GTA IV: I don't get it

Look, I get a lot of the appeal of GTA IV: it's sharply written, looks great (even 5 years out), does a great job of rendering pseudo-New York, and is full of charm and attention to detail. At the time, it redefined what an open-world game was in a lot of key ways. I've got a ton of respect for a lot of what this game does, but there's one huge problem: it's not fun to play.

I don't just mean that there's a few boring parts, I mean that at almost no point while actually playing it have I been really enjoying myself. I'm at best kind of bored, and way too often actively mad. I'm not just mad at some of the brain-dead, bewilderingly flawed gameplay decisions, I'm mad at the critics who were wowed by the sharp presentation, forgot that they were playing a video game, and awarded it with the 98% Metacritic score it has today. I don't get how critics could so overlook the the single defining characteristic of the medium in evaluating this game.

Let me cut right to the chase: this game doesn't have checkpoints. If you fail a mission at any point, even 10-15 minutes in, you're fucked. But wait, it gets worse: if you choose restart the mission, you do so from the point at which the mission technically began, which is almost always a 3-5+ minute commute from the the actual setting of the mission.

Even if I were to set that issue aside, the shooting in the game is just not good. The targeting system never seems to do what I want it to (and ridiculously expects the player to press a trigger halfway for basic operation), the cover system is loose and awkward, the shooting isn't particularly satisfying, the enemy AI is brain-dead, and it's way too easy to find oneself in a lethal, derpy short-range clusterfuck. There's no recharging health, health packs are extremely rare, and many enemies can cripple you in under a second, so the correct way to play is painstakingly slow and risk-averse.

Here's a real scenario: I play a mission that involves entering a housing project, mowing through dozens of guards to get the roof, killing a guy, mowing through dozens of guards and police to get back the entrance, then losing the police. The first time I play the mission, I get about 5 minutes in, accidentally run past a guard that was nestled in a corner, instantly lose half my health from one barrage of bullets, and in the ensuing clusterfuck, can't manage to target him and get killed. To get back to where I was, I not only have to drive from video game Brooklyn to video game Manhattan, but I have to patiently (to avoid making the same mistake again) play through the same portion of the mission.

The next time, I successfully kill the target on the roof, but lose 1/3 of my health in the process. The police show up, so I have to fight my way back through the building. Again, the correct way to do this is painstakingly slowly and carefully, as one slip-up could result in a guard catching me in an awkward position, and the targeting system isn't predictable enough to be relied on while on the run. I make it to the ground, and as the police appear from all sides, I figure "fuck, I guess I'm just supposed to run?", and proceed to run a full lap around the complex looking for the single tiny entrance while being shot from all directions. I die during said marathon. Including the commute, that was 15 minutes of gameplay.

What am I supposed to do now? I'm not happy, and am having basically the opposite of fun, but I do have a pretty good handle on the mission, so if I want to get this shit over with, now's the time. It also occurs to me that I should probably have grabbed armour, which gives you an extra non-renewable health bar to work with. Getting to the mission now involves commuting to the weapon store, getting out of my car, walking in, buying the armour, walking back to my car, then driving to the mission. I take a short breather, then waste the next 20 minutes doing all of this unfun crap. I complete the mission, but instead of satisfaction, exhilaration, or even mild amusement, all I've got to show for it is resentment, anger, and a sort of demented relief.

This game is full of moments as unnecessarily idiotic and unfun as I've just described. I have never played a game that's inspired such rage in me, and that's not hyperbole -- I sincerely can't think of a game that's so consistently annoyed me. Whether it be zero-margin-for-error motorcycle chases in which the primary enemy is squirrelly (yet weirdly muddy) controls, AI companions that get themselves killed and trigger fail states 15 minutes into a mission, a lack of low-level gameplay variety, cheap shots from concealed enemies, exploding barrels that instantly you without warning, loose character controls, terrible unarmed combat, an expectation that the player commute to gun shops to buy armour before missions, or just messed up AI pathfinding, this game's treasure trove of bullshit is seemingly boundless. Missions are either easy and boring; or hard, rage-inducing, and still boring.

