I have been playing the GTA games for a very long time. I think everyone remembers the first time they played the very first GTA, being able to really do whatever you wanted in a goofy, top-down view world. We have come a long way since then. GTA 4 came out in '08 for consoles, but wasnt released on the PC until one year later, and it was a fun, if flawed experience.
The initial impression, gameplay wise, was very positive for me. I very much enjoyed the first half of the game, being able to cruise around liberty city, blasting my own hand picked tunes from Indepence FM, going on dates, getting drunk, playing pool, stealing cars, assassinating targets, eating, and watching comedy shows that were actually kindve funny. The cars handle a lot better than in previous GTA games, feeling like they have weight and momentum. The damage modeling system in GTA4 is even better than before, and gives very accurate damage modeling on different parts of the car. The physics engine as well is very well done, and you can really destroy an environment and watch the beautiful explosion. There were a few times when I tossed a well placed Grenade, and dudes flew all over the screen. The combat in this game is overhauled compared to previous GTA games that put you in the center view, opposed to GTA 4's over the shoulder view, which works a lot better. YOu can be a lot more precise, and can even use cover this time around, making fights a lot more tactical and require more skill then just running and gunning.
Liberty City really feels alive, with people having their own agendas, and you have many choices throughout the game that change the course of the story, much like an RPG, which i thought was a nice touch, even if it was very simplistic, giving you a "do this or that "situation. Once you get past all the innovation and intersting things Liberty City has to do, the problems start to show, espcially on the PC version.
I dont know what Rockstar has been putting in their PC crews' drinks in the past couple years, but ever since the port atrocity that was Bully, Rockstar has been spitting on PC users. First it was Bully( Didnt even run on my system, it was so buggy), then it was Manhunt 2(I dont know why Rockstar made a PS2 quality game so late), and then it was GTA 4. At least GTA 4 ran on my system, but all the things you have heard about the general slowness of the PC version are true, unless you have a really good video card with at least 1GB of memory. For those who havent heard, its pretty bad. The indoor sequences are very smooth surprisingly, but once you go outside, the graphics take a u-turn. The framewrate, even when i dropped it to the lowest settings, still didnt exceed 25 FPS. A lot of pop in textures, washed out parts of the city, and horrid looking water are just some of the graphical things that upset me about this game. i bet this game looks absolutely tits when its on high settings, but unfortunately for me, since my video card is only 512mb, i could only max out shadows and water effects.
Now for the gameplay, it all starts to get pretty repetitive after about halfway through the game, which is as ive said, the point in this game that I started to enjoy it less and less as the game went on from there. The combat was the only thing that kept me playing this game to be honest, because everything else in this game was definitely starting to feel very tired. By the end of the game, I was so sick of this game I felt playing any other game besides an open world game, and the ending felt very abrupt and was a big let down for me. I thought I had at least another 5 hours or so left, because I looked at my Stats before the last 2 missions, and it said 65% complete. So Overall, I really expected a better, enjoyable experience from GTA 4, and it all wore off very soon after i started playing. The performance Issues and gameplay redundancies add up to a game i wouldnt recommend unless you are a die hard fan of open world/ GTA games. For everyone else, this game is a waste of time. Your not missing anything, trust me.
Now there is also a mutliplayer component that I thought was very enjoyable and overdue. Being able to drive around a free roaming city trying to kill other players is more fun then it should be ;) I havent played the Mulitplayer as much as I have played the story, but I think its definitely something I will come back to. There are a buttload of modes too, probably the most I have ever seen in a multiplayer game.Very fun overall