Product Type: Rockstar PC games
Newest Review: ... sets this city apart, however, is the attention to detail never before seen of such a vast scale. For the first time real life seems to ... more
All the joys of breaking the law with none of the risk
Grand Theft Auto IV (PC)
Member Name: wonkybox
Grand Theft Auto IV (PC)
Advantages: Huge city. Good story. Great fun driving around
Disadvantages: Let down by combat system and buddy system
GTA IV is Rockstar Games' sandbox 'crim-sim' (criminal simulator) set in the fictional Liberty City USA, a thin parody of New York city.
You play Niko Bellic, an eastern european immigrant who has come to Liberty City in pursuit of an evil-doer, and also the American dream. Niko is a maudlin character, coming from a war-torn country he is very cynical and can see straight through the lie of the American Dream.
The story is huge and there's plenty of side missions to do as well. I've often wasted a couple of hours on just causing mayhem, and the game has great cathartic potential - great if your job is stressing you out.
The game is played through the third-person perspective and you'll encounter a variety of vehicles to move around the city in, including cars, trains, helicopters and boats. Driving these vehicles is a variable experience, the controls aren't too hard and you can pull of impressive handbrake turns and helicopter stunts quite easily.
The character models and graphics are all very impressive, and a lot of work has gone into creating a living city for the player to trash. The audio is also very good, with a lot of work having gone into the custom voiceovers, radio stations and sound effects. The impression that you're in a busy city full of people is a strong one.
Combat uses a sticky cover system, where you can adhere to cover by pressing a button. There are fewer weapons on offer than in other versions of GTA, and many of them feel vastly underpowered. With a pistol it can sometimes take 8 shots to take down a target, and even after that they writhe around on the floor, still alive. I think Rockstar were trying to avoid an adult rating by adding A-Team style fatality avoidance measures.
There are a lot of adult themes in GTA IV. Missions revolve around carjacking, murder, theft, arson, vandalism and more. Needless to say these missions are hugely entertaining, combining the giddy thrill of lawbreaking with the satisfaction of acquiring money and progress.
The drawbacks include the buddy system. You make friends and girlfriends over the course of the story, and if you hang out with them you can get perks such as discount weapons and free cars. The drawback is they're all unlikeable, either mildly irritating or boring or stupid and I didn't want to hang out with any of them. You're penalised for not going bowling or drinking with them, and I thought this detracted from the game.
Summary: Many hours worth of entertainment.