Ironically, as it was the complaint I was most aware of going in, I don't find the car handling to be a problem. It took some getting used to, but I feel very in control, and I say this as someone who's never really been good at any driving game that doesn't have Yoshi in it.

GTA IV's shooting, while not forgivable, is at least understandable -- this game is not the first to feature an awkward targeting system, bad AI, or terrible play style incentives. The complete lack of a sane checkpointing system, however, is bafflingly stupid, and combined with the subpar, cheap shot-packed gunplay, produces a piece of interactive entertainment in which the parts you're actually controlling are often actively unfun.

Again, let me say that I like almost everything about the presentation of GTA IV. I think it's got some of the best writing I've seen in a game, it's pretty funny (if a bit high-and-mighty and/or crude at times), the world genuinely feels living and breathing, it's got a great cast of characters, it looks great, and it's stylish and culturally aware. If you want to tell me you like that stuff, I'm totally on board, but don't tell me GTA IV is one of the best video games of all time, because it's not. It's not a terrible game, but I can't square the breathlessly positive reviews with my experience playing it.

47 Comments
49 Comments
Posted by Aetheldod

So you never ever played another GTA game for the looks of it (none of them have ever had check points) ... As for the targeting I disable it and I do all myself ... if there is a screw up it will be my bad and no "lazy man´s auto targetting" fault. Also I like the shooting and all , but granted Im weird sometimes (iverted camera FTW!!!!).

Posted by mercutio123

I agree that GTA4 does not deserve the accolades it got from the press, but I still enjoyed it.

Posted by Baillie

Don't complain a game sucks because you suck at it.

Posted by SomeJerk

The auto targeting is hilariously bad, speaking as a PC player who plugged a pad in just to try it out. Still prefer the shooting in it over the other games and I found the cover system fine though finicky, once you figure out its secrets you'll be Matrixing.

Definitely not one of the best games of all time, but the patched up to date PC version has one of the best non-racing game driving&vehiclephysics-models of all time with how deep it goes into realism over painful arcadey business. Can only enjoy driving in GTA1, 2 and 4. Hoping 5 delivers.

Posted by wjb

I still would've considered GTA IV my favorite game of that year, but yeah, I don't think I could go back to it because of the lack of checkpoints. They didn't sort that out until the DLC episodes and Red Dead Redemption. It's one of those instances when it was tolerable at the time, but going back to certain games from 5 years ago is a bad idea.

That "drug-deal-gone-wrong" mission you mentioned was the worst. It took 3-4 tries and the cover system was awkward in those tight hallways; I can't imagine anyone completing that mission on the first try.

Edited by GrantHeaslip

@aetheldod said:

So you never ever played another GTA game for the looks of it (none of them have ever had check points) ... As for the targeting I disable it and I do all myself ... if there is a screw up it will be my bad and no "lazy man´s auto targetting" fault. Also I like the shooting and all , but granted Im weird sometimes (iverted camera FTW!!!!).

Yeah, this is my first GTA game. I've considered turning off auto targeting, but there are just too many scenarios in which enemies are difficult to see and auto-targeting is a godsend.

@baillie said:

Don't complain a game sucks because you suck at it.

I'm sure I'm not great at it, but I'm generally a pretty competent shooter player. If I'm largely good at shooters but bad at this game, is it really my fault?

Edited by mosespippy

Both GTA IV and Read Dead Revolver are great masterpieces that I don't enjoy playing. They're great to watch though. I think most of the problems stand out even more because of the multiplayer. Most of the problems are mechanics based; poor shooting, poor cover system, poor terrain traversal and odd vehicle physics. The multiplayer showcases those problems because that's all there is to do in multiplayer. At least with Read Dead the shooting was improved and there weren't any vehicles, so those two problems were sort of fixed.

