Review by RorschachZERO

"GTA IV - One of the Better Games to Come Out in a Long Time."

Grand Theft Auto has come a long way since its inception. The shift between GTA 2's linear 2D graphics to GTA 3's engrossing 3D environment was a huge revolution for the franchise, and since then, Grand Theft Auto games have not ceased to be fantastic. The question is, has the newest entry in the series, Grand Theft Auto IV, surpassed its predecessors? In actuality, yes, yes it has.

In GTA IV you play as Niko Bellic, a former soldier from Eastern Europe. Niko is a likable, and deep character with a rich back story. Niko's character far surpasses those of the previous entries in the series' main characters.

Story wise, this game is REALLY fantastic. The story is engrossing, and has enough twists and turns to make you keep playing to figure out what happens next. Certain missions, however, can get sort of repetitive, which is my only beef with the game. There are a lot of car chase missions, which isn't totally bad, but they get boring after enough of them. Luckily, there is such a large amount of ridiculously fun missions, that you barely take note of all the car chases.

The characters you meet throughout the story all have their own personalities and are mostly all memorable. After a while, most characters become your "friends" and you can take them bowling, out for drinks, and even to the strip club, which is an interesting addition to the game. Once characters like you enough, you can use their "special abilities," which range from free taxi rides to car bombs, which is really cool and fun to mess around with.

The new shooting system is phenomenal. You zoom in/lock on with the left trigger, and shoot with the right trigger while having and over the shoulder view of Niko. You can also take cover behind objects, and either aim over them or blind fire. The cover system works well and has no bugs that I have noticed. It is a very user friendly shooting system this time around. The guns vary enough, and there's not much to complain about there, as they provide you with enough variety to get the job done, whatever way you please.

The driving in this game is easy to do, and polished. Here and there you get going so fast that textures in the game won't load until you stop, but that barely affects the game at all. There is countless different types of vehicles ranging from baggage carriers to high class sporting vehicles. Also, sometimes you will hit a seemingly harmless object and begin to spiral into the air, which is a bit strange, but if anything it will give you a good laugh, unless your in the middle of the mission. One thing I do not like is that certain NPC's in cars have what I call the "Aquaman Complex," in which they will intentionally get in your way just for the heck of it, which is annoying sometimes. Fore example, you could be speeding down the freeway and, for seemingly no reason whatsoever, a car will change lanes, get directly in front of you, and just stop moving. Sometimes you'll even come to an intersection and a limo will be parked in the middle of the road horizontally, leaving you no means of dodging. This, however, does not happen enough to make it irritating.

The environment in this game is beautiful, as to be expected from a GTA game. The textures are well done, the lighting is done greatly, and it has a good color scheme. You'll find numerous landmarks throughout, including the Empire State Building to the Statue of Happiness (Statue of Liberty) which YOU SHOULD CERTAINLY EXPLORE. There just might be some easter eggs or something. The weather changes a lot, and can become foggy and rainy, etc. When it rains, it become harder to turn and come to a complete stop, which adds a lot of realism, which is respectable.

The save system in this game is similar to that of older GTA games. Throughout the story you collect numerous safe houses, places where you can change the clothes you purchase throughout the game, watch television, and use the bed to save and let 6 hours in game time pass. Eventually you get such a house on every different island, so a safe house is never too far from you at any point in the game.

The online in this game is average, not particularly good, but not bad at all. You can create a customized character, rank up, and play through the various different modes that vary from a territories type game to good ol' team deathmatch. Most of your time online in this game will probably be spent in free mode or party mode with your friends though, because then you can just free roam throughout the entire city doing whatever you please. Even this though, loses its novelty after about a week.

If you are looking for a deep online multiplayer experience, I recommend you look elsewhere. If you are looking for a deep, long, enjoyable single player experience though, look no further, as GTA IV is one of the best out there. One of the best games to come out as of late, hands down. Certainly a game for your collection. 9/10.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/09/09

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

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