Grand Theft Auto IV: Single Player Review

posted by on 28th May 2008, at 3:02pm

Note: This game is rated M for Mature (18+ in UK)
Note2: As of writing this, I have yet to finish Single Player, so some details may change as the story progresses.

Grand Theft Auto 4 is the newest game in the GTA franchise, made by Rockstar games. It is a 3rd person sandbox-styled game for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. It features the main character, Niko Bellic, an Eastern European immigrant who went to the USA in search for the ‘American Dream’ along with his cousin, Roman.

As of buying Grand Theft Auto IV, I had not played on a Grand Theft Auto game before in my life. I had seen friends playing on them, but I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked it up. I had heard all these great things about how it is realistic and the storyline is breathtaking. It even got near perfect reviews from every major website or gaming magazine. My expectations were held high and believe it or not, the game extended past them!

The game is set in Liberty City, which is a fictional version of New York City. The objects of the game are all the same, with main story missions and side-track missions. The player can free-roam around the city to their desire, wreaking havoc or having fun (or maybe both), but of course for a price. Like the old games, you would get a wanted level for doing unruly and illegal things, which is measured in 1-6 stars. The object then is to get out of the flashing radius shown on the mini map and stay out of sight for a while until the police.

An addition to the game is the cover system, which isn’t too bad, but isn’t too good either. I agree that it is making the game more realistic, but the physics of it are a bit weird. Once in cover, it takes an eternity for the character to pull away from it. It is awkward to reach a part of cover to look around, as you can only walk whilst in cover. It was a nice addition to the game though. Other updates include the enhanced aiming system and the ragdoll bodies. The aiming system now lets you move your crosshair when locked onto a person. You can aim at the leg, head, arms, anywhere. It is useful for trying to dispose of enemies quickly by just shooting them in the head. The ragdoll technology applies to bodies that have been struck by a vehicle, falling object, basically anything that would normally move their body away with a force. The body would turn into a ragdoll, to make the impact more natural. This is a great addition; it adds more realism when mowing people down on the side walk.

Your gameplay also relies on your friendship with other characters. If your friend doesn’t like you, he’s not going to help you in a bank heist, is he? You can take friends (and girlfriends) out to places such as bowling alleys, gentlemen’s clubs and bars. Your friendship will increase or decrease depending on how much they like the place you went to. They may even let you in on their business, whether it be free taxi rides, bombs or cheap weapons!

The single player mainly consists of doing deeds for people you have been recommended to by friends, in exchange for weapons, cash and places to stay (but mainly cash). It starts off with working for your cousin, and can extend to the point where every criminal who needs work done has you in their phone book. This means, missions can get repetitive, just doing the same things for different people, right? Wrong! GTA 4 doesn’t feel repetitive at all. Playing the game gives you a sense of power, because you can make whatever move you want (as long as it’s in the restrictions) because it’s a sandbox game. That is probably what makes the Grand Theft Auto series so good.

The storyline itself will blow your mind. The way each mission may seem like it’s just another chore can suddenly turn the tables, twist the plot and bring Niko into more troubles. Once you start playing the game, you just don’t want to stop. I feel Rockstar knew this game would be popular, but it has turned into an epidemic. It seems everyone is talking about the game, what choices they made along the storyline, how they finished missions and even their craziest moments.

If following a storyline isn’t your sort of thing, there are lots of side-missions you can complete once you progress so far, such as assassinations, drug deals and vehicle delivery. Of course, each of them will pay well, if you meet their expectations. They prove pretty useful with boosting friendships. Of course, there is also the free-roaming. It’s always fun to steal a helicopter and fly around the town, sniping off skyscrapers.

Grand Theft Auto IV may be the biggest game developed to date. Everybody knows what it is, and nearly everyone that has played it liked it. It’s a conversation starter with friends, and there’s no stop to it. I think this game will be talked about for many years to come, and is probably the best game of the decade so far. I’ll let you decide on your own opinions…

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One Comment

  • Kenny Says:
    30th May 2008, at 6:44am

    I really enjoy reading the review Ryan, but I didn’t understand why the sentence at the end of paragraph 3 is cut off ?