I wouldn't describe the cover system as loose though; I'd call it stiff. It's the sort of canned animation that is the exact opposite of fluid. I didn't have the lock on targeting problem that you had because I turned off the auto aim. There is usually health and armour at points throughout the levels which kind of act as a sort of soft checkpoint. Kind of like, if you've made it this far here is a full health regen. I usually buy my armour from Jakob since he comes to near me, rather than me going to a gun store. Later on there is a girlfriend that can heal you via phone call. Later in the game if Dwayne likes you enough he can offer some homies to help out in missions. They really got me through some tough situations. That's some of the things that made the game tolerable but the game design, and especially the mission design, is definitely stuck in the PS2 generation.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

Both GTA IV and Read Dead Revolver are great masterpieces that I don't enjoy playing. They're great to watch though. I think most of the problems stand out even more because of the multiplayer. Most of the problems are mechanics based; poor shooting, poor cover system, poor terrain traversal and odd vehicle physics. The multiplayer showcases those problems because that's all there is to do in multiplayer. At least with Read Dead the shooting was improved and there weren't any vehicles, so those two problems were sort of fixed.

I wouldn't describe the cover system as loose though; I'd call it stiff. It's the sort of canned animation that is the exact opposite of fluid. I didn't have the lock on targeting problem that you had because I turned off the auto aim. There is usually health and armour at points throughout the levels which kind of act as a sort of soft checkpoint. Kind of like, if you've made it this far here is a full health regen. I usually buy my armour from Jakob since he comes to near me, rather than me going to a gun store. Later on there is a girlfriend that can heal you via phone call. Later in the game if Dwayne likes you enough he can offer some homies to help out in missions. They really got me through some tough situations. That's some of the things that made the game tolerable but the game design, and especially the mission design, is definitely stuck in the PS2 generation.

I kind of object to describing a video game that's not fun to play as a masterpiece. It may be masterful in a number of ways, but for a video game to be a masterpiece, I think the gameplay itself has to be strong.

You're right about the cover system. I meant loose in the sense that it's not tight (in a mechanical sense) or reliable. I'd contrast it (and really, almost all of my complaints about the gunplay) to something like Mass Effect 3 (or Gears of War, but it's been a while since I played it), in which you can confidently execute on actions without worrying about them not working the way you'd expect.

I've heard about a few of the friendship benefits you mentioned, and I might grind through more of the friend stuff to get access to it. I've been doing a fair bit of hanging out, so I'm a bit surprised I haven't unlocked any of it already.

Edited by Laiv162560asse

The only thing you've said that I agree with is the way the game handles missions and saves. There's no incentive not to reload a game after failure, because the penalties for getting busted or killed are so harsh, plus it's in the nature of a GTA game that some missions are a complete bitch and may take 20-odd retries. Travelling from the safe house to the missions to retry them over and over just becomes meaningless busy work. Also you're discouraged from ever using whatever cool cars you may have, because the game will force you to abandon them at the mission start and give you no way of saving them for later. That all needs an overhaul in GTA5.

As for the rest, I don't agree with any of your criticisms. The game was great fun to me. You don't have to deal with any targeting nonsense when you play with mouse & keyboard as I did. Although I didn't use it much, the cover system seemed like it worked well, which impressed me because much of the cover is dynamically created and movable/destructible (ie. cars). The driving is tight, as you attest. Explosions feel great. I even had fun with melee, punching people until they were staggered and watching the Euphoria physics do the rest. Even while playing Saints Row 3, I frequently found myself thinking 'I wish this game had the mechanics of GTA4'. Perhaps it's not quite as fun in pure gameplay terms as Sleeping Dogs, but that game had the advantage of having Arkham Asylum's melee system to crib off. I recommend you find a couple of the armour spawn points and turn off targeting, maybe play a bit more cautiously... or more recklessly? I dunno. I just found it pretty damn satisfying and not remotely frustrating, different strokes.

Posted by Hailinel

So you never ever played another GTA game for the looks of it (none of them have ever had check points)

That doesn't really excuse GTAIV for not having them. The lack of checkpoints was one of the reasons I gave up on Vice City and haven't touched a GTA since.

Posted by Video_Game_King

I thought the general consensus on this game was that people don't like it. (For the record, I did, but there were parts I distinctly remember not liking.)

Posted by Hailinel

I thought the general consensus on this game was that people don't like it. (For the record, I did, but there were parts I distinctly remember not liking.)

