Review by bigt2002
Once through and you'll never touch it again
Several people will remember the hype and thrill that came with GTA:VC and GTA:SA for the Playstation 2. When we were told that a new GTA would be coming out for the Playstation 3 the hype immediately began to take us all by storm. The teasers, the rumors, and then the let down. While GTA:IV has several interesting qualities to it, it does lack something many gamers believed it would have....that revolutionary style of play and to "one-up" the previous installments. Sadly, this did not happen and many people will tell you this game took a step backwards not only in gameplay but also in replayability. Gone were the days we could just pick up a controller and mindlessly play this installment to the cows came home, or until the power went out on the Playstation. Rockstar has left a sour taste in several gamers mouths, and it may have just pushed the limit to as far as people will go for a new video game. Yes, GTA:IV sold a record amount of games in the first week and rivaled Hollywood's new movies, but many already knew that would take place because of the reputation these titles have.
"Remember NES graphics? Ya this aint that...": 8/10
Very clean and crisp graphics that really show their true colors if your playing this on a HDMI HDTV. Rich in colors and truly shows what the Playstation 3 is all about in regards to pushing the envelope in this department. Buildings, cars, and people are detailed to a very keen likeness that will rival any other title out on the market today, if not push it to the side. If you were to put in the older titles and play them after this one, you'd find yourself very disappointed or in awe that we have come this far in the graphics department. While there are glitches in the game, it is mostly with controls and not with the actual graphics themselves.
"How do you drive again?": 4/10
My reasoning behind such a low score with the controls is not only the difficulty of driving, but the fact they actually had to make a tutorial on how to do it correctly. This is a first in the GTA series, while driving is important, its not even close to something that the fans of the series wanted to see. Second, while walking you'll notice two things happening during the course of this game: 1) either your going to walk randomly because the game believes the analog stick is being moved when its not or 2) you'll get confused as the overhead camera pans in and out on you when Nikko walks into a confined space that is more 3D than it is linear. For example, when you have to look up for a badguy you'll notice the difficultly that occurs because the camera doesn't want to pan up because you have not moved Nikko to the proper spot. Moreover, the actual "taking cover" this game introduced can be labeled as buggy at best. Not only is it almost impossible to do, but to remove yourself from it can be just as frustrating. Many of the games introductions to new moves and weapons also takes a turn for the worse from previous games.
"Mortal Kombat ain't got nothing on me!" : 6/10
Combat in these titles has always been the absolute focal point to what makes it a GTA game. No one is buying these games for the story, or lack thereof. While GTA:IV made some huge strides in the auto aiming department from previous installments, it is still buggy at best. This is coming from a producer who has, in this authors opinion, always lacked when it came to this part of their titles. There are several times in the course of the game where you will not even target who you wanted to target (i.e the closest enemy to you) and you'll end up aiming towards the further to you because that guy just happened to pop out first. Not only is this frustrating but it can lead to Nikko dying and starting from the beginning of that mission again. The hand to hand combat was very improved though. Not only could you do more than just tapping square to do a combo of moves. You could now punch, kick, block, and counter. Truly was amazing stuff. However, you really only have to do this for about five missions until you'll get your first 9mm handgun, and after that you'll never really have to punch again.
Cars, Guns, Women, and your Boys: 7/10
I was really amazed not only with the detail, but the cars they actually put in the game. Everything from BMW 7-Series to a Lamborghini's with the scissor doors they are renowned for. Every one of them takes unique damage to include fenders hanging off of them, all the way up to vehicles like the Viper which belt out fire from the exhaust when they backfire during shifts. I was turly impressed they even included the Corvette. Hopefully in the next installment they'll include a manual type shifting for some of the more exotic cars, and maybe they'll also include the gang style cars of certain types.The weapons in this game are nothing new and the amount of they put in it was very lackluster in my opinion. I was really expecting more than 2 of every type of weapon (handgun, assault rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun, etc) and was really keen on the idea they would allow some customization, ala Scarface type M16 with a M203 grenade launcher on the bottom. Think of what that would of done for your replayability right there alone. One of the most intricate parts of this game is the dating mini game you'll encounter throughout it. While only one is truly mandatory, dating the others can grant you some special items which will help you throughout the game. While none of them are really needed, they do make it a little easier to play without the use of codes. Moreover, its always fun to watch Nikko get a little action from a real "lady" than the hookers on the street. I applaud Rockstar for including this type of scenario as it does eliminate the need really. However, this is not the only type of interaction you'll encounter in the game. You will also gain a lot of friends during your missions, who not only will give you special skills as the women, but also are required to achieve a 100% completion of the game. Between the dates and your friends you'll have a limited amount of mini-games you'll have to drive them to, to partake in a specific event to either boost or decline their fondness of you. The same applies with the male friends as your lady friends, their special skills are helpful but never really need or required to complete the game.
"All I want is a little story in my game!": 7/10
Many are critical that the storyline in this installment was lacking compared the two previous titles. I feel this is an unfair assessment and also very biased to those loyal to the GTA:SA especially. What makes this story unique is its wide open plot that is still affected up until the end of the game. You'll notice there will be a few times you'll either have to kill someone or let them live, or do a certain mission instead of another. These missions actually will change the ending of the game you receive and also change who lives and dies among your peers. Without going into detail, I can say I was truly impressed for a GTA game to have a more RPG style of storyline. Moreover, there is normally more than one way to enter a building or kill an individual to progress through the story.
