Friday, May 30, 2008

Review: "Grand Theft Auto IV"

Wow, so many things to gripe about this game I don't even know where to start. Let me hit off by saying that I am not an avid GTAIV fanboy, I merely bought it because there seemed to be so much hype for this game, obviously from fanboys of the series. I have played past GTA games before but they haven't impressed me beyond the fact that it is a game with a theme that hasn't been done much before. Moreover, it has an open world, FPS content and...well tons of stuff. I wouldn't really be able to categorisize what genre the game is itself.

So GTAIV is just like the old GTAs: Find job, do job, get monies, repeat. There are many 'sidequests' to do at your own leisure like dating your girlfriend/boyfriend, run random side-errands GTA style, etc. I think I should start making sub headers for this so here goes:

#1: Too many gimmicks, aka too diversified, no focus.

As Gerald McReary would say "Too much fun, never any focus", I think GTAIV fits the description really well. There are a FUCkLOAD of gimmicks out there and none, imho, was brought out to an acceptable satisfying level. It all feels half-done except maybe the handphone.

1) The handphone is a pretty awesome feature. It comes with a camera, ringtone, phonebook and almost all the basic shit you can expect off a handphone. It's great because you won't get really bored wandering the streets. Plus, the handphone is the new way GTA allows you to restart a mission. "Opps, mission failed. Try again? Press Yes!" *beep* Feels like the matrix lol.

2) The internet feature is weak weak weak. It only means I have one more place to go (the internet cafe) to do jobs sent to me via email. Emailing is pretty pointless. Some missions let you do funky stuff like submitting your resume to get a job. Mostly, the internet is used to date other girls, which would lead to getting random bonuses if you date them to a higher level like 50% discount on clothes. Oh ya, you can download ringtones and themes for your handphones! Woo!

3) Police car computers. Steal a police car, search of criminals, kill them all. Full stop. Don't even get money i think.

4) "Shoot the door lock to force the door open". Nice. I don't see that more than twice though. Might as well ask me to kick open the door like Niko always does anyway in cutscenes.

5) They improved the hand to hand combat system. Press A to dodge and other buttons to counter! Golly! Sounds like...I dunno, Assassin's Creed! Cool! Wow, what's this? A gun! Hey it does the job faster...hmm...

6) AutoAim awesomeness. Tilt the R analog to switch between target. Switch, switch, switch, WTF WHY ISN'T IT TARGETING THE GUY 0.001CM IN FRONT OF ME?! *goes in and out of aim mode* Oh, you need to refresh the autoaim? You mean the autoaim target stacking isn't real time? Wait, it sometimes is. Arg I'm confused.

7) Press RB to hide behind corners. Gears of War style. Pretty cool, only that it isn't half as slick as GoW is. There's blind fire btw. And opponents blind firing = autoaim is useless. Auto aim is pretty good when you drive a car though, no wait you can't do that. Darn.

#2 The Cars

The chase camera for the cars is really irritating. It probably uses the same spring camera thing I tried to develop when I was still programming. There's a lot of things I thought I did wrong because of how crap I think it felt (like the camera goes lower when my target moves forward). After playing GTA4, I guess my camera isn't wrong in that aspect. Do you know how damn hard is it to aim a weapon while driving past all the traffic and the camera gradually going down. It was okay until I have to chase a rather fast car.

Oh note that if your car is, say a fast car like Turismo, if your car is moving at like 5km/h and hit into a bus that is turning at a 0.01km/h rate, your car would flanged at impossible distances and spin at uncontrollable rates. Lesson: Get a heavier car. They go with the flow of the traffic ya? You don't really want to move too fast in this game anyway. One thing I learnt about GTA driving is that the less mistakes you make, the easier the chase is. One fatal car accident = mission failed. By fatal I meant if you banged into another vehicle, if you spin 180 degrees thereabouts, you are screwed. Makes you wish you hit harder so that the car would face the right direction again. Alot of people complain about how goddamn unrealistic is the driving as far as suspension or light-weightedness of the cars go. It's all pretty true. Motorbikes are the fucking worst, unless you enjoy flying. Ya that shit is really fun :p

#3 Killing, car chases, and different variations of them

They could do alot more than just these you know. It is bad that I can categorize missions. You know, I don't even mind doing all those things, but the missions must feel somewhat different from each other. Giving different mundane reasons to do a car/bike chase is not really what players would enjoy. "Get him, he's trying to blackmail me!" or "Get him! He stole our diamonds!". C'mon Rockstar you can do better than that. I've seen what you can do to all the conversations and cutscenes that happen in the game. That is actually the best thing in the game btw. The only reason why I still play it.

EDIT: Okay perhaps I rant on too much about what I feel are the disadvantages to this game, so I'm going to say a few good things, most of which don't really matter to me but might matter alot to other people.

What GTAIV did pretty well, imo, was the overall environment. The sound, graphics, trashtalking on the streets, atmosphere blah blah...they were all quite excellent. And one gimmick I find really god is the GPRS system they added, which will show you landmarks as well as police search zone (searching for you of course) as well as marking out the fastest legal route to the destination. Also the best thing about this game are the characters. TBH, it's the only thing that keeps me playing. Jimmy, Little Jacob, BRUCIE, the whole McReary family, they were all interesting characters to talk to.

Story-wise, I wouldn't say GTA4 is boring. I mean, c'mon, it's the fucking mafia we are talking about. That genre alone makes everything interesting as it can be. Random trigger happy people, family issues, pawn-king relationship. Some of the missions gives you choices as to whether to kill person A or B, which makes you feel like some kind of shinigami or something. The conversations and cutscenes before a mission makes you go like "wow, this is so cool, I'm driving a truck of bombs", all heated up and stuff. But once you fail for dumb reasons, that feeling fades very very quickly.

Dumb reasons include:

- some car suddenly jerking in your way during a chase that you KNOW as a fact that is it NOT scripted since it happens only once out of like ten tries.

- Autoaim fails

- Police appears at the worst possible time during a mission. Mostly during some shootings and random hijacking. Yes police cars are NOT that common, and you never notice them. It's like you turn 360 and go 'hmm no police' and the moment you hijack, your GPRS kicks in and you start seeing the words "Lose your wanted level" at the bottom of the screen making you feel like turning off your console.

These are the most significant reasons why you might die. Maybe because I suck, but I doubt it. Then again, I don't play much GTA so *shrugs*.


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