It's an opinion that's become more and more prevalent as time goes on and the faults in GTAIV become more obvious, but when it was released, people were hailing it as a milestone achievement. In some ways it is, but it's still hampered by elements that have hampered the series since GTAIII.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@hailinel:

I imagine it's a control or gameplay thing, right? From what I remember, GTA4 was a HUGE departure from previous games. For one, it wasn't based on a movie or general genre of movies like the other games were.

Posted by CommanderGermanShepard

@hailinel said:

@aetheldod said:

So you never ever played another GTA game for the looks of it (none of them have ever had check points)

That doesn't really excuse GTAIV for not having them. The lack of checkpoints was one of the reasons I gave up on Vice City and haven't touched a GTA since.

They brought in with the first expansion Lost and the Damned and Rockstar has been using them ever since.

But to the OP GTA IV is a long ass game, there is an achievement for beating it in under 30 hours, my first play though was around 60 hours, so of course there are some slow parts, but the mission you are talking about was really fun making your way up that apartment block, just take it slow don't rush into every room you aren't a bullet sponge like in Saints Row. I personally have alot of fun with the GTA IV and it's expansions, Ballad of Gay Tony has some of the best mission design in sand box games and some great characters, the physics system mixed with the big ass open world is what makes it so much fun to visit every year or so.

Posted by Hailinel

@hailinel:

I imagine it's a control or gameplay thing, right? From what I remember, GTA4 was a HUGE departure from previous games. For one, it wasn't based on a movie or general genre of movies like the other games were.

It's plot was a departure in that it took itself more seriously, and it also had a hard time integrating Niko into the gameplay:

"I want to turn over a new leaf."

*Goes on a remorseless, mass-murdering kill spree*

The gameplay received some upgrades (some of which first showed up in the first Saints Row), but it's otherwise a GTA game with a less-funny storyline that's inexplicably still set in a world where the signage is lined with dick jokes and the Statue of Liberty analogue is holding a Starbucks coffee cup because half-assed social commentary.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@hailinel said:

*Goes on a remorseless, mass-murdering kill spree*

To be fair, was that him willingly jumping into this shit, or was he forced into it by circumstance? Or (far more cynically) did people just play GTA like GTA and then decide that this didn't fit with Niko's mold? I remember a similar dilemma happening with CJ from San Andreas.

Posted by SuperWristBands

I agree with you completely. Pretty much the exact same scenario I gave up on in GTAIV. I think the mission was called "Snowstorm" and had you going into an abandoned hospital to steal some coke. Thugs inside, tough fight, police as you leave, grab a car on the way out and hope it doesn't blow up. Every mechanic in the game felt like it was my enemy.

I gave up after having to drive back and forth so many times. I also don't consider myself to be anywhere near bad at games so the "it sucks because I suck" argument can suck it.

Posted by VoshiNova

The check pointing in regards to restarting a mission can be circumvented by using your cell phone to "teleport" to the missions starting location.

I've dumped an unhealthy amount of time in Liberty City, and I can tell you that when you pay attention to detail the way Rockstar tends to - it's fulfilling the desire to be in a different place, as a different person, and do whatever you want. To use a more recent reference point; Minecraft is absolutely boring as shit. There is no fun to be had at all, as the core gameplay mechanics are shallow and so on and so forth. But it's when you allow creativity or imagination into the formula that the game world can become much more than....a game world.

Anyway, I don't blame you, I have met a quite a few people who enjoyed previous GTA's and found IV to be, just as you said, boring.

To each their own?

Posted by Digiwth

I just recently went back to this game, and holy pajeezus does the story not age well; the dialogue, characters and story are atrocious in 2013. Video games have really come a long ways since 2008.

Posted by CommanderGermanShepard

@hailinel said:

@video_game_king said:

@hailinel:

I imagine it's a control or gameplay thing, right? From what I remember, GTA4 was a HUGE departure from previous games. For one, it wasn't based on a movie or general genre of movies like the other games were.

It's plot was a departure in that it took itself more seriously, and it also had a hard time integrating Niko into the gameplay:

"I want to turn over a new leaf."

