Grand Theft Auto IV Review
- Posted May 7th, 2008 at 16:19 EDT by Eric Blattberg
- 71 Comments
- PSU Review Score
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One of the greatest video game stories ever told. It may have its flaws, but it is the most ambitious game made to date and, without a doubt, the best game so far this generation.
- The movie-caliber storyline
- The stylistically unprecedented recreation of New York City
- The vast online experience
- The slight framerate dips and pop-in
- The lack of a checkpoint system
Grand, theft, and auto. These three words, when separate, hold little weight. When conjoined, however, they represent pushing boundaries, confronting the man and provoking society at large. I’m talking of course about the most innovative and controversial franchise to date, Grand Theft Auto. With over 70 million units sold worldwide, the series is one of the most successful in the history of video games. It continues thriving to this day, with its latest entry, Grand Theft Auto IV, arriving with remarkably hefty expectations from millions of prospective owners. Is it even possible for a game to live up to such insane hype? To that, I respond with a resounding yes.
As you surely already know, Niko Bellic has one troubled soul. A veteran of the Bosnian civil war, this immigrant is lured to America by his cousin Roman, who spewed incessant lies about his supposedly extraordinary and glamorous life in the United States. After arriving, Niko (rather despondently) takes refuge in a modern day Liberty City and begins his own search for the American dream.
This search just happens to involve an abundance of car-jacking, gun-toting and cash-grossing. In fact, these three occurrences tend to transpire every few minutes. Niko just happens to be a determined guy who isn’t concerned if he lives or dies; if it pays, he’s the man for the job. What I love about Niko isn’t his awesome accent or unwavering daring, though; his flaws define him. His emotions manifest themselves throughout the plot in a subtle yet dramatic performance. He expresses his sorrow, he makes jokes, he becomes irritated – simply put, he’s not a cardboard cutout, he’s a human being. Not that the other characters are any less brilliant, but you develop an inexplicable attachment to Niko during the course of the game that you’ll discover yourself deeply concerned with his fate. This is an achievement in every sense of the word.
There is one more living, breathing being that must be mentioned, and it’s not human. Liberty City is an unprecedented, near-perfect recreation -- in a stylistic sense -- of New York City. The streets are covered in grime, the populace is plentiful and no two buildings appear alike. The city, not as massive as San Andreas or as modest as Vice City, contains more detail and care than both areas united. Familiar landmarks abound, from the Statue of Happiness (holding a coffee cup in lieu of a torch) to a rendition of Times Square as extraordinary as the actual place itself. The grand set pieces are accompanied by an ample amount of highly detailed interior areas that are easily accessible and free of loading, whether entering or departing. Integrate indoor and outdoor areas into a single seamless world by dashing the Cabaret Club to catch a show or heading back to your apartment to watch the latest episode of ‘Republican Space Rangers,’ a shining satire of both Halo and current politics.
It’s uncanny how lively the city can be. As you stroll down the sidewalks of Liberty City, you’ll encounter groups of friends having coherent conversations, citizens walking to work in the morning chatting vociferously on their cell phones, denizens hanging out in alleyways and the like. Run into a person and knock them over and they could have a myriad of different reactions. Is this person an inherently irate individual and searching for an opportunity to start a fight? Or is this a person intrinsically frightened by strangers and seeking to avoid conflict at all cost? Perhaps they’re in the middle of the road and will simply proceed to curse at you angrily in their native language (apparently Niko is “una puta” and several Chinese phrases I couldn’t even begin to comprehend). The inhabitants of Liberty City aren’t on, say, Shenmue level, but then again, that’s an entirely unjustified comparison of dozens to millions. They’re not always perfect, but the general public is as vibrant as diverse as Liberty City itself. It’s apparent that the folks over at Rockstar put an insane amount of effort into every asset of Liberty City. It shows.
Outside of the physical world comes the nearly as meaningful universe of media. Rockstar has always nailed the city radio stations and it’s no different in this iteration. The assorted stations ... (continued on next page)
- 3:18pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
This website actually earned some respect from me for not giving it a undeserved 10 like every other freakin website did. Kudos.
- 3:31pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
I really wish I could post my opinion of GTA4, however, since I am unable to play my copy on my 60gb PS3, I am sorely disappointed with both Rockstar and Sony right now :(
- 3:38pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
not perfect but still great, and why does it matter if its 10/10? its just a number and their opinion, chill out guys there are downsides to the game althoguh checkpoints are not one, thats why theres autosaves :P. there are minor framerate problems to be sure and the shooting could use some work. also seeing as GTA:SA was released in 2004, dont you think they could have drastically improved the graphics over 4 years? anyways nuff said.
- 3:57pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
Emm am I the only person who thinks this game is a step backwards not forwards for GTA.They took what made GTA a GTA game and removed it.Yes it looks pretty and the story is ok if not pointless overall after you finish it.But the GTA feel is lost the little touches that made GTA fun.No property to buy.Lack of clothing shop sand different styles.Aiming is Terrible.Auto aim online(WTF).Framerate dips.If this game had a different name and not that of GTA it would of gotten a 8.5 maximum.Say it like it is, this is less of a game since GTA:VC back in 2002.Funny thing is this feels more like a GTA clone than an Actual GTA game.Most online modes is an after thought at best.Co-op missions take 5-10 minutes to finish tops.Even on hard they are easy.Dont get me wrong its a fairly decent game but a GTA it is not.
