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First-person 3-D immersive shoot-em-ups have become ten a penny since Lara Croft raided her first tomb. It has become difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, especially for people who play "WheatChaff Separation Challenge II: The Difficult One" on the PS3. However, gaming is much like any other leisure pursuit in that you become familiar with names you can trust, and know that they will set the bar somewhere between "excellent" and "transcendent". One example of this is the Grand Theft Auto franchise. You know the game's going to be superb, it's just a matter of how superb.
GTA IV is the first game in the series developed especially for the XBox 360/PS3 generation of consoles, and the first full-game return to the franchise since GTA III: San Andreas (although a plethora of tie-in games have been released on various platforms). In keeping with the rest of the series, it sees you take control of the life and actions of a protagonist who's found himself embroiled in no end of trouble. In this case it is Niko Bellic, an Eastern European immigrant of unspecified nationality (but probably Serbian or Croatian), a recent arrival in Liberty City, a highly realistic remodeling of New York.
Niko's problems in the early stages of the game are the result of his family connection to his cousin Roman, who has encouraged Niko to the city with lavish tales of living the American dream, fast cars, sexy ladies and easy money. It takes very little time in the game to see that Roman counts lying among his hobbies, as his apartment is a hovel, his tales of womanising are spectacularly exaggerated and his taxi business could charitably be described as "flat broke". He's in hock to loan sharks and other organised crime figures and his ex-soldier cousin, with your help, spends his early days Stateside digging Roman out of holes.
This game is the most expansive yet in the series despite being set in a single city. It takes you around the five boroughs of Liberty City, starting in the run-down Brooklyn clone known as Broker. From here you will work your way up to more exalted heights by working for Roman and as a result his creditors, and by killing whoever you are told to kill. In between you will need to date the right ladies, make the right connections and for the first time in a GTA game, get yourself online to take on lucrative side missions.
Many aficionados of the GTA franchise feel that this game is lacking compared to San Andreas, deeming that Niko is a less sympathetic character than his predecessor CJ; that fun elements such as bike riding and flying planes are missing; and that as a game world Liberty City lacks the variety and charm of San Andreas. Maybe they have a point, although Niko's dry humour is not to be underestimated and the road-race side missions are a hoot. In any case, Roman is a ton more fun than CJ's brother Sweet, so that evens a lot out. There is more here in the way of 50/50 decisions affecting the path you take than before too.
I'd certainly say it's a more challenging game than its immediate forerunner - gun battles are more difficult with your adversaries taking cover wherever possible and the police acting more intelligently than their West Coast counterparts. Weapons are not as readily available (a nod to New York's strict gun control laws means that you need to buy them in shady illegal stores) and for some reason Niko throws them away when he runs out of ammo, meaning you can't just buy more rounds - you need to buy a new gun at a high price. You'll spend less time shooting at random stuff here once you realise how expensive a hobby it is.
If forced to choose one or the other, I personally would pick San Andreas over GTA IV, but it's really close. This game certainly has its laugh-out-loud moments (and at least one heart-breaking one), and as a test of reflexes, problem solving and resourcefulness it's got plenty to keep you occupied. It's every bit as addictive as the other games in the series and once you get into it you'll find it hard to put down. It falls somewhere between excellent and just plain awesome, and is well worth a place in any collection.
A common recurring theme in GTA is the concept of violence, gun fights, war, loyalty, trust and mob families. It is essentially another gang orientated theme as it just wouldn't be the same if it were any more tame. The main character is named Nico Bellic whom is eastern European and has fled his country along with his cousin Roman due to a devastating war in his country where his life fell apart as he saw his family torn apart and his loved ones killed in front of him. He flees to Liberty city in search of a better life but is only met with disappointment and terror as he faces betrayal, murder, robbery and much more. He faces a consecutive number of enemies to take down and defeat and work for a number of mob bosses and families that aren't always who they say they are.
There are is a great amount of new features such as the fact you have a mobile phone that you can customize and access at any time. You can never lose your phone but you get to upgrade it approximately half way through the game, compliments of a character called Playboy X where you are then able to take pictures, have animated screen savers, a choice of ring tones and you can receive texts and calls from your friends which plays an important part in the game as it allows you to communicate easily and even detonate bombs.
There is also the added feature of interactive computers with internet cafe's and even laptops at certain apartments and missions that you can access. You are able to use dating sites, apply for jobs and find cars on line which again plays an important part of a lot of missions as a means of communicating with people. There are also some funny advertisements and websites created for entertainment purposes but don't actually have any use, there is however a mock of Craigs list called "crap list" where you are able to find one particular woman and date her, the rest is weird and hilarious posts by anonymous individuals in the city.
I think this was the one storyline that I completely paid attention to rather than running through the game mindlessly completing missions one after another. There was a distinct connection between all of the characters and they proved to have their own unique personalities and history that is sufficiently explained and interlinked between each of them. I believe that the improved graphics contribute to this as facial expressions are visible and very life like, whereas past games lacked that quality and therefore made them seem so unrealistic and cartoon like whereas GTA 4 offers a greater sense of realism and therefore entices you into hours of addictive game play.
GTA 4 Obviously had a huge makeover in regards to the quality and the controls of the game - Everything was a lot smoother and clearer and despite a handful of glitches (which can be hilarious, i.e. the swing glitch which you can see on youtube) it still gives me that same satisfaction playing this game as it has the same classic features and concepts - just everything is advanced. Of course that doesn't mean to say it wins the crown of being the best out of all of them just because the quality has had dramatic improvements as great graphics don't make a great game. However my favourite character is actually Nico Bellic for a number of reasons; The fact that he is eastern European makes me feel like I'm a part of it because of my polish blood line, also I find his humour very impressive and entertaining, he doesn't seem as robotic as previous characters and provides you with much more personality than the predecessors which again contributes to entertainment aspects.
