Grand Theft Auto IV review (PS3)

Porky Pig | 2427d ago | User review
Reviewing: Grand Theft Auto IV
Great?...check.Overhyped?...
====================Spoiler FREE review(No spoilers)

April 29th,2008.This date marked the day where gamers would awaken to news and some reviews,surrounding 1 particular game.A game that was so greatly anticipated,that the majority of the reviews for the game came out before the game released.The game is of course,Let's Yoga!,a Konami published game for the Nintendo Ds that promises to relieve your stress and make your body hawter....Or is it Grand Theft Auto IV,the successor to one of the most critically acclaimed Playstation 2 franchises out there?Yes,it is surely the latter,as Rockstar games latest installment in the seemingly endless Grand Theft Auto universe,graced store shelves and gamers hands during the wee hours of April 29th,breaking sales records of all sorts and pushing sales of Caffeine drinks to new boundaries.Did GTA 4 live up to the bar set by it's predecessor?Or is it simply another good game for your Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 console?

To answer these questions,we must first look at what a GTA game is,and what Rockstar Games aimed to achieve with their latest outing.GTA is an open world game where destruction is awarded,kindness is sneered upon,and Jack Thompson,famous lawyer against video games,hawks over eagerly,waiting for that Adults Only moment to feed upon.Since Grand Theft Auto III,gamers have had the ability to explore a massive city in 3rd person perspective,gaining access to an even massiv-er city through the completion of missions and causing chaos in the streets.This,is known to some as the 'GTA formula';A combination of chaos,missions,and a sense of humor unseen in other games.With GTA IV,it is evidently clear that Rockstar have stuck to the GTA formula,and have attempted to deliver the most realistic and engaging Grand Theft Auto experience yet.
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Story:(As this is a spoiler free review,key story elements will not be revealed nor discussed upon.)

You are Niko Bellic in GTA IV,a Russian immigrant living in Liberty City with hopes of success and dreams of a better life.Along your path you will encounter both emotional trials and psychological Stop Signs,all of this masked behind a tough,witty,and humorous persona.With GTA 4,Rockstar have succeeded in creating an engaging story and a loveable lead;A character that resonates with your emotions in a way that will surely surprise you.As the story unfolds in GTA 4,so will your appreciation for what Niko Bellic stands for and wants.
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Gameplay:

As with previous GTA games,your main goal is to advance past missions and tasks set to you by various inhabitants of the City.This time around,Rockstar have introduced new gameplay mechanics and have tweaked and tuned previous ones,with some positive results,and some negative results.

Firstly,the positive results;The Mission system and City activities work more fluidly and make much more sense this time around.Whereas in previous GTA games you were greeted with 'Come back at xx:xx time' and 'drive to the other side of the city to do something irrelevant',in GTA IV you are equipped with a Cell Phone;A device that is truly your best friend at all times.Sure,there has been a Cellphone present in previous GTA iterations,but in Niko Bellics adventure,you have full control over the Cellphone at all times;Making a Phone Call is as easy as it sounds.Accessed through the D-Pad,arranging activities and undertaking mission assignments has never been easier,organized,and more detailed,the addition of a Cell Phone in GTA introduces an entirely new gameplay feel that is sure to be mimicked by upcoming titles.

As with previous GTA games(And real life),you commit a crime;Sirens come to life.The Police are much more aggressive and accurate this time around,so running around like a Chicken expecting the Bullets to fly past you may not work in your favor.Getting away from the cops has also been revamped;The moment you commit a Crime,the Map area you're in turns into a Blue and Red color,indicating that the Police have spotted and are coming after you.The obvious solution is to get outside the area you're in to a safe zone,that is,any area that isn't Red and Blue.As expected,the more Stars you have,the bigger the area becomes,thus making it harder and more intense.This new system works very well,and will no doubt be implemented in further GTA titles.

