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"Grand Theft Auto IV"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Grand Theft Auto IV'.
Sun 27/07/08 at 11:39
Regular
"@optometrytweet"
Posts: 4,686
Here it comes, I've finally gotten around to writing a review on the mammoth of a game that is GTAIV. The review has been long standing in my mind since I queued up outside my local GAME at midnight on its launch night, just like a million others were across the country. The build up was huge and the game was highly anticipated - but would it stand up to its expectation?

The game centralises around Niko, an Eastern European immigrant settling into Liberty City. Invited over by the promise of a good life in America by his colourful cousin, Roman. Niko soon gets himself into the world of crime; car jacking, murder, drug trafficking, theft and even the worst crime of all - curb crawling. But then you now have come to expect this from a GTA game.

Niko gets introduced to huge variety of characters, usually each more corrupt than the previous, in his bid to make his name in Liberty City. Some are imperative to the game plot, some are there to provide bulk to the game and others are just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There also random characters that appear that provide depth to the sandbox aspect of the game, allowing you to take on extra missions in the game.

The random character side missions are part of a whole list of what is known as "procedural missions" that help break up the length of the main plot. These missions include activities from stealing cars that people order you to get through text messages (or e-mail) to assassinating meddling characters. These allow a welcome change of pace to the lengthy story related tasks.

More on the subject of characters, some of them become your friend - meaning they call you, text you and expect you to ferry them about the city when they want to play a game of pool/darts or see a show. It's an interesting feature that has its benefits, but when you end up having to do this once or twice after every mission, it does get annoying.

However, friendship works both ways - just in real life. You can give your mates a ring if you fancy going out for food or an evening of drinking. Spending time with your friends does unlock certain benefits, such as lower priced weapons or calling up and asking for bodyguards.

"How do you give them a call?" I hear you ask. GTAIV has included a phone function into the game (ala Saints Row). This opens up a wealth of gaming opportunities for you to play with. If you get injured, you can call for an ambulance - or if you fancy just trying your luck, you can call a police car to your location and taking it for a joy ride! Eventually you can upgrade to a camera phone and send and receive picture messages that will allow progression in the game. You can even customise it with a ringtone and wallpaper.

Transport-wise, there have been a few cutbacks from the previous games (most noticeably the tanks and aeroplanes), but greater detail has gone into the vehicles that are available. Trains have made the leap over to the next-gen GTA, as have the helicopters, which allow for a more unusual way to traverse the city. Likewise, the taxi has been modified to mean you can actually be a passenger and be driven around quickly nearly anywhere in the game (an a cost of course). It is an invaluable feature that you'll find yourself using more often than not.

The damage engine has been greatly improved as well. Most noticeably at a pre-release peek of the game, I saw a car land on top of the one I was driving and the damaged caused to my car was just like a car had landed on it. Sounds like a trivial thing to get excited about, but it has to be seen to be believed. I also tried to burnout a tyre on my car - just to see if they had thought about the damage engine. The funniest thing was, it did. Hold the brake button and accelerate to see the tyre burst after about 45 seconds of burning rubber. Even the fire hydrants give a nice splash of water when crashed into. Nice touches!

On the subject of nice touches, GTA IV is full of them. The water effects are STUNNING! You can see reflection of the skyline and even see the watery reflections of the cloud formations in the sky. The environment is fantastic - rising and setting suns, thunderstorms (where the rumbles actually vibrate the controller) and a constantly changing weather system that keeps the game fresh and interesting. Another visual point of interest is a clever way of fogging the processing map. Instead of the usual fog you see in games, GTA IV blurs a rough image of the oncoming map to give the effect of heat haze. It looks fantastic - especially when a jumbo jet makes a landing in the background.

Unfortunately (or for some, fortunately), package collection is back, although this time the brown packages are pigeons (or, as the game prefers to call them, "flying rats" that need to be shot. Along with these flying rats, you need to jump over 50 stunt jumps. Combine this with all the other different side-missions - it's going to take an absolute age to reach the 100% (believe me - I'm trying)!

On the 360 Achievement front, there are a tough 1000 points to try and earn. The achievements range from beating one of your new friends at pool, to killing all of the flying rats that populate the game. The one that worried me was the Liberty City Minute achievement where you have to complete the storyline of the game in 30 hours. It sounds tough, but even for somebody who enjoys the odd bout of messing around for a few hours causing mayhem it is still very achievable! Expect to find some interesting ones in there as well, along with the bog standard completing the game and finishing it to 100%. It's not a game for the casual scorewhore!

Nearing the end of my review now, I do have to give credit to the fantastic soundtrack Rockstar have provided in this game. There are over ten different radio stations that provide decent music, plenty of un-PC banter between the DJs and hundreds of outrageous advertisements. If you've played any GTA game before, you'll know what to expect, as this is one feature that makes the games so popular.

And of course, there are hundreds of features I haven't been able to include in the review, so don't just think that this review contains everything! There is a fully operational mock-Internet to play with, no two people looking alike and of course (I suppose this one is for me) when Niko smiles and I smile - he looks like my twin! You really do have to play it through to actually respect the work that has gone into it.

So if you are looking for a game that will keep you occupied for about 40-50+, whether it be spent following a top class story, creating random carnage in a city that never sleeps, living out your sickest fantasies or just marvelling at how well the game has evolved from its Micro Machines style origin, this game is certainly for you.

Was it worth the hype? You betcha!
Sun 27/07/08 at 11:44
Regular
"@optometrytweet"
Posts: 4,686
Very late now to be writing a review on something nearly every gamer has, but might persuade somebody to buy it!

