Grand Theft Auto 4 Review

August 11, 2009 at 1:14 am | Posted in Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews | Leave a comment
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Link to review

Organized crime takes us back to its roots. Welcome back to Liberty City…

Many people go to America to pursue the American Dream. We take control of Niko Bellic, fresh from the troubles of his European home country. We see his attempt at living that impossible dream and to conclude a little unfinished business on the way. Your journey starts coming off the boat which takes you into Liberty City with your cousin Roman awaiting your arrival.

Welcome back to Liberty City, it’s been a long time, and the cities not what you’d remember it to be, yet organized crime still controls and it’s up to you do all the dirty work.

Reduced: 90% of original size [ 800 x 450 ] – Click to view full image

Grand Theft Auto 4 game manages to keep its trademark GTA style and successfully manages to implement new things to keep things above the rest of the Third person sandbox shooters.

The game brings things back to a GTA3 kind of feel, but keeps in what made things good about VC and SA and getting rid of those, unnecessary bits that took the game a little over the top once SA had hit our PS2’s.

Something that is newly implemented and fairly crucial to your journey will be your mobile phone. Niko is given a phone early on and from then on becomes your lifeline to everyone you meet. Make casual calls, arrange meets for activities or wait for your current friends to call you up for information on jobs or even to set up dates with some of your lady friends.

Using the phone is simple and as easy as pressing the d pad up once, which then makes you able to use your phone whilst continuing to drive and walk whilst making a call. Press up again and you’ll access the keys, which enable you to call up numbers around the city and even 911 for those emergencies.

Besides this new way of interacting and making your missions a little more interesting, the game still keeps its traditional style of interesting and intriguing characters to meet and missions to take part in including car chases, shoot-outs and one particular bank robbery that would even put Kane and Lynch to shame. As well as all these missions to take part in, you can kill some time with a friend by inviting them out for a casual game of pool, take them out for a quiet drink or take your current girlfriend to see a show. Or, surf the internet and search for a new girlfriend. Like the phone, the internet, each page entirely created for the game, is implemented into some of your missions which also requires you to use it to arrange dates, collect information and details about places or people.

Obviously a strong part in the game is driving. Cars, bikes, boats and helicopters are available to your abuse around the city. One thing you’ll notice first with driving your first set of wheels is how Niko takes the car. Its no longer as simple as just opening the door and driving, this time, Niko will have to break the glass, and then hotwire the car, thus attracting possible unwanted attention, and if your unlucky, you’ll bag a car with a nice alarm in it, to let the cops know this definitely isn’t your ride.

So, checked your mirrors and buckled in tight? Good, let’s get rolling. Now driving has changed, the handling for each car is a lot more realistic and it will take a few hours to get yourself accustomed to driving without pinballing your car off each vehicle and building there is between you and your destination. One thing the GTA vets will notice is the lack of left/right camera angles meaning you cant look straight to the side of your car, without looking across from your forwards camera angle meaning when taking some corners, you may have to move your camera around so you can see what your about to drive into. Once you think you’ve mastered driving in the game, I suggest you take someone out for a drink then try and make your way back home.

Reduced: 90% of original size [ 800 x 450 ] – Click to view full image

A new feature to allow you to survive in the city streets during shoot outs is the cover ability. Seen in a lot of games these days, with a simple tap of the RB button Niko will search to find cover behind the closest wall or object allowing you to take a more calmer approach to gun fights, especially as health and body armor is a lot more scarce than you’d expect with GTA. Now with a cover system, where would we be without a new locking on system?

…probably a little better off with the old one. I cant knock the new system completely, whilst giving you impeccable accuracy your also able to view the targets health which makes things a little easier, however my main problem with it comes with the fact you can almost never free aim unless you start shooting immediately or in blind fire. And you’ll often find yourself targeting the wrong person or the one guy in the room that isn’t currently shooting at you, and switching targets isn’t always an easy process. Add that with a set of grenades, and you can often find yourself dropping your grenades at your feet rather than throwing them properly. Generally time to run at that point.

Now, going back to your mobile phone, its not only just a fancy thing you can make calls and take pictures. No no, it’s also your key to the multiplayer.