@ About, gameplay @
This game is completely different from other story lines in the grand theft auto series but maintains the same island name as previous games, not much effort put in coming up with liberty city for the third time... The game follows Niko Bellic who arrives off a boat called Platypus which is where the game begins, and also if you choose the revenge storyline, where it also ends.
That's the good thing about GTA IV compared to previous ones, there are gameplay splits where either Patrick mcreary dies or Kate, your girlfriend and Patrick's sister dies. At the end of the game there is also another split at the end when you can choose revenge or money to finish the game, when roman Bellic is killed if you choose money.
The longevity of GTA IV is spectacular because whilst it is sandbox, you can play forever, missions will run out. But to 100% it you need to do all friends activities, find and shoot 200 pigeons and do many side missions such as random characters. The game does not have taxi missions like in previous Grand theft auto games which is a shame, I really enjoyed them and it's a feature I miss.
@ Graphics, Sound, Content @
The graphics are sharp and of good quality but they lack the little details. In cars the interior is very blocky and also the steering well does not turn when you turn left or right. The dials are static at high speed so when you stop the speedo still says you're doing about 50. Graphics from afar such as big logos on buildings are easily visible from afar or using a sniper scope, and sniper rifles are very precise.
Physics are up to scratch with the exception of gravity. Things like falling off a building seems too slow to me, apart from in a car when it's incredibly fast all of a sudden. Falling back over objects as a playable character is perfect but does lack reaction from the person you play as. Sometimes objects like dustbins and invisible objects on the map you can walk through, not to mention the numerous glitches throughout the game such as falling through floors near star junction and speech glitches.
@ Overall @
This is a fantastic game with faults. If there were more features from previous grand theft autos like taxi missions I wouldn't mind, but features are actually less than previous games in the series, you can't even get BMX or mountain bikes. There are a lot more side missions though and the storyline is both longer, and deeper immersed into the game though, and to me this makes up for a lot. It's the main heart of the game, and that's what I love about GTA IV - The story is the best so far.
=== The game ===
This is your standard grand theft auto game really. You have to spend your time travelling around as a character, on foot or by car, taking part in missions, killing people, robbing people, generally just taking part in very naughty behaviour! In this game the character that you play is called Niko and you are basically someone who has travelled to work with their cousin who has fed you a load of lies about how successful he is and really is just running a two bit taxi firm! When left alone in the large city of Liberty City you need to find a way to earn some cash and there are numerous ways in which you can do this.
=== Game play ===
When playing this game you will be playing in the third person and basically you are the camera that is behind your character. You will be able to interact with numerous things that you see such as driving cars, swimming in the sea/lakes, running, walking, opening doors, firing weapons and much more. If you want to follow the missions and unlock the different achievements in the game then you can, however, if you just prefer to walk around randomly shooting people and seeing how many police stars you can get because you can no longer evade them and get caught, then that is fine also! It is really up to you how you play this game as it is your platform and you can play it however you like.
I found that the longevity of this game was only average as once I had completed the missions that I wanted to and unlocked the achievements I was after I was soon bored again. I did not feel like there was enough going on in this game to keep me occupied for hours on end at a time like Grand Theft Auto 3 did back in the day. Some of the missions were very difficult, as they should be really, however, rather than being challenging I just found this annoying and soon ended up moving on to the next thing and failing to unlock about half of the achievements and items that I wanted in game.
The map is well laid out, there are lots of different areas to explore and it is quick and convenient to get from one place to another. The markers on the map which show numerous things are very handy, however, the map is nothing special compared to previous games really.
=== Graphics / Sound ===
I absolutely love the city. When driving round there is much to be explored and the graphics are fantastic giving you a real insight in to the city and what it would look like in real life. There are changes in the day and night streets and you will notice a lot as it becomes night time again. There are people everywhere and they all have much to say and do if you happen to come across one of them and listen to their conversation. Some people are just going around their every day business and others are trouble but all of them have their own features and characteristics that have been brought to life wonderfully.
There is a vast array of music in this game, some well known, some not so, but each song seems to fit perfectly with the game. It is possibly to listen to the radio while driving around and I love this feature to the game as I can skip the radio stations until I find my particular favourite song at the time and then just drive away to the sound of the beat running people over and generally causing mayhem.
=== Achievements ===
There are a total of 65 achievements for this game totally 1500 and these range from the very simple (Complete the first mission) to the ridiculously hard (Achieve 100% in game progress statistics) and the long ones (find every secret package in the game) but the gamer score points available for each achievement do fairly reflect the effort that has to go in to earning them, in most cases anyway.
=== Where can I buy this & for how much? ===
This game can be purchased from numerous stockists and you can expect to pay around £10 or so for this game now and CEX.co.uk and CEX stores are currently (November 2011) offering this for £10.00.
=== Overall opinion ===
I would say that this game is worth a 4/5. The longevity of the game is not the best, however, when I do play this game I thoroughly enjoy the short amount of time that I spend playing it before I end up feeling bored and switching back to another game.
The achievements are not the simplest to earn, however, some of them filled me with a great sense of achievement (excuse the pun) when I finally unlocked them and it is fair to say that some of these achievements kept me playing the game for a few hours at a time just trying to do what I could to get them earned.
These is a multi-player available on this game, however, as the lobbies are usually incredibly dead when I try and play online I have just given up bothering with this now as most of the fan base have long since played and completed this game before moving on to something else.
