Last week, I spent a good deal of time playing, or should I say, installing and loading the PS3 version of GTA IV. I was pretty excited as I saw the loading bar slowly fill up on that eventful day. It was going to take about five minutes, so I stepped out to the kitchen to get a snack while the installation went smoothly on its way.
After I returned with a cold drink in one hand and a plate of Cheetos, crunchy style, in the other, I saw the loading bar fill up and switch over to the "new game loading" screen. I took a swig of my cold drink and popped a handful of bright international orange colored Cheetos in my mouth and waited for the loading screen to finish.
I waited one minute, then two, and before long I was at the 10-minute mark. "Should I wait longer?" I asked myself. I gave it another five and the new loading screen remained, apparently locked and frozen for all of eternity. Was this the problem that some PS3 owners were experiencing? I rebooted the game and saw the lady with the lollipop come on as the game repeated the freeze.
"Well this is just great," I mumbled. I ejected the disc and looked at the pristine game DVD--no scratches or blems so it wasn't the media. The next thing I tried was to delete all the GTA IV save files on the PS3 and attempt a fresh install. I did so and the "new game-loading" screen appeared once again. I have one of the early 60GB PS3s and these consoles may be the units that this bug specifically occurs on.
This brought up the number of installation attempts up to five. I was running out of patience and Cheetos quick. I decided to put the game and my frustrations to rest and start again the next day. I returned with a fresh attitude (and a new bag of Cheetos) but after several more attempts, I was about to throw the GTA IV disc out the window when a little voice said in my head, Check the Internet." I fired up my computer and found a temporary "fix" for the game. All you have to do is to sign out of your online PSN account and voila, the game works!
That's the good news. Single player is now active but multiplayer is still buggy because when you attempt to join in a match, you are sometimes disconnected from the PlayStation Network for no reason. But to be totally blunt about it, even when mulitplayer was working, it was a big disappointment. And as an added commentary, it plays like a very bad last-gen game.
I've had several days to do a comparison between the 360 and PS3 versions and so far, the only real difference I can literally see has to do with the graphics. The 360 version is sharper looking and more detailed while the PS3 GTA IV is a little on the soft side. The PS3, if it ever gets its online multiplayer totally fixed, will be a freebie while the 360 version requires you to purchase a Gold (paid) account to play online.
So what did I learn from this ordeal? GTA IV for the PS3 is a fun game--if you can install the game. The other thing I learned is that crippled software should never be passed onto the consumer and that the next time Rockstar/Take-Two releases a big name title, I'll wait a few weeks until the dust settles and it is proven that the game disc isn't an expensive $60 drink coaster.