From the day that Grand Theft Auto 4 was announced to the day that it was released, it seemed that my excitement along with my expectations were slowly dwindling. Yet still I expected much from another GTA game since the last one I played was one of the best games I’ve played. GTA: SA brought so many ways of entertainment in the vast map of San Andreas that I always seemed to return to the game in search of completing or attempting something I’ve never done before. With GTA4, things aren’t quite the same. However, I’m not reviewing this game to state whether it is over hyped or not. I will outline its flaws and explain why it wasn’t what many expected.
The protagonist of GTA4 is a Russian man named Niko Bellic, a man who arrives in Liberty City in search of a man but probably most importantly a better life. His cousin Roman is said to be rich but upon his arrival he finds out the truth. The city feels very alive. You can see trash on the streets, in the ocean, and you can almost feel the dirty polluted style of Liberty City. The graphics are simply gorgeous and for the most part contain tons of detail. Most things you do can affect you or the city in a way and can leave marks. The storyline is good enough in order to make the missions more diverse. To my surprise, most missions feel like déjà vu. For example, during most of the single player storyline you have to work for other people as some sort of tool, assassin, lookout, etc. However, during certain occasions the natural flow is disturbed by a problem that comes up like say…your cousin being kidnapped. I would like to see more of this happen in GTA games so that the missions don’t feel repetitive. Aside from that, at certain times you have to make decisions that can affect how the storyline evolves and possibly how it ends. You can decide whether you want to kill your target or spare him, and your decision might affect the outcome of other events.
Now with said, lets dive into the area where GTA4 exceeds many sandbox games that try to come close to its level. In GTA4 you may just find yourself doing a lot of driving. Actually, driving is probably the most important game play aspect of the game. Unlike other GTA games you cannot turn a corner going 60 unless you want to make a mural of pedestrian blood and car wreck on a building’s wall. Handling in GTA4 is much more complicated but not hard to master. In fact, not only is this more realistic but it introduces a nice drifting aspect that makes driving more entertaining. Driving aside, shooting and fighting in this game is excellently put together. Melee combat this time has more strategy, that’s if the other GTA games ever had any implemented. Instead of just punching and kicking, you can counter some of your enemies attacks delivering a more deadly blow. Although risky, the maneuver is effective. Now to a more exciting part of GTA4. Shooting guns in GTA4 is very satisfying and easy to get use to. Auto-aiming comes very handy but in certain occasions you may have too many targets. That’s where you can decide to aim manually and take out the targets you find more threatening. Every gun is easy to use and fire, everything is at the least a very solid experience.
So what is GTA4‘s biggest flaw? Well, simply put, the game sacrifices realism for pure fun. Once you are done with the storyline you have almost nothing left to do in the city except to hunt pigeons and complete more repetitive missions. On the other hand, multiplayer actually does make up for this. You have a lot of choices between game modes. There is the usual death match, team death match, typical zone match, and many others. I enjoy free mode the most simply for grieving. So GTA4 is in my opinion over hyped, but not by much. It’s an excellent game it just doesn’t deserve most of the perfect scores because well…the game is not perfect.