Grand Theft Auto IV, the title alone brings shivers to the many anticipated fans, and now the many satisfied fans. To call GTA4 just a game is surely an understatement. GTA IV literally became a world wide cultural phenomenon, to be honest the games "hyperbole" transcended hype, it reached a new plateau; but what happens after the hype? When you actually get to play the game? I'll tell you my own revelation.
You start off with an all too familiar character by now named Niko Bellic, an eastern european; an immigrant, looking to get rich and looking for some one who has wronged him. Although his origin isn't clearly mentioned, tell tale signs may point that Niko is either Polish (Many times Niko being referenced as "Polak" another name for a Polish person) or Croation of some sorts.
The story is deep, rivaling that of a acclaimed Hollywood movie.
The script could have used a more thorough examination but sufficed to say, it's better than any game released so far in 08' and possibly 07'. Rockstar made sure there are no plot line holes, essentially it is top notch, with only a few extremely corny moments but to an added affect, hilarious moments in the story.
You'll find yourself wanting more, even after you completed the 30 hour story line. You might even start seeking out the random missions found in Liberty City just to try to push your comprehension of the story that much further. Make no mistake the story here is deep, deep enough for a direct sequel? Possibly, although unlikely for Rockstar to continue the canon directly.
A lot of the game play mechanics can be hit and miss, causing much frustration, or hilarity depending on the person or situation. The controls are fairly standard, nothing too hard, or out of reach, the layout is acceptable.
The cover system is one aspect that has been fundamental in "next-gen" gaming era. The over hauled "battle" system featured in GTA IV is hit and miss, the cover system is clunky at best, sometimes to slow going for cover, sometimes not even being able to shoot over top an object although clearly your eyes would tell you otherwise. Grenades may not go where you want them to go and even sometimes Rocket launchers are better at blowing yourself up than your opponents.
Running is a little wonky (yes wonky) to begin with, it's not exactly sluggish but it's not exactly optimized, although passing satisfactory I'd like to see a minimal upgrade in the next installment.
The new engine for driving has got a lot of people upset, many preferring the old arcade feel of the previous GTA's. No longer can you skid around a corner at 120 K/M without consequence, you must take adequate response time in smashing the brakes or for the best result, pumping the brakes. The crash collision is top notch, damage on vehicles looking not overly realistic but just enough to look convincing. Damage responds to the area affected as expected. Wheels can take on significant damage which can affect your driving performance. An interesting detail Rockstar added in GTA IV is the ability for your car to stall if it has taken on enough damage.
The weight of the car feels like it should, according to the type of car your driving you will not have the same experience, that being said smashing into a bus in a Ferrari will not cause that bus to roll over, however many times you attempt it, in the real world phsyics that is. However in GTA IV driving that Ferrari fast enough might just cause that 18-wheeler to flip over and send it spiraling in the air. The collision mechanics in this sense spark laughter beyond belief, however minor it may seem this isn't acceptable.
The graphics while feeling next-gen do not ring true, many textures found in the game are almost San Andreas like in quality. It also seems more selective graphical styles are seen through out more popular places, almost masking the graphics to an effect. The cars look rather detailed and extremely pleasing to the eye. However one thing that stands out is everyone who isn't Niko Bellic and the select cast, seem to be rendered in significantly less polygons, almost comparable to San Andreas.
Arguably the best time you see the graphics engine peak is while driving at high speed, the blur effect acts as a substitute that makes you forget about some of the textures, and very visible jaggies caused due to lack of anti-aliasing. Seeing the city in divisions from a Helicopter is impressive, suffering only minor texture pop-in depending on camera angle.
The game engine is satisfactory, it doesn't border impressive, but it isn't necessarily below standard. Once you take in the full size and scale of the city, I'm sure you'll be impressed and most graphical anomalies can be forgiven.
However the camera angle hasn't received an overhaul as suspected, which is a disappointment. The camera angle can cause some dastardly frustration in the midst of a fire fight, or high speed car chase.
Is GTA 4 worth a buy? Of course it is, it's a truly exceptional game for this generation, actually of any generation. However that's not the question people want answered. Every one is aware that the GTA franchise of any installment is an instant buy and a classic, the question here is... Is this the BEST game ever made?
The answer is subjective and it's always different according to each person. While GTA IV isn't innovative in anyway other than pushing the sandbox to a whole new level, its fun factor is off the charts. This is a game truly made with gamers in mind, it can turn the most casual gamer into a hardcore not-showering-for-a-week-gamer.
This game is good, so good it can't be judged routinely by other games in the the PS3/Xbox 360 library. It can only be compared to other games in the category, that category being sand box games and what other grace is it to compare GTAIV to another GTA, GTA:San Andreas arguably the best sand box game ever created. While GTA IV was a-blow-my-pants-off-my-ass experience, I'm going to have to hand this off to GTA:SA. Nothing quite captured my staying up four days in a row to beat GTA:SA. Rockstar spared no undone details in GTA:SA. The game is so immensely packed with activities and details that it kicks GTA IV in its teeth. Even with San Andrea's horrible aiming and lock on mechanics, the game was a damn near flawless experience. There were literally weeks of material after you finished the game, while GTA IV offered only hours.
Whether or not you liked GTA IV, it is THE game to remember for the hype, the fun factor and controversy.