Like GTA but… oh wait, it is GTA!
Well if you haven’t heard of this game yet, go back to your home planet because you are obviously not human! Grand theft auto 4 is actually the 8th game in the series (go figure) and follows the rise of Niko Bellic, an eastern European war veteran who arrives in liberty city seeking the fame and fortune his cousin always tells him of, after a stint in the merchant navy. Upon arrival, Niko finds that his cousin has heavily exaggerated his claims of wealth and stardom, and owns a small taxi firm and a dingy flat scrawled in graffiti. This leads the Bellic cousins on a quest to build their way up through the criminal underworld to make money, and hopefully find their American dream.
One of the first things I noticed with this installment was that there is a lot more emphasis on the story mode than in the previous titles. Pretty much all of the aspects of the game (most shops, activities etc…) are unlocked through missions. Unfortunately, this means that many of the missions (even near the end of the game) play like tutorials. For what it’s worth, there is a little more variety In the missions than in some of the previous games, and they don’t often seem repetitive.
Driving is a big part of the game, and while it has been made much more realistic, this will not be to everyone’s taste. Cars will no longer simply power slide the exact right distance around a corner, this takes much more practice now. There is a wide variety of vehicles, but one of the things I really missed was the ability to fly planes. I personally loved flying planes around the desert in san andreas, but this, along with the parachute, pushbike and jetpack, has been removed from GTA 4. Overall, this makes the game much more serious.
The key thing with this game is that perfection really is in the details.
Speaking of the game being more serious, there are a lot of other things you won’t find in this game. Rampages have been completely removed, as has the gym (thank God), the weapon skill system, many of the weapons, destruction derby’s, dancing, and a few other things. While some of these elements really needed to go, I felt that the new game left me with a distinct lack of things to do aside from the story mode.
The graphics in this game also reflect the more serious tone. While all of the previous GTA games have had a kind of cartoon edge to them, Rockstar decided to take this game in a much more gritty and realistic direction. Saying this, the graphics are much better than the previous games, and I feel that the game really benefits from this.
It’s not all bad though, the game does include some great features that are truly innovative. Rockstar actually produced an entire virtual internet for the game, complete with speed dating, car sales sites, e-mail (complete with spam), a conspiracy theories website, even a closed down pedophilia website that will get you a 5* wanted level for visiting it. The game also includes hours of liberty city T.V. I can’t really comment much on this, as I haven’t taken the time to watch it, but even the fact that they bothered to include a virtual TV with several channels and hours of shows astonishes me.
As you would expect, there are still several radio stations which can be accessed from your car, which now include real time news about crimes you have committed in the game. I have to admit that I had hardly heard of any of the artists on the radio before, but the music is still of a fairly high quality, and there is something for practically every taste.
Now to one of the major new features, the multiplayer. This is one of the best features of the game in my opinion, It completely kills the multiplayer on all of the previous GTA games. There are several modes, including free play, team death match, cops and crooks, race and a few others. Basically you can go anywhere around the 3 island on the multiplayer, but all of the weapons spawn around a particular area so that the action is focussed on a particular area.
The key thing with this game is that perfection really is in the details. For example, when I first played the game, I drove at a stupid speed down the road, crashed into the car infront and flew out of the windscreen into a passing pedestrian, who dropped his coffee and asked me to buy him a replacement. I think that this installment of GTA is definitely worth buying, and all of the elements included have been done much better than in the previous games. Saying this, I also feel that Rockstar have taken a lot of the fun out of it! Many of my favorite elements from San Andreas have been removed. The bottom line is, this game is well worth getting, but don’t expect to still be playing it alone for long after you have finished the story missions.
The Bad: Not as fun as previous games, Not as much to do, Story missions won’t last as long as previous games