Review by Hurgle77
"A Fun Experience Hampered by its Storyline"
GTA IV was released with much hype and astounding sales figures, and after enjoying the whole of the GTA III series, I was quite confident I had brought the best game ever. However, like GTA III, this is a revolutionary yet flawed experience, and I believe Rockstar will get it right in its next couple of attempts.
Story 5/10, Characters 10/10
The main characters of GTA are by far the best in the series to date. The protagonist, Niko Belic is an excellent character who is thoroughly likeable despite being a career criminal. I almost wondered at times if he was just a little bit too nice to be such a cold killer though and this is where I think the story begins to slip up. It is not so unbelievable that Niko is a criminal, it is when missions are carried out such as double crossing friends just for money and kidnapping people that the realism starts to fade. Having said this, the array of Nikos friends on the game are an excellent assortment of characters, and even manage to make some of the mini games bearable. The reason I give the story so low is what I have previously mentioned, as well as the fact that in the last half of the game, the main story arc goes absolutely nowhere. Completing mission after mission without really progressing in terms of storyline gets very tedious, especially when you know what you are going to have do for the last mission for so long.
Graphics 6/10 Liberty City 9/10
As a fan of the GTA series, I have not come to expect revolutionary graphics in these games. Considering the size of the place I don't feel the graphics are too bad, and I don't feel they are a major issue in a game like this. What is more important, is how realistic the world is, and on that count, GTA IV delivers. Liberty City is created brilliantly, with Algonquin (Rockstars take on Manhattan) far and away the highlight of the game. However, I feel the last island unlocked in the game feels boring and doesn't offer anything new, and I would have rather seen a larger Manhattan as this is where all of the best action takes place.
The gameplay in GTA has improved significantly since the last outing, mainly because of the new shooting and cover system. The auto aim of past titles is gone and this makes GTA IV a more challenging experience, but also a more rewarding one once you get it right. The driving is also excellent. The only problem with the gameplay in my opinion is the boring assortment of mini games. Although these are optional, it is very useful to take some characters out to play them as you can unlock their special skills. Unfortunately, not one of them is entertaining.
The radio stations in GTA IV are excellent. For me, there are too many hip-hop stations, yet there is always something to listen to, be it jazz, rock, russian music or one of the three hilarious talk shows.
I believe this game is excellent fun to play through once, but unlike GTA games of the past, the lack of story and character development gives it limited replayability. I am hoping that like the first of the GTA III series, this is basically the flawed version of the next couple of games and Rockstar will soon get it completely right. However it is still a vey entertaining, fun and often highly amusing game.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 12/05/08
Game Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (EU, 04/29/08)
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