Grand Theft Auto IV Review
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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
(continued from previous page) ...The assorted stations are satiated with over 200 incredible songs from a variety of genres. I mustn’t forget the witty talk shows and hilarious commercials either. One station that stands out is Vladivostok FM, post-communist Russian music that rocks the Eastern Bloc. It’s so obscure yet entirely approachable – I foresee Grand Theft Auto IV broadening a lot of players’ musical horizons.
Radio doesn’t cover all media though, in fact, that’s just the beginning. Remember, this is present day, the digital age. Outside of the aforementioned television (which features such shows as ‘I’m Rich!’ and ‘Republican Space Rangers’), Rockstar has essentially recreated the internet, an absolutely insane feat. Upon visiting a TW@ (pronounced ‘twat’) internet café, you’re able to check e-mail, browse hundreds of fictitious websites and even arrange dates on such sites as Love-Meet.net.
After arranging a date, how do you further contact these individuals? It’s now that I stumble upon the primary pillar of both Niko’s universe and modern day society – the almighty cell phone. This little handheld device revolutionized world communication, so why not let it revolutionize Grand Theft Auto IV? It’s the impeccable implementation of the cell phone that makes this installment of Grand Theft Auto rise above the others. Let’s run down what the cell can do.
Obviously you can make and accept calls, whereas texts can be received but not sent. Just about everyone you meet will contact you via the cell phone regarding “business,” but you’ll also start forming friendships -- or more intimate relationships -- where you’ll receive calls just to hang out. Each person has their personal preferences regarding favorite and hated activities. For girlfriends, add in inclinations towards particular cars and dress styles as well. So while Michelle might be content for a casual bowling date, Alexandra would prefer a classy Niko showing up in a stylish ride to attend a full-fledged show at the theatre. While this all seems like a lot of work, getting on someone’s good side has substantial advantages. Say Carmen the nurse loves you or the irate Irishman Packie is your best bud – Carmen can heal you with helpful medical advice via the phone while Packie will kindly provide you with car bombs should you call and ask nicely.
And all of it ties into your trusty cellular. Not only is it the ultimate social tool, but your phone is often integrated into missions as well. One mission -- which I’ll attempt not to spoil -- is a prime example. You’re first asked to travel across Algonquin (Manhattan) to a vantage point at a park. Upon arrival, you’re texted the phone number of your target, a man who holds incriminating photographs that your employer doesn’t want released to the public. You’re tasked with calling this man and keeping him on the line in order to find him in the park. Once you find the man on the other end, you close the phone, grab a gun and execute the sucker.
That assassination goes down smoother than ever, thanks in part due to the reworked shooting mechanics of GTA IV. Past Grand Theft Autos were criticized for their basic and unwieldy shooting, and that criticism has clearly been constructively implemented. The new system, although a bit complex, blows the mechanics of old out of the water. Left and right on the D-pad switch weapons, while L2 targets and R2 shoots. It’s not as simple as that however. A fully held L2 locks on to an enemy, but the process of choosing a target seems somewhat random, so we recommend the free aim that comes with a half press of L2. At least the randomness of full targeting is somewhat alleviated by the fact that once locked on to someone, it’s fairly easy to switch targets; all that’s required is a flick of the right stick. Additionally, while locked on to an enemy (or civilian) you retain a touch of maneuverability in order to target specific body areas. Such seemingly small details like that latter bit actually enhance a would-be standard system and make it original and enjoyable.
You won’t be running and gunning through the majority of GTA IV, as another major addition to the Grand Theft Auto formula comes in the form of a full-fledged cover system. The world doesn’t ... (continued on next page)