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There were so many moments in IV that provoked an emotional response, be it making me want to shout "Holy Shit" at the TV, or gut wrenching moral choices. The only moment that gave me any kind of emotional response in V was the torture scene. V is a better game than in so many ways, but IV has to win.
I thought GTA IV was middling in 2008 and I think GTA V really took GTA in the right direction. There might have been problems with specific beats in V's story but overall I think it was a much more coherent and well told story that I believed. I just never bought Niko as a character at all.
Everything I've seen of V makes it seem like the game GTA IV should've been. An expansive and detailed city, multiple protagonists, a better balance between serious and funny, more developed multiplayer.
In a couple of important ways, GTA IV felt like a step backwards from San Andreas.
Eh. The deal is I'm a sucker for story. The mechanics around it I can tolerate if they're bad, but if the story is bad and the mechanics aren't the best ever, odds are I might quit in the middle of it. With GTA V I did play through to the bitter end but only because I wanted to finish a game for the first time in ages. I think IV has, with ease, the superior story. Ergo I played it with much more enthusiasm than I did V after say the first few hours.
It's interesting that instead of the "most important" route that's the norm for these conversations, we've gone the other way. I like it, although it means that this list will be dominated by sequels rather than the more seminal titles of greater historic value.
GTA IV had a much better radio soundtrack. Not in terms of personal taste, but in terms of it being more varied. There was even a jazz station!
My favorite stations had to be Jazz Nation Radio, ElectroChoc (barring Gay Tony's additions; horrendous), and The Journey.
While those are my favorites offhand, I liked most of what the radio had to offer anyways.
No doubt I think GTA V will win this if only because now we're in that swing of being critical of IV and hot and heavy about V but looking back I think IV did way more for games and the franchise than V ever will. V has polish/refinement and a new batch of characters that are probably as well acted but that's it whereas IV was monumental in pushing Rockstar forward as a developer and being another tip of the spear example of storytelling in games at the time.
Does the gameplay hold up for IV? Eh, not really overall. I think it holds up personally but it's undeniable that people are responding strongly to the polish of V and some people had hang-ups with the story in IV (those people are crazy but whatever) so I don't presume that about IV; however even if we assume the efforts are more or less analogous, then IV is still more of banger compared to V.
IV was more impressive in 2008 than V was in 2013
I'd agree with this.
V is obviously the better playing game by today's standards but it doesn't even close to sticking with me the same way that GTA IV did.
I'll throw my hat into this camp as well. I'm okay with V winning but I feel like I've said my part and that's that.
IV was much, much more important as an example of building a believable open-world on a scale that had never been done before. V refined everything that IV put in motion, had a much cooler hook to the gameplay and story, and a TON of memorable characters. IV had some great characters, don't get me wrong, but it seems like everybody in V was very well-written, barring some minor characters. Not to mention the fact that all three of GTAV's protagonists were incredibly engaging on a personal and motivational level, whereas it seemed like Niko, Luis, and to a lesser extent Johnny, did not always line up in terms of motivations versus the things they're actually doing. Nothing that the boys in V were doing seemed out of character, whereas after a while, Niko was dealing with people he didn't even need to be (Italian Mafia), and Luis just doing random dumb stuff like parachuting and drug dealing with his friends, the former which is never really explained why, and the latter isn't either, but worse than that, he explicitly states to them how he doesn't want to get involved in drug running for fear of going back to jail.
Sorry for the text wall, folks.
V is better than IV in every way. So I vote for that.
But neither is as good as Red Dead Redemption.
I'm just gonna call it now. Red Dead Redemption for Game of the Generation.
Red Dead Redemption is so goddamn good, you guys.
Listen to this man!