You came straight from Europe for a better life that your cousin Roman has been bragging about all these years until you realise it was all a lie. With reality hitting you, you work for your cousin who’s part of a chain of criminals that always gets the short end of the stick when it comes to getting the goods. Little does Roman know you came to America for another reason for something that happened over 10 years ago. As always Grand Theft Auto is about being a freelance hitman in an opened world and as the series goes on you gradually make choices of how close you want to be with your clients. The closer you get with your clients the harder it becomes for you to accept the consequences of your actions. The story is told in a linear fashion from beginning to end with dynamic missions from Niko Bellic’s point of view. It’s a recreational city based on modern New York City with Rock Stars own universe pulled over it.
The story is compelling with good dialogue throughout but with very poor facial animations that at times make the characters feel too stiff. There is a good story to be told if you can accept some of the poor animations in spots that would have made this game a spectacular hit with presentation alone. What’s ironic is that the story has a powerful message even though it’s considered to be the most violent game on the market. In the cinematics sometimes you’ll see characters holding a gun in their hands yet you don’t see the gun itself can pull you away from the narrative. Overall there are a lot more animations in the game
First off when you start playing the game you’ll notice that the graphics don’t look so sharp most of the time, if not all of the time. The overall graphics in the game is better than the last instalment at the same time the level of exploration maybe smaller. Reflections, lighting, and textures are reasonably decent with texture depth/depth of field is poorly done especially when you’re in helicopters. This is also partly done by the perspective the developers gave you so everything has a level of blur making the depth of field almost nonexistent. This at times can affect your gun play like when you go out to do the Museum Piece with Johnny (The Lost member) to do a deal so Johnny can get his half; for Ray Baccino. When the bust goes wrong as per usual when targeting distant enemies it’s hard to tell when you can shoot them or not or even see them until they fire back at you. The only time when depth of field was used right was when I was driving drunk.
They’ve done very little to hide this in the game and can sometimes give the game a too soft look overall. Throughout the entire game the water reflections from the oceans at night will be the best thing graphically in the game. The lighting isn’t something to be impressed about but it suffices for a decent play. Shopping in various stores will change your avatar’s look but your avatar’s hat won’t be displayed inside vehicles plus hats can be blown away. You can always put on a new hat back at the safe house. The game can get too dark at times like when I was doing Pegorino’s Pride mission doing a sit-down at the “Old Refinery” when moving around some of the environments were too dark to see anything even in the in-game cinematics.
The game still uses visual cues to trigger traffic and has the annoying random vehicle always popping in your way when driving but nothing ever comes when you’re on foot. Part of the interface is cleaned up due to that fact that your cellular phone holds the time, text, messages, pictures, and everything else the pertains to cellular phones adding to the emersion. The cell phone is also used to call for paramedics, fire trucks, or even back-up officers when you’re playing in the game. If you’re like me you would have to get use to the graphics it isn’t as soft as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas, but will be a shock to most.
Physics in the game make you more aware of your surrounding resulting in a more realistic damaging so watching out for cars, avoiding crashes, or simply using common sense as if it were real can keep you alive longer. Ultimately consequence is more dominate with the physics and is very much like Holly Wood realism because not exactly what can happen in the game is real but happens in movies. Good examples of this would be vehicles easily taking flight or Niko Belic using his forearm to break a car window. Sometimes you wonder about the physics because your car can flip because you ran over a pylon. An official cover system is implemented but isn’t executed so well because half of the time you’re fighting with your avatar when shooting if cover especially when you want to free aim and coming out of cover in the heat of the moment. For the most part this is also has to do with the environments, the cover system doesn’t work so well in closed areas. Another thing with the cover system when navigating in heavily active areas with objects can be a drag especially when you’re shooting you can’t even camera toggle from left to right when bending around corners without using the cover system, plus on top of that you always walk unless you press a button it would be nice if it was triggered by sensitivity resulting in less confusion. I find coming out of cover when you really need to is slow and doesn’t respond very fast leading to preventable deaths like for example realizing someone is standing behind you.
