Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Released: Tuesday April 29th 2008
Console Played On: Grand Theft Auto IV was played on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 but for the review, it was mostly the Xbox 360 verison.
Also On: N/A (Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 only but a PC verison is rumored)
Rating: BBFC 18, PEGI 18
Lets get this first thing out of the way. Grand Theft Auto IV is brillant. Now we have that out of the way, just how brillant and awesome is it? Because mind you, Rockstar have been slaving away at this game from planning to development in 3 and a 1/2 years after the release of San Andreas(And in that time, have managed to release games like The Warriors, Bully/Canis Canem Edit, Manhunt 2 and release 2 GTA games for the PSP before porting them to the Playstation 2) so just how epic is this game. Very epic indeed as you are about to find out.
Story: You play as , a Eastern European who comes to Liberty City from a un-named country in Eastern Europe, a veteran of the war (His cousin, who we will go into in just a sec, says he moved to Liberty 10 years ago. As this is set in the present day, this “war” will most likely be the Kosovo War as that was happening around the same time.), he comes to America in search of “The American Dream” after so many emails with his cousin .
So, after getting off a boat, Niko and Roman meet up to live The American Dream, which Roman claims consist of girls, fast cars, big houses and massive titties (And trust me, you will hear the word “titties” alot in the game from Roman)…except…it’s all lies.
Roman doesn’t have fast cars, he only has a taxi as car, he doesn’t have a big house or a mansion, he only has a run-down apartment and as for the girls…well, none to see of but Roman does have a girlfriend, Mallorie who you will meet in your 1st proper mission in the game and Niko will also get a girlfriend in the shape of Mallerie’s friend, Michelle (She does play a big part in the story later in the game.
Later on in the game, you will run into such character such as Little Jacob, , , , Elizabeta Torres and more but the first main character you’ll see other then Roman will be who is Roman’s loan shark but you will be working for him later on in the game.
I ain’t preparing to reveal what mostly happens in the story but I’ll talk you through a few missions just to satisfy you. And for any Xbox 360 owners of the game, you may have heard about a DLC deal done between Microsoft and Rockstar to bring 2 exclusive episodes of the game. It’ll be coming only to Xbox Live Marketplace from August 2008 called Grand Theft Auto IV: Episode One with a estimated March 2009 date for Episode Two.
And as for DLC for the PS3…well Rockstar hasn’t said anything yet but there will most likely be DLC coming to GTA IV in some shape or form for the Playstation 3 verison.
While it hasn’t been revealed yet what will be in them episodes, it could be anything from new missions to new islands or even cities to an extent…
Gameplay: Niko maybe the main character but he’s not the real star of the show, oh no, the star of the entire game is Liberty City itself. Its basiclly one massive playground (That saying is true if you play online), the sheer scale of the city, while not on par with San Andreas as that was an entire state, is massive.
I can think of words just to describe how to go around the sheer size of the city but it just…big…very big. Not San Andreas big, but none the less big.
As for the the many new features in the game, a few of them you’d expect to be annoying but none of them are (Except the targetting system, more on that later) such as the feature to hail a taxi which you can use a few missions into the game as well as going into internet cafes, which in some missions is vital to do as a few missions need them.
One of which requires you to do a mission for a guy named Brucie who you will meet near enough before you move to Bohan where you have to go on a date with a gay guy in a diner. He hasn’t been paying his debts so guess what…in typical GTA style, you have to kill him but its not go and kill him just like that.
He’s looking for a date on the website, love-meet.com and in the cutscene just as you trigger the mission, Roman and Brucie put a profile of Niko on the site citing him as gay. So, you ask him for a date but you find out a day or so later (In the game I mean) that he’s accepted you either by checking your email’s soon after or a text on your phone, which we’ll get into now in a minute, from Roman. After Niko gets the text, you then go to the internet cafe, Tw@ and the check your emails. He asks you to see him at the 69th Street Diner and naturally, since you have to kill him, you agree.
After sitting down and talking for a while, you press the Left Bumper on the 360 controller (Or L1 on the SIXAXIS for the PS3) to get up and kill your target in cold blood!
Speaking of your phone, it is probably the biggest new feature in the game. You get Roman’s handmedown old phone in your first proper mission but you do upgrade to a better one afterwards as you progress in the game. You only start off with just that phone and Roman’s number but after you meet several people in the game, you do get more numbers as you go through the game.