Now,for the negative results;Rockstar were surely plagued with comments and emails concerning the shooting&aiming system in previous GTA games,thus prompting them to re-do the system for GTA IV.Will those same people who voiced their dismay with the shooting&aiming system be contacting Rockstar once more?Sadly,the answer to this seems like a 'Yes',as the s&a system in GTA IV still feels clunky and very much in need of work.The root of the problem with this is the Animation and responsiveness of the Weapon and target system,this problem becomes more pronounced when engaged in a shootout with the Police and/other gamers(Online).The fighting system is no better,and serves as a reminder as to why you need to acquire a Gun in the game as soon as possible.

Another gripe that will arise is with the Driving system and mechanics;Whilst I would love to say the driving system is a hit or miss,and that with enough time the driving will 'click' and feel natural,this isn't the case.Rockstar completely missed on the driving.It's clear that they aimed for a more realistic driving experience by tightening the driving controls,but they did not create a good balance in this.As a result,you will find yourself needing to use the Hand Brake to make simple turns and evasions,and you will also find yourself calling a Cab more often to avoid Driving.To put it simply;The Driving system and mechanics need a complete redo.

Lastly,and most importantly,a large number of the Missions,mission mechanics,and activities to do,feel too familiar.You will encounter a feeling of Deja Vu before you're done with the first 10 missions,and you will encounter the same feeling before you're done with the last ten missions.This all goes back to the GTA formula,but whilst the formula felt fresh and innovative in previous games,in GTA IV,it feels like doing that same thing over again.Missions in GTA IV include chasing down cars,robbing, ,chasing people,shooting up targets,as well as Dating and other social activities.
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Graphics:

Great graphics have never been associated with GTA games,and this is looking to be a continuing trend;GTA IV does not look mind blowing.There are low res textures,noticeable pop-in,last-gen animations,jaggies,questionable blur and draw distance effects,oddly sized bodily parts,and in some cases,character models and City elements that can only be described as 'ugly'.

But in a City so massive,with hundreds of things on screen at one time,are the present graphics a complete letdown?Not at all,as GTA IV has the best atmosphere in any game thus far this generation.Liberty City looks like a breathing,living City,and this is what Rockstar were gunning for and succeeded at.The presence of hundreds of things on screen at almost all times,are what create this amazing and immersive feel to the city,and are ultimately the very same things that make up for the lack of outstanding graphics.
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Sound and Voice Acting:

The GTA franchise has always been known for having the most diverse soundtrack,hilarious talk shows,and lolz-worthy Pedestrian comments.With GTA IV this is no different;be it whilst you drive or are being driven,the radio stations provide constant entertainment that is both memorable and laughter inducing.As mentioned before,Liberty City truly feels like it's alive,and the sound from numerous sources greatly helps in creating this level of immersion.

The Voice acting in GTA IV is good,but not perfect.Some of the characters you meet in the game feel too cliche in both the manner and words that they speak.

Also,whilst Niko Bellic carries a deep Russian accent,some of the sayings and idioms that he uses do not sit right with his character and background,this will become particularly evident during multiple in-car discussions with various people.
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Online/Multiplayer:

Being the first GTA game with an Online mode,there were considerable doubts on whether or not the Multiplayer aspect of the game would translate well in comparison to the Single player aspect of the game.
With 15 Multiplayer game modes,16 player support,Customizable characters,and a Silky smooth Frame rate,GTA IV delivers one of the most impressive Multiplayer experiences of this generation by far.

Accessing the Online Multiplayer is a snap,you simply whip up your Cell Phone,and choose the Multiplayer option.Once you're in the game lobby,you'll be greeted with the 'usual suspects' modes,such as Deathmatch,Team Deathmatch,Race,and others.Without giving out much details,I can safely say that Online Multiplayer is the strongest feature to be added to the GTA franchise ever since it's inception,not only does it add hours upon hours of replay ability,the sheer fun factor derived from this mode is off the charts.
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Conclusion:

By now you most likely own this game or have already made up your mind on whether or not to own this game.GTA IV is not a perfect game,and it shows:There are some technical problems that could have used a few more weeks/months of ironing out.The games biggest problem though,is that it has borrowed too many gameplay elements and mechanics from previous GTA games,and has implemented them in the exact same way they were done in previous GTA titles.Without a doubt,GTA IV was overhyped by both gaming media and press as the next big thing in video games,and to be frank,it is not as revolutionary nor as innovative as previous GTA games.From the standpoint of a person who has played all GTA games,GTA IV is not the best of the series nor is it the best game ever created.

