Review by MeIchiah
Making even the small moments memorable.
Grand Theft Auto IV has finally come. After a very long wait we are treated to the first GTA game for the PS3/360 generation. Unlike Vice City and San Andreas this is not an expansion game upon the amazing GTA III formula no this game has been reworked from the ground up, repackaged or rein visioned so to speak. The question then becomes does GTA IV meet the bar set by the last generation GTA games or does it fall flat on it's face?
As soon as you start the game you are bound to be initially impressed. The game is full of eye candy the world of GTA has never seen before. When compared to smaller scale linear games the graphics of past GTA games have always seemed subpar. Which is why you could never really grade an open sandbox game thats trying to do things in such a massive scope with the same grading system you'd grade the graphics of a linear/static environment of a SMALL game like say God of War. GTA IV looks extremely better than ANY sandbox game to this date. It is absolutely breathtaking at times to view this game.The outstanding character models which are amazingly diverse to the point that you will not likely see the same NPC back to back and when you do are unlikely to notice due to the sheer diversity there is to be found in the citizens of liberty city. And these citizens have incredibly diverse animations as well, they will carry bags of groceries, smoke cigarettes, talk on their cell phones, work on their cars, read newspapers. It's actually fairly creepy at times the lifelike nature these citizens of this virtual world will act out. The incredible city horizon in the background is awe inspiring sight as well. However the graphics still needs to be graded differently than say Gears of War would be. Does a random building in GTA match up to buildings found in Gears of War? No of course not. It's not going to happen. For what GTA is and what it tries to accomplish the game succeeds amazingly in graphics. In the sandbox genre the graphics for this game get a hands down 10 in my book but if you go in expecting the game to look like Gears of War or Bioshock you will be disappointed.
The next thing you will likely notice in the game after initially playing it is the beginning of the plotline/storyline. Now the past GTA's have been becoming increasingly better and better at storytelling. They have sharp scripts and hire great voice acting and each progressive game has been better than the previous one.. Well that pays off immensely well in GTA IV. Never before has a GTA game reached this level of plot and characterization in a game. This will probably be the first game that you will truly feel emotions for the individual characters you encounter. From the character you play as Niko to his cousin Roman to some of his friends and enemies in the game you will learn a lot about each and find that these characters are quite human whether bad or good. This script rivals high end action movies and for anyone that enjoys a great tale you are sure to love GTA even if just for that. Now another aspect of GTA that goes in line with the plot line is what GTA represents. Like all GTAs of the past the GTA universe is a satire, a poking of fun at our own societies pop culture and our societies faults. The game looks and feels very real at times but there is always this slightly skewed take on things, the GTA universe is a bit twisted, exaggerated and sarcastic. GTA IV perfects this like no GTA before. From the billboards, to radio to TV shows that you partake in everything just about is a sarcastic joke and yet eerily familiar to our own world. Pay close attention to everything around you and you will find probably one of the most hilarious games you have ever played. Truly this game deserves massive kudos for what it achieves here and I hope that it doesn't go unnoticed like it has in the past.
Reworking the game from the ground up, is going to mean many changes will occur to game play and there has been many. While the point of the game has not changed and while the setup is virtually the same GTA IV goes about things a bit differently. One big change that effects nearly everything is the new physics engine which makes everything from NPCs to Vehicles behave with believable movements and weights to them which adds a LOT to the realism of just about everything you do. The old arcade like vehicle controls have been scraped in favor of a more simulation style driving system. Every vehicle drives differently and every vehicle behaves like it would in real life. You not be able to take a turn going 190mph anymore and using the E brake which was basically a drifting mechanism in past GTA games will most likely send you spiraling out of control. This new driving mechanic makes driving more challenging but the rewards of mastering the driving is incredible fun. Another aspect of the game that's been completely overhauled is gunplay/targeting. There is now a much different targeting system in place that should make everyone that complained about previous GTA game targeting satisfied. Also added to this is a full fledged cover system that allows you to duck and cover behind anything and everything in Liberty City. Much like say Gears of War you can blind fire around corners or pop our for a moment for a direct accurate aim. You can kill people in all sorts of crazy ways the attention to detail is astounding.
Missions are handled like they were before in most regards you will have certain people on the map that you can go to and do storyline missions for or even side optional mission paths. Though you aren't likely to quite know which ones are which since they are all excellently done. Now one thing to speak upon here is Vice City and San Andreas were all about taking the GTA III game and expanding upon it, more more more. More cars, more weapons, more land, more things to do. They were all about giving gamers more of everything. Which meant in San Andreas there was an insane amount of different things to do. GTA IV has a lot of stuff to do, but it does not have everything to do that San Andreas had. GTA IV is about perfecting what is there and not just tossing stuff in. So there is things removed from the game. You will not find planes to fly you will not find firetruck or paramedic missions, there is no pimping out your ride. These were all side extras that San Andreas had thrown in for the hell of it. Some of it was great some of it was rather lame. GTA IV is not without it's extras though. Most of the people you meet in IV will have extra jobs for you to do and there is still Vigilante missions which are greatly improved upon. You take a cop car and you can investigate it's police computer using it you can either use it to take at look at crimes in progress and help put a stop to them or you take a look at Liberty City's most wanted criminal list and become a bounty hunter. And there is still an insane amount of mini games some of which are new, some old classics. Arcade games, pool, darts, bowling. Not only has dating returned but it's been revamped and added to it is friendship dating. To go along with the story aspect and having you get to know the characters you can now hang out and be friends with many of your quest givers. You can go shoot pool with them, take them out to eat. Once you open this can of friendship with them you gain and lose likeness and respect from them. Get it high enough and they may have some surprises for you. It can seem a bit daunting at times trying to manage quests you are doing with keeping your friends and romantic relations happy but if you ever get tired of it or feel overwhelmed you can put your cell phone that you use to set all this stuff up on, on sleep mode and have some peace and quiet without hurting your relations. So all in all while there may be something not found in IV that you may have enjoyed in a past GTA there is still more than plenty to keep you occupied in this game and I cannot fault a game for taking things out when it has not only added other things in but nigh perfected what it does have. You want something back in, tell Rockstar to include it in an expansion or some DLC but do not fault a game for what it doesn't have, judge it for what it does.
If GTA wasn't incredible enough they have added a multiplayer online mode and it's not just some minor dabble in it, it's a full fledge online game system that really rocks. Imagine you online with a score of other people able to free roam the city with working peds on the streets and even police in force.. the options allow you to play certain game types to limit things or you can free roam it up. It's the dream of many GTA fans come true. GTA alone has incredible almost endless replay value but with this addition to the game this extends this games life nigh infinite.
GTA has always been an experience to remember, and has always been the bar setter for sandbox. GTA IV once again has shown any and all who dare challenge it's throne it is and for the foreseeable future will always be the King of Sandbox. GTA IV is probably the best GTA game and possibly the best game out there today. Yes you can't please everyone and no game is perfect but GTA IV is probably as close to perfection you can be. The attention to detail and making even the very small moments of the game memorable is truly what makes this game so wonderful. I can't rightfully mark down a game for minor hiccups in frame rate or nitpicking minor things when it does so many things right and exceeds the bar so drastically in other things. Any issues GTA IV has is quickly forgotten and forgiven by something else it does more than right.
10/10 = Being as near perfect a game as you can be at the time of its release.
One Love Breda!
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Product Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (US, 04/29/08)
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