Review by Trini_Bwoi

"Does GTA IV live up to it's hype? Not so much..."

Introduction

Grand Theft Auto IV. It has been anticipated for a long time. The hype surrounding this game was beyond extraordinary. This is the first installment of the GTA series on a new generation console, which unlocked possibilities in game play, graphics, and physics never before achievable in past GTA games. This review will touch on numerous aspects of GTA IV.

Story - 4/10

The main character is Nikolai "Niko" Bellic, a European, who does not like to take crap from anyone. Niko comes to Liberty City for two reasons. 1, to leave wherever he comes from, and experience a glamorous life of riches falsely promised by his cousin Roman, and 2, to find an enemy he has been hunting down for 10 years, because he betrayed Niko's army unit, ruining Niko's life.

You start out by trying to help his cousin out of some serious debts. This causes Niko to get involved with people, similar to whom he left his previous country to avoid. You later gets caught up killing the wrong people, landing Niko in worse crowds, doing missions for people, in exchange for money (Even though you may have a truck load), information on the guy who betrayed his army, and rarely, as illustrated in cut scenes, so his life, and others close, would be sparred.

That is basically all the development for the main character, from start, to finish. Niko's goals from to beginning barely changes towards the ending of the game, which is pretty shallow. Rockstar went a long way making this game's story more realistic and believable then it's predecessors, but that fact doesn't make it any better.

Graphics - 8/10

You can't compare other titles with GTA IV, graphic wise, because the size of the environment is immense. The detail of the surroundings is also fantastic, in certain aspects. The roads, vehicles, character models, and buildings all look magnificent, keeping in mind the scope of the environment.

However, objects in the distance are blurry, both in and out off cut scenes. To somewhat of an extent, every block looks that same, with the tall buildings, but that's New York for you! (The city LC was is based on). The display is mostly more dark than bright. Sometimes it's so dark, you can't even make out what's on your screen. Everything considered, this game is beautiful.

Physics - 10/10

A vastly improved portion of GTA IV, the physics are a selling point for this game. The physics are just mind blowing, mainly because of what the new engine applied used, Euphoria. Most interactions are unique, and will never be the same. The interactions with people are happening in real time, and aren't pre-scripted.

Running over people has never been so pleasurable! Shooting people in various parts of their body and watching how they cripple has never been so fun! Jumping off a tall building, and watching Niko squat, is a lovely thing to witness! The same physics, obviously, apply to the main character. The driving physics have also been revamped, to be more realistic. The new driving, while being harder to control and master, are awesome, once you get used to them. You will enjoy the physics so much, you might start to scare yourself.

Game Play - 6/10

Some parts shine, others fall short by a mile, being, riddled with bugs, too hard to control, or just plain annoying. First off, the cover system. Yes, having a cover system is better then none at all in the previous games, but it still is slightly bugged. You will occasionally find yourself just taking cover behind another object, when trying to get out of the cover system. The camera slightly jerks while you try to look at a wide angle in cover mode. Also, usually, the auto aim will target enemies far off in the distance, even though you are being shot by a guy right in front of you. The in car aiming is a spotlight addition, giving you full control of in-car aiming.

Now onto the dreaded cell phone. Generally all your missions will be activated by a call from a contact. When it is equipped, and you are on foot, the only thing Niko can do is walk. Most of the time, when you complete a mission, 2 things happen simultaneously: You get a call to tell a contact about the outcomes, and you are being shot. If you don't want to miss any dialog in GTA IV by hanging the phone up to run, good luck dodging bullets while walking. Getting shot, being hit by a car, falling over, or crashing all make Niko hang up with phone, which will result in you missing something.

Friends are very needy. Your 5 friends, or 5 girl friends, will always be on your back, wanting to hang out with you, which can get annoying. You can do various activities like bowling, darts, and pool, which are all extremely easy. Going eating, is essentially just driving someone here and back. There are only 6 shows each, in the comedy and cabaret clubs. It's best to just head over to a strip club, or a bar. Driving drunk is amusing! Sadly, it can only be done with a friend. Yes, you can turn off your phone, but this will also bring the story to a halt.

