Grand Theft Auto IV Review

We built this city. We built this city on guns and coooooOOOKE.

  • Developer: Rockstar North
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games
  • Release Date: 3 December 2008
  • Time played: 4.4 hours (INCOMPLETE)

I never really got into Grand Theft Auto. I kind of appreciated the first one and the earlier games were a blast on multiplayer and Vice City had an awesome 80s soundtrack to boot. However the ability to inflict chaotic pain and suffering onto an unsuspecting populace never really enticed me – although apparently I'm in the minority since the Grand Theft Auto series is one of the most popular you can get. Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV) is a bit dated now (especially considering GTA V has just bee released) but I thought I would still give it a go since the game has an outstanding Metacritic rating of 90 and also because there is news that Games for Windows Live is shutting down in the near future.

Plot (3/5)
In GTA IV, you play the role of Niko Bellic, a recent immigrant to Liberty City (which is basically New York) from an unspecified ex-Soviet republic. Niko's purpose for going to the United States is to track down a soldier who betrayed his unit fifteen years before and to also make a new life for himself.

GTA IV's plot is predictable. Not long after you arrive you already get involved with the wrong type of people and the more you try to get ahead, the more blood you'll have on your hands. After playing Sleeping Dogs, GTA IV's plot seems average in comparison and while I obviously haven't played enough to experience what lies in store, I'm not tempted enough by the first few hours to care.

The game is genuinely funny at parts though, when it isn't throwing the obligatory misogynistic jokes that seem to go hand-in-hand with this type of game.

You're Niko; the man that can solve any problem

Gameplay (2/5)
This is your typical GTA game so basically it's a sandbox third-person shooter where you're able to walk, drive or ride around Liberty City at your leisure doing almost anything you want, provided anything you want means stealing cars, shooting people, playing pool, taking your girlfriend on dates or surfing the Internet. In fact, credit where credit is due, the game does have a lot of mini-games and side quests, some are pretty detailed too. The pool mini-game, for example, isn't too far from an actual pool simulator game, if you can master the fiddly controls on PC (more on that later).

Ultimately though, after loving the visceral martial arts combat in Sleeping Dogs, its absence in GTA IV makes it seem inferior. So once again playing Sleeping Dogs has spoiled my experience with GTA IV. Not to mention the entire game is just go from point A to point B, kill people, return to point A, with some cutscenes thrown in. While games like Mafia II were pretty much like this, somehow that game really managed to get you involved and care about the story's characters. I didn't feel the same sense of attachment with the characters in this game and consequently successfully completing the tedious tasks given to me only meant one hollow victory after another.

Sound (4/5)
The voice acting in the game is generally good although there are some characters that sound wooden (take Michelle for example). One of the better examples of voice acting is Coolie Ranx's performance as a Jamaican named Little Jacob. I especially found the voice for this character entertaining as the accent is so strong it's almost indecipherable!

Music (4/5)
I haven't really heard of most of the artists on the soundtrack but the main theme is pretty good – so good that it actually features as a track by the London Philharmonic Orchestra on their album The Greatest Video Game Music.

The game has a lot of licensed music from famous artists but unfortunately it's not usually their hits but usually tracks you've never heard of before.

Graphics (3/5)
GTA IV was released in 2008 which is about 5 years ago now; an eternity by gaming standards and especially when it comes to 3D games. Unfortunately this shows in GTA IV and consequently its graphics score suffers as a result. I even manage to get frame-rate drops every so often for some peculiar reason.

Replay (0/5)
I couldn't do it. I just couldn't get myself through the barrage of aimless misogynous quests. Okay sure, that's just like almost every game to do with the mafia or organised crime right? Well it felt a lot different in games that were clones of GTA as they seemed to have consequences tied to your criminal activity. It generally wasn't as easy to get away with crime. In GTA IV this doesn't appear to be the case except for the occasional cop chasing you for stealing a car.

Polish (3/5)
Controls aren't terribly intuitive obviously thanks to the game being a console port. Also there's the small matter of the game being tied to Games for Windows Live which is apparently being retired next year although there's been no word about what's going on with GTA IV as of yet. Other games such as Bioshock 2 for example, have been converted to SteamWorks, but no news about GTA IV. Will Rockstar step up to the plate or will they once again slap PC gamers in the face?

Score – 6/10

Grand Theft Auto is Grand Theft Auto. It's a game where you get to steal any car you want, murder any person you want and get away with it scot-free (well almost, unless you're caught in the act – but the cops are pretty incompetent). It's every misogynist's fantasy and it does it very well. However, the game is pretty dated now so you're probably better off with newer and far superior fare such as Mafia II or Sleeping Dogs, if you're into this sort of thing.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam .

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