Review by TheLastAvatar05
"Grand Theft Auto 4 delivers in such a way, you could just disregard the disappointment that was San Andreas."
Grand Theft Auto 4 can be considered a reboot of the GTA series after the dreadful game that was San Andreas. GTA 4 takes place in the familiar location of Liberty City, which, is heavily modeled after New York City. With Rockstar heavily remodeling the entire city from scratch, everything that you saw in Grand Theft Auto 3 is practically nonexistence with a few minor references to previous characters in the past series. Almost everyone you know as main characters in past games such as Vice, GTA 3, and San Andreas are completely dead. The series starts a new on the Playstation 3 with new features, gameplay, and storyline.
Gameplay : (9/10): Rockstar has apparently heard it's fan's complaints and fixed them to a whole new level of overall gameplay and features. First, let's talk about movement of the main character, Niko Bellic. When you move him left and right, he feels realistic in way compared to other main characters. An example being that if you move Niko downhill on a small hill, the control feels somewhat "Heavier" when moving uphill or downhill due to the natural law of physics. If you move him in muddy terrain, he moves slowly compared to if he was on hard pavement. It's a nice touch and sense of realism. Unlike in San Andreas, Niko cannot customize his overall clothing but not his phsyical appearance. Clothes can be brought around shops in Liberty City and can range from pants, shirts, shoes, and even various accessories. Also, unlike the annoying Girlfriend feature within San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto 4 introduces a unique friendship system. Niko can meet various friends and arrange a variety of activey's such as going out to clubs, playing pool or darts, eating at restaurants, or even going to a theater show! Slowly building each relationship can allow new rewards to help you out later during the game. For example, one character might even send gang members to help you out during a fire fight against your enemies while another may give you a discount on weapons to buy.
Friendship can be interesting and quite entertaining in between missions. Some of them can even reveal interesting gossip on others that may aid you in general. Niko can also perform new features like leaping off roofs, scaling telephone poles or escape ladders in buildings, and even swim like a fish when landing in the ocean without drowning. The overall combat system is extremely well crafted compared to anything that you seen in previous titles. Before, it was merely having a character stand in open space and fire like a moron without any real cover. Random enemies would also do the same until one of you would fall dead. That isn't the case in Grand Theft Auto 4. Niko uses a unique combat and cover system. The control for firing is simple and easy with a mere small circle as the indicator. You could use auto or free aim to target enemies. With a push of the R1 button, Niko cant crouch and hide behind anything while firing back. This is extremely handy while facing against enemy gang members while receiving less damage in general. Also, there is a new feature called, "Blind Fire" that you can use from cover. Niko literally holds his weapon overhead his area of concealment and sprays an enemy literally in a sweeping motion without real accurate targeting to dish out some serious damage. The random pedestrians are much more realistic in making you believe that they lead normal daily lives. Some of them sit at chairs sipping coffee or eating a meal outside while others pull out their cell phone and talk while walking to a destination. The level of realism of pedestrians acting as real people compared to stupidly walking around in the same generic fashion is clearly evident between Grand Theft Auto 4 and it's previous titles.
Rockstar has introduced, a new engine called, "Euphoria", which adds more realism within the game. Everything from how Niko moves to how cars take damage is simply amazing. For example, unlike other previous titles of when you ram a car into another, the only obvious damage shown is one large generic dent for each car. Grand Theft Auto 4 uses a more advance system of how cars take damage. When you shoot at another car, bullets literally slam into the window shield. Each shot creates separate cracks or holes! Various scrapes on your car differs from minor to large major ones. Also, unlike in previous titles where your car catches on fire generically, cars in GTA 4 take more damage and blow up realistically. The wanted system has also received a new revamp. If you get a single wanted star, a circle appears within the location your in, which, causes the police to track you down. It only goes away after you get out of the selected area and hide to "lose the heat". The more wanted stars, the larger the area that your in and thus, have to get out of in order to lose the wanted levels. The Liberty City Police is extremely intelligent and aren't as stupid as you think in Grand Theft Auto 4. They actually work more as a team to try and take you down. Worse, they have the public pedestrians on their side. Pedestrians can report crimes on their phones thus causing the police to come after you. Niko can also use his phone to not only call his friends, for jobs or hang out, but to also play online with other players. There are a variety of modes that are included that supports up to 16 players.
So why the 9 in gameplay? A few minor issues. The wanted system tends to get a bit annoying as a simple bump on a cop car gets you a 1 wanted star forcing you to abandon whatever your doing and drive as far as possible to lose the police than driving back to continue what you were doing. Cars tend to handle a lot differently than before. The R2 and L2 act as acceleration and braking. Getting used to this is somewhat odd at first because both the R2 and L2 on the PS3 controller feels "Loose". Some of the cars tend to feel like mere tanks due to the way that they handle. Otherwise, everything else is top notch.