- 3:58pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
Yeah- I bought this game at the midnight launch and overall I would say I'm a bit disapointed. The graphics just don't hold up for me. I think it was "dumbed down" so the 360 could handle it.
- 4:29pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
i dont make sense to buy properties and still be a hired assassin...think about it
- 4:35pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
I agree with 9.5, rating shouldn't be how much better it is than other games. This game doesn't deserve a ten, it has CONS. It would only deserve a ten if it was PERFECT, which it isn't.
- 4:58pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
They left out a few simple things that would really have polished it off....car mods..property buying...garages....(i dislike my curb parking...)....for some reason, I was expecting more little stuff...but, this game is great otherwise.
- 5:04pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
I have already tried the patch, see my rant in the patch article.
- 6:35pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
i didn't like the game i felt the graphics were cheezy or blurry. the plot was the same as the old games. had this been a ps exclusive im sure the 50gig disc would have given the game better graphics and more depth into a characters actions. overall this game was missing alot of things that couldn't get compressed into an 8gig disc. in my opinion this game deserves an 8 since it had nothng innovative
- 6:39pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
was the game really that hard for you that you couldnt just restart the mission? having a checkpoint system is completely idiotic.
- 6:57pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
I agree with the Review Score. I don't care what anybody says, GTA4 DOES NOT deserve a 10/10. The typical things that are in GTA games like Pop-in, and Framerate drop are in GTA4. And I was somewhat disappointed with the graphics. I know that graphics aren't everything in a game, but whenever I compare the graphics of Uncharted to GTA4, it's like night and day and whenever you get used to seeing a certain level of graphical detail, it's just hard to adjust to something that's not as good looking.
But, the gameplay in GTA4 is very fun. The story in GTA4 is "alright" but basically you just end up doing other peoples dirty work and they pay you... and that's really a lot of what the story consists of.
If I was to rate GTA4 on a scale from 1-10, I would give it a 9.0/10. Anybody that gives GTA4 a 10/10 isn't looking at the facts and getting too caught up in the hype to realize the truth because how in the heck does GTA4 deserve a 10/10 with slight framerate issues and some Pop-in? If a PS3 exclusive like Resistance 2 had framerate issues and Pop-in, the review score would probably be instanty bumped down by 0.5 or 1 point because we all know how critical the gaming industry (Gamespot, Gametrailers) is when it comes to PS3 exclusives.. I know that my opinion may not be the most popular, but I speak my mind.
I'm glad that PSU.com didn't give GTA4 a 10/10 just because almost every other reviewer did.
- 8:25pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
I honestly think the 9.5 is quite generous. For a game to get that high of a rating, it would have to be one of the best games I've ever played and also would have great re-playability.
I haven't even finished yet and I'm finding myself getting quite bored with it. If GTA 4 had of been PS3 exclusive with the extras that they cut out from SA then it would definitely be a better game in my opinion.
- 9:27pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
It's not like it's a perfect game. If people wouldn't never have heard of gta franchise, it would be just normal free roaming game among others, but just well made one. There's many reviewers that didn't give 10/10
- 9:59pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
I don't get it. Doesn't anyone in the world suffer from the unstable frame-rate? I find it really annoying. The game slows down pretty bad at some points. Actually, the frame-rate drops almost always.
- 11:22pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
I'm really enjoying GTA 4. Taking my time and soaking up all the hard work Rockstar put into the game. It hink alot of these comments are misplaced in terms of stepping backwards from GTA San An. if you think about it all the changes make sense tot he story being told. If you wanted more guns etc go and play Saints Row. With the level of thought and execution in a world created on so many levels i think the game is worth the score given.
- 11:59pm EDT - May 7th, 2008
Ok to argue their cons. 1. Framerate...its a giant freakin world with no loading screen...what did you expect exactly? 2. The shooting system has been rebuilt, and took little to no learning curve. 3. What other GTA had a checkpoint system? The challenge is to start over if you are "knocked out", thats part of the game, man you guys are more nitpicky than IGN.
- 12:29am EDT - May 8th, 2008
good review, its deffinatley not a 10, i bet metal gear will be better but on sites like IGN it will not get a 10 because of minor problems, so why should GTA be any diffirent!!!
- 12:50am EDT - May 8th, 2008
Nice review PSU. Thanks for reviewing the game a rate it according to your standards and not following the ´´perfect score`` other sites did. I dont thinks this game deserves a 9.5 though. I think its way too high considering the gameplay mechanics and the step back from features introduced in San Andreas.
This games is like Dragon Ball Z!!! With ever new console release they makes 3 games for it. One ends in the Cell saga, the 2nd ends with the Buu saga and the 3rd ends with all the characters from the original story plus the extra chars form the movies. They did this with the PS2 and they are going to do it in the PS3.
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