Grand Theft Auto IV review (Xbox 360)

BeaArthur | 2389d ago | User review
Reviewing: Grand Theft Auto IV
Something was missing...still great though
I think most of us out there took at least some interest in Grand Theft Auto 4. If you were one of the few who weren't interested in checking it out, you were probably at least curious as to what direction the series was going to take. Grand Theft Auto 4 (GTA4) has come and gone and somehow I can’t help feeling a little empty. Now don't get me wrong, it's a great game and in many ways it's better than its predecessors but something was missing from the formula.

Niko Bellick is fresh off the boat (literally) as the game opens. In true GTA fashion the game branches out as you complete missions and meet new contacts. This time around though the story doesn't quite come together the way in which the GTA's of the past have. All the memorable characters are there but the story arc feels too convoluted and unfocused. Too often Niko is forced to take his eye off the prize, which inevitable causes the player to do so as well. At the end of the game you are left feeling like there was not very much closure and unfortunately it's true. However, there is a silver lining, and that is Niko Bellick himself. Niko is easily the most realistic lead character for the series to date. Throughout the game you will see Niko display a wide range of emotion, he's complex in a way no other GTA main character has ever been.

As I have already stated, GTA makes a number of huge improvements over its predecessors; the most important of which is the combat system. The implementation of a cover system makes the combat much easier to endure and although it's not perfect, it's much better than what we have had to work with in the past. Also being able to lock on or enter free aim with the same button is truly spectacular once you get the hang of it. Probably equally as important as the upgrade to the combat system is the addition of the cell phone. The cell phone makes the game feel much more organic. Instead of randomly showing up to icons on a map, you now receive phone calls telling you to meet someone. The cell phone also allows you to maintain contact with friends and eventually acquire their special abilities. In fact, Liberty City as a whole feels more realistic than any other environment I have ever seen. Usually I feel like environments were designed around the character, but Liberty City feels like it designed first and Niko Bellick was added to the equation later.

As great as Grand Theft Auto 4 is and as much as I enjoyed playing it, a few things bothered me. One of my favorite things to do in a GTA game is purchase property. Unfortunately there is no property for sale in GTA 4. I mean the auto save feature is nice but I would much rather have multiple hideouts and garages to store cars in than an auto save feature. More importantly there are no businesses to own. The theme of the last two Grand Theft Auto's were rags to riches, and although Niko moves up in the world you never really get the feeling that he owns Liberty City the way in which Tom Vercetti and Carl Johnson owned their stomping grounds. With nothing to buy, what am I supposed to do with all this money? I mean I would go out with friends and buy weapons but ultimately money in Libery City is completely useless. Finally there is that combat system I mentioned earlier. Although it is a significant improvement over what we had, it's still clumsy at times. Hand to hand combat is completely broken and short range gun fights are clunky at best.

Although Grand Theft Auto 4 has its flaws it is still the best sandbox game of this generation by far. My issues are not so much with the game; it's what was left out. Hopefully the new additions from GTA 4 and the features from previous titles can come together and make a truly spectacular GTA 5.
Ups
Combat is vastly improved{The cell phone makes Liberty feel more alive than any other game environment{Niko is the best GTA protagonist yet
Downs
Story feels unfocused with no real objective to it all{Some of the best features from previous games have been removed{Combat system it still too clunky at times
Score
9.5
Graphics Combat is still too clunky but overall it's still fantastic.
10.0
Sound Not the best looking game out there, but character models are nice and the sights of Liberty City are truly impressive. I have not noticed any pop ins and have experienced no frame rate drops, and with so many things going on, that is truly impressive.
10.0
Gameplay Great voice work and dialogue as usual.
10.0
Fun factor Still a ton of fun. A long campaign lots of side missions and plenty of memorable moments.
7.0
Online It's a nice addition but a bizarre match making system and some awful hit detection keep it from being what it should be.
9.6
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
TheDeadMetalhead  +   2389d ago
Oh, man...
...No property to buy? No garages? I might have to rent GTA IV first when I get my PS3...

...There's a sentence I never thought I would have to say.
BeaArthur  +   2389d ago
They have parking spaces outside of you hideouts but you only get 3, and they are kind of spread out. It's still a great game and worth the $60 though.
fenderputty  +   2388d ago
I'm sort of feeling a little let down by GTA
I still haven't finished the game, but already get the feeling that the story doesn't really take my any place. I was let down by the fact that one cannot purchase anything as well. There's a lot they fixed, but they took out a lot as well.

I was never a huge GTA fan due to its repeated mission nature. With all the 10's this one got, I just couldn't pass up on the opportunity. This one still suffers from the same problems though as the game is just a bunch of "go kill somoene, escape, rinse and repeat."

Now that MGS4 is out, I doubt I'll finish the game for a while since most of my time will be spent playing as snake instead of Niko.

All in all, a great game with a lot of replay-ability due to its sandbox exploration nature. Still I think the game lacked that "something" that would give it the 10/10 status. I think the reviewers went a little over board with their hyperbole. 9/10 at most for me.
BeaArthur  +   2386d ago
Yeah it's good but too many of the great features from previous games have been taken out.
Slayer OP  +   2387d ago
Great review
"Not the best looking game out there, but character models are nice and the sights of Liberty City are truly impressive. I have not noticed any pop ins and have experienced no frame rate drops, and with so many things going on, that is truly impressive. "

Im glad someone can understand why GTA IV graphics are good. Most people here are so narow minded that they think if it doesnt look like call of duty 4 then the graphics suck.
BeaArthur  +   2386d ago
Yeah really. I would take a solid frame rate over a great looking game any day of the week.

Add comment

You need to be registered to add comments. Register here or login
Remember

Grand Theft Auto IV

Average Score 9.6 Reviews(155)
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