*Goes on a remorseless, mass-murdering kill spree*

The gameplay received some upgrades (some of which first showed up in the first Saints Row), but it's otherwise a GTA game with a less-funny storyline that's inexplicably still set in a world where the signage is lined with dick jokes and the Statue of Liberty analogue is holding a Starbucks coffee cup because half-assed social commentary.

How would you know? You said you haven't touched a GTA since Vice City. If you played it you would realise he came to America to find the general that betrayed him and his platoon in the war, this leads to Niko doing missions for people he hates to get information to find him.

Posted by mosespippy

@superwristbands: Go back and try it again. The Snowstorm is the climax of the second act (although it's a 5 act structure instead of the usual 3). Things really get interesting at the end of that mission.

@video_game_king: There are some instances where Niko is forced into that situation, usually by Bulgarin, Dimitri or the mysterious old man. There are other times, like the bank heist or the kidnapping, where he voluntarily does violent shit. It's inconsistent. At least CJ was always doing what he was doing to help his brother and sister or because he was extorted by the cops.

Posted by Hailinel

@hailinel said:

@video_game_king said:

@hailinel:

I imagine it's a control or gameplay thing, right? From what I remember, GTA4 was a HUGE departure from previous games. For one, it wasn't based on a movie or general genre of movies like the other games were.

It's plot was a departure in that it took itself more seriously, and it also had a hard time integrating Niko into the gameplay:

"I want to turn over a new leaf."

*Goes on a remorseless, mass-murdering kill spree*

The gameplay received some upgrades (some of which first showed up in the first Saints Row), but it's otherwise a GTA game with a less-funny storyline that's inexplicably still set in a world where the signage is lined with dick jokes and the Statue of Liberty analogue is holding a Starbucks coffee cup because half-assed social commentary.

How would you know? You said you haven't touched a GTA since Vice City. If you played it you would realise he came to America to find the general that betrayed him and his platoon in the war, this leads to Niko doing missions for people he hates to get information to find him.

OK, I'm selling the story short. Thank you for correcting me on that.

Posted by TheDudeOfGaming

In previous games you'd make money and you could buy businesses (Vice City) or work for a business to become the owner (San Andreas). And there were a shit load of residences you could buy. In GTA IV you can have 4 homes all earned through missions. And then of course the attributes that were introduced in San Andreas were a great step up.

I haven't played GTA IV in a long time but from what I remember the only thing you could really do is move from one mission to the other. I mean once you're done with the missions, what's left?

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@voshinova said:

The check pointing in regards to restarting a mission can be circumvented by using your cell phone to "teleport" to the missions starting location.

I use that, but again, it teleports you to the mission's starting location, which is usually minutes away from the where the mission actually takes place.

I thought the general consensus on this game was that people don't like it. (For the record, I did, but there were parts I distinctly remember not liking.)

I know, Metacritic is weird and all that, but this game has a 98/100, making it the highest-rated game on the site. It received just two scores under 90, and over half of the scores are perfect.

@hailinel said:

@video_game_king said:

@hailinel:

I imagine it's a control or gameplay thing, right? From what I remember, GTA4 was a HUGE departure from previous games. For one, it wasn't based on a movie or general genre of movies like the other games were.

It's plot was a departure in that it took itself more seriously, and it also had a hard time integrating Niko into the gameplay:

"I want to turn over a new leaf."

*Goes on a remorseless, mass-murdering kill spree*

The gameplay received some upgrades (some of which first showed up in the first Saints Row), but it's otherwise a GTA game with a less-funny storyline that's inexplicably still set in a world where the signage is lined with dick jokes and the Statue of Liberty analogue is holding a Starbucks coffee cup because half-assed social commentary.

Yeah, as @commandergermanshepard said, there's more to it. I've heard that complaint so many times (and from people who should know better) that I likewise assumed it was true, but it's not.

Not only does Niko have a broader purpose, but he also never really tries to depart from crime or murder. I mean, he arrives in America as an illegal immigrant whose core competency appears to be remorseless killing, so I can't imagine he was looking to integrate into mainstream society. There may be a few lines of dialogue in which he displays reluctance to be involved in other people's dirty work, but it's established very early on that his past life experiences (both in war and his post-war life) have heavily desensitized him to death. A lot of other characters regularly comment on this, and Niko never really disagrees. He's basically seen as (and sees himself as) an effective, ask-no-questions gun for hire.