The vehicles in the game have changed greatly with GPS (Global Positioning System) voices in some vehicles/chimes to direct you but can’t use it to track down moving targets or on the water. Pressing down on the D-Pad gives you a hub (car name, location, ammunition etc) and when driving drunk the controls are difficult adding to the realism. The little touches in the game with lights turn on in the car when doors open, can fly out windows if impact is strong enough, and vehicle destruction is dynamic. You can use police vehicles’ computers to do additional activities like search criminals’ locations that doesn’t make or break the game yet adding to the realism of the time frame. Entering vehicles isn’t perfect and your avatar will try to take a vehicle that’s moving away from him instead of the one you’re standing next to. Riding a motorcycle is difficult let alone riding one while shooting that you’re doing most of the time when riding one in the game. When driving you have to compensate for your avatar to change gears so waiting for that sound cue is needed or you’ll over power the gears and have to wait for the gear shift in order to hold down harder on the gas. There are no bicycles this time around or anything that made the last game significant from the genre.
You can date, check emails, search websites; just anything you can do with a real computer making the game almost like a simulation of life with only the fun bits when using the computer. This compliments building good relationships with your clients or girl friends to gain benefits for example dating a Law Clerk can help you with your wanted level. With all this relationships building you’re going to chose people’s fate is a new element that I like in the game considering his (Niko Bellic’s) specialty.
You’ll see drivers get into accidents; pedestrians get into arguments, police officers pulling over drivers, or just simply duking it out. Weather effects are implemented and when it rains the people around you will adapt to the weather and start using umbrellas or newspapers to cover themselves. This instalment of GTA the pedestrians don’t jump in front of your car like the predecessors but will turn into the lane you’re driving in cutting your off (laughs and shakes head). This will happen with a whole row of cars not just one ever so often. The world seems smaller than the last one which is disappointing because sequels usually add more not take away.
No country environments to explore or any animals in the city that would have added to the realism especially the parries but Rock Star chose not to evolve the series in this aspect. Rocket launchers don’t always seem to work properly half the time and completely change direction with no explanation why.
You can go to places to watch a stand-up comic Katt Williams, can watch TV (on your TV) in your apartment, exterminate pigeons, most wanted missions, vigilante levels, deliver drug packages, or as stated before driving drunk giving your vision and control as consequences with many other things to do. As usual the game keeps track of everything to crimes, vehicles, money, to network. You can do some side missions for random people you meet on the street from pedophiles to drug addicts to friends on the boat you were on heading to America like Hossan. Some of the characters will push Niko’s buttons others will reach his heart like when a teenager needed drugs and was willing to do anything for it.
There’s an online portion of the game by using your cellular phone in-game to access it allowing game modes like Deathmatch (2-16), Mafiya Work (2-16), Car Jack City (4-16), Race (2-16), GTA Race (2-16), Team Deathmatch (3-16), Team Mafiya Work (3-16), Team Car Jack City (4-16), Cops ‘n Crooks (4-16), Truf War (4-16), Deal Breaker (2-4), Hangman’s NOOSE (2-4), Bomb da Base II (2-4), Free Mode (1-16).
Mafiya Work you complete contracts before the competition does and get rewards before the other players; Deal Breaker you kill everyone doing a major deal to take whatever the dealers have with you; Hangman’s NOOSE Petrovic comes into the country but there is a warrant out and you have to help him escape; and Free Mode is something that gamers have been waiting for, for a long time where you do whatever you want with your friends in the opened world. The online is smooth the only problem will be the people you play with.
With the online the audio at times will take a while to kick in making you think something is broken and off-line it will happen making you rely on subtitles when talking between characters. There is proximity audio with all vehicles in the game taking advantage of next generation audio so with people blasting the radio you can hear it through the vehicles. Voiceovers are amazing making you believe their emotion, situations, and personalities that make them distinct and remember-able.
The strongest thing going for the game is that it has good narrative with a lot of good dialogue in-between it to carry on the story. The music throughout the game is amazing and sets the mood nicely almost like a 90s motion picture.
Overall Grand Theft Auto 4 barely made the hype in my professional opinion by not expanding on the previous game and having graphics that don’t even look like the adverts.