Monday, May 26, 2008

Made My Decision...: My Review of Grand Theft Auto IV

Welcome back to Liberty City. And for Niko Bellic, it is his first time there. He gets lured to America from his cousin, Roman, with the promise of riches beyond his belief and getting laid by the ladies. Unfortunately, that does not happen. Roman lives in a shitty apartment, Niko drives a taxi, and Roman owes gambling debts to a Russian goon. Thus, begins Niko's climb through Eastern European mobs. Along the way, you discover that Niko wanted to move to Liberty City to find two men that he was in the military with. They were witness to an entire village, Niko's hometown, getting slaughtered. Niko wants to know what happened.
This story is, by far, that best story that the GTA series has produced. You feel for Niko. Niko does not do this for money (Tommy Vercetti), he does not do this for his neighborhood (CJ), he does this for his friends and family. The story is weaved so well that you feel sorry for every wrong that Niko has to do. A cast of characters surrounding Niko is brilliantly portrayed. No A-list Hollywood voices. No porn directors who have shark fetishes. The story climaxes with three simple words, Make Your Decision.... No game has made me put the controller down and ponder what to do next. Top notch story is the best way to describe it.
The graphics are a site to behold. GTA's have been known to have a story, surrounded by a living breathing city. The city is breath taking. People move about in their lives. Neon signs pop up. Traffic is heavy during rush hours. Rockstar North took 3 years to make this game and it shows. They brought in new engines to create the look of the characters as well as a new physics engine for the vehicles. The facial features of the characters are a sight to behold. When someone is showing emotion, you would know about it without even hearing them. The cars are great as well. No longer are you stuck with vehicles that act like video game cars. These cars act, drive, and get damage like real cars. When you hit a pole with the front right side, the front right side is the one that gets damaged. There is a slight problem with pop up. Mostly, it happens when you go inside a building and the game has not thrown the interiors in yet. Not that bad at all. Go to the beach and you can watch people complete Yoga poses. A funny thing that you can do is when you shoot people. Shoot a person in the leg, they can walk right. Shoot then in the stomach and they double over. Shoot them in the head and... The graphics make this city seem like it is alive.
Niko is still like all the characters in past GTA games, but with some new approaches. He controls very well. A new cover system is in place so that Niko can hide and take cover when he is being shot at. You are able to disengage the auto lock so that the game can feel more like a FPS. You are also able to go hand-to-hand combat with people and that is a welcome relief. The other GTA have not been known to have the best cover system and this does a very good job of it. The driving mechanics can take some time to get use to. With the new car physics engine, the cars act more like what they are suppose to in real life. Once you get the handling down, you should be fine.
The sound in this game is top notch. There are no big names in this game, but that is for the better. It would have detered you from the real star, the game. Everybody is voiced perfect. From Niko, to the steroid-juiced Brucie, to the person on the side of the road (I LOVE Eddie Low). When in the car, you have your choices of several stations. Lazlow is back with his Integrity 2.0, a blatant rip-off of Howard Stern. On The Vibe, you can listen to Swiss Beats and Kanye West. There is Weazel news breaks when you complete something big, like a bank heist. The pedestrian all sound different. There was only one time that I heard someone say the same, and that was because they sounded like Bobcat Goldthwait. All minor sounds sound like they are suppose to.
This game is a blast to play. Anytime, during the game, you can go into multi player from your cell phone. There is anything that you can want from a multi player match in there; team deathmatch, capturing enemy territory, and even three missions. I would have like there to be more than those three story-type missions, but I'm not a multi player type of person, so I will live. In the single player, there is so much that you can do that I will forget some things. You can play darts, bowl, shoot pool, go to a comedy club with real comedians, race, even get drunk. The hidden packages are now pigeons that you have to shoot. The missions themselves are relatively easy. There was only one mission that I had to sit back and slowly figure out how to do this and get out alive. This city is alive and it can even get you to not worry about the story.
Overall, this is the game to own. It took 1000 people 3 years with a budget of 100 million dollars to make and it shows. This does deserve to be regarded as the greatest game ever made. Sorry, Link fanboys.

Grade: A+

Phil'N Rob-d moment: I can honestly say, there is nothing in this game that I felt cheated about.

Hints: You have a choice midway through the game when you can kill one of two people. Kill the right one and change clothes in his penthouse. One of the sets of clothing is the same outfit that Claude wore in Grand Theft Auto 3.

And, of course, the review:

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