Review by Chris in Cali
GTA IV; long, slow, boring, and annoying.
I can honestly say this is the worst Grand Theft Auto game for it's time. GTA 3 revolutionized the way we played 3D action games, Vice City build on that adding a much better cast and story with minor gameplay improvements, San Andreas made it even better with more gameplay enhancements and an even better production. Now, let me tell you about GTA IV...
Really good, and really bad. What I mean by that is this, for some reason the developers decided to take this really nice looking game and then go and throw a bunch of horrible and strange filters on everything. There will be times when the game looks great and sharp with vibrant colors and fantastic textures. Then out of nowhere the entire picture goes blurry and nasty haze orange. It's stupid, and unrealistic, and it just looks bad. Also, the art direction in this game just sucks. Compared to Vice City's amazing colors and style and San Andreas fantastic portrayal of California and Las Vegas, GTA IV's Liberty City is so bland and dull.
Horrible, repetitive, annoying, flawed. The driving is atrocious. It's unresponsive, unrealistic, and most importantly NOT FUN. Niko moves around the world like a crash-test dummy. The missions are all the same; dull cut-scene, drive from point A to point B, kill guy, and drive back. That's it, and if you mess up there are no check-points mid-mission. No, instead you have to drive all the way across town again which can take 3-5mins of real time just to get to the part of the mission that is actually semi-interesting. Way to pad the length of your already drawn-out game Rockstar! In Saint's Row 2 there are smart check-points placed through-out missions so if you die or fail you can leave off from a much more natural starting point that keeps you in the action, and interested in the game. The side-quests in this game are the worst to date. They are just plain boring. The dating is laughable, and more trouble than it's worth, and not rewarding in any way. The shooting, and "new" cover system isn't as bad as some people will tell you, but it's no Gears of War. You will stick to stuff that you don't want to when you hit the cover button, and you will die on accident because of it. Overall though, I feel it is a slight improvement for the GTA games that previously had no cover system. You're not really forced to use it like a lot of games these days that will pretty much kill you in a matter if seconds if you don't.
GTA games have always delivered in the audio department. The game's sound effects are passable, nothing amazing, but where the ball gets dropped big time here is the music. What happened? Compared to the previous two games it's a joke! The radio stations are horrible!!! In Vice City and San Andreas no matter what station I had on I never felt like skipping because it was always a good song. In this game everything is terrible! Maybe the rock station is okay, and the talking stuff is still good, but other than that the music sucks! I just shut it off now. An even bigger problem is the dialog in the game. Just like everything else it's boring, but that's not the worst part. The worst thing is, you can barely hear it!!! Everything drowns out the characters voices, and there is nothing you can do about it. You have to turn on the subtitles or you will miss critical plot-points, it's that bad. I thought my game was or speakers were broken until I went online and saw everyone else complaining about it. Why was there never a patch to fix this? How did Rockstar not notice that you can't hear critical voice acting and plot-points during gameplay when testing? DID THEY EVEN TEST THIS GAME!?!?
I wanted to like this game, I really did. I loved all the other games in the series, and all the big reviews sites game this game ridiculous scores. I went in with high hopes... boy was that a mistake. I played the game, and I kept playing, and playing, and playing... waiting for the game to "start getting good," and stop with all the filler missions and all the non-sense. I kept waiting for the main story-line to pick-up, the game to get focused, and the missions to stop being boring, but it never happened. The game never picked up, the main story never got interesting. Hell, I'm not even really sure what the "main story" or point of the game was supposed to be! Characters came and went with no rhyme or reason. They were all dull, generic, and all annoying. It was so unfocused, and such a chore to play through. I ended up playing it so sporadically, and coming back months later forgetting what was what, and slowly realizing why I stopped caring, but forcing myself to barrel through because I paid $60 on release day for a game that's worth about $7 trade in credit now. That, my friends, is the definition of a game that has failed.
Don't buy it, rent it. Even better, get the far superior Saint's Row 2.
Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Product Release: Grand Theft Auto IV (US, 04/29/08)
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