Review by C ICE

"Such an EPIC game on so many different levels."

Four years. It's been four long years since the release of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. Many have forgotten the series, and moved onto other sandbox-style games like that of Saints Row, the True Crime series, or even Crackdown. However, in 2008, the real king of sandboxes returns. Grand Theft Auto IV has been released, and definitely best in the GTA series – might be the best 360 title out there yet. It is THAT good.

Wow. Actually, WOW (this game's graphics deserves the CAPS). Amazing graphics, which make you feel like your Niko is wandering a real, living New York-based city. Graphics right down to the little cracks in the road. Guess what? In this one, the characters have fingers, rather than the classic “box” hands. Characters and pedestrians alike have outstanding detail to them. The city looks extremely awesome with the detail on the houses and buildings. An aerial view of Algonquin (Manhattan) is really cool.

First off, let me just say that if you haven't already gotten that this game feels alive, then you need to pay close attention to the audio. It sounds like the world is bustling around you, like a busy city. Cars are honking their horns at each other, civilians are cursing, and talking to each other. Unlike the previous games in the series, you can here cars coming from a large distance, rather than a few feet and then a screetching of the brakes like we're used to. The game's soundtrack is relatively good. I'm not going to say it is sweet (like that Vice City's or San Andreas's) but it is decent. A pair of rock stations, some rap stations, a reggae station, a foreign station, and some talk shows. There are a few others I missed, I'm sure, but you get the picture. There are a lot more songs on this one too, so you're bound to find SOMETHING you enjoy. Oh, and Lazlow has returned!

If free-roaming by yourself couldn't already keep you playing for the replay value, then multiplayer is just what you need. I'm not going into the extent of everything you can do on it, but things such a free-roaming with your friends, deathmatch, a cops-and-robbers style game (named Cops n' Crooks), and street racing among a few others. You also can customize what your character looks like, from the default character you are giving when you play multiplayer for the first time. You access multiplayer and the customization of your character through your cell phone.

I've saved the best for last. Undoubtedly the most awesome thing out of an already stellar game, is the game play. The sandbox-style free roam has returned, this time better than ever. The map is just colossal to be one city, so you'll always find something to do. I've only begin to experience how much fun I'm going to have exploring this city from top to bottom.
The game has been revamped with the controls, so they really are different. You no longer hold a button to sprint, different firing buttons, more combinations of melee attacks, THE ABILITY TO CROUCH, being able to always rotate the camera around you. The best update to the controls would be the driving. Some of you are going to hate it, I'm sure. No longer can you go flying around a corner at 90 mph. The cars handle like REAL LIFE CARS. This is a definite change for the better for the goal of making this game “real”.

The story mode is rather impressive. Niko Bellic has come to Liberty City from Eastern Europe in search of a new life. After being tricked by his cousin, Roman, Niko must make his way to the top of Liberty City (cliche to all the other games in the series, I know). A cool feature in the story mode in GTA IV, is the ability to have different outcomes with different missions depending on what you decide to do. It is possible to have the game end in two possible scenarios, even. A bit of realism, huh? That's good. You'll also meet some cool characters on the way, and unlock some cool things too.

New features in IV include a revamped pool minigame, bowling, darts, a cell phone which basically takes over your life, pigeons instead of hidden packages , a GPS system-map, a revamped girlfriend system, comedy shows, a revamped strip club and prostitution feature (which you can now actually watch the “act”), hailing taxi cabs to take you to anywhere you want to go, a police database with a most wanted list, and even the ability to get drunk (my personal favorite) among other countless things. Some things taken out of the game would be changing haircuts, there are now less guns, a few cars (which have been replaced by better ones) and planes. If you dislike these features being taken out, please go back to playing San Andreas, you are in-deserving of this game.

All in all, I'm probably going to say that Grand Theft Auto IV is one of the greatest games I have ever played. The quality the guys at Rockstar Games have put into this is just one-of-a-kind. After you beat the main story mode, if you even decide to do that, the replay value of free-roam and multiplayer will keep you coming back for more, and more, and more. Have a great time playing this epic game, and lets hope Grand Theft Auto V will amount to it.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 05/05/08

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

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