Storyline: (8/10): You take control of, Niko Bellic, a Eastern European, that finally goes to America due to his cousin's constant bragging of, "Living The American Dream". However, when Niko enters Liberty City, he finds a very different world that he had imagined. Roman, his cousin, has lied about his luxurious life of owning a mansion, dozens of sports cars, and having hot woman all the time. Roman is in various gambling debts with a number of criminals across Liberty City. Niko comes to the rescue and helps out his cousin through protection and working with the odd ball figures to pay off Roman's debts. At first, Niko is disgusted of what he sees and how Americans act within a city such riddled with crime as Liberty City. However, as you progress, you begin to learn more about Niko's cynical personality life that causes him to look at Liberty City with disgust. Unlike other main characters, Niko is thrusted into the criminal world not to gain personal glory of being the top crime lord in Liberty City, but to look for someone and finally bring closure within his life. The storyline is apparently obvious with you moving from character to character while doing various odd jobs to progress for more missions. Each one of them feels somewhat repetitive in comparison of previous mission storylines in the GTA series. The storyline is interesting though not in the standards of GTA 3 or Vice but surpasses San Andreas's storyline by a longshot. An interesting feature within certain missions is that you can actually determine how to deal with a situation. For example, Niko has the option of allowing a a small type snitch to live or die after chasing him across Liberty City and cornering him on top of a construction building. Killing him causes no real impact of the overall storyline though it does cut a few minor optional missions in order to get 100 percent completion. Allowing him to live allows the mere opposite. Rockstar has allowed these type of decisions to give more linear storyline outcomes for Niko compared to previous installments, which, is a interesting positive in my book. Otherwise, it get's an 8 due to how the missions really haven't changed compared to previous installments though some of them are quite fun.
Graphics: (10/10): This is perhaps THE GAME that pushes the Playstation 3 to it's limit. I felt that Metal Gear Solid 4 might tie with it, but this is an extremely gorgeous game to look at in terms of graphics. Everything from how the main characters, pedestrians, vehicles, weather, gunfire, and other similar features is beautifully detailed. The main characters look detail and move realistically during cut scenes or during missions. Each pedestrian is 100 percent different to generate a larger sense of realism. They are detailed from top to bottom with various unique outfits that you would see in real life. Each car has a small glare that makes them shine when your driving them. They have extremely realistic models that are based on today's market of cars. The sense of damage collision creates many new different dents and dinks within each section of the car that no two look the same. Guns and other weapons work like their suppose to in real life. Bullets firing and whizzing nearby or leaving impacts on the ground and buildings is truly impressive to look out for a split second during a battle. Shooting other people gives of a nice realistic splash of blood depending of where you aim in terms of body parts. Each dead body stays on the ground without dissapearing in a few seconds. The overall buildings resemble an uncanny resemblance to New York City with it's Boroughs within Grand Theft Auto 4, which, is no surprised considering how much Rockstar usually puts in it's research development in location. The only negative point that I have is that some areas need to be adjusted in brightness and contrast in the graphics menu if you have an HD TV.
Sound: (9/10): Everything of a busy city such as New York is included within Liberty City. From the constant honking of cars when you cut them off, or the interesting conversations various pedestrians have while walking across the street is quite detailed. Weapons and vehicles sound as realistic that you can expect. The cast of voice actors is perfect as most of them are new comers compared to having major stars focusing each character, which, is a new sense of fresh air. Each one of them provides a unique ingame character that makes them more believable while not messing up the storyline with cheesy lines or jokes. There is some sense of humor though it is well timed and executed within those that deliver them. The only thing that I disliked was some of the sounds sound generic after hearing it for the twenty time in the game. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised of how well everything sounds within a next generation game and on the PS3.
Features (8/10): The various optional missions and features is a recurring item within the Grand Theft Auto series and Grand Theft Auto 4 is no different. Some of them are quite fun while others feel extremely repetitive. Online is a nice touch where you could host a various of matches of game modes within the vast city that is Liberty. Or just free roam with everyone online and creating your own type of game modes. Otherwise, it feels a minor step in the first direction of the PS3 era and hopefully Rockstar can expand with this in the next Grand Theft Auto game or expansion. It'll last you a while as does any other Grand Theft Auto game usually does in terms of optional features.
Closing Comments: This perhaps one of the best Grand Theft Auto games to ever grace the PS3. I have enormously enjoyed this game and it literally destroys everything that the previous titles have had. Grand Theft Auto 4 is a reboot of the series and it definitely shows that Rockstar has seriously revamped Grand Theft Auto to the next level. Let's hope that GTA 5 goes beyond that.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/20/08
Game Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (US, 04/29/08)
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