Review by Wraith313

"Great game, but it has its flaws."

Grand Theft Auto IV. Once you look past all of the controversy surrounding its release, you get to the game itself. Was this game, hailed as one of the greatest games of all time at its release, worth all of the hype that surrounded it? My answer is no. The old phrase, "never judge a book by its cover" comes to mind. At first glance, this game is a 10/10, but once you dig a little deeper, its problems show through rather prominently.

The game looks great. The graphics of this game are very much improved over its predecessors. Cars and weather and buildings and roads all look at the very least, 20 times better than they did before. The soundtrack is...improved? There are obviously a lot of new songs and tracks, but I find myself hearing the same ones over and over, and most of it I don't even like. There is no option to bring your own music into the game either, unless you play through the xbox dashboard. The talk radio segments, it seems, are lacking as well.

The problems with this game are many. While the gameplay itself has improved, the same old problems persist. The cameras are hard to operate sometime and require a good deal of babysitting during the game. A few new problems have also arisen. One of these is walking. Pressing the left stick to move causes Niko to walk forward at a ridiculously slow pace. The only way to make him move quickly is to repeatedly press the run button over and over, which gets old very quickly.

The physics engine, while vastly improved, falls short in many ways. For instance, when a car flips over and it very obviously should remain flipped over, the game will find a way to put it back on 4 wheels again. After days of play, I have only flipped maybe three cars over the entire time. This doesnt seem like a problem, but it really takes something away from the game, as far as I am concerned. It looks very fake when a car flips on its side and should obviously fall one way and then miraculously falls the other. There is also a new cover system that has been implemented. It seems like it has its problems though. While it is a great system that actually allows you to take cover, sometimes being stuck on a wall can be a huge problem considering the amount of lag time it takes between pressing the button to come off the wall and when he actually DOES come off of the wall.

Multiplayer: Its fun. No doubt about it. I dont have much to say here. Imagine every other multiplayer experience youve ever had and then pretend that its in GTA form. Thats it. There are various modes included, most of them exciting, all of them fun. I havnt experienced any problems with it, but I hear that a lot of people do. I can't confirm or deny any problems with the multiplayer though.

The Story. Love it or hate it. I hated it. You basically play as an immigrant who comes over here and jumps into organized crime right off the bat. Two of the three islands are locked because of a "terror alert". Eventually, they open through gameplay, but they are virtually the same as thew first island. You play as Niko Bellic, who is coming to America to escape from some bad guys and to start a new life with his cousin. This is who you play for the entire game. You never get to be a mob boss, you never gain much status. And every mission is the same: "go here, kill this guy, then ill give you money." You are basically a lackey the whole time. As a GTA fan, I love the stories, but this one is severely lacking, in my opinion. There are something like 72 missions, and most, if not all, are the same. A couple stand out, but for the most part, they are pretty boring. By around mission 30, I was bored of the game. I finished it, but I didnt really enjoy it. I skipped most of the cutscenes towards the end. Its hard to get into a game where you play as a nobody the whole time who is just out for money (which, incidentally, is mostly useless in this game).

They added a huge friendship system. Its unique for a while, but it quickly becomes a burden on gameplay. All the time people will be calling you to do things in the middle of missions and before and after missions (pool, darts, the bar, eat), and if you say no, your friendship with them goes down.

Extras. There are almost none. You get achievement points. You get some cars here and there. You get some apartments, but they are mostly empty and all look the same. They added the option to keep your guns if you die instead of getting busted, so thats good...There are some pigeons you can kill to get a helicopter...

A lot of things were left out of this game. While they may seem useless, they could have easily been put in and the game would have been virtually the same. There are: No gangs, no properties to buy, no businesses, no army or tanks, very very few interiors to enter, very small clothing selection, no ways to workout or improve fitness, no eating to gain/lose weight, no rampages, no packages for guns, no territories, no offline multiplayer. Most of these are of no incidence, but they take a LOT away from the replayability. The offline multiplayer just seems like something that would have been easy to do considering how they already have the system there, all they would need to do is allow a second person to enter it on the same console.

Now, while the game looks realistic, this is somewhat of a red herring. The game looks great, and the are you play in is huge, but even so, it feels empty. All of the island in the game look basically the same. The huge amount of realism this game is hailed for is its greatest shortfall to me. How can one mix a great deal of realism and completely unrealistic things and then use the realism as an excuse for leaving things out? In my opinion, you cannot. Its hard to play a game that is meant to cater to mayhem when there are police cars on every corner and cops standing all over the place just waiting to take you out the minute you do anything wrong at all. And with no properties to buy, there are very few places to hide out.

This is a good game. The main problems with it seriously depend on your playing style. If you come into this game expecting it to be anything like the other Grand Theft Auto games in terms of extras, you will be sorely disappointed. The impression I get is that all of the extras that should have been incorporated into the main game will be downloadable content for extra money later. This is a mistake. Things like packages for guns and robberies and property should have been main game from the start and since they are not, it takes away from the replayability of it. If you are into multiplayer or you are a die hard GTA fan, this is a buy. If not, its a rental.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 05/12/08

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

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