It is fair to say that I have enjoyed this game. Rather than trading this in, like I do with a lot of my older games, I have kept this and return to it probably once or twice a month for an hour or two here and there. I occasionally still unlock another achievement or two but it takes real effort now to get in to the game for long enough to unlock some of the harder achievements and I generally just load this up and run around killing people for fun and generally just burning off some steam.
This is a game in the Grand Theft Auto series.
Amazing game, hundreds and hundreds hours of playing, I've always been a big fan of Grand Theft Auto and I've owned pretty much all the games, and enjoyed them..
GTA IV has an excellent story-line, but also I personally enjoyed driving around, acting like a psycho.
The graphic; the graphics of this game is amazing, when this came out in 2008, everyone was surprised about the excellent graphics.
The story-line; start out, and work your way up by completing missions for your bosses, kill people, steal cars, (use cheat codes, oops!), the missions are challenging, but still casual and enjoyable. I could sit for hours playing this game, and trust me I did!
One of the things I like the most about this game, is the feature to play multi-player with people online, in one of the many different gamemodes, while you chat and talk with the other players.
I do miss the feature to customize your car like in the previous version.
Overall; This is one amazing game, if you haven't got it yet, go out and get it now.
Grand theft Auto IV. What cn you say? According to some, it is one the finest games on any platform, demonstrating total immersion ina free form fantasy world. To ohthers it is the root of all evil, corrupting the minds of our youth and eroding their moral sensibilities.
Published in April of 2008, this is the fourth in the series (not counting the add on and expansion packs) that has enjoyed massive succes and notoriety since 1997. In this game you take on the role of Niko Bellic, an Eastern European war veteran. He arrives at the Liberty City docks, eager to start his new life. Of course this goes rapidly downhill and he finds himself immersed in the underworld. His success or failure will depend on you and the choices you make.
This game mixes the driving elements with that of a thrid person shooter. The gameworld is a sandbox style recreation of New York City, so you will probably see a lot of notable monuments, such as the Staue of Liberty or Central Park.
When on foot, your characget can do any number of thing from running, walking, climbint to eating and drinking as well as the acts of violence armed or otherwise. There also a couple of other activities that you can engage in but I won't mention them before the watershed. In terms of transport, you have the car as your main option, but there are also bikes, vans, ambulances, boats and helicopters. The really commited amongst you may also be able to get your hands on the Police helicopter, which turns out to be the MH-60L Black Hawk DAP fully armed with twin vulcan cannons. Oh the fun!!
As with previous entries, your success and notoriety will help you gain more money and increase the game area you can explore. Also the weapons improve from simple hand guns to fully automatic and RPG's. You can also buy new clothing which will improve your look from Dock lurker to besuited success.
As the story progresses you will frequently find yourself having to choose between two opposing factions. Consequences ensue from the decisions you make. There are no right decisions but their is variety from these choices. You can also go freelance by loging in at any of the cities internet cafes and making new contacts there. And of course there is nothing to stop you going on the rampage. Well except the Police!!!
The game also allows online play in the multiplayer world. This is customiseable by the games host so levels of traffic, police and weapons are changeable. Game types can vary from deathmatches where you are in teams to death races.
The graphics are in an almost comic strip style, which is simple but very effective. Asw ith previous games there are a choice of radio stations, each of which has its style. The big selling point here is the sheer volume of stars who have allowed their music to be used. Such luminaries as Kanye West, David Bowie, The Who and my own personal fave for driving round Liberty City committing crime- Mama by Genesis.
The success that this game has enjoyed has been well documented, as have the contoversies. Over half a million copies were sold on the first day of it's UK release coupled with the critical reviews mostly being over the 90% mark have ensured this games' classic status. Retailing nowadays at around the £10 mark which is not bad for a multi award winning classic. It is rated 18 and with good reason, so it's not a kids game, but that is up to you. Given the variety and vast nature of the game I would recommend you pick a copy up.
You play Niko Belic who has come to New York from Eastern Europe. Things are supposedly going well for his cousin in the city, who is running a very successful taxi firm. Of course, when Niko arrives he discovers there are soon problems... The plot was decent, although nothing particularly special. I think it lost a bit of it's quirkiness that it's had with previous titles. IV feels more serious, which is a bit of a shame I feel.
Some of the missions themselves were a bit generic and boring. The missions on the motorbike were irritating and I had to replay them a good few times.
I really like this game, but it just does not live up to GTA: San Andreas for me. The game world is much smaller than it is in San Andreas, and there are less additional things to do. One of the things I loved about San Andreas was the sheer size of the map. I have no faults with the gameplay as it still feels like a typical GTA title.
Multiplayer on this game is really enjoyable and will let you get more out of it.
If you have ever owned a console id put money on you have owed at least on edition of GTA or grand theft auto. What started as a group of scottish game developers trying to pass the time of day is now one of the best know game series of all time. Thats enough of that on with the reveiw.
Dont worry even the game blamed for the anger of the youth has a story line. Perhaps even a good one. Niko Bellic. Fresh of the boat from eastern europe he hoped to get away from the mobsters and escape to the land of the free. He stays with his cousin Roman and settles down with a nice girl. There taxi company is booming and all seems well, the end. That is intill the loan sharks come after Roman and sick of being pushed around snaps and kills a low life russian mobster named Vlad. Following Vlads death Nico is thrown into a world of drugs theft and murder. The ultimate GTA cliche.
Once again theres a huge game world for you to wreak your own brand of havok. Split into three islands that are opened up as you progress through the game GTA 4s game world is grey and dull. Even the dashs of colour here and there look bleak. I know some games do this deliberetly however teamed with GTA 4s poor standard graphics for this latest generation of games it seems that the dull isnt done for effect.
