GTA IV Review
This is the first GTA game I have ever completed. That statement is going to ring true with a lot of people out there. I beat it in 31 hours with 60% of the game completed, 60% being the full story. A lot of gamers who play the GTA games are used to going into the city, getting a ridiculous amount of weapons, and causing havoc until they either get killed or busted. This process is then repeated for hours on end. I can't comment on the story for the other GTA games, I've heard they are good, but sometimes don't suck you in enough. The only other GTA game where I started to follow the story was Vice City Stories on the PSP. I played about 20% through the story before I got bored and just started messing around again.
GTA IV is a different beast, and I have a feeling that a lot of people will agree with me. No longer is the focus of the game to own every piece of property and build your empire. You now play as Niko Bellic, a eastern European immigrant who is trying to survive in Liberty City (inspired by NYC). Yes Niko wants money, but he has no interest in controlling the mob, or telling other people what to do. He has a back story and a reason to be in Liberty city. He takes various jobs in return for information about someone he is searching for. This is what sets GTA IV apart from the other games in the series. Niko has his own agenda. The story plays out less like a mobster movie with a guy trying to make it big, and more like a best picture nominee with underlying themes and principles guiding Niko.
Often times the player is forced to choose between two different scenarios in the game. You will be asked to either kill someone, or walk away and let them live. Sometimes this affects the dialogue between other characters and sometimes it affects the story of the game. What makes this interesting is that I found myself pausing the game, and asking my girlfriend to help me decide who to kill, or who to let live. You grow attached to Niko and start to think of what Niko Bellic would do instead of what you, the gamer, would do. Sure I just want to blow the heads off of people and run over everyone I see, but the game pulls you in and forces you to make decisions as Niko, not yourself. Niko may be a killing machine throughout most of the game, but he always has a motive. It becomes a WWND situation (What Would Niko Do). Would he really kill this person just because he was asked to? Or does this person deserve a second chance? Sometimes the answers are more obvious than others, but it can be tough.
The graphics for this game are incredible. Although they are not the best for the system, the sheer amount of stuff going on and the fact that it is a living, breathing city is amazing. Like a lot of reviewers said before this, the city really feels "lived in" it doesn't feel like it was made just for this game. From the conversations on the street to the traffic, roads, and buildings, the city really feels alive. Adding to that, the PS3 version had a mandatory install that allows for almost no loading in the game itself. You can drive all the way from Queens, through Manhattan, to New Jersey with no load times at all.
The replay value on GTA games has always been amazing. You can go into the city and cause mayhem all you want, but now you don't have to do it alone. Multiplayer has been added this time around along with a variety of game types. The only one I got to try out was free mode, which drops you in Liberty city with a number of other players and lets you roam around on your own.
Grand Theft Auto: IV: 4.5/5
GTA IV really makes you think about the characters, and choices you make in the game. This is the first video game I've played that really had a cinematic feel to it. I actually cared about the characters and based my gameplay and decisions around them. I have no interest in going back to play the stories of past GTA games after this. However, I am greatly looking forward to the future games in the series. I took off one point because sometimes the controls would get a little wonky. Rockstar has crafted the franchise into a storytelling masterpiece, and I'm sure they will only get better from here.