Review by exclusiveburner
Less content then predecessors, rewardless gameplay, over hyped?
Overall I feel this game is very hyped, and over rated by many. The world is huge, the detail is amazing, but the entire package is actually a little bland. Its Grand Theft Auto so you already know theres a huge world to play in but after you take it all in, theres nothing there.
Overall they are pretty damn nice. Cars look very very good, faces and animations are very realistic. Theres a hefty amount of pedestrians and vehicles on nearly every street in Liberty City. This is all very nice indeed but theres problems as well. Pop ins are frequently distracting you from what you are doing, and sometimes standing in front of an object as it loads right in front of you will make you feel this game is un-finished and or rushed. The blurry visualls hurts the game as well. Last but not least, the anti aliasing in this game is pretty bad overall. You can clearly see jagged edges on nearly every object in the game and it brings the overall graphics down a lot in my opinion. HD Tv's will help but it still looks poor which is a shame because it could have looked better. Its advertised in 720p, however it plays in 630p, and then upscaled to fit. I rather have no aliasing problems, and a less amount of pedestrians and vehicles on the road. If I slug it out with the cops, I can have about 15 cop cars on screen, and 30 cops or so and thats just too many. The frames will drop noticeably and bogs the system down a bit. Instead they could of kept a 5-10 cop car limit, and more cops on foot. Then made the anti aliasing better and remove the blurred vision.
The biggest change in gameplay to me is the shooting. Which is pretty damn good I must say I like the shooting mechanics. Shooting in this game is one of the most refreshing feels to the game when compared to others in the series. Being able to cling to walls for cover, pop out and or pop shots with blind fire, its all there, shooting is a huge plus. They did very little to change the feel of missions in these games. Every mission seems the same, go here and kill him, or go there and pick up a package. Your either a hitman or a delivery man on every single mission and its very very very very very repetitive. When you play through the missions you'll feel like you've played them all before if you ever played a GTA title. The missions are not that diverse, and if you've played any other GTA like I said you'll be thinking "Been there, done that". The only truly memorable mission in this game to me, was a bank robbery. If the game was more focused on specific missions like such, it could of really been something amazing. But like I said most the time its just running around, picking up a package, or killing a person, and that gets boring after doing that for nearly 8 years now . Driving is better then the last few games in the series but could be improved also. I wish cars turned just a bit sharper. Overall this is a video game and fun should come before reality.
The soundtrack is remarkable. They have real DJ's playing real music on every station and it honestly feels like a real NY radio. Voice acting is superb and probably some of the best seen in a video game to date. Gun sounds are good, but not great. My only problem with the sound is theres not that many options in the audio section. When you jump in a car the radio is on every single time, and cool it was for the first 20 minutes of the game but after that it gets extremely annoying to the point I have it turned off now permanently. The worst part is when you get a cellphone call and your in a car with music on. Even with the fade option on its still hard to hear. The voice overs on the cellphone need to be much louder as they get distorted by sounds of the city. Every time you get in a car you get blasted by a random radio station, and probably one you don't want to hear.. The lack of custom soundtrack on PS3 is pretty poor as well. I turn the music off completely, but then when you go in a Stip Club, you hear no music, it actually feels awkward.
Well theres a good amount of missions, but like I said, very repetitive. You can date people over the fake internet, which is ok but kind of a pointless way to waste time. It doesn't benefit the player in anyway other then lifeless entertainment. One of my favorite things to do on the side is Bowling which is actually pretty damn good. You can go drinking which is fun but nothing to brag about. You can play darts which is cool but it just feels like a game filler to me. Theres 50 stunt jumps that are a personal favorite and then theres 200 Flying Rats to find and kill which is just to waste time really. However the rewards for doing these extras are practically nothing at all. Jacob for example, when you finish his bonus missions or side quests, you get a different colored Huntley.....which is pointless when you can find the same car driving around town anyway. Its not like a permanent car at your garage, its just a one time thing where you get a car. I've stolen the exact car at least a dozen times before, and its nothing to brag about or worth doing the missions for.
The Money You Make....
In the game you make a ton of it, but theres nothing to spend it on. I spent 50 grand on weapons like it was nothing. I got all this money and nothing to do wit it. I cant find anything expensive to purchase at all. The most money I spent was on one suit that cost $2,000 and thats chump change. Theres really no houses or save spots to buy, most you acquire after beating missions and given to you for free. Again pointless. I can die 100 times and still have money to piss away. Your a millionaire with nothing to do. Kind of an oxymoron. Well you can take helicopter rides, but why sit in the passenger when you can drive?
Online is good and bad. Its great that you can explore the entire city with 15 friends but it gets boring very fast. It lags, the frames drop and it doesn't feel all that solid online. The Co-op missions like Hangmans Noose are what makes it standout, and if they had more alike it would be better. Playing missions with friends is more fun then just exploring with friends. Free roam isn't bad, but theres no goal to accomplish other then wreak havoc. The rank system seems corrupt, even after saving rank deteriorates for some reason. Its a known issue, and its a bug. I am wearing rank 5 clothing, even tho it says I'm rank 2. I am still wearing clothing that I saved on at a higher rank while my rank resets every night. If I change my clothes while rank 2 then the clothes I earned disappears from selection, even though I already got that rank.
