Archaic and an often-tedious though you will still unearth fun
GTA IV, a world of violent fistfights, prolonged shoot-outs and the titular Grand Theft Auto. Notice the world prolonged, this game takes 30 hours to explain, at length, it's mechanics to you and by the time you'll have fathomed them all out the game abruptly ends. The campaign consists of primarily driving missions with little deviation but when it does deviate you will not be thankful. One of the main problems with this series' gameplay was perhaps its use of guns and this has been addressed in the form of a cover system although it isn't very intuitive. The game has an 'aim assist' feature though don't be fooled as this is largely useless due to it's random picking and choosing of enemies. You can turn this off but you'd change your mind fairly quickly due to the small crosshairs and the camera angle that is always focused way out making the enemies little specks indistinguishable from the monotonous scenery. The firefights are boring and are only endured to progress the story and see what happens to the colorful (but sometimes grey) characters.
Speaking of scenery while it's sometimes beautiful it's lacking in colour, the rain effect is testament to this. Take a look of this game’s prequels and you’ll be perplexed on why they settled with the palette they did. Graphically speaking however this game is beautiful, the character models are some of the best i've seen.
Liberty City is the home to this game with its 5 boroughs mimicking New York City; its scope is vast and is only rivaled by San Andreas. Both the graphics and the landscape are guilty of producing a horrible framerate however, which barely stays at 30 FPS. Additionally the loading is obtrusive, this is ironic considering it does not use traditional loading periods. Often while driving at high speeds or going back and forth through interiors, landscape magically appears seconds later. You normally wouldn't consider this a problem that is until you crash into something which doesn't exist yet.
Physics are warmly welcomed in this game though have been awaited for a long time. The system works well but sometimes over-exaggerates, however, there is nothing more fun than being hurtled out of a car window shield from a high-speed accident or seeing pedestrians fly and then roll countless amounts of feet because of an untimely moving vehicle.
Music in this series previously has always managed to capture the theme of the game and given something to enjoy while driving. This time the music seems out of place and the playlist doesn't have much of an impact. Humorous monologues are often found amongst the music on the radio stations although on this outing you’ll hear chatter constantly repeating itself.
This is a sandbox game so naturally you’d expect a lot to do, undoubtedly there is but what's available does not seem to generate much fun and occasionally manages to distract from the game. Some of shoehorned features have been scaled back from earlier GTA titles, which is a good thing but one wonders why they stopped where they did. The friend circle is also dull and only exists as another statistic to keep track of.
Mindless Mayhem could be the best way to describe GTA games and here is no different, numerous weapons such as Machine guns can be used to moe down pedestrians and create anarchy, while, a wide arrange of vehicles can used as escape routes. From Hatchbacks to Apache helicopters the freedom for causing violence in this game is wide. People often criticised how much the difficulty of the Police Force increased in past incarnations; Rockstar listened but ultimately tamed the criminal intervention to a farcical point.
Characters and story are the bond that keep video games together and in this case they shine through. The protagonist Niko Bellic is neither a shade of white nor grey, he is human and likeable. Humor arises from many interactions with Niko and the audience can easily find a part of Niko to identify with. The story is classic GTA at first glance though the lofty ambitions are scaled back somewhat. Niko's cousin Roman seeks the American Dream whereas Niko wants something more; vengeance and meaning. Just like the art style it is gritty and not really befitting of the GTA universe although it surprisingly fits.
In closing, I think that newcomers to the series will deem this game as quite approachable yet others may be indifferent. Despite the fact that GTA IV is an archaic and an often-tedious game you can unearth fun though it's too familiar and sterile. The plot and story make this game worth investing time into and you'll most likely look back at the game with warm memories hazing the bad.