Grand Theft Auto IV - First Impressions

The biggest problem of being a cheapskate gamer is that by the time I get to a game, it's already yesterday's news. I just can't fork out $60 for every good looking new release that comes down the pike (and there are a lot of good looking games these days!). No doubt you'd see more video game reviews here in my blog if I thought I could talk about a game when its still fresh. It often takes months for games to hit the $20 rack.

There are those games, however, that force me to bend the rules a bit. New Zelda games are one, but if they continue to be locked to Wiimote wavin' I'll probably pass going forward. I'd easily shell out full price for Fable 2, a game I've been looking forward to for a while (and probably one of the biggest reasons I bought a 360).

Last night I succumed to temptation and picked up a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV, partly due to the special Circuit City was running on it (the free $10 gift card with purchase made it a touch easier to swallow). This would be the first time I've considered a Grand Theft Auto game to be "must have." GTA III I didn't really play that much, GTA: Vice City I played long after its release and thought it was good, but San Andreas really game me a sense of where this franchise is going. Coupled with the power of the next gen consoles and a huge budget, I was genuinely excited to see what Rockstar Games would put together.

Rockstar and the Grand Theft Auto franchise have gotten a lot of harsh media coverage. The "Hot Coffee Mod" scandal from the PC version of San Andreas didn't help their reputation, but even before Carl Johnson got invited in for caffeinated bliss, politicians and media outlets pointed fingers at Grand Theft Auto because of its mature content and adult gameplay. (In fact, the MADD organization found something to grab on to so they could get some media coverage).

As someone who's played most of what Grand Theft Auto has out there, I can assure you it's not a "cop killing simulation" and now "drunk-driving promotional tool" you've heard about. I certainly wouldn't let a nine year old play it, but Rockstar puts together a very compelling *adult themed* story and solid gameplay intended for an 17+ audience.

As I said, I just picked it up last night, so I haven't gotten very far into the story. However, I can say that my initial impressions are extremely positive:

  • GTA IV has a polish to it unlike any like game that's come before it. The attention to fine details (like how a car's interior light comes on when you open the door) keep a very realistic feel as you intereact with objects and the environment.
  • Graphical quality has certainly stepped up since the PS2 era. The high definition world of Libery City looks fantastic, though I still think Rockstar has room for improvement when it comes to faces and character models (don't get me wrong though, they're way better compared to San Andreas).
  • The story (so far) is compelling and drew me in right away. The first cut scene is pretty long, but it's always been fairly long for GTA games. I wasn't entirely sure I would be drawn to Niko, but he seems to be pretty good so far.

The only nitpick I may have so far is the major change in how Niko and cars handle in the world. Niko's movements are much more realistic and fluid than in games past, but I'm finding him a little harder to manuever and not doing things I want him to. Driving in the game has also gotten a more realistic take (1980 boat sedans don't corner like sports cars anymore), but I may just need a bit more time to adjust to the controls.

Are you playing Grand Theft Auto IV? What are your impressions?


My brother got this game and I believe he said GTA IV received an average rating of 9.9. Personally, I don't believe this game complies fully with a 9.9. This is porbably due to my perference of games. But hey. I loved the other games, but the GTa games seem to be a lil repetive with a couple twists with the new game. I will say that I am impressed with its resemblemce with new york city, I heard people can go and find their apartments. I heard that and I was like wow. There was another positive point I had but I like the game but definetley prefer CoD4, NFS ProStreet.


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