Rockstar could, and should have added more to this game. As big as it is, it gets boring quickly. This feels like a step backwars in the series. They achieved so much on the PS2, and this just doesn't compare to all the content thats left out. Its missing many elements that made San Andreas the best in the series. Weapon stats for example. If you reached hitman status with the desert eagle in San Andreas, you could use two pistols, one in each hand. That went for every weapon in San Andreas. You would level your weapons up, your driving skills, you could gain weight, and work out to gain muscle. You could Pimp your ride. There were a few garages in San Andreas that let you tweak your cars. Adding spoilers, roof scoops, nitros, different colors, hydraulics... Wheres the goods Rockstar? I rather have NO Online play, and a better single player experience. These little issues take a lot away from this game in my opinion. This is not a true GTA game. This is something Rockstar put out to test the waters on new consoles to see what they can do for the future. The next GTA title will be the game we really wanted. Content wise this game slacks when compared to predecessors. Its basically the same gameplay with better graphics. A story of betrayal like usual, nothing different. Its basically GTA 3 with better graphics. The internet and email missions are ok but like I said, pointless. Gangsters barely communicate over telephones and certainly not online emails. Niko isn't going to go online and flaunt his criminal activities, thats totally out of character. The web feels more like a filler to the game then anything else, just something to take up time. Its unecessary. If Brucie wants me to steal a car, tell me in person. Nobody's going to be sending exact pictures back and forth to steal cars over the internet....its just stupid. Theres a lot of detail focused into the stupid aspects of the game, truth be told.
If you beat the game, you'll feel somewhat left out. You'll feel like "I did all this work and got next to nothing out of it". The rewards are extremely minimal in this game. If you beat it 100% without cheating congratulations. I say play through it again with Cheats. The world is huge, and after 100% completion you feel stranded on Giligans Island. I definitely want to replay through the campaign again just for a few certain missions. Three Leaf Clover being one of those missions. Without the main missions this game doesn't offer much but a cruise through the city. Killing cops gets repetitive so I say play through it once more just for the main missions, as that is the bread and butter here.
Flaws and Improvements
Pop ins shouldn't even be tolerated in a final product of a game, especially as notice-able as it is in this game. Frame rate drops are tolerable, but anything under 25 is a no no. GTA IV has plenty dips around 10fps which feels like your in slow motion, when your not. The anti aliasing is weak. Reduce the amount of cars and pedestrians and add to the anti aliasing effect and the draw distance. The detail put into stupid humor is idiotic. The fact that theres dozen of fake websites just seems like pointless additions. The developers wasted a lot of time on small pointless additions. A few of them are funny, but not worth the read. The fact that they wasted time on things like that before they even added a Car Garage to customize your car amazes me. Everywhere San Andreas strives, GTA IV fails. Theres less content then San Andreas and thats why this game isn't all that amazing. Its the same game with better graphics, and a lot less content.
I think they should have included a Start menu in this game, just so you can quickly play Multiplayer without having to wait the three minutes to load single player, just so you can load mutliplayer again...not smart. Theres no online lobby system which really stinks. Your just thrown in random rooms to hope for the best. Other then a lobby system, we could use search filters to find rooms. A filter so you get put into a room with people who actually have a head set would be sweet. Socom is a game that knows how to make a lobby system, copy them and you've struck gold.
I think this title shouldn't have had the online addition. Its good to have but it doesn't add that much to the game at all. I rather have a huge single player extravaganza instead of a medicore multiplayer anyday. If the team didn't spend that much time on multiplayer the single player could have been better.
The variety of vehicles is pretty good, but some classics were left out. Dodo anyone? Tank? Quad? Again more subtractions then additions in this category.
The clothes is pretty good, but I just expected a bit more. I actually think theres less then San Andreas as well.
Even the cheat codes(Judging by every cheat released so far) got the shaft. Look at any previous GTA and you can see nearly 100 cheat codes. This game however is limited to less then 20, most being "Spawn a cars" cheats.
This game lacks great customization. You can change your clothes but nothing really stands out too much. A lot of boring clothes selections when compared to other games like Saints Row. No car customization is a slap in every consumers face as well. Being that you can't change Niko's hair, or face isn't that big of a deal as he looks great already, but a little customization goes a long way.
After all is said and done, I have to say this game is of course worth buying, but I still think it is a disappointment in many ways to a lot of GTA fans. On the positive side we get virtually realistic NYC thats also playable online, much better AI, the best soundtrack yet, and better shooting mechanics. On the negative sides we got less content then San Andreas, very notice-able frame rate drops, aliasing problems, pop ins, and nothing to splurge on in-game with the millions you make. All the money you make, and struggle for means nothing in the end. Basically I am disappointed. I thought everything from San Andreas would be taken in, and then some, being that we are in the "Next Gen" era. Well Rockstar went back to basics as its practically GTA 3 with more mini-games and added online play. The amount of retractions out weigh the additions and you will notice after you beat the game, theres not much to do. You have online but its not going to consume too much of your time, it gets repetitive quick. Rockstar did a great job making this game, but like I've been saying the small additions do not out-weigh the subtractions. I expected more. Theres more content here then most games don't get me wrong, but this game doesn't have as much content as others in the series. Hopefully DLC will come along soon and add a lot to the game. We've already received one patch a week after release. I hope Rockstar can squash some more issues in the future, and add more weapons, vehicles, etc.....
I think Rockstar has a lot planned for the next Grand Theft Auto game.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (US, 04/29/08)
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