Review by SiramiDensday

"All in all, this game is very easy to recommend to almost any 17+ gamer, that isn't easily offended."

First, I don't like rating systems. Every game has a different audience. It's pointless to rate things like graphics and sound separately, as this skews particular game scores a ton (Warcraft 3 would receive a much lower score than deserved, for example)
I ask a series of questions, and give straight answers. I base the overall score on how easy the game is to recommend to the game's target audience.

GTA4, the first Next Gen GTA game:

1:“What kind of game is GTA4?”

Some call it a “sandbox” game, because story progression can be done at your own leisure. I can't clearly classify it into any one category (unless you count GTA games as a category), so instead I'll explain what it is in a short phrase. GTA4 is an action, shooter, racer with some JRPG elements, in that you spend a ton of time being fed a story via cutscenes and dialogue. You play as a foreigner, who has just come to the American “Liberty City”, a fictitious city modeled after NYC.

You spend a lot of time watching well done cutscenes, of which contain a lot of vulgar language, plenty of humor, and violence. You also spend a lot of time listening to conversations over Niko's cell phone. When you are in control, you're either driving around, shooting stuff, dodging cops, calling somebody, or playing a minigame (the minigames aren't very well designed, but are kind of neat).

2:“Who is the game marketed towards?”

Pretty much anybody 17+ with a strong stomach, when it comes to offensive material. If you're easily offended, this game wasn't designed to appeal to you. To everybody else, this game was made for you.

3:“How well does it appeal to its target audience?”

I'd say, very well, for the most part. If you're a causal racing fan, you'll have more fun with this game, as a lot of the core gameplay is simply going from point A to point B. Shooter fans will probably be less happy, though more happy than they would have been with previous GTA games.

4:“Is it fun?”

Yes, it's fun, for some more than others, but nearly everybody that plays it will have a good time playing it. It's going to be more fun for folks that are easily immersed into gaming worlds, and as said before, casual racing fans. People that play nothing but shooters won't probably like it as much, as the shooting is overly simplistic, and the story will have less appeal to them. Some folks have a hard time with the cover system (likely not shooter fans, as I had no problem with it) and struggle with the gunplay, while most shooter fans will find that most of the shooting scenes can easily be completed with the basic pistol, as headshots are both one hit kills and stupid easy to land.

5:“What do you get for your money?”

You get a good length single player mode (I clocked at 20 hours first playthrough), with some of the best overall presentation to date. There aren't really any other games on the market that you can get this kind of experience from, which makes it easier to recommend. The single player campaign isn't going to be something that most people will play through more than once, though the experience is likely going to stay with you, in memory, for a long time. Completionists will find that there's a fair amount of extras to jam through, though it is quite possible for the skilled gamer to easily reach 100% completion over the weekend.

Fans of previous games may be upset that some gameplay related content, that was in GTA:SA is missing in this incarnation, and even though it is very well presented and the characters are much more developed than normal, the story does follow the typical GTA formula. I doubt that all of this would be a deal breaker for almost any GTA fan, though series vets should expect to get the “I've played this before” syndrome, from time to time.

There is also a fun online mode, with things like deathmatch, racing, cops and robbers, some straight forward co-op missions (that you get rated on), and such. It's not something that I can see many people losing their WoW hours on, but it's something that'll likely be picked up from time to time. All in all, I'd say that the game is easily worth the money, regardless of what spectrum of the target audience you hail from.

6:“Is it revolutionary?”

While it is a very solid game, I wouldn't call it revolutionary. I do imagine that many games in the future will be measured against it, at least for the next couple years, which is saying something. Basically, it just does everything so well that it will likely be hard to compete with it.

7:“Is there anything annoying?”

Yes, there are annoyances, from all angles and nearly all points of view. From a shooter's perspective, things are just too easy. From a fan that doesn't play any other racing games at all, driving around is going to be difficult, while for somebody that's seasoned in both shooters and racers, the whole game is going to be a cakewalk. For those that get most of their enjoyment from being immersed into the world, well, there's gameplay elements, story elements, and design elements that are flat out immersion breaking (though it still does a good job of sucking one in). There are people that are having technical issues, where the game crashes, though I don't know how many people that's actually happening to. Previous GTA fans will miss some of the stuff from GTA:SA.

8:“Give us a recommendation score, NOW!”

Even though the target audience is broad, all in all there's plenty to enjoy for just about anybody that the game is targeted towards. This game is very easy to recommend to almost any gamer, that isn't easily offended, that is 17+.
(sorry, had to round down because of some of the flaws, in the main score)

“Give us a personal opinion score, NOW!”

I loved it. I'm a fighting game fan, first. RPG fan second. Strategy fan, third. FPS fan, fourth. Racing sim fan, fifth. Just to give you a tidbit of background about me.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/16/08

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

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