Genre: Action Developer: Rockstar North Publisher: Rockstar Classification: M15+ Release Date: To be advised (future release) Platforms:PS3XBOX360
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The Good bits
Sets a new standard in entertainment.
Still manages to deliver on the traditional fronts – audio, video and actual play.
The Bad stuff
The money you’ll waste in the future trying to match this experience.
“Take your time.”
Yesterday afternoon, those were the parting words from the Rockstar crew. They’d just opened the safe (yes – an honest-to-god safe) they had stashed the game in, taken out the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto IV, and handed it over.
It initially seemed a strange thing to say. After all, this is video games we’re talking about, right? Race through the game so you can get out the “exclusive first look”. Finish the game so you can claim “worldwide first review”. Heck, by the time I’d gotten to the 10% mark in the game my golf whipping boy Nazzy P had already finished his review and put it up on IGN.
Yet “take your time” was still ringing in my head. Truly prescient, sage words. And if there was one insight I could impart, one recommendation I could make to someone when it came to GTA IV, I think “take your time” would be it. Because I guarantee you that the average twitch gamer expert out there who has blasted their way through GTA IV, official hint book in hand will actually enjoy it less than you, my friend, with the luxury of going at your own pace. And if they honestly believe it’s nigh-perfect, it’s only going to be better for you, the person who plays the game as it was intended.
Only in videogames do the most passionate consumers feel the need to race through the content, as if to prove something. When you sit down at a gourmet meal do you wolf it down? When you’re watching a kickass film do you skip through it on fast forward? No, not unless you’re an idiot (or exceptionally hungry). GTA IV’s greatest seductive quality is that it entices you to take your time. Slow your roll, man. The story – an epic examination of the psyche of the individual (Niko Bellic) and the wounded, crippled giant that is America - is going to be there when you get back. Go on a date. Play some darts. Perhaps go for a cruise. Whether you do these things in game or for real is entirely your prerogative. Both options are enjoyable and possible.
GTA IV isn’t a game. It’s an interactive movie set in a living, breathing city. The people in it react like humans do. You’ll experience countless ones of your own, but my favourite moment so far has been when I brushed into a random pedestrian. She mouthed off at me, so I swung around and brushed into her again. She squares off at me, and like a little (word rhyming with “rich) I take off. Her bad luck is the local constabulary has seen what’s going down. She’s marched to a cop car. Another victory for cowardice.
It’s hard to describe just how far Grand Theft Auto IV has come from its roots, not to mention from other videogames. It’s no longer a “game” in the meaning of the word we’re used to. It’s become the first real example of a proper interactive story. You will care about Niko Bellic, the main character. You’ll delve into his dark past and see why he is how he is. Normally a dodgy past is an excuse used by videogame makers to turn the protagonist into a two-dimensional sadist, hell-bent on revenge/vindication/whatever. Not here. Niko is a shaded character with human motivations and feelings. He’s no “sociopath” (a term used to describe him in another article), he’s no old-school Sylvester Schwarzenegger wisecracking his way through bodies. He’s a man who’s seen and done the unspeakable with an agenda that gets railroaded by a culture and country so dominant and different that the only way to truly experience it is first hand.
Casting the main character as a Russian is a stroke of genius on a number of levels. First, there’s the thriving, oft murky Russian migrant scene in New York that inspires the game’s setting and sensibilities. Second, and something that you get a real feel for with the characters, the game taps into the unique Russian spirit and subtly conveys it here. You’ll see it in the upbeat entrepreneurial exuberance of your cousin Roman, the nouveau grimy arrogance of countless other crooks, and especially in the disillusion and weariness of Niko.
For a fascinating and unexpected adjunct, try reading some Martin Cruz-Smith (for the lightweights) or even some Dostoyevsky (for the heavies) to get a grasp on just how well Rockstar – unwittingly or otherwise – has managed to inject Russian character into this work. You may be tempted to think this is a pile of wank - have a go at them first before casting judgment.
In pure game terms, you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into here from our collection of hands-on previews and previous looks. Multiplayer stands alone from the single player experience and is something best evaluated weeks from now when everyone has played the game. For fun factor, there’s few things in gaming more diverting than going for a ride on one of the game’s choppers (motorbike, not helicopter). It handles supremely well, and is just sheer fun. The number of measures of how you waste your time – from the number of jumps found to air spins your vehicles have done through to miles on foot are another strong hook to keep you coming.
I’m not going to give anything away from the plot, especially about Niko’s past. I’m not even going to try and guesstimate how long it’d take to finish the game – although it’s taken me around 8 hours to do 14% - but I’m taking my time. I won’t even tell you it’s a must-buy, because if you’ve gotten this far and not realised that, GTA is not for you. In fact, if you’re just after a mindless blast-fest, GTA is also not for you.
Ignore the score. This bears about as much comparison to the typical “10/10” game as black and white TV did to colour. What you want to be able to do is tell your kids fond stories of how you played GTA IV when it first came out.
This game is great but it has a few flaws. For example you don't have enough stuff to spend money on, it would be nice if you could buy your apartment and do it up how you like it. Also in some arias the graphics realy do look horrible, but the problem with this game the most is that there's not eneogh interior. Well there is a lot of interior but it all looks the same, every restaraunt looks just like each other. But even with these flaws it still makes up a great game.
The thing that makes you forget about those flaws the most probably would be your ability to use the mobile phone. This is a great idea, if you just wan't to hangout with a friend just call him, or if you have a girlfriend call her, if you wan't to do a job use the phone. It is a great idea and makes the game so much better. Also the other good thing about this game is the cool shootouts that you have, the cover system is a smart input to. Then it comes to the cars the handling is great you can realy feel the difference from the large variety of vehicles that you have at your disposal. But still if this game did not have the mobile phone I would have given it a 8.0. So realy the phone saved it. I would have given it a 10 if it didnn't have some bad graphics at certain points, if it had a larger variety of stuff you could of spent your money on and if it had more interior.
Still this game is a masterpeice no doubt about it.