Last night I finished Grand Theft Auto IV. Now I will compare it to the series pinnacle, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas:
Negative: The game is rife with social commentary and much more serious than the PS2 GTA’s. Part of what makes GTA so great is that you can do horrible things and keep it separate from reality. GTAIV is just too real sometimes. The story itself is really great and I cared about some of the characters. On the other hand, the amusing randomness of previous games is gone. The social commentary is kind of heavy handed – I already know America sucks and I don’t need a murder simulator to tell me that.
Positive/Negative: Everything is waayyyyy more realistic. When a person dies they slump to the ground realistically. When you step on a grenade, your body flies through the air realistically. If you drive really fast and crash into something you will fly through the windshield. If you’re low on life and eat a hamburger you get all your life back, just like in real life. Attention to detail is stunning.
Positive: The shooting engine is waaayyyyy upgraded. When you draw your gun the camera swings back and you get an over-the-shoulder view, somewhat similar to first-person shooters and extremely similar to ‘Resident Evil 4 or Gears of War. There’s a duck and cover system that allows for tactical gunfights and many of these battles are rather long and involved.
Negative: Compared to ‘San Andreas’ this game is really straightforward. You will not get to steal fighter jets or use jetpacks or break into Area 51. You don’t even get to run a gang. You’re basically a freelancer with no affiliations, bouncing from job to job. You will drive mostly cars except for a couple of boat missions and three helicopter missions (out of about 90+ missions total).
Positive: A great improvement – 95% of the tedious driving around to start a mission or get to where a mission starts has been removed. YAY! You can actually hail the many taxis that drive around town and get a ride to your destination for a fee. For a few dollars more you can skip having to watch the trip and just end up at your destination. If you fail a mission, you can choose ‘Retry’ to go straight to where the mission begins. Thus, the weakest element of San Andreas has been addressed.
Positive: With the brand new game engine, it’s like being a kid in a candy store just like when you first played GTAIII. It’s like being reborn! It’s more fun than ever to just ignore missions and run around causing chaos. I love to just run around and shove people to the ground. Running over people is a gas. It’s also fun to run out in front of cars and watch your dumbass body go flying/rolling and then beat up the prick that dared to hit you. The one-on-one fighting is pretty good but actually not as deep as the fighting in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and nowhere near as awesome as the fighting in Bully. You can’t sneak up on people and slit their throats like you could in San Andreas, either. :-( Most of the hospitals have emergency rooms that you can enter . . . and then of course kill everyone in sight. Another fun thing to do is annoy someone so that they attack you in front of cops and then watch THEM get arrested and hauled off.
Conclusion: I know this semi-review sounded somewhat negative but I think that’s a reaction to the crazy hype this game has received. It’s a great game but I can think of several that are better. The grade is still definitely an A.