The lack of things to do is appalling, when compared to previous GTAs. Think of everything fun that was in San Andreas. Those weren't included in GTA IV. No more mini games, like the Casino, dancing, burglar, ambulance, firetruck, pimping, low rider and vehicle activated. Vigilante is included, but there is no cash reward for doing them. There are no bicycles, planes and tanks. Customization has gone back to square one, with no car pimping, fat, stamina, muscle, weapon skill, sex appeal, tattoos and haircuts. You can change clothes, but the variety and quantity of clothing is lacking. There are absolutely no purchasable safe houses and assets. The reward for shooting all 200 hidden packages is very dissatisfying. Now, all that being said, there is hardly anything to spend money on in this game, except weapons.There are some good additions to the game play, such as taking taxis, paying bridge tolls, headlights, etc... but they don't make up for all the fun, time consuming things taken out. After you have beat GTA IV, you may find yourself bored of single player, if the physics don't keep you occupied.

A very cool new feature, is the ability to let some people live or die, during the storyline missions. This gives you a feeling that you are in control, a sense that you can shape your own GTA IV destiny, and that you don't always have to do what you are told. Some targets may also be executed.

Lastly, the missions. Rockstar's spur to make GTA IV more realistic then previous games affected the missions, greatly. There are hardly any fun, wacky missions. You will commonly find yourself chasing someone you can't kill until they reach their scripted destinations, watching over drug deals that always go wrong, or in a shoot out. The missions are really repetitive, for a sandbox game, which are supposed to be open ended. You will constantly find yourself doing the same things, with the same goals and outcomes, for the same reasons.

Controls - 8/10

Yes, I'm giving controls it's own little section, because a lot has changed. If you are too used to the old controls, you won't like the new one. Luckily, you can always switch to classic controls. The downside of this is, the in car aiming will be a little clunky. The new control scheme for driving will take getting used to, with the trigger controls as acceleration and braking. The half pressing to differentiate aiming and shooting, in blind fire, wasn't such as wise choice on Rockstar's behalf. Anyways, to get the full, better experience, the new control scheme is good, but will take some time to adapt to.

Sound - 7/10

The voice acting, while mainly low budget, was done superbly. The characters seem, more real, they way they talk to each other. Each mission has two sets of in car dialog, which is definitely something. The gun shots, same as usual. What really was upsetting was to radio. God, the choice of songs are horrible. There is everything, for everyone to listen to, but the songs are quite unknown. Rap and hip hop are dominant in the radio, just like how it is today, in the real world. If that's not your style, you could always listen to a horrible selection of the many other genres.

Multi Player - 8/10

All around, it's good, and very entertaining, if you can access it without being the victim of very common bugs, such as your level not saving, or always being disconnected. The modes are all fun, and very GTA-like. There is something for everyone to do, and enjoy. Within the 15 modes are action packed, endlessly fun game play. There is everything from racing, to raiding drug deals. Multi player is an aspect of GTA IV that won't get boring for a while. It is a very rare occurrence, should you have a game with 10 or more players, though.

Replay-Ability - 5/10

After you complete the story line, there is nothing to do. You can strive to achieve 100% but the process is more tedious then fun. You can definitely reply the game, to make different choices as to how to complete missions, who you decide to kill or walk, and hear the alternate dialogs in each mission. In the end, multi player will be the only thing you end up playing, in GTA IV.

Conclusion

If you are a die hard GTA fan, or just a casual gamer, you should still buy it. The physics are a good enough reason to play GTA IV. If you aren't an online player, you should faintly consider renting it. You can complete the story line in a minimum of 20 hours.

Overall, GTA IV is great, but it undeniably didn't live up to the pre-release hype. The graphics and physics are a step up from earlier GTA games, but the amount of things you can do is a big step down, not to mention some of the annoying features in the game play.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/30/08, Updated 06/02/08

Game Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (US, 04/29/08)


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