Review by Achristianskate

Reviewed: 07/17/08

GTA IV won't meet the hype. A pretty average game overall.

GTA IV-One of the most anticipated games in recent memory, and it would have a lot to live up to coming after San Andreas. While at first it seems that it did just that, after about three or four hours, you’ll realize that GTA IV really isn’t that great of a game. In fact, it really is mediocre as an overall game.

It might seem that I’m just bashing this game for no reason at all, and am not very experienced with it. However, I had a 99.7% completion percentage before trading this game in. With over 70 hours of playtime.

You play as Niko Bellic, an immigrant to the United States coming to live with his cousin, Roman. You start out doing small missions, picking people up for someone, and as you progress, you take place in bigger missions. Like we’ve never heard this before.

Some of the missions are actually pretty fun, such as raiding a construction site, or actually, the only fun missions are the ones that involve you actually fighting more than one enemy; not just killing someone off for someone else. Which, of course, these are not very common.

Most of the missions go like this. Start mission, watch cutscene, drive across the map, kill someone, drive back, watch cutscene, get reward. Seriously, almost 75% of the missions are like this. 15% of the missions are car/ motorcycle chases, which are terrible.

After the first 4 hours, until the last hour of the game you will get kinda bored with the missions seeing as they are all the same. However, if you play for one or two missions and stop for the day, you might avoid this.

During car chase missions, no matter how much you damage the car you are after, it still outruns you. I have literally shot out all four tires, as well as all of the windows, rammed the car into a wall, and it CONTINUES to out run me. The car actually HEALS as the chase continues. WHAT? I was driving the fastest car in the game, and yet a completely destroyed SUV manages to escape me for a ridiculously long time. It is incredibly annoying. You get shot 10 times and your car catches fire, but the computer has some amazing armor that prevents this.

Even worse than the car chases are the motorcycle chases. The computer is apparently some world class stunt driver who, no matter the odds, never falls off his bike, no matter how hard you ram him. Shooting him? Yeah right, you’ll just waste bullets. They never spin out, or fly off their bike. No matter if they hit a wall at 100 miles per hour. You, however, spin out when you take a turn at over 10 mph. You bump a curb, and you go over your handlebars. This really makes using the motorcycles in this game almost useless and painful at best. Besides, there are only 2 types of bikes in this game, the basic speed bike model, and the basic Harley model. Wow, real original, Rockstar.

Most of the cars drive the same, and are just a different chassis from the others. Pretty much the all have the same innards but look different on the outside. It is really annoying that no matter which car you drive, its just like the others. While there are the “fast” cars, they all also all the same once it comes down to it. The most fun part of this game is stealing the armored FIB enforcers, the only vehicle in this game that actually can take damage before blowing up.

The controls while driving also feel very poorly executed. Driving feels a bit too realistic for a videogame. We all know that the best part of a videogame is the unrealistic factor that you can experience, and GTA IV lacks this in several spots, mostly driving. You flip a car if you take a 90 degree turn at anything more than a crawl. It makes car chases with the police not very fun, and the car chases missions can seem almost impossible. Maybe I’m being too critical, but it’s a Grand Theft Auto game, not Gran Turismo. If I wanted realistic driving, I would have bout a racing game. If I wanted gun battles, high speed car chases which are, at times, slightly unrealistic, I would buy Grand Theft Auto. That simple.

While you are driving, you almost always will wreck, mainly because you can’t see what is in front of you. The camera is absolutely horrid and no matter what you do you can’t quite find a perfect angle to drive with at a high speed. Since you can’t see where you are going, you hit things. A lot.

Since you have hit all these things, you really get into a lot of pointless police chases. Normally you can just run away from the cops, but not now. Police are pretty much The Terminator, and if you have 3 or more stars, you will likely not get away in under 10 minutes (if at all). I was hoping that the police would be a bit better in GTA IV, but at times it gets almost ridiculous.

Another glaring fault in GTA IV is the system of currency. Not that there is any lack of it, but it really is useless. No matter how much money you DON’T have, you always have enough to get what you need. Compared to other GTA games, the money is almost useless. You have 4 main places to shop: 3 different clothing stores, restaurants, entertainment and gun shops. You can’t order things off line or from the TV, buy cars, or own real estate. There is no shortage of money, but you have nowhere to spend it. I literally maxed out my ammo for every weapon, owned every piece of clothing (which is a pretty small feat anyway), and still had over $100,000 left. In comparison to San Andreas, the shopping aspect is nothing.