Obviously, the sheer bodycount he develops is ridiculous in the same way that most games are ridiculous, but I'd argue Rockstar did about as good of a job as they could have at explaining his behavior -- better than most games.

Some of the humour is crude, but as someone who expected it to be worse and doesn't have a lot of patience for that kind of stuff, it's more clever than you think. I get the sense that the social commentary is kind of supposed to be corny, and that the writers are on some level self-aware. I mean, I just can't believe that they called an internet cafe "Tw@", or had every hot dog vendor dispense nonstop double-entendres, without some degree of self-aware corniness implied -- there's just too much clever writing elsewhere in the game. I could be giving them too much credit or rationalizing, but I've been doing remarkably little eye-rolling.

Posted by LiquidPrince

I agree with you. I just don't have fun in GTA games for whatever reason. I love other open world games like Assassin's Creed and Saint's Row, but GTA has never clicked with me.

Posted by jasonefmonk

I sold GTA IV a while ago after not having played for a couple of years. I enjoyed what I played at the time but never finished the campaign, and never had as much fun as in previous GTA titles.

I bought the game when it was on sale with both DLC packs for $15 on PS+, going back I had even more trouble with the combat, low camera while driving, and the issue with restarting missions. The thing that turned me off completely was when the Friendship system kicked in. Like the Fitness system in GTA: San Andreas before it, it's a tedious mini-game that you have to preform or suffer negative in game concequences. I want to go back to see what people say is a great "trilogy" story with the DLC, but it can be frustrating to play.

Posted by Hailinel

@grantheaslip: Yes, that sort of humor is crude and corny, but it's also juvenile. There's nothing intelligent or mature about "tw@t" or hot dog vendors spouting double entendres. I'm pretty sure that there was plenty of the latter in BMX XXX (though that is not meant to imply that GTAIV's writing as a whole is on par with BMX XXX). Regardless, it's not really witty or inventive to make dick jokes about hot dogs. The main problem being "Here, we're going to abandon the zany missions and ridiculous story beats for something more grounded, but this same logic will not carry over into the world that contains the story."

Edited by believer258

As someone who only got around to it late last year (or earlier this year, my memory's muddy in the wee hours of the morn), it does indeed play badly when compared to the vastly superior Saints Row 2.

Online
Posted by Slag

I have love/hate relationship with GTA games.

I love the concept, the world exploration. But the controls, gameplay and mission structure seems dull, oddly loose and grindy. And Rockstar's story telling style has always seemed a little stilted to me. Great characters, but the plot tends to stop and start in jerks. Red Dead Redemption is the first Rockstar game I can say where I actually really liked the story.

I guess that's one reason I liked Sleeping Dogs so much. It may have not been the perfect game, but adding Arkham Asylum style melee to an open world just made interacting with the environment so much more fun and dynamic.

Edited by GrantHeaslip

@hailinel said:

@grantheaslip: Yes, that sort of humor is crude and corny, but it's also juvenile. There's nothing intelligent or mature about "tw@t" or hot dog vendors spouting double entendres. I'm pretty sure that there was plenty of the latter in BMX XXX (though that is not meant to imply that GTAIV's writing as a whole is on par with BMX XXX). Regardless, it's not really witty or inventive to make dick jokes about hot dogs. The main problem being "Here, we're going to abandon the zany missions and ridiculous story beats for something more grounded, but this same logic will not carry over into the world that contains the story."

But what I mean to say is that I think they're sort of playing into it on purpose and in a way that admits its stupidity. I haven't played the previous GTA games, but I get the sense its a sort of series trope at this point, even if it didn't start that way.

I agree that I could do without it, but I don't find myself particularly offended (intellectually or otherwise) by it. By way of example, the game's got a fair share of gay jokes and stereotypes, but I don't feel like it comes from a place of homophobia or humouristic expediency. Because this game establishes itself as caricature of American life, I think the crude/"offensive" humour comes off as oddly authentic.

Again, I don't have enough context or actual evidence to say that with any authority -- I could be giving them way too much credit.

