Saturday, May 3, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV Impressions

A little later than I promised, but it's here: My GTA IV impressions.

I recently rented Grand Theft Auto IV. I don't have to tell you how good it is... it has taken the place of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on If you want a "score'd" review, go elsewhere.

As soon as you start the game, the opening credits immediatly gives a guide to the production value throughout the game. It's no lie: the game is filled with tiny details. From the smoke coming out of your car when Little Jacob rides with you, to the three-point perspective when you look up, giving an extreme sense of height—you'll notice little detail after little detail. The latter still impresses me after 15-20 hours of gameplay.

If you haven't known already, you play the role of Niko Bellic, a Eastern-European coming to America to leave his past behind while trying to avoid catching up with his inner-demons. The true star of the game, though, is the city. Liberty City is not only gorgeous to look at, it's also insanely overwhelming to see either all the details of a huge city or to see how the pedestrian reacts to their environment. You litterally can spend hours just running around and people-watch.

The quality of missions is impressive. It's often hard to destinguish a side-mission, or alternate mission-path, from the story-missions. The same attention to quality of story-driven missions has been given to the majority of missions in the game, excluding jobs. Even the jobs are fun to do. They don't seem randomly generated to the point where you'll come across an insanely hard job. There's balance everywhere.

The shooting controls and mechanics have been greatly improved from the other GTA titles. Virtually anything can be used as cover and aiming/shooting is a breeze... even while driving.

This brings me to the Multiplayer mode... finally, Rockstar listened to their fans and did it right. It's virtually lag-free (even with my network) and it's hell of a lot of fun. Because there are no rankings, it's just people having fun.

Outisde of all that is good and heavenly about the game, there is one problem that seems to have plagued a lot of people on both the 360 and PS3... including myself. The game is filled with in-game lockups and the introduction-loading freezes (I experienced the latter). There are temporary-fixes (none of the good ones requiring to delete your save file or format your HDD) that do work (I have yet to hear or read about them not working). I honestly most likely won't buy the game until Rockstar releases a patch for these (but I will keep on renting it...). It just sucks that when your HDD is fragmented and that you reach a certain point in the game where you constantly get the initial loading lock-up...

My personal score about the game: 9.5/10. I probably would've given a 9.8 if it wasn't for the lock-up problem. Outside of the lock-ups, the game is almost perfect. There are little things here and there, but it does a near flawless execution of what the game tries to accomplish. It is what GTA was always meant to be.