Review by LegitReviewer
"GTA for the modern era; but is it any good?"
As we all know, GTA has been consistently fun and always had a great presentation; in that any GTA game has never (at the time of release, anyway) felt dated, or a step back. It always felt current, modern, or even ahead of its time. But is GTA IV up to the now-modern standard of gripping story lines, absolute realism and just general fun? Well, let's just say it hasn't broken the cycle I mentioned above.
First and foremost, I'll go to the (arguably) most important aspect of any GTA; the gameplay. Gameplay in GTA IV feels the same as it's predecessor's, but with a modern touch to it. No bad thing, but I really would have liked to see some innovations. The targeting system has changed a bit, driving feels more realistic, general navigation (ie. Running, Jumping) feels more realistic, and I could go on. They've basically taken the gameplay elements of GTA: San Andreas and put modern mechanics on it in a nutshell. Don't get me wrong, this in no way should be interpreted as bad, as it does feel good and fluid.
Next, the graphics. For an early 2008 game, it looks terrific. Although reviews tend to point out how GTA IV has bad textures and such in it, I haven't noticed any. The frame rate is consistent, even with major explosions and pile ups, I noticed no major frame rate drops or slowdowns. Additionally, animations are also slick and consistent, feeling fluid and part of the game. An example of this is where before in San Andreas when you leaped a small wall it would play a set animation, very subtly breaking up the pace. Now, it plays out as soon as you jump the small wall, it feels fluid and realistic. A small feature, you might say, but I found it rather noticeable.
As for the sound, the sound is also great. The voice acting is done brilliantly, due to GTA IV being a big budget game, after all. The weapon sounds are unique, if a little repetitive, and the other assorted sounds are neat and never cheap-sounding, with crisp quality.
I haven't mentioned yet the greatest thing of GTA IV; the sheer scale of what you can do. Their are loads to do in the lively neighborhoods of Liberty City; why not play bowling? Go and get drunk with a friend? Perhaps take your girlfriend to a comedy club? All are great things to do, and also just a tiddly amount of what you can do in Liberty City. With an 10+ hour campaign, lots of side missions, lots of side games and lots to do with your friends and their own unique perspective on each activity, where certain friends like and dis-like certain activities. Who says you can't go get drunk, then go on a killing rampage in just one morning? In GTA IV, that's possible! To put it in a nutshell, you'll be spending quite some time in Liberty City, especially if your a completionist (even with walkthroughs!)
Now, a special mention goes to the sheer attention to detail put in to this game. Their are all sorts of real life traits that make GTA IV real to life. Things like being able to listen to NPC's conversations on the streets, NPC's distinctive personalities, getting spam in your e-mail inbox (some of which are amusing, some just plain weird). Even being drunk is re-created amusingly, as well as drink driving (albeit not so amusingly, as your distorted vision means you crash every 5 seconds or so). Even when going through your mobile phone, when you scroll through the menu, it also happens in real time. May sound silly, but it does look impressive!
Finally, their is the storyline. I loved every second of it, with a rich cast of characters, branching storyline (although not majorly, their are single choices which have a slight impact on the story). However, the overall structure of the mission's can get a little repetitive; go to A to B, fight someone and/or shoot someone, escape the cops etc. However, I never found it overly repetitive to the point where it got tedious. Niko Bellic is an interesting protagonist, with a shady past you gradually part by part find out about throughout the story, and is also one open to interpretation, as their are certain details that have not been revealed about him, most interestingly his country not being revealed.
Overall, not much has changed, but that's not a bad thing! The sheer scale, improvements and story made to this GTA title make this a worthwhile purchase. If your a GTA fan, get it and love it!
+ Great storyline
+ Nice modern touches on past gameplay elements
+ Sheer scale and effort put into the game is outstanding
- Can get repetitive
- No major innovations in it
In one word: Big.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/29/12
Game Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (EU, 04/29/08)
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