Once again this installment is a go anywhere do anything sand box adventure and yes you can still swim. Theres still that great mix of driving missions and shootouts. The handling for all the cars is over the top and even the slightest of turns can lead to you spinning into a barrier or another parked car. As this makes up around 70% of the game time it can be VERY annoying at times. However the shooting has been improved greatly as you can slide into cover and pop out, fire a few rounds, go back to hiding. This was a much needed change to the shooting system but doesnt make up for the terrible way the cars handle.
This is a very good game that is fun funny and at times a challenge however if you play only the main missions this is a very easy game.
Well Grand Theft Auto, what can i say? Hmmm.... maybe that it's one of the best games of all time and although this is the third sequel it still manages to stay fresh. With a wide variety of weapons you wont get bored, i mean who doesn't like RPG's? Ahh but for the more discerning of you perhaps just a machine gun.
None the less if you love mindlessly shooting and blowing things up, this game can keep you entertained all year with its fantastic missions and storylines, now you can feel what it's really like to rob a bank with four guys. Sound impossible eh? Just you wait and see.
You will gain several friends along the way (including a rather nice girlfriend) that you can become more and more friendly with and eventually once you're best friends they'll do stuff for you such as putting bombs on peoples cars or selling you weapons at a discount price.
The vehicles in this game are fun to drive, ride or even fly and with a selection of 'fine' radio stations with three talk and sixteen music you won't just hear the same things over and over again, unless you want to but thats totally up to you.
Of course if you dont like missions why not try to escape from the police when you're at your most wanted level, sound to hard? I've done it.
Helicopters are very fun and for the more adventurous of you why not try jumping out of one and landing on the empire state building.
So whatever way you decide to play this game you are guarunteed to have lots and lots of fun!
Grand Theft Auto is one of the most famous and most important franchises in video gaming. The series has changed the way that people have thought about games and has spawned countless imitations and clones. The series has sold 70 million copies and holds numerous records for best and fastest selling games on numerous platforms. Published by the famed games developer Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto is back with its newest, biggest and most anticipated game yet.
The amount of hype surrounding this game is huge, advertisements on every channel, Character graffiti on walls, giant murals in New York; many people believed that this game would not live up to the hype. It has. Currently the Xbox 360 version is rated as the best game of all time and the Playstation 3 version the second best rated game of all time. All major reviewers have given this game near perfect reviews praising the huge city, well written story and varied multiplayer. It would appear that this is the best game ever made, but why?
I was stunned when I first played this game, it certainly lives up to all the expectations. The game begins with an opening cut scene which shows our protagonist Niko Bellic an Eastern European immigrant on the boat on his way to Liberty City (a take on New York) talking about his dreams family and life in the war we are immediately understand much about this character and feel for him.
As soon as we are dropped into the game you are told to drive a car to your cousin's house. The first thing I noticed was just how realistic the cars were, you can no longer just speed around corners, you must break beforehand otherwise you will find yourself rolling the car over and failing the mission. These along with many other elements make the game a more realistic experience.
Once the first mission is complete the first portion of the city is completely open. This can be used any way the player wants. You can continue to the next mission or explore the city seeing sights or making havoc, it is this freedom which has made the GTA franchise so popular and interesting. But GTA IV has taken the freedom to the next level and allowing player not only chooses how to play the story but the player will determine the story. You will be given choices as to let people live or die, take revenge, or let it go and in some cases pick whether or not to kill a key character. This makes you feel like you are playing your own game, you and your friend may be playing the same game but end up having a completely different experience.
Liberty City is one of the biggest game areas ever attempted in a game. It is huge in both size and detail. Liberty City is an obvious take on New York City and the developers have done everything they can to put every interesting area of New York in detail and combined them. There is a take on the Statue of Liberty, The Empire state building, Brooklyn projects and even Times Square. But also the small details make a huge difference. As you drive a car it will get dirty, to get the mud off you can visit the in game car wash. The pavement in bad areas of town will be cracked and broken causing the player to walk in a different way. If you commit a crime and no police are around you will hear nearby pedestrians call the police on their mobiles. All of these small details come together to make the city seem unbelievably realistic.
Grand Theft Auto games are often credited with having original and unique gameplay and IV is no different, but there are several new additions that make this game stand out above all of the next generation games at this time. The way this game can switch across a number of different genres at any time is unique. You will find yourself one minute using stealth to sniper a group of enemies and after you can be taking part in a midnight street race for cash; after you are done you can take a helicopter tour of Liberty city before going drinking with your friends. There are so many different things to do in this game it borders on the Sims. You can go to restaurants, go drinking, pool, bowling or just watch the TV at your in game safehouse. Most of these activities are accessed through the ingenious new addition, the mobile phone. You can pick which friend you want to call, you will then choose what you want, you can call just for a chat, go play pool, visit the pub and other things. Also you can call in favours from friends, if you need help in a gunfight or are stuck without a car you can call upon your friends for help.
The Grand Theft Auto series shooting system has always been flawed, there was no way of taking cover, you will constantly be shooting pedestrians and being killed in a hail of gunfire. This is a thing of the past, IV uses a cover system like that of Gears of War, you can jump to cover and blindfire also you can now target parts of the body exactly as in The Godfather game, hit an enemies leg to knock them out of cover and then finish them off with a head shot. This new system has made the shooting in GTA IV better than the likes of Kane and Lynch and Stranglehold.
