Friday, 23 January 2009

Modern Reviews - Grand Theft Auto IV

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past four years scrabbling about in the muck, excreting mud, and eating rotten larvae you should be fairly familiar with the juggernaut of Grand Theft Auto. Since GTA3 Rockstar basically invented the sandbox game and much mouth drooling anticipation lay in store for the new generation GTA4. This possibility of epic faildom really had me worried before the games release but in the world of game development games generally get better the more numbers they have behind them.

GTA4 does not disappoint. Rockstar have managed to create what is generally heralded as a masterpiece game. Giving you free reign of Liberty City, a chopped up version of new york, you really have to explore the environment yourself to truly comprehend the vast and intricate work done here. It's a fantastically believable environment and genuinely mind boggling.

You're alter ego in Liberty land is polish dishwasher Niko Belic no doubt straight off the boat from Britain where he ran an unsuccessful brick laying company. Actually he's an ex-soldier who's been convinced to sneak into the US of A by his cousin in search of a better life and a spot of extremely cold served revenge. This adds some credibility to his absolute knowledge of armaments, explosives, and helicopter piloting. NO REALLY. The title sequence is interjected with this grand entrance into Liberty harbour where your barely cognisent cousin picks you up. Much in the same way as all the other GTA games you start with nothing, get introduced to people, and begin building an empire of hookers and blow. Or money and guns. Unlike the other GTA games the main character, Niko, is entirely cynical and reluctant to become this money hoarding killer which added more depth to the experience. There are a number of moral decisions to make which generally involve who will die and who wont in much the same way as Bioshock. It's always satisfying to shoot a pleading victim in the face. Like most other sandbox games you lurch around from mission to mission to complete the game and gain upgraded weapons and much like other sandbox games there is a slew of irritating collection and delivery side quests.

Outside of this the world of Liberty City is your oyster. Slimy and smelling of fish. You can, and a friend of mine did, stand in front of a magazine booth throwing tin cans at the owners head. For 24 hours game time. He also spent at least 6 hours in real time trying to land a helicopter and jump into the rotorblades. This was eventually achieved to much lulz and satisfyingly flung us over a number of nearby buildings. Dead.

There are a number of new introductions from a slightly crappy cover system to TV channels, pigeons, video games... much joy to be had.

There's much to do in Liberty City from strip clubs to burger eating. Stealing cars to shooting pigeons. I would have liked to more intereactivity with non-standard game elements such as building interiors or perhaps a few special roaming characters from the radio or TV channels.

There is an incredible level of detail to the game not just environmentally but also in the ample destruction that you can wreck. There's not much i can fault GTA4 on. It's a must have title and worth every penny or whatever local equivalent you use.

Let the rampage begin.

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