You’d think that having a mobile phone in the game would be annoying after so long with many people ringing you but actually, it aint. It’s a great feature in the game and it’s very vital in the game. It’s not just some feature which is useless after so long, it’s important to the game throughout for when you can call your friends such as Little Jacob, Michelle or even Roman to ask if they wanna come drinking with you or if they have play Darts or Pool.
Such socialising will lead to rewards. If you hang out with Roman alot, you get free cabs from him, if you hang out with Jacob alot, you unlock his…oh, lets say little gunshop. And if you hang out with Brucie, you can unlock his helicopter tours where Brucie will give you a tour of certain locations around Liberty City.
As well as that, when you go into your safehouse, there is a fully working TV with 2 channels, Weazel (A parody of Fox?) and CNT with such shows as Republican Space Rangers (A rip-off of Halo and a pisstake at the Democrats), I’m Rich and a few more as well as TV adverts which shows the humor of old GTA games haven’t gone away such as the campaign adverts for who wants to become Governor, the Burger Shot ads and my personal favourite, the ad campaign for TV show 72, a clear and blatent parody of 24 staring Kiefer Sutherland considering 24 is my favourite show ever.
But where Single Player ends, Multiplayer kicks in. You can access it on your cell phone by going to multiplayer on the phone and well…once you go into multiplayer, it balls to the walls stuff.
Up to 16 players can play in up to 15 modes for the game’s multiplayer including the normal Team Deathmatch but there is also Cops ‘N’ Crooks, which is basiclly Cops vs Robbers, Hangman’s Noose, a co-op mode where you collect a target and protect him all the way from Francis International Airport to a certain extraction point, Race does exactly what it says on the tin, you race cars…but if you choose GTA Race, there is a twist. Remember the game Full Auto? Ya know, the game that came out for the 360 with a sequal a year for the 360 and Playstation 3> Something like that to an extent.
But the one I am looking forward to playing (When I get my ‘net back…HURRY THE FUCK UP BT!!!)? Free-roam. Basically, you get no mission objectives, no time limit, no nothing. It’s completely free-roam around the entire Liberty City and do whatever you want. So that mean you could basically start a Civil War in Liberty City. Just turn on Rocket Launchers and ladies and gentleman, you are in for the time of your life.
Basically the gameplay is so much more then this that there is just no room to put it in this review, you just need to get this game to find out for yourself.
Graphics: Considering that this is Rockstar, we’ve always expected them to come up with some good graphics…but never have I seen such great graphics since Tekken 5 for the Playstation 2 (It was like playing Tekken 6 already at the time, I was astonished) but not really a surprise considering they used the RAGE engine which was used in Rockstar Presents Table Tennis for the Xbox 360 as well as using the Euphoria physics engine for the game (Euphoria is also being used in the upcoming Indiana Jones game…no, not Lego: Indiana Jones, the proper Indiana Jones game)
And if you think they are a little lacklustre compared to other games on both consoles like Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune for the PS3 or Halo 3 for the Xbox 360 or to use another multiplatform game, Assassins Creed, then fair enough. But you have to give credit to Rockstar, they have done very well with the graphics in the game, let me give you an example of how great they are.
You are in a car, speeding down Star Junction (Liberty City’s own verison of Times Square) and then you see an obstacle such as a barrier or a car you have a massive crash, then you see Niko flying head first out of the through the windshield and his body flying throughout the place (Doesn’t mean he’s dead though)
And you’ll be glad to know that cars don’t explode after like 3 or 4 massive collisions, although they will still explode…it just takes a bit more effor this time. And they also dont explode when you flip them over and actually, the car flips back over on itself which is sort of annoying considering the realism of RAGE and Euphoria. I wouldn’t have mind it flliping but not exploding considering that happens half the time in Real Life unless you have a serious car crash and the oil started leaking.
And the cars physics handle like they would in real life so if you expect the same physics that has been in the cars in past GTA’s…well…your going to get a kick in the system. And see if you graze the side of another car while driving, you can see the scratched paint on the side of it and as well as that, if your being shot at while driving (A massive example of this came to me while doing probably the biggest mission in the game when you rob the Bank of Liberty and a tense shootout occurs and just as your driving away…), your car will be getting riddled with bullets and you’ll actually be able to see the bulletholes on either the windshield or the bodywork to the car…just depends on the situation, the more stars, the bigger the shootout.