There are a huge amount of things to do in GTA IV but the main focus is the missions. These are the biggest, best and most exiting missions in any GTA game yet. These missions are the combination of all of the other gameplay elements combining in an experience that is on par with a Hollywood movie. One particular mission has you taking part in a bank heist that goes wrong, this single mission has more action than the whole of Kane and Lynch. As the story progresses the player is given more complex missions, you will start collecting things for people, fighting etc. Soon after you will be making major decisions, you must decide how you will get to somewhere and what you will be doing. Players can decide to stealthily pick off enemies or have a full scale gunfight, it is up to the player how difficult and how action packed the game is. No matter what choices you make GTA IV never fails to entertain.
All of the Grand Theft Autos have had brilliant soundtracks and this is no exception. The music is great and this is no surprise considering just how spot on Rockstar games got the previous games soundtracks. The great selection of songs not only create an entertaining environment but help further the realism of the game and historical accuracy of the time in which the game is set. This is more difficult this time around as it is set in the present day as opposed to Vice City, set in the '80s. The mixture of songs has managed to capture modern music trends without just using 2008 songs, for example there is a modern pop station which reflects modern pop culture. There is a pirate radio station called 'The Classics' which broadcasts from a location in Liberty City called 'Bohan' (Brooklyn), this station features hip hop from the 1990s and before, this reflects the 2008s popular music in that area without actually playing music recorded in 2008. This technique effectively creates a believable modern day setting which will not seem dated in a few years.
Where the game still has a huge soundtrack of over 200 songs over 18 radio stations there are other areas where the sound is key. The gunfights would not be the same without the well thought of ambiance. Aside from the realistic sounds of gunfire you will see and hear the bullets casings hit the floor, you will hear pedestrians scream and run, car windows smash and the rustle of fabric as you jump into cover. Rockstar games made a bold decision when they said no celebrities will be playing roles in the story. This was a good choice as in this game you are not constantly trying to recognise a celebrity by their voice, that's not to say that these actors don't give good performances.
This huge game will last you a long time, but if you ever get bored of it IV has some of the best multiplayer ever. You select multiplayer from the in-game mobile phone, and you can chose from 14 different modes such as deathmatches, mafya work, races, car jack city, co-op missions and free roam. These all take place in 1 huge level, Liberty City. This is the only game to offer this huge city for anything 16 people can think of doing in it. This is the great thing about it is you can have a 1 hour gunfight starting at one side of the city and as one side gains more ground the fight will move across the city to different areas as the fight progresses. You can do literally anything in free mode, team up on the police, steal helicopters, kill each other, race around if you can think of it you can do it.
Grand Theft Auto gets better every time, it's not perfect; no game is, but every time Rockstar releases a game they learn something to make the series better. Grand Theft Auto IV is the result of a decade of development and has gotten closer to perfection than any other game before it. It lives up to all the hype and is one of the best games ever released, and will probably remain one of the best for years to come.
This is going to be a review of two halves because GTA4 really is a game that has some brilliant aspects as well as some not so brilliant aspects that let it down.
To begin though a quick introduction to the game is that it is the latest in one of the biggest selling and most widely known game franchises that there is and that is undoubtedly one of the most eagerly anticipated games of all time. The build up to it coming out was akin to a major Hollywood film. Maybe that is no shock though given the rumoured £100 million that the game cost to develop- the highest figure of all time.
You can certainly see where the money was spent too. The game is set in Liberty City and as well as being the same size as a real city, it also acts and feels like one whilst at the same time looking drop dead gorgeous. Playing the game in HD really does take your breath away at times. There is also literally a cast of thousands with every person that you interact with in the city being fully voice acted, it does at times feel like you are playing a film rather than a game.
The game also controls very well with a new shooting style being implemented that is a lot more about ducking and covering than it is going in all guns blazing. As ever with the GTA series, you also spend a lot of time in cars (be they your own or someone else's!) and all the cars handle very differently and you do need to pay attention when driving now. An accident at speed will see you catapulted through the windscreen, not good for your health or your chances in a high speed chase.
So far, so good but where the game begins to let itself down in the missions. There simply isn't enough variety in them and they begin to feel like a real chore after a while. There are too many 'Drive here, shoot this person, then drive away' missions and it feels like a real step back from GTA San Andreas in this respect. Given that the missions are the bread and butter of the game this is a massive let down and I think that this is the reason why you can see so many copies of GTA4 being sold second hand.
To conclude I would say that if you have played the other GTA games, then you really should give GTA4 a try and be prepared to be blown away by the graphics and realism of the city. However if you haven't played any of the GTA series before then I would suggest that you try GTA San Andreas first as it is much more fun to play even if it does look a little dated in comparison.
Ultimately I enjoyed the game but came away disappointed that it wasn't the epic that had been promised.
I have been a fan of the Grand Theft Auto Series since the first 3D version came out (Grand Theft Auto 3) on PlayStation 2, I remember buying it and spending a good week or two playing it none stop as I was simply addicted and I've never experienced such an interactive and open world game that could knock Mario World 64 out of my top favourite. I have prided myself in become a somewhat expert on all the PlayStation 2 versions of the game, I've completed them all multiple times and have been dreadfully close to completing them 100%. My heart did a flip off joy when I heard they were releasing a game on the Seventh Generation Consoles, but then my heart did a dreadful landing when I realised I wouldn't have the funds to purchase a console in time for its realise, so from that day on, it has been a somewhat side goal of mine to get the game and complete it, which I have recently achieved and now will do a somewhat epic review of it.
This review is based around the Xbox360 version of the game, some features or functions may vary slightly, however the games vary very little from my knowledge and therefore this review can apply for both versions.
I will also be comparing the game to the previous version, mainly the feature and functions, so please do excuse the occasional reference if you haven't had much or no experience with the previous titles.
