Review by Keebs05
"Grand Theft Auto 4: A Trip Back to Liberty and a Step Back in Gaming"
Rockstar's long-awaited sequel to their popular Grand Theft Auto series has been a disappointment in my view. After San Andreas, I didn't think Rockstar could improve on the game and for the most part, I was right.
The game centers around Niko Bellic, a fresh-off-the-boat European Immigrant who travels to Liberty City to pursue the American Dream but is quickly drawn into the dark underbelly that GTA fans know exists within Liberty City.
The story goes along like most GTA stories have as you take a person and slowly advance along until you finally become a "made man". You start out helping your brother Roman and slowly end up getting involved with the government, federal agents and the Russian Mafia. In my opinion, just more of the same. It's the formula that has worked well for the most part with the Grand Theft Auto series but is starting to become somewhat repetitive.
The only part of the game that is 100% improved. Liberty City looks like it never has before. From the rich, expensive mansions to the dirty and worn down ghettos. The City has a life of it's own complete with drug dealers, wanna-be hip hop artists, and your run of the mill scum. This is the only part of the game that truly shines.
As always, GTA always has a variety of unique personalities and humorous radio stations. Also with a rather deep soundtrack, Grand Theft Auto 4 maintains a high score for sound as always.
Playability has it's ups and downs in this game. The new targeting system is a improvement from past games and follows the same formula as San Andreas. The combat system leaves much to be desired. Fighting with more than one person quickly becomes frustrating as trying to switch between targets can leave you open to attack when you want to block. The handling of the cars is also incredibly different. While different cars obviously have different handling, even the best cars of them all have the handling of the Stallions of the previous games. It only gets worse when going at high speeds whether you're racing against someone or trying to outrun the police. Character development isn't a extensive as San Andreas where you have a few options on how you want to clothe Niko but not as many as SA.
You don't really have to play through the storyline to get entertainment out of this game. You can load up the game, grab a gun and start having fun. Hi-jack a helicopter and take an aerial tour of Liberty City (of coarse you can always fork over some cash and have the pilot fly around the city for you.) or drive around looking for some cools gaps you can try to jump, play a game of pool or darts, go bowling, do whatever.
Replay Value: Extremely High
Pretty much the same as the "Entertainment" section. You don't have to play the story to have fun in this game. Go around causing chaos or just take a tour of the city, maybe take a boat ride to Happiness Island and gaze upon the Statue of Happiness. That's the fun of Grand Theft Auto...everything is up to you.
The Verdict: It's an excellent game but after San Andreas, I find myself a little spoiled by the sheer number of things you can do. If you're looking for a pretty visual display, this game is for you but if depth is your favorite part of the game, I'd stick with San Andreas.
Keebs' Korner gives this game a rating of 8 out of 10.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/23/09
Game Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (US, 04/29/08)
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