so I can tell you there is a massive difference and is one of few games on the PS3 to support 1080p resolution. Anyway the character's faces look quite good but don't reach the illusion of looking real at all and the clothing textures are very static as in they don't react to the characters movement or wind or rain like I've seen them do in some games. But speaking of rain that's probably the most impressive thing graphically I've seen in this game. When it rains the roads look photo realistically like a real wet road and also reflects everything on it with almost 100% consistency, lights buildings vehicles are all reflected in both the water and wet ground. The overall detail of the character models however are far from the best I've seen and this is especially apparent in the strip club where the girls still don't look realistic enough to be able to turn you on. There is some pop-up in the game but it's rarely ever bad enough to effect the gameplay I personally have never seen it effect the gameplay, but I have read that it does in other reviews, so I maybe be wrong if I say it never happens. The detail of the cars is rightfully much greater then the characters and are so good I don't think I could fault anything about them. The cars look photo realistic, on HD and even the paint on of lot of cars have that shiny glitterish effect or whatever it's called.
The story in the game is maybe slightly above average, it's nothing particularly original and tends to involve missions that you've already seen in some other game or TV show. But there are a couple of pretty good jaw dropping twists but yeah not enough to qualify as a good storyline. It's like they came up with the plot twists and then thought crap now we need filling in between. The plot does excel in violence and controversy and essentially has a very gritty dark theme. Also many of the characters tend to be forgettable and don't have very interesting personalities, other then just the first 2 you meet, Niko and Roman. It is pretty cool however how on a few ocassions in the game you have a choice between killing one character or another, which affects the future plot involving them. This is another area in which San Andreas did twice as good in. Better characters, Better twists and better general story between the twists.
Finally I'll list the other cool miscellaneous features in the game. The radio has more stations then ever including The Beat (hip hop), The Classics (old school hip hop), Electrochoc (electro house/dance), Fusion FM (jazz fusion), JNR Jazz Nation Radio (jazz), The Journey (ambient/chill out), IF99 International Funk (funk and Afrobeat), K 109: The Studio (disco), L.C.H.C (hardcore punk), Liberty Rock Radio (classic rock), Massive B Soundsystem (dancehall), Radio Broker (indie rock), San Juan Sounds (reggaeton), Tuff Gong (dub and reggae), The Vibe (R&B), Vladivostok FM (Eastern European music) and three talk radio stations, WKTT, Public Liberty Radio and Integrity 2.0. You can now ride in taxis as a passenger and the best part about this is that you can skip the ride and appear a you location instantly instead of having to drive everywhere. This saves you hours of time. Many of the characters you meet are able to give you extra jobs if they like you enough and can then do favors if they like you even more. You make characters like you by going on outings with them to recreation and food places. For example roman will be willing to send you free taxis if he likes you enough and Little Jacob will give you discounts on weapons.
Unfortunately the things they took out of San Andreas that was unfortunate was the gang wars, rpg elements, numerous clothing options and I really liked the wide open country areas between the cities. But oh well.
Graphics: 9/10, Very impressive, but characters and clothing have taken a back seat to everything else.
Gameplay: 8/10, Mission lack the fun of previous installments, but the game is jam packed with cool extras.
Story: 6.5/10, Generic, Forgettable characters, Some good plot twists, Some choices affect the story.
Voice Acting: 10/10, As good as an awesome movie, all the way through.
Music: 9/10, heaps of music, for a variety of people. Shame you can't play certain songs whenever you want though.
Overall: 8/10, disappointingly fails to be the best GTA game yet, but is still one of the best games on the PS3
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/05/08
Game Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (Special Edition) (AU, 04/29/08)
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