"Your mission if you choose to accept it...": 6/10
While the storyline enthused me, the missions did not after awhile. Not only are some so repetitive, but they also can leave you going "why am I doing this?" type of look on your face. Granted GTA games have never been really known for their amazing missions compared to other titles, there is always a mystique about these titles that makes you believe you can do things that you can't do in other titles. Personally, I can only do so many "go kill this guy" or "follow this guy" missions before I'm blue in the face. I believe there are only two missions that have a timer on them in which you need to complete it or you die. Granted, I'm happy there weren't more, but where are the other type of missions we saw in the previous 3 installments of this series? You'll still have fun with many of the missions, but combine some of the tougher ones with the inability you'll witness firsthand with the controls, you'll understand where the frustration comes along. Rockstar did do an amazing job with some of the missions you'll encounter later on in the game, but when you get to it, you'll either be bored out of your mind from doing repetitive mission styles or you'll just not care and want to go kill a bunch of people anyways.
"My phones ringing...": 4/10
The addition of the cellular phone is a love/hate addition to this installment that some gamers either truly admired or just wanted to make it stop! Nikko will receive a phone from his brother at the beginning of the game which will become the focal point of missions, mini-games with your friends, to go online, or to receive pointless text messages you don't really care about. While I enjoyed the idea of being able to call a person on the fly and see if they wanted to go drinking, it also limits Nikko from running. This alone will frustrate you if your in a mission and trying to use a special skill from one of your friends. Moreover, it annoys you when your in the middle of missions or on your way to one as your respect level will decrease with any friend who calls to hang out and you decline because your focused on the mission at hand. Kind of a double edge sword if you ask me, and I truly do hope Rockstar improves on this feature if they include it in the next title.
"Should we bowl or should we drink?" 8/10
I truly did enjoy this part of the game because it did offer some of the best relaxation from the storyline you could ask for. While getting drunk gets old, the bowling, darts, comedy club, and even the strip club offer some mindless entertainment for at least 10 minutes. Hopefully they can expand on this idea to include some other things that GTA:SA included to alter the appearance of your character (ala, gym or eating too much fast food).
"All I wanna do is goof off!" 3/10
Out of everything reviewed, this is going to be the lowest score of any of it, and the main reason why is this is the essential reason people play the GTA game. All a lot of people want to do is put in a weapons code and just go and goof off for hours on end. GTA:IV really limits that in several ways, namely how fast the police respond. In previous games you could really goof off in free roam for a very long time. Whether just running people down in a car or shooting them, it took the police awhile to actually give you a star rating that they were coming after you. Not in GTA:IV. Shoot anywhere between 1-4 rounds and you'll see the star come flying up on your screen and their response time is faster than that of any real PD in the United States. Granted you can see where they are at on the map and can evade them, it still becomes a little frustrating when all you want to do is kill the little old lady who left the strip club. Sadly, while I do not agree with many who are biased against this game I can say I felt really left out by Rockstar removing the ability to own businesses and even other safe houses. Everything in this game is acquired in some way, and there is no business to collect revenue from. This honestly eliminates the use of money as the only thing you'll use it for are food (to regain health), lap dances, or guns & ammo. After you complete one mission mid-game, you'll never have to worry about money again either. Whats the point? Take into consideration your phone going off non stop from friends wanting to hang out to receiving new missions for the storyline, you really don't see a lot of "off time" as an up and coming mobster in Liberty City.
"Dude, where is the music?" 6/10
Many loved the other installments music because it not only offered a wide variety, but it also didn't replay them non stop. This was achieved by limiting the amount of stations but bulking up on songs. GTA:IV did not do that. It instead went the "diversity" route and include several more channels for your enjoyment, but limited the amount of songs on each station. Sure, its not really that big of deal, but its been something that always set these titles apart from other games. After you've listened to a station for a good 1/3 of the game, you won't want to listen to it again because you'll have heard the same songs about 200 times...and thats before you even get to the 2nd island.
"Tell me how you really feel":
Overall, this was a pretty fun game to play through just one time, and honestly ONLY one time. You will find times where you'll get into the storyline and other times where you just want someones missions to end so you can finally be done with them. There are a lot of negatives about what this game did, but it also made some large leaps in other areas. The inclusion of the title being a multiplayer online game is what probably hindered the type of progression many of us were believing we would receive. Now I won't knock the online because it is fun, but GTA series to me has always been about. If I wanted multiplayer games, these are not instantly what I usually think of. I did not rate this experience because it is the first time its been done in a game of this caliber and I do not believe its really a fair assessment as to what the title is about anyways. However, I truly hope they do expand on the idea next time...but as its own game not included into one already. Personally, I think everyone should at least rent this game to at least get exposed to what nex-gen free roam games are going to be about because this title still raised the bar in the genre in ways no other game has done, to include the previous titles. So give it a try, but be warned that spending $60 on it might not be the best road to travel.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (US, 04/29/08)
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