Picking revenge means backing out on the deal with the Mafia and going after Dimitri yourself, while choosing to deal results in you being betrayed again by Dimitri but escaping with the money anyway. Shortly after the mission you are called by Roman and invited to his wedding which plays out differently depending on your recent decision; picking revenge earned you the wrath of Pegorino, whose deal you ruined by going after Rascalov – and who now crashes the wedding with a hail of gunfire, taking out your friend Kate. Choosing the deal means that Dimitri sends a hitman after you who kills your cousin at his own wedding.
The final mission sees you taking revenge on either Pegorino or Rascalov and plays almost identically in both cases with the exception of the final chase. At first glance it might seem like the choice is irrelevant, with a tragedy occurring in both cases (given real significance by the fact that both potential victims were friends who you got to know over the course of the game) but the choice system was put to great effect in the finale as whatever happened, you felt responsible for it adding even greater significance to the subsequent retaliation. By choosing revenge you
bring Pegorino to the wedding – their deaths are your
fault. As a result the final mission and Niko's final act of vengeance are more satisfying than anything that preceded them:
This use of the choice system is hardly revolutionary and its impact pales in comparison to the previous one, but it is used to far greater effect than in the rest of the game and the choices you make have real impact on characters you care about – something the game seemed unwilling to do until now.
The social life system also suffers from the issues that Bioshock's audio diary
based storytelling faced in that it is almost entirely optional; it is conceivable that a player could loose out on the emotional impact of the wedding tragedy if they had invested little time in either of the victims of the tragedy.
Ultimately, I'm torn over these systems. Their implementation is mixed and the real pay-offs don't come until the finale of the 30+ hour story and while I still think their uses in the final missions represent a huge step forward for GTA IV I could still make the case for removing or improving their implementation earlier in the game. To quote Yahtzee again in regards to the social life mechanic: “I'm not sure what, if anything
it is in aid of”. Does this damage the mechanic and even the game as a whole or is the payoff worth the lengthy investment it entails?
Minor edit: Original videos were removed from YouTube, so I had to replace them with shitty handcam videos