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Author Topic: Sabby's GTA4 Review  (Read 1046 times)

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Offline SabbyTopic starter

Sabby's GTA4 Review
« on: September 07, 2008, 10:13:37 PM »
I know this is late, but some haven't had the pleasure of playing this yet, and many question the reliability of the official reviews, so here is my unbiased, unprofessional and spoiler free review of Grand Theft Auto 4 for the Xbox 360.

[I haven't had proper time with the online features to review them yet, so if you'd like those honors, go right ahead]


Opening Stage

Possibly one of the biggest complaints of past titles is the storyline. While I found San Andreas had its moments, its not exactly something I could recall in detail right now. Convoluted, unremarkable and just poorly presented. Right from the start, you'll see this has been addressed. Niko Bellic, a European man from an unnamed area (Russia and Romania do come to mind though) is just stepping off the boat and into Liberty City. Just by the introductory cut scene, Niko comes off as a man who has shouldered a lot of hardship in his time, and has seen a lot of horrible things, but he clearly is someone who has learned to deal with these things. Funny and full of dry wit at times and almost broken and helpless at others, he is complex and likable, despite his horrid line of work.

Running from events that forced him from his home, he seeks a new life in Liberty City with his cousin, Roman. Expecting fast cars, beautiful women, and piles of money in a great mansion, it soon turns out this was all exaggeration and just plain imagination by his cousin. The mansion is a roach infested apartment, the car is a rusted old taxi painted over black, and the taxi business that he barely keeps afloat is in the hands of a Russian mobster, a man that Roman owes money to.

Because of this, Niko has to slide back into a shameful line of work to get his cousin out of hot water. Naturally, things escalate.


Plot

Easy to follow but deep and full of memorable moments and characters. This is easily film quality and if put to the big screen with the same effort that its been graced here in this game, you would have a chart topping release. The cast is definitely diverse (avoiding spoilers here) and dialogue, presented in cut scenes and phone calls are superb quality. Unlike previous titles, I knew who certain people were just by seeing them or hearing them. I didn't need the text to inform me who it was getting in my car.


Graphics and Presentation

While the faces and expressions are top notch and very expressive (complimented by some really great animation) things aren't perfect. There's a varying degree of pop in, though its never really a big issue. Only a few times I've gone head on into a low wall because it didn't load in time for me to see it. Shrubs and trees are sprite-like and can be damned well ugly when you get close. There can also be the occasion few seconds of lagging performance. But aside from these small annoyances, things are very pretty :)

The roads look eerily realistic when it rains, shining with that glow that street lamps always cast onto wet roadways. The fire has a very hollywood look to it, smoke included. If you've ever seen a Terminator 2, you'll know what I'm talking about. Just after you've blown up an entire street full of enemies, you'll really feel that satisfaction when you see all those motes of flame clinging to blackened car frames and patches of concrete.

Weapon effects are of similar quality, muzzle flash and ricochet fitting in with that action movie feel. Explosions are also very stunning, throwing up showers of sparks, gravel, clinging fire and plenty of thick smoke. Some very convincing gore and blood effects included. Gun fights are fantastic displays and will always impress with the sheer magnitude and quality of effects.

However, where the games presentation really excels is the cars. Fitting for a game named after the act of stealing them. While they can't be crushed into a soccer ball like in the Burnout series, I believe GTA4 has the most impressive and realistic car damaging of any video game to date. I've had to defend this view a lot lately, but I'll take realism over being able to crush a car into a crumbled little ball.

The frame dents realistically, taking impacts like metal should. Skidding and hitting a corner side on indents the cars side, scraping it causes metallic scratches and dings, the glass shatters and crunches with gun fire, and the tire's, once popped, will eventually shred apart while driving. Spray a Mac across the windshield and you'll see the glass suddenly peppered with cracks and holes, blood splatter on the inside. Put your elbow through your window so you can fire and take out a speeding vehicles tire, and the rubber will explode and shred away from the bare rim. The car will careen and flip over, grinding across the road on its roof, the weight causing the glass the shatter.

Just like the gunfights, the impressive effects and very convincing physics make the chase scenes movie quality and very believable.


Sound

I would be hard pressed to choose a single area where this game most excels... but if I absolutely had to, I would choose the sound. One area of games I believe has been lacking is the sound effects. Nothing has the impact it should if it doesn't right. Here, while the gunfire, admittedly, is very plain, everything else feels just perfect. The metal boom and the bloody smack of a pedestrian getting a car bonnet to the back is cringe inducing. Gun fire in a nearby tunnel sounds appropriately distant and echoes. The scuffles and smacks of tripping and flailing bodies (more on that in a second) are also very convincing, as are the wet and meaty punches of bullets in their bodies.

Thankfully, the radio is also up to standards, with all the stations you would expect from a modern day setting. Conservatives and Liberals, terrorists and fear mongering, idiotic Americans blaming your many dirty deeds on violent video games ( ::) ) and the younger generations and their internet obsessions squaring off against the older generation that insists the radio will make a come back. There's even a crack at the 'series of tubes' comment that gets twisted to scare people about pedophiles after their children. Its hilarious and sadly very truthful.


Gameplay

This game is fun. There's a thousand ways to present a review of a games controls and handling, but really, in the simplest terms, this game is fun. It will always surprise you, and no matter how often or how long you play it, something new and unexpected will always make you laugh or cringe or both.

