Review by Virobot
"GTA4 - GTA:SA blended with steroids. You lose SOME stuff, but gain lots!"
Grand Theft Auto. Just the mere mention of the name will send girls swooning, grown men crying, and wannabe gangsters off to the local gun (ahem, GAME) shop. The first GTA set in motion a new genre-defining genre, the sandbox game, to a lesser extent. GTA3 perfected it, in a rich and detailed 3D world. Vice City built upon 3's success, adding many features to make it distinctly unique. And of course San Andreas, arguably the best GTA game made thus far, taking the GTA franchise and rocketing it to the top of the Video Game hill.
Now, there is GTA4, set in Liberty City, a throwback to GTA3. Only there is nothing in common with the two games. Absent is the legendary St. Mark's Bistro. You play as Niko Bellic, a man that has come over to Liberty City from Europe to live the "American Dream." This is where the story starts.
This is a very pretty looking game, a good work-out for your eyes. The cars look rich and detailed, the buildings look hardened and cold, only as a New York style building would. It looks and feels like modern-day New York. They really hit the nail on the head. The draw distance is fantastic, the water looks excellent. The burnouts, oh the burnouts! The explosions look really decent, although explosion are a really hard event to capture 100% on a video game. The pedestrians even look like they have a brain, although they do still walk out in front of you when you're driving.
There are wonderful moments in this game, don't take the score the wrong way. But, as everyone knows, there are some moment where you just want to yell, "What was that?" Alas, Gameplay, the integral part of the GTA series, is seriously lacking in the latest installment. Sure there are some fun missions, like the construction site shootout, but most of the missions are just drive here, kill that guy, lose your wanted level, rinse and repeat. It's a very monochrome mission scheme, with some missions feeling the same. Arguably the best mission is Four Leaf Clover, the bank heist. That was the pinnacle of the entire game for me. But then, like Robert Downey Jr. before Ironman, just dropped back down. The best feeling was actually finishing the game, knowing now that I could just fire up the game once in a while, have a cop shootout, then turn it off. I was relieved.
On a side note, the controls are very familiar, and you have the option to set either Standard or Classic controls. On standard, the default, you Accelerate with the R2 trigger and Brake/Reverse with the L2 trigger. This allows for very accurate driving. With classic, it's much the same as the other GTAs, which will be a relief to hardcore GTA players that have gotten used to the old controls.
The sound is acceptable. Some of the dialogue was a little bit out of place and weird at times, which kind of offset the mood of the cutscene. Gunfire sounded nice, car engines sounded okay, although I was a little disapointed the muscle cars didn't "rumble" more. All in all, it was what I expected, which was good.
Another shortcoming, was the story. Sure it was noble for Niko to stick up for Roman all the time, but it wasn't anything to write home about. I was disapointed, but it wasn't the worst story ever, it did do the job. The story of revenge is a typical type of story, which actually fits the GTA world very well, serving as a motive to destroy and kill. But after so long, I found myself losing focus of the main mission objectives and just had to break up the tension by blowing up a gas station, which sparked a 5-star wanted level. Being in a sandbox world, you can imagine your own stories too, which kind of keep things fresh.
Another hit or miss thing. It did the job, and was fun for a bit, but didn't really have a lasting appeal. Free Mode police shootouts are the only thing I go online for. I was glad they included online though, good for Rockstar, they listened to us! Auto-aim is just terrible online.
It's fun to just cruise around, do driveby's, hook up with people online, steal cars, kill people, etc. There's a lot to do to keep you interested. With new DLC coming sometime in the future, who knows what they'll unload on us.
(Not an average)
It doesn't matter who you are, young or old (okay, not TOO old), you've probably heard of Grand Theft Auto. This is a well established franchise giant, and not likely to die anytime soon. Overall, this is one of the must-haves for PS3 owners.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/25/08
Game Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (US, 04/29/08)
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