With that said,GTA IV is still one of the best gaming experiences you will have this year.The Singleplayer campaign offers hours upon hours of great gaming,and the Multiplayer looks to be one of the best of this generation.Though Rockstar have not succeeded in passing the bar set by GTA III and it's Spin-offs,they have indeed succeeded in providing one of the most engaging and intense gameplay experiences available for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 platform.
Ups
Great atmosphere,Liberty City feels like a living,breathing city{When the Cops are involved,the action is intense and exilarating{Fantastic Multiplayer experience
Downs
The majority of the missions give off a 'been there,done that' scent{The fighting and shooting gameplay still feels clunky and inaccurate{The driving mechanics are in need of a major overhaul
Score
8.5
Graphics
8.0
Sound
9.0
Gameplay
9.0
Fun factor
10.0
Online
8.9
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
wolfehound22  +   2427d ago
Great review me personally 9.5, but it is your opinion. I actually like the driving mechanics it is difficult, but it does seem more realistic and thats why I think a lot of people do not like it. Now the fighting and shooting all though awkward at time I do believe are hands down better than previous GTA's. Overall great review though.
spec_ops_comm  +   2426d ago
Agreed..
It is an extremely well written review. One quick thing before my response: I don't know if N4G screwed up your formatting, or if it's just the way you write, but the whole review is missing a space after each punctuation! Annoying, but not a huge problem.

Okay, so I've talked about your writing, but now it's on to your content.

First and foremost, I have to disagree with you on graphics. I'm playing on a 60GB PS3, and have yet to experience any pop-ins or last-gen graphics. I have had one instance of texture failing to load for maybe a good second, but other than that the game has played silky smooth. While games like COD4 obviously put GTA IV to shame, GTA IV is still, hands down, the best graphics in its sandbox genre. When giving a review, you definitely have to take in account a game's competition, or else it simply isn't fair if you compare a game that has to model 50 different onscreen events every 2 seconds as you fly down the street at 100MPH to a 'cage match' style FPS shooter.
I would have to give graphics a 9.5, not an 8.0.

Audio gets an easy 10 for me. The amount of work that R* put into the audio is ridiculous. Have you checked out the in-game TV yet? 'The Men's Room' is one of the funniest, best acted gameplay video I've ever seen. Then you have to consider the even better selection of radio, on-the-fly news updates that correspond to the mayhem you've recently caused, and, of course, Brucie B. Has there ever been a better character in the history of gaming? The answer is an overwhelming "No." Oh, and don't forget the creepy-realistic speaker interference you hear when your about to receive a phone call in-game. Who honestly didn't reach for their own cell phone when they heard that?

Fun factor is an easy 10. The only reason I may put this game down is because of MGS4 in June. The replayability is ridiculous. If you ever find your self bored, run up to a roof top and rain Molotovs on the world below. You'll get 4 stars in no time!

Gameplay I do agree could use some work. While the cover system is appreciated, its sensitivity to auto-stick you when you're trying to break free of cover needs some work. S&A works great - I really like the full-L2 for auto-aim and half-L2 for free-aim system. Plus, the ability to use the right analog to tweak that auto-aim for a head shot is a necessity online. I'm loving driving too - much more realistic. You actually have to brake now.. Revolutionary!!! :P
9.0 for me.