What is Grand Theft Auto About?
Grand Theft Auto or GTA as it is commonly referred too is an open world sandbox style game, which basically means you've got an open city to run around in and do whatever is available to you. GTA take this idea and set up a crime based game, where you are a character who typically has a criminal past and gives you control of him. The game drops you in which you progress by doing missions for people you meet, typically starts of doing missions for a friend or colleague and expands into you meeting a number of wacky and interesting characters, with a fantastic storyline. The game is famous for allowing you to do whatever is available to you, steal cars, beat people up, shot people, and get into trouble with police among other things when you are not in a mission. Due to the all the features and functions and great open world variety, the game has adopted a large audience of all ages (although games are of an 18 certificate).
Grand Theft Auto IV Storyline
Grand Theft Auto IV or 4, starts off with a cut scene showing Niko Bellic on a container ship making his way into Liberty City, which is based and strongly resembles New York City, he is met by his cousin Roman who has written him emails back Niko's home country, (which although is never named, it quite likely Russian or another Russian speaking country) saying that he has made a fantastic life in Liberty City with a big house, fast cars and lots of women, which is all a lie as Niko finds out as Roman owns a small time Taxi company has is far from rich and has a gambling problem. Niko is left to do what he does best to his dismay and begins working for a variety of criminals throughout the game, but following a common goal of finding a person who betrayed him (During a mission in the game).
The first thing which hits you when you begin playing GTA IV, is the massive graphical improvement, where as the previous games which were on the 6th Gen consoles (Xbox and Ps2), they provided excellent gameplay, however they were possibly the worst looking games on the system, as everything looked painted and the famous fin like hands are no more in GTA IV. The superior graphic capabilities of the PS3 and Xbox 360 make the game much more realistic and exciting and not only does it look fantastic compared to the previous games, but also gives you much better enemy and person AI (Artificial Intelligence), better car damage, more realistic civilians and how they act (all discussed below). GTA IV also takes a new route of allowing you to pick the outcome of some situations, which does effect the storyline slightly in the middle of the game and much more dramatically towards the end, I don't want to spoil it, but in some sense, you'll want to replay the game to find out what could or would have happened. Basically the game coming out on a more superior and advanced console has unlocked much better gameplay and possibilities which makes the gaming experience that little bit more enjoyable.
Basic Character Functions (Niko Bellic)
Niko Bellic is the character you play throughout the game, you play in 3rd person as you do in all GTA games and have the same functions as the other GTA games, walk, run, sprint, jump and crouch, which are slightly advanced in this game as you can know climb slightly better, giving you the function running jumps and grab and also shimming across a ledge.
A new addition to the game is the cover system, when you're in a gun fight, you can access cover behind a car or a wall, and Niko can also shot blankly from behind the cover without aiming, but doesn't real render effective unless it's the rocket launcher, but it is useful when you're fighting against numerous enemies.
Niko can also swimming in this game; however is far more 'confident' in the water as the character in GTA San Andreas was. Niko can swim, swim fast and sprint, which is all you really want as you don't spend much time in the water.
Key New Features in GTA IV
Mobile (Cell) Phone
The biggest addition to the gameplay has to be the Mobile Phone, through this you can call different people you've met in the game, although typically get a answer machine, but it is also used to call up Roman to get a taxi ride for free (and get a hilarious mouth full or abuse about how you are ripping off Roman from the Driver). You can also call the police and ambulance services, but this is mainly to steal their car if you can't find one otherwise. It is also the way you enter cheats into the game.
You can now take a Taxi from one location to the other. You can wave a taxi from the road and get in, from there you can pick a location like a Gun shop, Safehouse or Mission destination, if you want to get somewhere more specific you can set a Waypoint on your Start Menu map and it will appear on the Taxi computer. This is very helpful in mission and to get around as the city is very large and there are 3 islands.
No Loading for Indoor Locations
This really surprised me since it's such an interactive city, entering an indoor location didn't require any loading, you just walk through the door in real time. This is quite useful as loading was a bit of a hassle in the other games (now that you think about it).
From Vehicle Shooting
Until now, the only way to shoot something from a vehicle was to have a submachine gun (Uzi or MP5 style weapon) and do a drive by style shooting; only way to shoot forward was to get onto a motorbike. Now you have total freedom in which direction you want to shoot, basically you smash the side window when driving and aim the crosshair to the target. You can even throw grenades out of the window to blow up the car behind you.
When you enter a police car and you park it or stand still, you have the option to access the Police Computer, which gives you the option of Search for Target; this allows you to either put in a name or upload a picture from your phone to find out if they committed an offence, I've only used it in Missions, and can't really find any other purpose unless you want to try random names or take pictures or random people.
It also give you Most Wanted and Crimes in Progress, this is the equivalent of the Vigilante Missions in the previous games, basically gives you a target and you take them out.
One of the most useful features in the whole game, the GPS. When doing a mission the little map outlines the way to go, which in a massive city this Liberty City is highly useful. Some cars even have a voice inside telling you which way to go. You can also set up a Waypoint to be GPS'ed to that specific location.
The graphical quality improvement of the cars was the first thing I noticed when starting the game, they are much more detailed and look similar to cars in a racing game rather than a sandbox game as they look beautiful (only word that fits). With this detail, the cars also have a much better damage 'score' to the vehicles, it depends on the impact and where you hit the car to where the damage is visible (seems obvious, but this was done very poorly in the previous games), and the cars now show bullet holes and bullet shots in the windows with excellent accuracy. Basically the vehicles are outstanding aesthetically and the damage is inflected accurately. An interesting feature is the cars can now show dirt, and you can tell if a car has been on a dirt track or not, also when you hit a person, depending where you hit them, there is going to be blood on the bonnet or hit location, which is pretty cool. The cars can be washed at a
Car Wash which has been added in this game, but except for one mission, there is really no practical need.
