Review by angelGP32
GTA IV: Hype and hysteria, don't be charmed.(single player review)
Ah yes. GTA IV, we've waited so long to play our violent goodness. Was the wait worth it? For a lot of people yes. For long time fans of the series and myself particularly...no. I jumped on the hype bandwagon and bought the game the day after it was released, and now well into the game, I feel that I need to be honest with all of you reading this and tell you the good and the bad about this game. Sadly, the bad out weighs the good. Let's get started shall we?
Story: 8 out of 10. I guess the story is ok. The game just thrusts you in with little back drop of what is going on. You arrive in Liberty City, which is not the Liberty City you remember, and you meet your cousin Roman. From there you meet different people and go on missions the same as every other GTA. Once you get a little further into the game, maybe only a couple hours, do you find the true meaning of your trip to Liberty City, and from there things get more interesting. I will not spoil it for anybody and go into detail, but it's a decent premise.
Graphics: 7 out of 10. There are some really nice graphics in this game, the detail is amazing in the environment, the cars, and buildings. The people on the other hand, not that great. One of the best places to see the worst graphics is the strip joint. Go get a private dance, wow. Rockstar could've done much better with the stripper graphics, PS2 quality there. The explosions are very nice, the fire affect is much better than any other GTA game, there are more little details than you would expect, like water effects. The city looks fantastic from the air and from sea. For the most part the graphics are above average. There's so much crammed into this game that I think they had to take a slight hit.
Sound: 6 out of 10. The low rating is for the radio only, and that is basically because of the HUUUGE political bias. I want to play GTA IV, not listen to how one political party is better than the other, or the subtle political bias hints throughout the radio. It's ridiculous. No agenda to push Rockstar?? I usually play with the radio off or the sound low to begin with. The choices of music is ok, most is not my cup of tea, and the commentary is sometimes very funny, but again, I miss out on some of that because I don't care for the political jive.
Now the voice acting...for the most part it's very good. Nico and Roman both are excellent, Brucie is excellent, Little Jacob, etc... all good, they're not fantastic, but they are good, well above average. The squabbling between cousins, the joking, and just Brucie being Brucie make for some funny conversations. This transcends from the main characters to just normal pedestrians. They will yell at you, insult you, and are for the most part, just plain mean. But it's funny, and even the nobody characters voices are done well.
Sound effects..superb. From the cars slamming into other cars, to the sounds of gun fire, to the people screaming, everything about the sound effects are near perfect. There's really nothing for me to pick at and critique. If it wasn't for the radio, the sound would have been a strong 9 out of 10. But even then, the radio is going to appeal to different people, so it's just my opinion of what it offers.
Game Play: 4 out of 10. I will break this up into several parts as there are a few different things regarding the game and how it plays that justifies the 4. The game play is good and bad all at the same time. We will start with the main problem of the game as it plays a huge part in every other aspect of game play.
First issue: The Police. The police have always been and will always be a part of GTA. However, GTA IV is much different than previous GTA's. The cops are EVERYWHERE at all times. There are so many cops that it almost ruins the game. I counted 8 police cars on a single block at one time, the most so far, there's usually always one or two around either in cars or walking on the road. This makes it difficult to do anything without getting a wanted level. Makes it difficult to steal cars, if you accidentally fire your weapon, or even accidentally brush up against them driving. There's so many that you will probably often come around a corner or crest a hill only to run into or have a cop run into you. It is very frustrating. This brings us to the next section of game play.
Vehicle control: This plays much differently than previous games, it tries to be more realistic, and in the end, just frustrates. It will take some getting used to. Each car drives differently, with different amounts of power and braking capabilities. Sports cars obviously are easier to drive than clunkers, but there is a learning curve for any vehicle, you can't just speed around with ease. Motorcycles on the other hand I believe actually got easier to control, not near as bad as Liberty City Stories. Now to the third part of the game play.
On Foot control: I thought I had read that Rockstar made the controls better than previous GTAs. Could've fooled me. Some missions you will have to fight the camera, and the controls. Escuala of the Streets mission comes to mind, just one more thing to make what should be a great game a little more mediocre. Targeting is still as crappy as usual. The high point is that you can free aim, this is done by pushing in the L trigger half way. This makes it nice as you can actually aim where you want to shoot instead of just targeting and hitting body shots. This also can be frustrating. Some missions require some quick decisions and timing when taking down multiple enemies. Sometimes it's quicker to just target and shoot than try to free aim and control. This can be problem though as your character will not always target the enemy you are intending to take down. I've died multiple times on missions because of how the system targets. Just because your facing towards someone doesn't always mean you will target that person. It's a pain in the butt and in the end sometimes you will have to play a mission over and over again to memorize the locations of the enemies. The other aspect to combat is the duck and cover system. This makes gun battles a little easier and actually works quite well. It's no Gears of War system, but it works. This brings us to our last section.
Liberty City itself: This is NOT the same Liberty City. I did not know that when I first played the game. I went around looking for landmarks I would recognize, finding none, I decided to check the city out via air, that is when I discovered...this isn't Liberty City. Liberty City is actually 2 cities when it comes to game play. You have the city you can see and interact with, and then you have the city you can see and can't interact with, the background city. I first discovered this high above a sky scraper trying to shoot pedestrians and cars below. Also, some interesting bugs appear when trying to do this. Long story short, you can't do it. There's a distance barrier. I tried a smaller building and some interesting things happened. #1, when you do find a building you can snipe from, you will notice the amount of pedestrians drop to almost none. #2, the cars (bug) are nothing but white and red lights floating up and down the road. Anybody playing the game normally will probably never run into this issue. The only other time I ran into this was trying to shoot a pedestrian that was walking across a bridge pretty far in the distance, I couldn't figure out why my bullets were not fazing him at all.
Other Activities: 8 out of 10. There are plenty of things for you to do in Liberty City. From watching TV in your safe house, to going to actual shows. You can go to dinner, surf the in game web, make friends, and go out on dates. It's a pretty interesting concept and distraction from the main game. You can play darts, pool, go drinking, go out to eat, go to comedy shows, strip clubs, variety shows, and shopping. It really adds depth to the game, and when you get frustrated or bored with the missions, you can go do something else.
Overall: 6 out of 10. I have GTA III, Vice City, and Liberty City Stories in addition to GTA IV. For a first time player of GTA IV, I could see how the game got all kinds of high ratings, but for me, this game is a major let down. It's above average at best and no where near perfect. I bought into the hype and the game is hype. The missions are repetitive and boring and there's not enough extra stuff to counter the missions. The police almost completely ruin the game, the controls are frustrating, and the aiming is frustrating. The fundamentals of the game almost ruin the game. What should be the most polished, isn't. You can't even go around causing chaos without frustration of the magical spawning cops. The only redeeming factor I found is playing on line by myself. Turn the cops off and go on a rampage. You can't do missions, but it's a fun stress reliever, especially from the stress the game causes.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (US, 04/29/08)
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