wildmatt's Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360) review

GTA IV Review

Presentation - 10
The story in GTA IV is the best video game story you’ll play ever. In case you don’t know the basics already, you’re an immigrant called Niko, fresh off the boat to meet up with your rich and luxurious cousin Roman. Quickly Niko finds out this was all a lie and Roman actually just lives in a dump apartment and owns a taxi company. It spans from many different characters to culminate with one of the most epic decisions you’ll ever have to make in gaming.

The cinematic cut-scenes are produced in classic GTA fashion although the production value of IV is equal or even superior to those of big budget movies. The lip-syncing is done fantastically, it’s unbelievable that all this is done with the in-game engine.

Niko is the most like-able Grand Theft Auto character ever, for the simple fact that he seems to have more human qualities then any other protagonist in a GTA game. He gets mad, has past history to think about and overall just has more emotion then any other character in previous games.

Graphics - 9.5

The graphics are the best ever seen in any sandbox\open environment game. The characters look and animate fantastic, with only minor glitches such as the feet pointing upwards in specific situations, although it happens enough that it’s noticeable. The running animation has been improved upon greatly since last generation GTAs, you also lean when you do turns while you run.

With every GTA comes clipping, pop-ins and various other graphical glitches, and GTA IV is no exception. This being said, it’s definitely the most polished in terms of the typical hitches that happen. The only real pop-ins I’ve noticed while playing was going between the islands while others seemed to occur randomly. The draw distance is really far and while flying a helicopter, you can see across all 3 islands.

The vehicle damage looks super nice, the first car I drove in the first 3 seconds of being in it, I rubbed off something and it left scratches on the paint. Hitting a pole straight in the middle of the bumper will put a huge dent right where you hit. Rolling over will also put some damage on the roof, but will not cave in completely, the windows break nicely though.

The explosions look respectable, the real problem with them is there’s not enough. Flipping over the car will no longer make your car explode, and one of the most epic explosions in the game happens within 3 hours of play time.

Sound - 10

As usual Rockstar hit the nail square on the head in the audio department. All the radio stations are unique and of course, will depend on personal taste regarding which you’ll listen to.

Lazlow is back and produced the audio for every station, he also appears on Integrity 2.0. Integrity is a station where Lazlow is on the streets of Liberty City interviewing citizens with hilarious outcomes. The sad thing is that I seemed to have heard all of it while playing through.

I listened to Liberty Rock Radio and Liberty City Hardcore for my music fix and I was still discovering new songs near the end of the game. Although the DJ and commercials were getting repetitive near the third quarter of gameplay.

The sound effects are amazing, they sound just like their real life counterparts. Peeling out with a car sounds really cool and depending on your vehicle, it’ll also differ in sound. The weapons are great, no complaints and I’m sure you all know what guns sound like, well this title pulls it off with grace.

The voice-acting is done terrifically and you’ll encounter many different characters with diverse styles and cultures. Amazingly with all the various styles of voice-acting none of them are done bad, sure some are better then others but when isn’t it. The pedestrians also have dialogue, some are just normal conversations but most have a funny twist on them.

Gameplay - 10

The gameplay is what was always the best part of GTA. I really don’t know what to say that would be unexpected about this title. You rob cars, kill people, drive and run around.

The biggest alteration that actually makes a difference is the cover system, now you can hug up against a wall and blind fire some bitches or pop out and accurately head shot some enemies. The aiming system has also changed, you can shoot from your car similar to Saints Row. Auto-aiming was added as well, the option can be turned off but is a valuable asset, but it’s sort of picky with who it aims at. Sometimes I found myself face to face with someone and it would aim at a random guy in the distance.

Everything else that made the other games great are all here, with minor adjustments like the driving physics feels more realistic, yet still cartoony.

There’s a big social aspect to GTA IV, you get to make friends, girlfriends and work buddies. There’s advantages to do man-dates and dates. The man-dates are very crucial as once you get to a certain point of friendship, they’ll offer you stuff, such as Roman’s car service will be free. The dates only get you in the sack with them and well it’s virtual sex so who cares.

Fun Factor - 9.5

The online is flawed, it might only be my personal taste but I dislike it. I thought the map was far too big to enjoy any of the modes, seeing as the maximum amount of players is 16. There’s a mode that you have to steal marked vehicles and bring them to specific locations. If you just wait it out a bit to see where the other players are going, you could just take the one that no ones’ near for an easy point. Also the pop-in appears to get worst when playing online, I found myself crashing often in cars that popped up right in front of me.

The length of the main story is around 30 hours, plus all the side missions could lead you to a game that would last forever. This is the first GTA game I completed, as I thought all the others got repetitive fast. The difference between this one and the others, is there’s always one mission that is so epic in terms of story significance, that it makes you keep playing. You also get missions that’s kind of different from the others that it somewhat keeps it fresh, but mainly you’re still driving to point A, kill some guy, drive to point B.

Overall - 9.8
GTA IV is a cinematic masterpiece and an awesome value for your money, the online is flawed and there’s a few imperfections but none of them ruin the experience.

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