Driving the cars are a whole different story, with the cars becoming aesthetically realistic, the driving has taken the same turn, the cars have become more realistic to drive and therefore much harder. Basically there is no more crazy driving if you want to get anywhere fast, you have to break in sufficient time, and turn slowly, the power turns or drifts require much more skill to control and can't be done in any car, which is very annoying at the beginning especially when you're use to the previous control, but you get use to it and learn to control the cars much better or like me take the Taxi everywhere.
There is larger selection of cars, including of course the classics like Patriot, Sentinel and Infernus as well as some that were introduced in GTA San Andreas like the Comet, Huntley and Buffalo, but in addition there are good few extra cars which are totally new to the game and each brings its own charm like the others do. Motorbikes are also included, again including some new ones like the Zombie and Hellfury, which actually look similar to a Freeway which resembles a Harley Davidson style bike.
The cars have also had a massive make over, they are almost unrecognisable from the previous versions because of detail and quality, and some just look totally different. The designers had to remake each vehicle for the new game, so they redesigned the whole vehicle in some cases.
I don't spend my time on boats as much as I do in cars, because there are few missions that involved boats and I typically travel by Taxi (discussed below), but there isn't anything all that impressive with the boats, there is a new addition called the Tug, but otherwise, they are just plain boats.
I do however find the boats much more annoying to drive. If you see do a sharp turn, the boat will typically turn over and this renders the mission failed or leaves you to swim back to the shore.
Unfortunately there are no Airplanes in GTA IV, but thinking about it the 3 islands don't present a need for an Airplane unlike the widely spread out world of San Andreas. There are however helicopters, although a small variety of them. I've only seen the Police Helicopter and the Tour Marvick.
The controls are pretty easy and simple, however I find them quite odd on the Xbox 360, specifically the rotation part, but I won't get into that as it's something to get use too rather than moan about.
There is a fair selection of weapons in GTA IV, to sum it up, there are 2 off everything. The game offers the following - Pistol, Combat Pistol, Pump Shotgun, Combat Shotgun, Micro-SMG, SMG, Assault Rifle, Carbine Rifle, Sniper Rifle, Combat Sniper Rifile, RPG, Moltov and Grenade as well as the hand weapons like the Bat and Knife.
You see a sort of pattern occur, there is the average you get at the beginning of the game and it betters to the same gun essentially but better accuracy and damage. But I've got to say, the weapon sounds are much more realistic and match to the ones made in FPS games like Call of Duty.
Achievement and Trophies
Personally I own and have only played the Xbox 360 version, so I am only aware of the Xbox 360 achievements, but I don't think they vary between the PlayStation 3 Trophies. There are about 165 achievements, about half are in game based, so you have to blow up 10 cars in 10 seconds or get 3 strikes in Bowling, among some more challenging ones like find and kill 200 flying rats (pigeons), which is near impossible in the vast size of Liberty City to do without some kind of a guide.
Other achievements include completing the main story in less than 30 hours, which typically requires a second or third play through and the other are online gaming based, and are very difficult to say the least like coming first multiple times in death matches with your team, which is near impossible unless you have some very talented gamer friends.
So essentially the game gives you around 1500 achievement points (not sure what that transfers in trophies) but for about half of those points will require hard luck and good skill and patience to get.
The multiplayer was something I was somewhat excited about on the Xbox360. It can be accessed during the game via your mobile phone and you pick what game you would like to go into which ranges from Racing to Deathmatch, Team and Single, which is the only 2 I have been in and have enjoyed it quite a lot, although Deathmatch sometimes becomes slightly repetitive when the Host sets the point limit to high. The other games tend to take a long time to get into and you always end up short of people, although the game allows 16 people in one match (32 on the PC version), it never maxes out, which is a shame as the maps are by far large enough to host such matches.
The online play provides about half the achievements for Xbox360 and are quite difficult to gain. Also from my experience it gets boring reasonably quick, unless the match is maxed out with 16 players who are reasonably skilled in playing the game.
Downsides of GTA IV
Although I would like to say that the game is perfect, there are some annoying downsides, a few major and significant ones I will cover below -
Enemy Targeting -
This has to be the single most complained about feature of the game on most websites discussing GTA IV and among my friends. Just like in previous GTA games, you can lock onto your enemies, which is highly useful. But GTA IV has messed up the targeting quite badly, when choosing to lock onto the target, the function jumps to the nearest target, which as you can imagine is annoying if you're fighting in a street where instead of the shooter, you target a civilian. This wouldn't be as big of a problem if you could quickly move to a different target like in previous games, however the lock on is almost glued to that target and unless the other target is 10 feet away, your only choice is to try again to lock on or free aim. Highly impractical and very annoying.
Hit By Cars
With the added realism of the open world environment, the traffic is more 'real' for instance if you run out in front of a car, it will hit you or if you attempt to stop are car to hopefully car jack it, they will most likely hit you. The problem is, when you are running or don't see a car, you get hit and lose a large portion of your life, but there is a possibility that the car will continue to drive on and basically kill you, which is highly annoying in missions.
Police Wanted Level
The police wanted level has changed slightly, although you still have the 6 star wanted level, the way to escape it has become easier slightly, you basically have a 'Wanted' area on the map and if you stay out of it for a few seconds you lose the wanted level, and this becomes increasingly larger as you get more stars. However I found that if you just avoid the police on foot at a 1 star level, you eventually get a 2 star, which becomes a bigger challenge to escape from and is slightly unfair.