Online gets a 9.5. Much better than nothing, but I still think some interfacing upgrades are definitely needed. I really think online could benefit from online-only levels, like a warehouse or something.. I can see how some people (including myself) would want something slightly more different than single player style missions with human-controller AI :D
HighDefinition  +   2427d ago
Don`t agree.
"The majority of the missions give off a 'been there,done that' scent"

The indoor shoot-outs have NEVER been done in a GTA game before, and NOT like they are in IV. Besides the indoor shoot-outs, there are many more that are very different than previous games, just having the phone makes it very different.

"The fighting and shooting gameplay still feels clunky and inaccurate"

Again, WAY better than any other GTA game. Cover, Blind fire, One punch KOs, Counters. It`s NOT a button masher anymore. If you want to learn how to use them properly, Fighting and Shooting WORK GREAT.

"The driving mechanics are in need of a major overhaul"

It`s more "simmy" if you play GT5:P lately, not a problem. You just actually have to use your brakes. Again, If you take them time to learn to do it properly, it`s GREAT. Makes it WAY more intense and WAY harder to get away from the LCPD, which is a great thing.

**************

I think people are looking for reason to NOT like this game, but the TRUTH is it`s better than anything that has came out, for either system thus far. GTAIV has never been about looking/working perfectly, it`s about being as perfect as it CAN BE. This game is NO different. IMO.
samfk  +   2426d ago
hmm
spec ops or watever ur name is online is better than nothing 9.5 now to me thats not a convincing argumement !! to me if a game online is better than nothing how can it afford such A high score?surely better than nothing ur talking 5.0 to 6.0s wheras if its great online 9.5
Ali_The_Brit  +   2427d ago
i review games how much i love and play them so gta gets a 10 for me
socomnick  +   2427d ago
Great review I agree. It shoulda got a 9 or a 8.5. Problem is people are comparing gta 4 to previous gtas thats how they are getting their 10s. People should compare gta to current sandbox games like saints row. The Driving and shooting in saints row are so so much better.
DomUltra  +   2427d ago
Socom if you compare GTA4 to GTA3:SA SA comes out on top in every category except graphics, other than that I agree with this review, this game just plain doesn't deserve 10/10, I had a lot of fun, but in the end it felt like a cheap whore.
Anything but Cute  +   2427d ago
good review
Totally agree with that "been there done that" feel. It's a great game but not the best game in history.

GTA III was more fun because it was more innovating for it's time.

In short, awesome game but it's not the second comming.

I hope next week we stop seing all the news on TV, and polictitians on GTA. Because it's really not that big a deal. I'm getting kinda sick of it.
#6 (Edited 2427d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(4) | Report | Reply
felidae  +   2427d ago
best game ever. gta 4 feels "real"
Jeebus  +   2426d ago
but
I l-o-v-e the driving...
hokageof2009  +   2426d ago
bottom line about gta4
it messed up my ps3 and xbox so i dont care about gta anymore so now i'm jus going to wait for mgs4 and trade in my xbox for some more ps3 games and call it a day and count down till ff13versus comes out
Big Jim  +   2426d ago
Good review. Much better than the hyped-up reviews from most videogame websites.
SiLeNt KNighT  +   2425d ago
good review
its your opinion but i dont think any other game this generation is this fun to play and that makes it at least over a 9 for me. id go with a 9.5 or so
kingsg  +   2422d ago
shut up!
GTAIV is hot, hands down the best thing out and is better than any game, now and until the next series comes out.
Wat did yo momma tell u? if u aint got nothin nice to say dont say anything at all.
For u ppl just looking for a reason to hate a game, keep lookin cause blows everything away.
GTAIV is there kind of game makes u wanna by it twice, just cause it NICE

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Grand Theft Auto IV

Average Score 9.6 Reviews(138)
Release Dates
PC Release Dates
US 02 December 2008
JP 02 December 2008
AU 02 December 2008
EU 03 December 2008
PS2 Release Dates
PS3 Release Dates
US 29 April 2008
EU 29 April 2008
PSP Release Dates
Wii Release Dates
Xbox Release Dates
Xbox 360 Release Dates
US 29 April 2008
EU 29 April 2008