Overall, just about everything works to perfection as far as graphics and physics go as you’ll find out when you get the game…or have found out when playing the game.
Sound: A very vital aspect to a GTA game is the soundtrack. Ever since Vice City, we have great soundtracks with radio stations playing a certain genre (Wave 10 from Vice City did Blondie, A Flock of Seagulls and…*gulp*…99 Balloons + more while Radio X did Soundgarden, Guns & Roses and Rage Against the Machine + More) and this time, its no exception.
A very big soundtrack which includes LCD Soundsystem, The Boggs, R.E.M, Kanye West, Liquid Liquid (Optimo was used in the boxart unveiling, Ne-Yo and Elton John. But there is the chatshow radio stations to take the piss out of America as per usual such as PLR (Public Liberty Radio) and WKTT (We Know the Truth).
And it just isnt a GTA game without good old Lazlow. He’s back presenting a new station, Integrity 2.0 after being sacked from Chatterbox from GTA III and GTA: Liberty City Stories and well…in the game…he’s just not loved anymore sadly…but us being us, we love Lazlow.
While I wont say this soundtrack is better then Vice City (That would just be considered blasphomy), it’s a great soundtrack, balenced with new and unknown artists to well known names, such as R.E.M and Kanye West.
As well for the enviroments, you can hear people talking on their cell phones. You can basiclly hear it beeping and then hear people talking, it basiclly shows how much the AI has improved since past GTA games. And the engines in the cars just sound brillant so they do, it gives the cars a bit more realism considering they are almost like their real counterparts.
Final Thoughts: If I could tell you everything about GTA IV in a simple way, I could but it would take hours and that would mean I’d be talking for hours (Or basiclly put, typing for days) andd basiclly, I dont like talking for too long but simply put, the sheer scale of what is in Grand Theft Auto IV is just amazing. We knew it was going to be special, but not this special.
Grand Theft Auto IV is just too brillant to put into words to be honest but put it this way…it’s just epic, the story, the multiplayer, Liberty City, the graphics, everything about it is just epic. There is just one tiny wee niggle and that is the targetting system. Rockstar have said they improved it to a great deal…well I wouldnt say they havent fixed, it has gotten better but it’s still slightly broken a little such as trying to priortise a target.
But it’s not something which wont and quite frankly shouldn’t put you off getting the game. It’s brillant, it’s epic, think of the cliches on that scale and you can fit them into Grand Theft Auto IV because that what the game is, epic in every sense of the word.
But of course, what else were you going to expect from Rockstar and Grand Theft Auto IV?
Story: 10.0 – Brillant, probably the best plot in a GTA yet. And the humor in it as well is 2nd to none.
Gameplay: 10.0 – Every bit of the gameplay is just brillant and the new cell phone feature just makes the game.
Graphics: 10.0 – What were you going to expect with GTA? The great graphics and great physics were put into good proper use with the RAGE graphics engine and the Euphoria physics engine.
Sound: 10.0 – Probably my 2nd favourite soundtrack in a GTA game behind Vice City, absoutely brillant.
Longtivity: 10.0 – After you done with the single player and somehow reach 100% in the game,you’ve got multiplayer and come August for the 360 owners, you’ll be getting GTA IV: Episode One. If that doesn’t feed you until GTA V (Or at least GTA IV: Ep 1), I dont know what will tbh.
Overall: 10.0 – Not really a surpise considering just how awesome this game is, we havent had such a game that has reached the scale of such a magnificent game since most likely Vice City, not even Halo 3 or Metal Gear Solid 3 reached that sense or realism.
In short, if you have a PS3 or Xbox 360, this isn’t just a Must Own…this is Grand Theft Auto IV: The Best Game to Have Come out Within the Past 15 Years.
NOTE 1: Click on the links that you see for certain characters on the review (Such as Niko, Roman, Phil Bell and Vlad etc etc), they go to a short video showing their parts in the story.
NOTE 2: In the short time we’ve been running this, this is the first perfect score we’ve ever given…and I have an feeling it wont be the last…and infact, may just be coming round the corner…