Though as bad as most of the clothing looks you wont want to shop anyway. Most of the shirts make Niko look very pudgy, borderline fat. Which is pretty annoying. A lethal hit man, who feels no pain in killing, and his beer belly, together in GTA IV. There are only 2 types of glasses to buy, and both are hideous. The hats (also only 2) look stupid as well. You won’t be able to unlock the best shop until half way through the game, which means the first half of the game is played in crappy looking jeans and a generic jacket.

Which is another gripe I have with this game. Not one piece of original looking clothes. No jewelry, no flared out shirts, nothing! You have: basic black shirt, basic grey shirt and basic white shirt. Whee! But wait! You can wear them with the basic jeans! They come in blue and camo! AWESOME!

Same thing with guns. Melee weapon 1 and 2. Pistol 1 and 2. Machine gun 1 and……see the pattern?

The whole friendship system in this game is terrible as well. Right as you have your target in your scope, someone calls and wants to go to a show, or the club. When you say you can’t, they get all angry and you lose friendship points. What kind of friend calls you (while you are at work) and asks you to go clubbing? Not only do you have to leave work, but you have to drive across town to get there, and usually show up late and they are mad about that. Hmm…maybe if you would MEET ME somewhere, you wouldn’t be having a hissy fit. One of the characters owns a taxi service. He OWNS his OWN taxi service. So why does he need you to pick him up? He always sends you taxis, but can’t get on for himself? What?

While it seems like there are no good points to GTA IV, there are a few.

The thing I liked the best was the radio, one of the GTA series’ strong points. Everything from Classic Hip-hop, such as special Ed and Gangstarr to a station completely in Spanish featuring Winsin and Yandel. It is fairly obvious that no matter what taste you have in music they have you covered. Metal, hip hop, Latin, techno, lame talk shows, its all here. The commercials are still funny as well, something I was happy they kept. Example:
Wife: “How’s it going, Honey?”
Husband: “I want to kill myself”
Me: LOL!

It’s kinda sad that the best part of the game is the car radio, but hey, sometime things don’t work out the way you want them to.

While the audio in the cars is good, the audio from the characters is at times horrible. Some characters are easy to understand, while others are impossible to comprehend. Thankfully there are subtitles, which you WILL need! Though the Jamaican character uses actual Jamaican slang (which is awesome, seen?)

Also, the graphics are pretty good, but they aren’t the best I’ve ever seen. While they are decent, they don’t fully utilize the ability of the 360 or the ps3 (especially)

The controls are very easy to use (except when you are driving), and actually are better than in San Andreas (which is pretty darn good). Except for throwing things. But, that’s OK. You only have to do that once in the whole game. Kind of a useless function.

There are a lot of things to do that don’t relate to the plot which is nice, because the plot is atrocious. You come to America looking for a new life where you don’t kill. You don’t find it. Instead, you kill more. WOW. The whole scenario with Bernie/Florien/Darko was, honestly, stupid. It was a good idea, but had no detail in it all. “I’m looking for someone. I found him. The end.” I was like wow, that was pointless. Some events in the plot require you to kill on character or another. This has minimal impact on the story (if any at all) and (in my opinion) is a cheap way to mask the linear storyline. Well, not linear, since there are 2 endings, but that’s not that big of a deal. I digress. There are a range of things to do in your free time. Boating, copter rides, bowling, eating, darts, online dating, and car races all are in a typical day for you in Liberty City.

Some of the characters are pretty good, and others are just flat out annoying. One character is a complete muscle head/steroid freak and is a major annoyance. “YEAH, AND THEN, DUUUUUUUUUUDE! YOU GOTTA’ KILL HIM! FOR SURE! YEAH BROOOOOOOOOO!” now just add it a few “f bombs” and other vulgarity and you got a character. Some characters, like the Irish family are well done and develop nicely, but most are just stupid.

In conclusion, you should RENT THIS GAME FIRST before buying it, unless you are either rich or a diehard GTA series fan. And another thing, the “bad words” in this game are ridiculous. If you plan to play this game, don’t have young children, people who are easily impressionable, parents, old people, or family friends over. The language will shock them., When your 2 year old nephew uses the “f bomb” a few times, try explaining that he learned if from GTA IV. Now I know this is a GTA game, b ut at times it can be pretty brutal.

All in all I rate the game like as follows:

Plot-5/10 (Its average and not original.)
Graphics-8/10 (Good, but room to get better)
Controls-9/10 (Other than driving they are fine)
Sound-10/10 (Pretty sweet music/guns/bullets/voices)
Characters-7/10 (Some are good some make you want to die)
Replay value-8/10 (There is a lot to do in this game other then the main story)
Entertainment/Fun factor- what started as 10 for a few hours ended up as a 6/10


Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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

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