Sorry for the fuzzy shot, I could have sworn I could get my stats straight from the Rockstar Social Club but I guess I was wrong.
How do you review a game that everybody is playing and most everybody has already reviewed? Hell if I know. What I’m going to do is break this review down into two parts. Part one will be spoiler free for all the people who haven’t beaten the story and Part two will be where I reflect on the story and its impact on me.
I finished the game last night, as you can see my percentage is in the 80s. The only things I haven’t done yet are the hidden packages, the stunt jumps and street races. I feel like now would be an acceptable time to reflect on the experience as a whole even though I haven’t completed those three side quests.
When I first sat down to play GTA IV I was enthralled. My first impression
was that the game would be no less than a 10/10. Since then my opinion of the game has lowered slightly but not by much. No matter what score I give it at the end you should know that I consider it one of the best games of this generation so far and I think anybody who hasn’t already should play through the entire story.
We are all well aware about what makes this game awesome, so until part two of this review, I’m going to try to stick to my complaints. My biggest problem with the game is the repetitive nature of the missions. I’m not just talking about a lack of mission variety, the missions are usually varied enough to keep things interesting. I’m talking about the amount of times I was forced to repeat a multi-part mission just because I couldn’t quite get the end right. It is incredibly frustrating to drive all the way to where the mission is taking place, shoot 30 guys, chase after a guy on a bike, shoot 30 more guys only to die in the ensuing boat chase and be forced to play it all over again. This problem could be easily fixed if Rockstar would implement a checkpoint system that brings me back to the boat chase if I were to die on it. The lack of this feature makes this otherwise modern game seem old and archaic at times.
Besides that I really only have nitpicky things to say about GTA. I don’t like how spastic the cop AI is. Sometimes I’ll accidently run over some pedestrians, earn a cop star and escape it with ease. Other times I’ll lightly tap a cop’s bumper and earn one cop star and suddenly the entire Liberty City police force is after me and it takes me ages to escape. It can get rather frustrating at times. Also the enemy AI was dumb as hell. Either they were running straight at me ready to die or they were hiding behind cover ready to die. I was only challenged by the shooting portions of this game a handful of times and the challenge there had more to do with the level design than the actual enemies. The last thing bad I have to say about this game is the cover system isn’t perfect. It works but a lot of it could be improved. Considering how often you use it in the game it would be nice if it weren’t so sluggish. Also, I hate how you can’t properly use the sniper rifle while behind cover, sure it zooms further than the other guns but it’s nowhere near as accurate as it should be.
A lot has been said about how much this GTA is lacking in terms of side quests when it is compared to other games in the series. I firmly disagree. This is the first GTA I’ve ever completed and that’s because the whole experience felt very streamlined. In previous GTAs I never really bothered to complete all the rampage or vigilante missions. I felt they were hard just to be hard and there was not enough reward. This time around however I felt all the side missions were very well designed. The vigilante and assassin missions were especially fun. The way the targets were placed in each mission made them feel like full fledged story missions sometimes.
Another common complaint is against the driving and shooting controls. Personally I thought both of these areas are where GTA IV improved the series the most. That first time you get in Romans cab can be off putting but once you get into a better car the driving becomes incredibly fun and even slightly realistic. As for the shooting controls, I had no problem with them but I also completely ignored the lock on feature. The first thing I did was turn aim assist off. It makes the game feel a bit like Gears of War actually, it’s quite fun. I highly recommend you play through the game this way as the lock on system is quite frustrating.
I won’t talk about the multiplayer much seeing as I’ve only played it twice, once with my girlfriend on launch day once at the inaugural GTA IV FNF. The multiplayer plays exactly like single player and takes place in the same city or small parts of it. There are plenty of modes too. The competitive game types are fun, with cops and robbers being my favorite. However, the real fun is in free mode. I always thought Crackdown should have allowed more players to team up and destroy the city and that’s exactly what we have here. Up to 16 players running wild in Liberty City, sounds like heaven.
Overall I still feel this game is a masterpiece. It improved on the previous games in the series in so many ways and really, what more can you ask for from a sequel? I give the game an 8.5 out 10 on the Destructoid review scale. From here on out I will be talking about the games story. Do not read further unless you do not mind being spoiled!
I’ve never cared one bit about a story line in a GTA game. GTA III had a mute protagonist with a shitty girlfriend, Vice City had a greased up psychopath and San Andreas had a morally confused Gangbanger. Don’t even get me started on how little I care about the main guy in Liberty City stories. What is his name again? Oh yeah, who gives a shit?
Niko Bellic marks the first time I have ever had any sympathy for the main character in a GTA game. This sympathy lead me to really take an interest in the story for this game. The much improved writing also had something to do with it. That people in this game (yes people, using the word characters doesn’t sit right with me for this game) are so believable to me. By the end of the game I honestly felt like I was Niko and these people were my friends. Every moral decision I made was a result of a lot of thought. I really agonized over this game.
When I finally meet Darko Brevic, I really really wanted to kill him. However, after much thought I decided the life of a drug addict was worse than death, so I fired my pistol over his head and walked away.
The next decision was a lot easier to make but turned out to be much more consequential. There was no way I was working with Dimitri again, he definitely had to die. Part of the reason I let Darko go was because he was a low life with no power and no way to hurt me again. Dimitri was different. I just knew if I let him live something horrible would happen. I couldn’t care less that Jimmy Pegorino “needed” me to do it for him. I always thought he was an asshole, besides, he’s from Jersey. Plus Kate told me she’d leave me if I went after the money and God knows I love Irish women. So I boarded his ship and took the bastard out. If I had known pissing off Pegorino would have resulted in Kate’s death, I’m not sure I would have made the same decision. Fuck that, Dimitri was an asshole.
As you can tell, the whole branching story at the end has me really enraptured. I can’t wait to play through again and see the other side of the story (which apparently Rev
thinks is better). Until then, I have other plans: