Grand Theft Auto 4

May 24, 2008 § Leave a comment

Here follows a review posted by me on Gamespot:

I must confess I’ve been making excuses not to write this review for a while now. “Complete it 100%” I said to myself, laughing gleefully as I watched Niko fly through the windshield of his car, “get into the online first” I pleaded, as I jumped over a waiting helicopter on a bike. I can’t make excuses anymore, I need to somehow condense this massive game into just a few paragraphs to convince you it’s worth your time. It is, by the way.

Chances are you know something about this game already. You’re Niko Bellic, a Serbian immigrant fresh of the boat from eastern Europe in Liberty City. You’ve come to meet your cousin Roman, who’s been living the American dream…or so he claims. It soon transpires he’s in with the wrong people, loan sharks and gangsters and so begins Niko’s steep decline into the criminal underworld.

It’s the little details that strike you first, the way Niko will smash a window to a car before he can gain entry, or the way you’ll see pedestrians using mobiles, buying hot dogs or holding up umbrellas when the heavens open but soon the major differences become apparent. Firstly the aiming, perhaps the only slightly dodgey component in past GTA games. Holding L2 will lock you on to your nearest target, but then the right analogue stick can be used to fine tune your aim. Pulling off headshots feels a bit easy at times, but rest assured you feel like a complete badass each and every time you do it. Next up is a new cover system, which allows you to crouch behind literally anything in the environment to desperately stop the barrage of bullets heading your way.

It’s at this point though that i should really stop listing the improvements over past GTA games because you see GTA4 isn’t a major leap for the series. You still arrive at contacts doors and ask for work before going out on a mission for example. It’s the way in which everything fits together that makes GTA4 so special. Take the storytelling for example: Cutscenes in previous GTA games had been there largely to accomplish one thing, to advance the story. This time around things are different. You get development of characters, forcing you to care for these people who you’ve come into contact with. When a decisions come up which may harm one of Niko’s friend’s you really have to stop and think about how much they mean to you. I’d even go as far as to say hanging up on a friend when they’re asking to go to a strip club makes me feel a slight pang of regret.

Graphically the game’s no hunch. Characters look for the most part crisp and smooth, but the cars and environment stand out above all else. Liberty city looks simply amazing, from the sunrise which causes the ocean to glisten as you plunge your way into it, to midday when leaves’s shadows play across Niko’s back as he punches a mobster in the noggin to midnight, when you’re hanging desperately from a copter watching the hypnotizing lights of the New Y– I mean Liberty City skyline.

All of this without even touching on the online. When you get round to it though it’s a blast, especially playing the game modes specially made for GTA. Multiplayer will see you doing everything, from escorting a Mob boss away from the police, to racing to destroy cars and drug dealers. It honestly has to be played to be believed, and the fun that can be had with simply getting a load of friends running around with no real objective will make you thankful you’re a gamer.

Of course it’s not perfect, the multiplayer gets laggy at times, there are graphical glitches here and there and the whole friends minigame simply isn’t a load of fun but the simple truth of the matter is thus. Grand Theft Auto 4 is the most fun I have had with my PS3 since I bought it. If you don’t play this game you’ll be missing out on one of the best pieces of entertainment this millennium. You know what to do…

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