GTA IV: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Editorial, Gaming

The Good…

To start off , let’s take a look at some of the good points of GTA IV, of which there are many.

Visuals

While GTA IV is certainly no Crysis, it is a very pretty place to spend a few hours. The water effects, as many have remarked, look great with the spray as you cut through the water looking especially good. The buildings are nice to look at, and there are some very picturesque areas of the city; especially the remake of Times Square . The draw distance is also much improved over previous GTA games, making helicopter – and perhaps later in the year, plane – flight much simpler and much more worth while; the view is definitely something to check out. Trees are nothing special, but other foliage is well rendered.

GTA IV
Liberty City train bridge

I was also impressed with the level of detail with the people in Liberty City. They drop their coffee when you surprise or run into them. They swear and rant, they get chased by cops; it’s a fairly lively city for a computer game. It’s not as real as some have made out, but it’s getting there. I also liked the fire hydrants spraying water upwards, and the rubbish bags exploding when I ran them down.

Multiplayer

This was a long time coming in GTA games, and was incorporated to a small extent in San Andreas. However, the new MP mode in GTA IV is excellent. It has some small flaws like anything does, but the fact that you can drive around with your friends causing mayhem is what we’ve all wanted to do for years. There’s a nice variety of game modes and it’s easy to get into – just access it from your in-game phone. There’s also some neat little features, like a passenger setting up way points for the driver using the in-car GPS and a Cops and Crooks mode which sees one team making their way to a getaway vehicle while the other chases them down in their high powered cop cars.

GTA IV
Two human enemies have a knife fight on a girder

Cover system

While the cover system seems to be the latest feature to add to any games that can take it, just because they can, the developers were bang on with adding this to GTA. It enables excellent parked car to parked car exchanges, pillar to pillar fights, and makes standing in the open a death wish. It also adds significant strategy to the multiplayer with defensive positions hard to take and aggressors needing to plan their offensive very carefully if they don’t want to get cut to pieces by the hidden defenders.

GTA IV
Nico hiding behind a subway pillar

Likeable lead

Despite many saying they don’t like playing with a, “character that sounds like Borat” – which shows nothing but ignorance – I really don’t mind playing a Serbian with an Eastern European Accent. He’s a far more likeable character than the flamboyant show-offs of previous GTA’s, and his quips tend to be even funnier because of his occasional lack of the right words to describe what he’s trying to say.

His war torn background offers up an explanation for his gun control and combat abilities – although his hand to hand skills are nothing special – and his obvious distaste for the atrocities he has committed and is trying to escape from can be quite touching. Interestingly though, his character does seem to darken as the story unfolds and we see him bury himself deeper and deeper in the Liberty criminal world. As his tasks become more extreme, he also seems to offer up less resistance, often uttering his mantra “If you pay well I’ll do it.” However, we are occasionally reminded that he really does want to leave his life of death and destruction behind him, but it’s all he knows, and he’s “Good at it,” as he himself says.

GTA IV
Nico doing his thing

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Last modified: February 23, 2011

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