I've noticed that once you hit 6 stars, you would have the army come after you as it has in the previous games and therefore you can access a tank if your crafty enough to get to one and not get killed. But unfortunately, no such luck here, and with the large vibrant Liberty City a tank would have been a great source of enjoyment.
Like in good old Grand Theft Auto fashion, this game takes a good few days to complete, in fact it took me about a week and this was on and off play during my Christmas holidays, and it was only the main story, there are also some side missions like the car thefts for Stevie and completing the Most Wanted, as well as attempting to get all the achievements and trophies. Only having completed 68% of the game at this moment in time, I can predict that to get to 100% it'll take me another week or 2 following guides and tips on the internet. Basically this game is very long and vibrant, which makes it fantastic as it is not only very addictive but long enough for you to satisfy the addiction.
To conclude this review of epic proportions, Rockstar has developed another outstanding masterpiece of a game, it has everything you expect of the GTA franchise and that little bit more. The new look for the new generation of consoles makes the game look outstanding to say the least and the AI and character movement makes it so much more realistic than ever before.
If you haven't played this game yet, I strongly recommend it, even if you weren't a fan of the previous games, the look and feel of this particular GTA may just change your mind.
This is another thing the Brits can be proud to have brought the world. (Rockstar North is a British based Game Development studio)
If you want a game with amazing replayability then get this game. The campaign and single player is what this game is all about. I think that the campaign is reaslistic as well as funny is some parts. The campaign follows the story of a russian war veteran who is learning his trade is liberty city. The characters and places to find a meet are enjoyable as well as the missions. I thin graphic wise this game is fantastic. The satisfaction of driving along a path seeing the ragdoll features of innocent pedestrians flying off of your car is amazing. Throughout the game there a some choices you havw to make. I played through the game twice making different decisions each time in which certain missions and scenarios are unlocked. Multiplayer is good for a quick mess around but doesnt have any addictive play to it. However there is a free roam mode which is fantastic for messing around with your friends with. If you were a previous gta fan, you won't be disappointed.
Why I held off getting an XBOX and a copy of GTA IV, I'll never know. I always got the impression that GTA IV was for chavs and that it's classic status was overrated. That will teach me not to judge without playing!! The game is fantastic with lots of replay value, I completed the main course of the game but went back to do it all over again. It was fun shooting up drug dealers, gangsters and other such characters. Then there are the little things you can do on the side such as pick up prostitutes, play a game of darts, pool, bowling etc. These little side activities may sound like gimmicks but they work really well and you feel like you are playing a different game when doing them. The story is fantastic for a GTA game (I've played a few in the past) and it suckers you in until the end! You can pick a copy up pretty cheap these days so if you haven't played it, go and get a copy NOW.
Some twenty months after the first release of Grand Theft Auto IV it's interesting to look at the game again, away from the context of all the pre release hype and admittedly very well made adverts to just get a good grip on whether this game is all that.
For a game that received such universal praise from games magazines and websites as well as plenty of recognition from non gaming sources in a kind of tidal wave of critical acclaim that seemed to last forever i've been shocked by a small but growing army of dissenters amongst my circle of friends and on gaming websites. Criticism for the game ranging from the constructive "probably not game of the year material" to the frankly astonishing "worst GTA ever."
As a huge fan of the 3D Grand Theft Auto games, playing to completion GTA III, Vice City and IV (San Andreas remains an ongoing project) I can understand the cooling off period bringing about a reevaluation for some people but the degree of flak this has got from what I know must be a very small minority of those who bought it is surprising to me.
I've thought about this quite a lot and tried to understand the people's criticisms as well as trying to step back from my love of the game to ask whether I like the game that much or whether I just think I do. A confusing process I must say.
Now, ever since GTA III, Grand Theft Auto has been a very culturally aware games series, a sponge for cool popular culture often reacting to movies tv and music of the time. In III practically the entire soundtrack to Scarface is licenced. In Vice City the Scarface link is much better realised under the neon glow of the thinly veiled Miami, with nods to Miami Vice and a celebration of 80s pop. In San Andreas it's the black gangster movies of the early 90s like Boyz N The Hood and New Jack City that help make up the wallpaper to the most ambitious GTA to date.
In Grand Theft Auto IV it's impossible not to see a marked change in style from the previous three games from the last generation of consoles. It's an altogether more realistic and understated experience in practically every regard.
One of the greatest cultural influences for GTA IV has to be the HBO series the Wire (which is going through a kind of opposite reappraisal to GTA IV with its popularity booming since being shown by the BBC) and its presence is felt in the game's character's more desperate and generally lower class of criminal. The tone of the show is much more downbeat the much more exuberant Vice City and the comedy has been dialled down.
For once, it's not your goal to be the crime lord of the city, Niko Bellic just wants to get by and maybe help his brother if he can. If he needs to visit a friend why use a rocket belt to get there when a car is a much safer alternative.
I think that the problem for most is an incomatability between the seasoned GTA player and what GTA IV offers. It really did have to change though. A realistic look was necessitated by high definition games consoles and the reined in handling of the cars fitted with that too. The addition of a phonebook full of contactable 'friends' certainly isn't as well realised as it should be after Rockstar made such a fuss about the feature pre release. In fact it can become a real annoyance in the latter stages of the game when missions are your focus and people want to go bowling with you.
I think I needed to write this to make sure I really did love this game and I do. I just hope that there isn't a backlash that leads Rockstar to alter the new approach for the inevitable Vice City game next.