@slag said:

I have love/hate relationship with GTA games.

I love the concept, the world exploration. But the controls, gameplay and mission structure seems dull, oddly loose and grindy. And Rockstar's story telling style has always seemed a little stilted to me. Great characters, but the plot tends to stop and start in jerks. Red Dead Redemption is the first Rockstar game I can say where I actually really liked the story.

I guess that's one reason I liked Sleeping Dogs so much. It may have not been the perfect game, but adding Arkham Asylum style melee to an open world just made interacting with the environment so much more fun and dynamic.

I think we're more-or-less on the same page. You're right about the weird pacing.

Sleeping Dogs (and Saints Row 3) are a big part of why I played this game now. I'm sitting on both, but had the sense I couldn't possibly go back to GTA IV after having played them.

Posted by Slag

@grantheaslip: I think that's a wise decision.

GTA IV is just so self serious. I miss the mirth old GTA games had. Once you've seen that SR3 and SD and how silliness kind of permeates the gameplay I don't know if you can "unsee" it per say.

Posted by Gamer_152

@hailinel said:

@video_game_king said:

@hailinel:

I imagine it's a control or gameplay thing, right? From what I remember, GTA4 was a HUGE departure from previous games. For one, it wasn't based on a movie or general genre of movies like the other games were.

It's plot was a departure in that it took itself more seriously, and it also had a hard time integrating Niko into the gameplay:

"I want to turn over a new leaf."

*Goes on a remorseless, mass-murdering kill spree*

Wasn't that basically the point though? That Niko visits America because he's told it's this perfect land of opportunity, but he becomes disillusioned and rather unimpressed with it all, and struggling as part of the poor underclass he's pulled into the exact kind of world he wanted to escape?

Moderator
Edited by Seppli

@grantheaslip:

I enjoyed GTA IV as a crime life simulator. I played it like a roleplayer. The more seriously you take GTA IV and act like a real human being, the more it will give back (and the less you will fuck up). It's been a long time since I played it, but I had tons of fun. I easily put 100+ hours into its singleplayer. Probably triple that including the expansions.

I love it for how weighty and physical its gameworld feels. Everything has so much more impact, because it takes some discipline to act accordingly. GTA always was like that, to an extent. Vanilla GTA IV more so than the rest. I hate that Rockstar caved to *people of your opinion* and toned that aspect down for the expansions, especially in regards to the driving physics, in specific the bikes just didn't feel *real* anymore. A real shame.

Posted by kaos_cracker

There were a couple of times that I died super fast because of missing an enemy or being out of cover, but I figured that out really early in the game so it wasn't really a problem. As checkpoints go, really long missions have them so it ain't terrible. I still think it is a great game, it certain is more playable than some games that came out recently.

Posted by Turtlebird95

Yeah I found the lack of checkpoints to be really infuriating during the campaign and I hated how all the missions were pretty much the same. I got most of my fun out of free mode multiplayer with friends.

I know this might sound crazy but I highly encourage you to pick up Gay Tony. Checkpoints, awesome weapons, more mission variety, tons of side stuff to do, sweet new vehicles, and so much other awesome stuff make it feel like everything GTA IV should have been in the first place.

Edited by Fredchuckdave

@grantheaslip: This is more or less accurate to the GTA IV experience yes; one could just as easily watch a few movies and get a much better experience; though I guess if you mod it on PC it can be not as bad. Game just isn't fun; especially not compared to Red Dead Redemption or San Andreas.

Posted by Nictel

Yeah GTA4 I just didn't find enjoyable, all the others in the series I did. Its just too boring. Luckily Saints Row more than fixed that.

Posted by iceman228433

I can't stand GTA 4 no matter how many times I have gone back to try and play it, I still can't stand it. I hated it when it came out and I still hate it to this day and now it really plays like crap compared to many open world games out there now. Yo man Fuck GTA 4

Edited by redfoxbennaton

@baillie: One simply is not bad at a game with no point.

Posted by ThePickle

Can we seriously just get the fuck past this? It's been 5 years of "I think GTA IV sucks." It's nowhere near the unpopular or edgy opinion people make it out to be.

