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Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City Review

May 5, 2008

Disappointing, letdown, broken…. all of these words unfortunately describe the latest GTA game. How this game received a 10/10 score from major reviewers is beyond me really ($$$). Well, let’s get to my review shall we.

Background

GTA IV starts you off as a Serbian character named Niko who has just come to America. Here you visit and meet up with your brother Roman who has gotten himself into some trouble. You spend the first bit of the game cleaning up his mistakes, slowly doing missions for other people and not just for Roman. The game lets you do your typical GTA things…car jack, beat up anyone, etc. In addition you now have a cell phone with which you can call for missions, call girlfriends to set up dates, and more. Now, on to the technical aspects of the game.

Graphics

The graphics leave MUCH to be desired in the newest installment of GTA. I found myself actually arguing that the PS2 has games that feature better graphics. The character models are very boring and lack a lot of detail. The city looks pretty good overall, despite a lot of small and blurry text that is difficult to read. The lighting can be very good at times, while other times can be absolutely terrible.

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Sound

The sound is another area that GTA really stumbles. I found it very difficult hearing any conversations in the game. While you are driving it is near impossible to hear conversations with passengers or on your cell phone, even with car radio volume fade enabled. Even when you can hear the conversations without background noise, most characters talk so fast and mumble so much that it’s tough to really get a good sense of what is taking place. However, the game’s soundtrack is a strong point of a great mix of songs. Anything from 80’s to rap is on the music stations with a surprisingly deep track set.

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Gameplay

The controls for this game feel like a last-gen experience and feel very outdated. For example, when driving a car you will constantly oversteer, making simple navigation incredibly difficult. Niko moves on foot at an incredibly slow pace, meaning you’ll be holding the X button a lot to get him to run. He also turns awkwardly, making it tough to move him around. I also dislike the camera in that after you adjust it, it springs back to where it was, making camera adjustments virtually useless.

I do like the new cover system the game implemented, meaning you can take cover behind objects and shoot from behind them. This worked very well along with the new aiming system. The inclusion of motorcycles was a nice touch as well.

The open-world of GTA to me feels like a step backwards. You have missions where you get to fight inside of buildings, but if you’re roaming the streets, good luck trying to find a building to go in to. For a game that prides itself on it’s open-world environment, I was very disappointed in how few buildings you can actually go in to without a mission allowing you to.

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Bugs

Another knock against GTA IV is the number of bugs the game shipped with. It was simply unacceptable how many problems this game shipped to retail. The game has freezing/lock-up troubles and will all of a sudden freeze on you, causing you to lose all unsaved progress. A quick-fix that users found was to disable the PSN, which I can verify DID WORK. Rockstar claims it’s not a big issue, but many users are complaining, and Rockstar needs to come out with a patch to fix this broken game.
In Summary

Overall, GTA IV did not at all live up to the hype. It simply feels like a half-finished game that should have been delayed for polishing. The graphics look last-gen, the sound is rough, the controls feel outdated, and the game is full of bugs. All of these issues lead up to a game that quite simply didn’t leave me wanting to play more. In fact, every time I picked up the game, I was forcing myself to keep playing. I’m not sure what these reviewers were given by giving this game a 10/10, but I do not feel the game has innovated the genre as they claim. In fact, the Godfather which released years ago is more of an open-world than the newest GTA is. At this point I have actually sold my copy of GTA as I was extremely disappointed with it, and I urge those interested in it to rent it before purchasing it.

Decent

Decent

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