Grand Theft Auto IV review
The pinnacle of the Sanbox genre

The good:

Addition of Taxis
Euphoria Engine
Cell Phone
Side Missions
Soundtrack and voicework

The bad:

Only one I can thing of is that the Camera Phone has no real purpose


GTA IV is probably the most hyped up game on the planet and the fact that this review is late doesn't add up but never mind that. GTA IV was more hyped than any game ever released including all the Marios, Halos, or whatever other games. And because of this people have obviously found problems with it. Like it isn't as customizable as SA. However if you strip away all the hype. Strip away the fact that you counted the days down untill it was released you are left with perfection. Even if you leave all the hype it is still pretty damn good.

GTA IV is one of those games where every other Sandbox game will be compared to it. More then the past GTA games and that's saying something. But I will begin with the story and what a simple one it is... at first. Niko Bellic is leaving Serbia or wherever he was last at in the Middle East to join his cousin Roman in America. Roman sends Niko emails about his big mansion, three girlfriends, sports cars, and obviously his money. When Niko arrives he finds Roman driving a taxi to pick him up and the mansion turns out to be a really crappy apartment. Well at least Roman owns his own business. To bad he is hassled by lone sharks who Niko has to keep off his back, which eventually grows into something much bigger.

However unlike San Andreas bigger does not mean less focused. IV's story is told perfectly and halfway through the game unlike in SA you actually remember why your doing all the missions. Nikos journey constantly evolves as he meets new people and gets involved with drug dealers. Some people have called the endings to sad but I like the fact that every thing Niko does has a consequence. Usually one he won't like. So 25-30 hours later when the credits roll it hits you that this game could easily have been made into a film and have been a box office success, while gathering critical acclaim.

So you have a killer story down but that's not enough to make a great game. The controls are what sells this game. Unlike the sloppy dreaded on foot controls of past GTA games this one seamlessy transitions from on foot to driving. Aiming is much easier to do and hand to hand combat is much more detailed and fun. Oh and you can now aim while you driveby. Driving will get use to though as it ditches the arcadey feel and takes on a realistic style. Once you get use to it though it becomes second nature, and feels improved over past titles. I almost forgot to mention the phone which unlike in previous entries lets you actually call people. No longer is it just a way to find out where to go to the next missions. You can call weapons dealers, set up dates, or just call some people to hang out with them.

Let me continue on with the gameplay. You can do multiple activities like bowling, playing darts, and pool. Also a rippoff tetris game, that is actually fun. Also Niko can drive taxis early in the game and do drug running missions for his friend Jacob. But the bulk of the gameplay is running around going on little killing sprees. However unlike in previous games where you could go for minutes without the police killing you, you have to plan out your attacks. Like blocking off the entrance to a burger shot so the police have a hard time getting in.

On the topic of police let me mention they are much more lethal then in previous games. Well once they come in groups. When it's one on one the cops are still pretty incompetant. However at higher levels they can do some real damage. Escaping the cops has also been revised. Instead of finding a way to a pay n spray you now have to leave a thier radius and stay out of thier vision. If you played the scarface game it shouldn't be to dificult to get the hang of. Also a little detail I'd like to note is police activity.

In the ghetto places like Bohan and such police activity is very low. You might even be able to kill a few peopel without getting the cops on you. However in places like Alderney your probably see a cop on every street. It's not a big change but it's a nice detail. It makes the city feel alive, and and each place feel distinct.

Alright so your game has good controls, a good story, but people will still ocmplain if your games baby is ugly. Breaking GTA tradition this game looks pretty damn smooth. Unless your really nit picky you shouldnt have a problem with how GTA looks as it is an amazing graphical feat. This game will make you say wow when you first boot it up and that wow is well deserved. Even the small little details look good. This game is proof that R* games don't have to include table tennis to look pretty good.

I would like to mention that the series has matured. I don't mean it has no humor I just mean everything isn't a blatant *bleep* joke, well besides for Brucie. The games comedy has gotten more mature and is better hidden. Wheter it be a race track shaped like certain parts of a mans body or watching Kat Williams at the comedy club this game is packed full of funny things. And on that note I would like to mention that this is the only game where it is excusable to watch T.V.

Plus there are the things that you expect a GTA game to have. Wheter it be well thought out side missions or an amazing although in this cass less mainstream soundtrack. This game has things that are staples of the series. The voice acting is still top notch although not many known voice actors lend thier talents, but they pull off there lines as well as Samuel L. Jackson did in SA as Tenpenny. And the side missions are still there to distract you. The taxi driving missions don't last that long but the vigilante, the meat of this games side missions are fun.

Rockstar wasn't content with the norm of GTA though they added something extra. A new ingredient which makes the cake taste that much better. The multiplayer in this game is fantastic. While not perfect and I have my complaints it is well executed and most of all fun. Going into free mod with a few friends is one of the funnest things you can do. Besides the mutiplayer was never the main draw for the game. It's just that extra ingredient that you'll probably end up loving.

This is the best GTA game made and takes the crown away from SA as the best sandbox game. Love or hate the new realistic feel youve got to admit that the game is brilliant. This game is great and I reccomend it to every body GTA fan or not. Now if for some reason you haven't gotten this game yet you should get on your bike or in your car. Then head to your local gamestop and pick it up. This is easily one of the 2 canidates for game of the year. And as much as it pains me to say it, GTA IV might have MGS4 beat.

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