Grand Theft Auto IV ReviewDustin Wright
The true sequel to Grand Theft Auto III, a game that seven years ago changed an industry and took everyone by surprise is finally here; of course I am talking about Grand Theft Auto IV, a game that for the last few months has had its share of praises and complaints. What is good about it, what is bad about it, and what is so good about Liberty City that we have to go back again? Grab a piece, put on some body armor, and bring plenty of ammo, we are headed on a field trip to a Liberty City you have never seen before.
Grand Theft Auto IV begins with Niko Bellic arriving in America to live with his cousin Roman. The first few minutes Niko is there, he discovers that much of what his cousin told him about America and his success was a lie, only to later find out that Roman is too untrustworthy with money due to a gambling addiction and is always getting himself in trouble. As a result, Niko ventures out to make money for himself and his cousin, all the while trying to find a man who double crossed him in a war.
The gameplay is like any other Grand Theft Auto, except for a few things added and a lot of stuff taken out. One of the best changes to GTA IV was a fix for the aiming system. The auto aiming works much better but at times is rough around the edges. Occasionally, when you try to aim on a person it will automatically aim on someone closer, a problem that has plagued the series since GTA III. Free aiming on the other hand works like magic. It could not be easier to free aim more accurately in this game, and the ability to take cover and blind shoot as well as zoom in on your victim really fixes parts of the aiming issue.
One of the most important additions to GTA IV is the cell phone; it is your lifeline and how you make contact with the outside world. Also included is the ability to make friends and go hang out or go on dates and do various activities, all of which are fully interactive, ranging from bowling and playing darts to going to the bar and seeing shows. The shows really stand out and are unlike anything you have ever seen before. Almost every show is different, and it happens right before your eyes without ever going to cutscene while still managing to look beautiful.
Also included is the ability to go to a few internet cafes, called TW@T, and use a computer to check e-mail and surf the web. The amount of content here is astounding. I surfed for forty minutes one day and did not even begin to see all that was offered. The activities on here range from taking car jacking jobs to finding people to date. A lot of time was obviously put into it to give you that 'I can go anywhere on the web' sort of feel.
As good as GTA IV sounds so far, it does have its share of problems. First off, too much content has been taken out. I do not know how many times I have wanted to try something but could not. For example, there is a huge tower just begging to be base jumped off of, but you cannot because there are no parachutes in the game. And sometimes you will want to spray an entire group of people with a flamethrower, but you cannot, because that has been taken out too. Add to the fact that more weapons and more cars have been taken out this time around, and you will begin to wonder what Rockstar was thinking. And if you enjoyed flying airplanes in San Andreas, sorry, only helicopters this time around. It makes no sense. I can understand wanting to get back to GTA's roots instead of some of the goofiness that was in San Andreas, but what is to gain from taking out lots of vehicles and weapons that have become the staple of GTA? And remember the classes you had for weapons, ranging from light to heavy? They are out too, with only one upgrade for each weapon, minus grenades and the RPG.
All complaints aside, one of the most exciting things to be added to GTA IV is the ability to play online with fifteen different modes to choose from, ranging from the basic free for all and team deathmatch to cops ‘n’ crooks, a take on cops and robbers, and GTA race, a race where you win by any means necessary, even if that means blowing up the competition with your RPG. Playing online is really fun, but is shoddy at times and has its fair share of glitches and bugs that could have been worked out, not to mention sometimes it is next to impossible to get a game started without it disconnecting. The more you win, the more cash you receive, only to upgrade your character's look. This is my biggest complaint about the online feature, because who is going to play just to upgrade your character's hat to a different color? In an age where Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3 give you better weapons and perks for how well you do, GTA IV only upgrading your clothes and nothing more is inexcusable.
Overall, I would give Grand Theft Auto IV an 8.8 out of 10. It is a lot of fun and the ability to play online makes it a must buy. Although there are more things taken out than added, the promise of downloadable content gives a little bit of hope that more things will be added later. If you have not already, run and buy this now; you will not regret it.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.