Posted by natetodamax

I remember GTA IV being pretty amazing when it came out. Even today I don't have any problems with the shooting or just the game in general, except that the cover system is horrendous and the graphics look really dated. Maybe that's because I played it when it first came out, which I imagine is a pretty different experience than playing it for the first time today.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

@thepickle said:

Can we seriously just get the fuck past this? It's been 5 years of "I think GTA IV sucks." It's nowhere near the unpopular or edgy opinion people make it out to be.

To be clear, I wrote this in May. I wasn't trying to get a contrarian potshot in at the height of the GTA V hype bandwagon.

Considering GTA IV has a 98% on Metacritic, I think there's some merit in questioning the way it was critically received. If it's not unconventional to say the highest-rated game of all time has poor (not just flawed, but fairly consistently unfun) gameplay, what does that say about game criticism?

Posted by TobbRobb

@thepickle: I'm sorry. Having a differing opinion obviously just means we're trying to be edgy. I sincerely apologise for even considering to not agree with you.

Edited by Rowr

Sounds like somebody has a bad case of sucking at video games.

Seriously though, everything you are judging harshly in this game is mostly a case of outdated mechanics/expectations.

Which isn't really fair.

Edited by GrantHeaslip

@rowr: I don't think five years is long enough to render a game off-limits for criticism based on modern expectations. The stuff I brought up is pretty elementary -- its not like there's been tons of game-changing open-world/third-person shooter innovations in the past few years.

Edited by Daneian

Yep.

Posted by GERALTITUDE
  1. GTA never had checkpoint systems, and neither did thousands of games before it. That doesn't mean those are not good games. Check points =/ objectively good. The player who does not enjoy how punishing the no checkpoint system *is not* more right than the player who does enjoy how punishing it is. In 2013, we are all used to games having nearly 0 punishment for death. Some of us hate this. Some of us love it. Neither is right or wrong. Don't play Shadowrun Returns, whatever you do, you can only save ~ every hour.
  2. Story pacing is off, I'll say that much. Somewhere in the middle things get a little bogged down in repetition. Keep in mind how amazing the voice acting and character animation was at the time though. It's true Uncharted had been out but it's also 1/100th the size of GTAIV. More on that later.
  3. I always sound like an ass when I say this, but here goes: you have to be *exceptionally* careful complaining about controls because you will almost always just sound like you are in the wrong. Too many people, like myself, played GTA IV with auto-targetting off and had exactly 0 complaints with the shooting for that to be a "real issue". Gamers who come from a PC shooter background or console FPS game will never be happy with Rockstar games if they can't wrap their heads around the idea that not all games should feel and control the same. They're not wrong to not enjoy the gameplay, but it doesn't mean the gameplay is bad either.
  4. GTA IV is fucking massive. It's massive. IT SO GIGANTIC AND DETAILED. Try and put yourself back in 2008. A huge part of GTA's 98% metacritic is when it came out. Saints Row was still mostly a shit/joke franchise, no one had ever heard of Sleepy Dawgs, there were no Batman games, etc and so on and so on. Open World still mostly meant "janky ass game".

This was a pretty long way of just quoting @rowr: "everything you are judging harshly in this game is mostly a case of outdated mechanics/expectations."

Posted by believer258

As someone who only got around to it late last year (or earlier this year, my memory's muddy in the wee hours of the morn), it does indeed play badly when compared to the vastly superior Saints Row 2.

Let's expand on this, shall we?

It plays pretty badly when compared to the vastly better-controlling Saints Row 2. I haven't actually played much of this game since then, either.

However, in 2008... yeah, I can see why this game was super impressive. It's hard to realize just how much has been made better since then. Red Dead and Max Payne 3 came out, both of which are better-looking and better-playing than GTA IV. Saints Row said "Hey, open-world games can control well and be really wacky again!". Animations have become far better. The grey-brown coffee filter-look isn't as prominent as it once was. I can't name a game made before 2008 that did the same kinds of things that GTA IV did and actually did them very well. The 98% on Metacritic was justified, but we can all sit back and agree that GTA IV did not age too well.

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