Review by jofan16

"Grand Theft Auto IV, a game you can't afford to pass."

Grand Theft Auto IV, a game you can't afford to pass.

First of all, don't expect a game to be flawless no matter how much the hype stirs. This is mainly the problem that keeps showing up in all the popular game titles. Too much expectations lead up to disappointment.

Alright, let's start dissecting this game. First off, the main character you play as is Niko Bellic. He's a war veteran immigrating to Liberty City after the persuasion of his cousin, Roman. He left Eastern Europe to pursue the American Dream. But after his arrival at the docks in Liberty City, his cousin's lies of riches began to show. After figuring out Roman's struggles and debts, he decides to help him out in desires to make a better life for themselves. But later, you'll find out Niko's main motive is to find a person that he believes betrayed his unit.

During the progression of the game, you'll meet up with different sorts of characters. Like the games before, you'll do missions for them and will progress you in the story. Unlike the GTA titles before, there will be times when you'll have to choose between missions. Keep in mind, which either you choose to carry out will change the story slightly. This pretty much gives the game replay value. You'll probably be curious about what would've happened if you had picked the other mission.

Now, I'll be discussing about the different categories of the game.

(Environment)
It's obvious that this game takes place in Liberty City and has been restructured from the previous Grand Theft Auto III. This time around, Liberty City has been inspired by the looks of New York City. When you take a stroll around, you'll notice some similar structures from the real world like the Statue of Liberty or Time Square. The environment looks very inspired and well detailed. It doesn't show that the developers rushed the game for retail.

(Driving)
As you may have heard, there is a handful of people that has been complaining about the driving mechanics. This is a skill that you will have to practice on. At first, you'll be tempted to drive at high speeds and turn those sharp corners with your handbrakes. That's pretty much the wrong way to approach it. This time around the controls are more realistic. Unless you want to go flying through the windshield literally, take your time to get use to it. Be mindful that weather does affect the handling of the car.

(Character Controls)
This time around, the character has been made to move more fluently. Niko will now turn widely when walking or running giving it a more realistic approach.

Then there is the cover system. The cover system can be a benefit to you or it can be used against you. Take note that if there's policemen or mobsters in front of you, it's pretty much safe for you to use cover. But if there's hostiles all around you, this will pretty much slow you down and leave you as a sitting duck. Also, if your only option is to take cover behind a car, remember that the car can only take so much damage. The vehicle will eventually blow up in your face.

Now for the targeting system in which is pretty much the same as the others before. You'll probably have that same problem of targeting a certain individual, but this isn't that much of a nuisance. This time around, you're able to shoot or throw grenades and motolovs from your car. When shooting, you'll be able to aim while driving rather than just pressing on the side cameras.

Then there are those controls that you can't live without. For one, swimming is something of a given when the whole city is surrounded by water. But this time around, you won't be able to swim underwater like in San Andreas. Which makes it more difficult to evade the police on the boats. Another feature would be climbing ladders. This is a great new feature to the series. Now you'll be able to get different angles on your objectives or simply new escape routes when running on foot from the feds.

(Friends)
This time around, you'll have friends that could be a benefit towards you. But before they could be of any help, you'll have to do some missions for them. Then, they would call you up on your in-game cellphone telling you that they would be delighted to hang out with you every now and then. Depending on how much patience you have, you can either call them up to hang out or wait for them to call you. Seems fun at first, hanging out, shooting pool, taking a bite to eat, but the calls will become more frequent as the game progresses. This has to do with the more friends you gain, including your cousin. If you don't want to be disturbed, even in the middle of a mission, just go to your cellphone and put it under silent. Make note that this will probably halt the game's progression because sometimes you'll have to be contacted by certain people. To be on the safe side, put it on silent when you have a certain amount of contacts on your map you want to work on.

But, hanging out with them does have its perks. After hanging out with them, a percentage bar in your start menu will go slightly up depending on who your hanging with. When the percentage bar reaches a certain level, your friend will call you to say they will help you a certain way. It all depends on which friend you're with the most. For instance, if you hang out with Jacob frequently, he'll call you up saying he has cheaper weapons for you and will meet you at a certain location depending on where you are on the map. All you have to do is giving him a call. Different friends have different perks.

(Vehicles)
There are a fair variety of cars and motorcycles you can find throughout the game. But this time around, there isn't a variety of air vehicles though. For instance, there isn't any airplanes to drive around the city. There's only a handful of helicopters you'll be able to fly around in. This is probably due to the more realistic approach the developers were trying to achieve. Sorry GTA fans, there aren't any tanks you'll be able to joyride this time around.

(Side Quests)
This time around, instead of automatically activating the vigilante side quest, it will take you to the cop car's computer. From there, you'll be able to choose from any crimes happening at the moment or work on the bounties. Then there are the other side quest in which you can activate in a firetruck or ambulance. These are pretty much the same as the games before.

(Multiplayer)
For the first time in the Grand Theft Auto series, you're able to play online. Now, you can cruise around in free roam with multiple players and cause chaos. If that doesn't fill you up, you could try the other multiplayer options available to you. As interesting as it sounds, there would be times when you'll find yourself virtually alone or in a server with couple of other players. Since multiplayer is new to this series, it is yet to grasp the multiplayer experience to it's full potential. It's fair to say, it has its up and downs.

(Others)
There are a few handful of mini games you'll be able to play for fun. For instance, pool, darts, bowling, and so on and so forth. These add a little distraction from all the driving, shooting, and storyline. If you don't want to cause a massacre in the streets of Liberty City, these are a few nice ways to kill some time.

To wrap things up, this game isn't perfect, but what game is? If you aren't so sure to buy this game, rent it first. Unless you have a very generous friend to lend it to you. Now, I leave you to try this game out and explore the city. There are a lot of details I've left out in this review. I'll leave that for you to find out on your own.

Story - 8
Graphics - 9
Control - 8
Replay Value - 8
Audio - 9
Voice - 9
__________
Overall = 8.5 rounded to 9


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/09/09

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


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