You’ve probably all got your copy of Grand Theft Auto 4 by now, judging by the list of friends on Xbox Live playing it on its day of release. So, you’ll know you play a Balkan called Nico Bellic who’s come to Liberty City to hunt down some unsavoury individuals and you’ll be doing some work for your cousin, dating girls here and there and doing the usual driving round the city, completing many GTA 4 mission objectives, then doing it all over again until you finish the story.
Then of course you can continue doing all the other missions still available in the game seeing as it’s so bloomin’ big. Of course what’s new about this game is the fact that it’s all next-gen, which means better graphics, a superb physics engine and full multiplayer which is a lot of fun if a little too hectic at times.
I have a problem with most media outlets giving this game 10 out of 10 because in essence, it’s the same old GTA only with a nice few touches to make it that little bit better than the last one. The GTA IV map with SatNav is a nice addition nicked from Saints Row (well, they had to get their own back) and the mobile phone you use as a portal for all your missions, dates and multiplayer is seamless. Unfortunately, technically the game’s framerate leaves a lot to be desired and it suffers badly from pop-up, sometimes right under your nose during a crucial driving mission. Where did that teleporting shrub come from?
Thankfully, the new Euphoria engine works a treat. NPCs will now try to protect themselves if they get hit by a car and fall down the stairs and each car behaves very differently, They’re all rather hard to control though. Aiming has also been adjusted with a new cover system. You also auto-aim from target to target and sometimes this can let you down in the middle of a gunfight which can get rather annoying.
The sheer scale of this game is what makes it great. You can, as before, choose to follow the story – or just immerse yourself in the game world. You can go get a burger with a date, visit some gentlemen’s clubs, play some pool or go bowling, enjoy the theatre or just sit at home and watch some of the funny TV channels including a silly Halo spoof. The acting is also fantastic. They’re funny, exciting and sometimes rather poignant.
I wish I could go into more detail but there’s really not time. All you need to know is if you like GTA you’ll love this. You’ll be used to forgiving it for technical flaws and once again, sometimes these issues let it down. However, the lengthy single player and never-ending multiplayer should see you playing this for months to come.
GTA IV gets an almost perfect 9 out of 10.