Just edited it for apostrophes and hyphens.
Sun 27/07/08 at 11:39
Regular
"@optometrytweet"
Posts: 4,686
Here it comes, I've finally gotten around to writing a review on the mammoth of a game that is GTAIV. The review has been long standing in my mind since I queued up outside my local GAME at midnight on its launch night, just like a million others were across the country. The build up was huge and the game was highly anticipated - but would it stand up to its expectation?

The game centralises around Niko, an Eastern European immigrant settling into Liberty City. Invited over by the promise of a good life in America by his colourful cousin, Roman. Niko soon gets himself into the world of crime; car jacking, murder, drug trafficking, theft and even the worst crime of all - curb crawling. But then you now have come to expect this from a GTA game.

Niko gets introduced to huge variety of characters, usually each more corrupt than the previous, in his bid to make his name in Liberty City. Some are imperative to the game plot, some are there to provide bulk to the game and others are just unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There also random characters that appear that provide depth to the sandbox aspect of the game, allowing you to take on extra missions in the game.

The random character side missions are part of a whole list of what is known as "procedural missions" that help break up the length of the main plot. These missions include activities from stealing cars that people order you to get through text messages (or e-mail) to assassinating meddling characters. These allow a welcome change of pace to the lengthy story related tasks.

More on the subject of characters, some of them become your friend - meaning they call you, text you and expect you to ferry them about the city when they want to play a game of pool/darts or see a show. It's an interesting feature that has its benefits, but when you end up having to do this once or twice after every mission, it does get annoying.

However, friendship works both ways - just in real life. You can give your mates a ring if you fancy going out for food or an evening of drinking. Spending time with your friends does unlock certain benefits, such as lower priced weapons or calling up and asking for bodyguards.

"How do you give them a call?" I hear you ask. GTAIV has included a phone function into the game (ala Saints Row). This opens up a wealth of gaming opportunities for you to play with. If you get injured, you can call for an ambulance - or if you fancy just trying your luck, you can call a police car to your location and taking it for a joy ride! Eventually you can upgrade to a camera phone and send and receive picture messages that will allow progression in the game. You can even customise it with a ringtone and wallpaper.

Transport-wise, there have been a few cutbacks from the previous games (most noticeably the tanks and aeroplanes), but greater detail has gone into the vehicles that are available. Trains have made the leap over to the next-gen GTA, as have the helicopters, which allow for a more unusual way to traverse the city. Likewise, the taxi has been modified to mean you can actually be a passenger and be driven around quickly nearly anywhere in the game (an a cost of course). It is an invaluable feature that you'll find yourself using more often than not.

The damage engine has been greatly improved as well. Most noticeably at a pre-release peek of the game, I saw a car land on top of the one I was driving and the damaged caused to my car was just like a car had landed on it. Sounds like a trivial thing to get excited about, but it has to be seen to be believed. I also tried to burnout a tyre on my car - just to see if they had thought about the damage engine. The funniest thing was, it did. Hold the brake button and accelerate to see the tyre burst after about 45 seconds of burning rubber. Even the fire hydrants give a nice splash of water when crashed into. Nice touches!

On the subject of nice touches, GTA IV is full of them. The water effects are STUNNING! You can see reflection of the skyline and even see the watery reflections of the cloud formations in the sky. The environment is fantastic - rising and setting suns, thunderstorms (where the rumbles actually vibrate the controller) and a constantly changing weather system that keeps the game fresh and interesting. Another visual point of interest is a clever way of fogging the processing map. Instead of the usual fog you see in games, GTA IV blurs a rough image of the oncoming map to give the effect of heat haze. It looks fantastic - especially when a jumbo jet makes a landing in the background.

Unfortunately (or for some, fortunately), package collection is back, although this time the brown packages are pigeons (or, as the game prefers to call them, "flying rats" that need to be shot. Along with these flying rats, you need to jump over 50 stunt jumps. Combine this with all the other different side-missions - it's going to take an absolute age to reach the 100% (believe me - I'm trying)!

On the 360 Achievement front, there are a tough 1000 points to try and earn. The achievements range from beating one of your new friends at pool, to killing all of the flying rats that populate the game. The one that worried me was the Liberty City Minute achievement where you have to complete the storyline of the game in 30 hours. It sounds tough, but even for somebody who enjoys the odd bout of messing around for a few hours causing mayhem it is still very achievable! Expect to find some interesting ones in there as well, along with the bog standard completing the game and finishing it to 100%. It's not a game for the casual scorewhore!

Nearing the end of my review now, I do have to give credit to the fantastic soundtrack Rockstar have provided in this game. There are over ten different radio stations that provide decent music, plenty of un-PC banter between the DJs and hundreds of outrageous advertisements. If you've played any GTA game before, you'll know what to expect, as this is one feature that makes the games so popular.

And of course, there are hundreds of features I haven't been able to include in the review, so don't just think that this review contains everything! There is a fully operational mock-Internet to play with, no two people looking alike and of course (I suppose this one is for me) when Niko smiles and I smile - he looks like my twin! You really do have to play it through to actually respect the work that has gone into it.

So if you are looking for a game that will keep you occupied for about 40-50+, whether it be spent following a top class story, creating random carnage in a city that never sleeps, living out your sickest fantasies or just marvelling at how well the game has evolved from its Micro Machines style origin, this game is certainly for you.

Was it worth the hype? You betcha!

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