The game has plenty of game modes to keep everyone entertained, whether your just happy with a good old deathmatch, or cant wait for Rockstar’s next Midnight Club, the game caters with your traditional Death matches and street races, but if your after something with a little more tactics, with 15 game types to play, involving types where you’d have to extract people from certain locations or even the old favorite cops and crooks (anybody else remember that old Xbox 360 advert??) It’s about time someone made that into a reality.

With all those game modes, I still can’t knock the best one of them all. Free Roam. Many of you have played either online via the PSP games or over the internet, but you just cant beat a group of mates, whether its 2 or 16 of them including yourself, you just cant beat a bit of messing around with the whole city open with police and civilians still intact…well, until you’ve started playing anyway.

As well as this, playing ranked matches earns you money. You cant spend anything with it, but think of it as your XP points. The more points you get, your rank will increase. After each rank-up you’ll be awarded some more customization for your online character varying from body types, biker helmets and even camo pants.

If you can tear yourself from all that multiplayer madness, you’ve got a story to finish back in single player, remember? Now, one other new feature worth bringing up, is the fact you’re given a choice…

Not something you’ve seen before in a Grand Theft Auto, but on occasions your given the choice to carry out actions, these first begin with choosing to kill certain enemies until later in the game you’ll be given a decision to make which will determine your final ending of the game, that’s right, GTA 4 has two different endings which all rely on your actions in previous missions.

If not being able to see how alive Liberty City is just walking down a street, just stopping and listening out will bring even more depth to a world you couldn’t have imagined, hear conversations people have on their phones, cars and sirens from a few blocks away or just the heavy footsteps of a busy high street, if you closed your eyes and didn’t know any better, you’d think you were in your local city.

Now as with tradition with GTA, there’s a vast majority of radio stations featuring music you’ve heard and some you haven’t. I’ve personally found that the selection of music this time round isn’t as good as the previous tracks you’d hear cruising Vice City or SA. Just not as many of those memorable songs you’ll grow to enjoy. However if the tunes aren’t your fancy, there’s plenty of chat shows, advertisements and comedic shows to keep you entertained on your drives through the concrete jungle.

It will take out at least a month to be able to fully see and appreciate visually how much effort has been made to really make Liberty a living breathing city for you to enjoy, obviously taking the graphics to the next gen level everything has been greatly improved on, most notably being the explosions being some of the richest and fullest kind of big bangs you’ll see to date. The flight path of your RPG to make that explosion is just as pretty.

See and feel all the different weather types varying from thick mist to heavy showers, and then get all romantic watching the sun go down on a clear sky. Each will appear at random and will all effect the way you play the game. Don’t expect to be taking sharp corners if its raining, the wetness and puddles make it all that harder.

The games story alone has around 30-35 hours on it, now as well as this, there’s an extremely addictive multiplayer and all the extra events and activities to take part in on your ways to either pro-long the story mode, or just to keep you going whilst your waiting on the episodic content to come, so whether its delivering packages, taking your favorite NPC’s out for a quiet drink or racing through the city streets, there’s always something for you to keep Niko out and active

As well as that, there’s the online to enjoy and hidden items to find and collect through the single player. Once your done with that, and seen both endings, you should be ready for the exclusive to Xbox 360 episodic content to bring a lot more to your story of Nikos travels.
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To say the least, it’s exactly what the 360 needs. Third person shooters can be quite rare, add on top of that a sandbox element with as much depth as GTA provides and you’ve got yourself one hell of a game, not only that, but we shall expect to see the Episodic content coming soon to add more fun to the game. A game that has way too much to impress you, so much that when it does slip you’re willing to cleanly over look it just because your still enjoying it too much. Something Id recommend to the fans and newcomers alike.

Rating: 9.3

Published by: Rockstar Games
Developed by: Rockstar North
Genre: Third-Person Action Adventure
Number of Players: 1-16
Expansion Packs:
Grand Theft Auto IV: Downloadable Expansion Pack
Features: 16:9 Support, 480p Support, 720p Support, 1080i Support, 1080p Support, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital 5.1, Xbox Live, Memory Unit, Downloadable Content, Vibration, Mic/Headset Voice Support.

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