Review by Slawdigi

"Solid game that is lacking too much = 7.6"

First off, a quick rundown on slawdigi. I'm old enough to remember the birth of the home video game console. My first system was an Atari 2600, followed promptly by the NES in 1987. Although RPG's are my favorite genre of games, GTA has been high on my list of top series of games all time. I started with the first installment for the PSX, and have been hooked to the free-roaming, criminal lifestyle gaming since.

Now a quick list of Pro's and Con's this reviewer had with GTA4.

--New gen graphics
--More realistic car controls
--Cover system for gunplay
--Online Multiplayer
--Addition of a few minigames
--In depth storyline
--voice acting

--Outside of vehicle controls are still choppy
--A.I didn't receive much boost
--Subtraction of mingames
--Very minimal customization
--Variety of vehicles/weapons
--Not enough accessible buildings
--Online Multiplayer
--Too many rinse/repeat missions

As you can see, this reviewer found just about as many pro's as cons in our newest, highly anticipated GTA. There will be an explanation on why I have Online Multiplayer as a Pro and a Con. I will now go into a bit more detail of this list as I score out the five components I think are necessary for a great game.

Storyline: 8/10

I don't think it's as great as most people are giving it credit for. The story is fairly unoriginal, and pretty straight forward for a game of this genre. It basically comes down to you playing as Niko, a Russian soldier who was lured over to America by his debt laden cousin, Roman. Niko quickly finds out that life in Liberty City is not much different than the war that has stained his memories forever. Niko wants the life that Roman lied to him about, and what it takes to get that life unfolds like a mafia movie on your screen. Unlike the other GTA's, you have much more dialogue between characters and even a few plot twists. I also like the fact that your choices of who to accept missions from will ultimately effect the storyline. All the cutscenes are well acted out, making this video game more and more like a heavily interactive movie.

Gameplay: 7/10

Gameplay to me isn't what all you can do in the game, it's how it controls. There is a noticeable difference with the driving. Before you get too frustrated, let me tell you that perfection comes with time. It will take you time to get used to the new controls no matter how many gta games you've played. You have to brake and just can't go all out too much anymore. The power slide takes timing with the brake, and the learning curve has definitely risen. Give it a chance though, because I think this area of the game was the most improved. The controls as Niko walking around still have a lot to be improved on. He now has a default walk that is ungodly slow, and you must press x faster and faster to sprint. YUCK. Niko is also like controlling a stick figure if an enemy gets behind you. You still have to turn all the way around, fix the camera angle, and try to auto target the right one before your head is blown off. On the other hand, the cover system for the gunplay is quite nice, but can also be confusing when your around a bunch of stuff to hide behind. All in all I was hoping for this GTA being on a new gen console to have slightly better controls.

Graphics: 9/10

Along with the driving controls I'd say this is the second biggest leap for the series. Obviously R* is now building a GTA engine for the new gen consoles, so improved graphics were a given. But the level of detail is astounding and the distance it has vs. it's counterparts is huge. All the games in this series incorporated a great deal to the detail of their environments, and this one really does go above and beyond. The weather effects are also really nice in GTA4, and the water easily outdoes any of the previous installments. Sure there are a few pop-up and loading issues still present, but nowhere near a distraction from the beauty of this game. The character models could still use some work, but we're talking about a wide variety of NPC's all over the city. That's asking a lot. All in all, this game has comparable graphics to any new gen game to date. And for a game this size, that's pretty impressive.

Sound: 8/10

Good, but not great like the last two installments to the GTA series: Vice City and San Andreas. Both of those had memorable songs that stuck with me after I played. There is a wider selection of radio stations in GTA4 than before, but some seem like wasted space to me. To each his own in this category. The in-game sound is still very impressive. From conversations npc's having on their cellphones, to a distant glare of a siren, to a car passing underneath a bridge ...the sound is all on point. Even the radio station is faintly heard after exiting your vehicle. Sound has never been a problem to the GTA series, and still isn't.

Fun/Replay Factor: 6/10

This is where GTA4 lost me when compared to it's predecessors. Yes, it's still the sandbox shoot em up game that I loved, but it lost a lot when you look at the "extras" San Andreas had. I liked the rpg elements SA had with your main character CJ. I also liked the customization you had when dealing with CJ and his vehicles. Now you have a very small selection of clothes, no haircuts/jewelery, and no car mods at all. Don't get me wrong, there are some cars roaming Liberty City that are already modified, but you can't just take any ol' car and pimp it out now. Another fun thing I liked to do were the arena races. Those are gone. Flying a jet seemed to have some perks, but for various reasons were not implemented into GTA4. A lot of things taken out had no real merit to the game itself, but were used to waste a lot of time and gave players reasons to replay the game. There are still a lot of achievements to get from GTA4 that will be time consuming, but doesn't hold the same appeal to me. And of course most people will say the online gives the game an automatic 10/10 in the replay factor, only .....this reviewer doesn't play games online. That feature is absolutely useless to me, and I wish they used the time and disc space from the online multiplayer to create a more complete SINGLEPLAYER experience. GTA's should remain single player, they have plenty of shoot em up multiplayer games already. As for DLC maybe taking care of some of the fun/replay factor, hogwash. I bought the game already, don't tell me I have to spend more money to make it complete.

So, an average of the above score gives me a 7.6/10. Definitely a solid game that will still give the player a very minimum of 30 hours of fun. Just not the groundbreaking experience I was thinking about when anticipating this game. You have to go into this game thinking GTA3, and not San Andreas. By the time SA came out, the PS2 had been pushed to the limit and R* had experience with the GTA3 engine. R* went all out and tried to incorporate everything they could into their last PS2 creation. I imagine they will take the same route with the GTA4 engine, and milk us to death.

To that I say, give me some oreos....

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 05/16/08

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

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