The meat behind a lot of this is NaturalMotions 'Euphoria'. A complex simulation technology, it infuses the in game characters with real weight and motor systems. Characters have balance and convincingly attempt to save themselves when that balance is upset. Shoot a man in the chest and he will hold the wound and stumble back. Keep firing, and he'll slide down the wall, weakly trying to raise his own gun as he finally loses all strength and just slumps over.

Do this near a drop or a ledge, and more could happen. Shoot him in the leg and he'll stumble and hop back, going off the ledge and firing his SMG wildly as he writhes and struggles, before landing hard on his side, dead on impact. Or perhaps you'll throw a molotov cocktail at a stairway, when you know several enemies are about to charge down it. The people running into the flames will catch alight and roll down the stairs, trying desperately to beat the flames off of themselves, rolling and screaming.

A good example of the more unpredictable moments was when I tried to jack a car from the passenger seat. Using my shotgun, I convinced the passenger to get out, then smacked him across the face with the butt of the gun and took his seat. Immediately, the driver began to reverse at top speed, so when I pushed him out of the car, he ended up clinging onto the open door in a very Loony Tunes fashion. A set of mail boxes ripped the door off, taking the guy with them in a showering of letters. A passing motorist tried to swerve out of the way and skidded into a packed street, where several people were sent rolling down hill. One of them got up and decided to act against the woman and drew a pistol, firing at the car. The window cracked and splattered with blood, the woman slumped and hit the throttle, the car taking a wide arch and crashing into a wall, cracking it and taking down a fire hydrant.

Yes, all that happened, and all I did was jack a car. If you care to look up Euphoria, you'll see the tag line "Memorable Game Moments' plastered everywhere, and I think that's spot on here. GTA4 is both unpredictable and memorable. Even little things like your friends tossing their drink cups out your car window will continue to pop up and surprise you.


Closing Comments

I've heard many people ask "Do people even play GTA4 anymore?" I suspect these are the same brats that returned Soul Reaver and Bioshock after a few days of buying them. This is a fantastic game and has addressed almost every complaint of the series. If you hated any of the GTA games, I still recommend trying this. Buy it. Its that good.


Rating: 10/10

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2008, 07:41:29 AM »
Sabbat you should probably say, "Be careful on motorcycles." I can't tell you how many times I've run a red light on a PCJ, and some jackass cuts me off.  ::)

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2008, 07:45:04 AM »
Haha, yeah, but it looks so good when he rolls and flops and slides down the road...

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2008, 08:00:43 AM »
Haha, yeah, but it looks so good when he rolls and flops and slides down the road...
Unless you're my brother. Yesterday he was playing it and he drove a car at full speed up some steps. The car stops like it hits a brick wall. Niko flies out the windshield straight up and back down. He got thirty feet easy. We both just looked at the screen.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2008, 08:51:28 AM by Inkidu »

Offline Avi

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2008, 08:48:42 AM »
Personally, I find myself playing "Launch the Serbian" with Niko whenever I get bored.  I think the coolest shot I've nailed with a motorcycle was sending Niko flying over an embankment onto the El tracks.  He stands up, brushes himself off, and turns... only to get pegged by the El train going about 50 mph.  Classic. XD

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2008, 08:53:02 AM »
Actually my brother and I were playing suicide bomber. It's a lot more fun than you'd think. Get some grenades get on a car or bike and hold down the grenade button till it blows in his hand. Very Burnout-Esque.

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #6 on: September 08, 2008, 09:22:16 AM »
Suicide bomber... I play terrorist :P yes, kids these days do have access to terrorism simulations, quick, call Fox News.

Place a Packie Bomb in the trunk of a car, park it in a fuel station and wait for the afternoon rush hour... once a nice number of people are parked in and around it and are meandering around, blow it to hell.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #7 on: September 08, 2008, 09:30:25 AM »
I'll have to try that one.

My bro and I though thought it was funny because the grenades beep and we started saying that one ringtone, "Infidel, your phone is ringing!" "Infidel, pick it up!"

He was actually going to throw one but a cab hit him and he dropped it! XD

Offline Aiden

Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #8 on: September 08, 2008, 11:13:37 AM »
Gta 4 is the only GTA I have ever completed (story wise)

I am even replaying it to get different scenarios/endings.

I also look forward to the new content that is set to be released during the holidays? (not sure about release date...but I now it is soon)

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2008, 11:15:31 AM »
Maybe they'll add more clothes?

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2008, 11:20:02 AM »
Episodic Content and Simulation gameplay are two things I really want to see catch on :) I don't think there's any details out, but I would like to see some new weapons... maybe a pistol that can actually take someone off their feet. Since every weapon in the game can only make them fall over (Even the shotgun can't send someone very far) a big pistol that could punch someone right out of a window would be welcome :)

I'd also like to see some gameplay tweaks. Melee needs some fine tuning... a kick button that actually kicks someone down would be nice (Think Dark Messiah)

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #11 on: September 08, 2008, 11:32:04 AM »
I don't imagine they'd mess with combat. That's really good. But I'd like to see a magnum type weapon.

You know though people say the shotgun is useless but I find in tight confines like the "White Storm" mission. It works damn well.

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2008, 11:54:15 AM »
I never said it was useless :) when you need to get down a hallway or a stair case full of people, it comes in handy. Just strafe out, move through and keep firing. May not take anyone down, but no one will be able to fire back, as any kind of shot makes them stagger.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2008, 11:57:30 AM »
Of course I like pistols. I racked up like a thousand head-shots in the first half of the game. One shot one kill.

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2008, 12:41:44 PM »
I've used the sniper to get 6 guys with a single shot.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2008, 12:43:27 PM »
I used it to hit a pilot in the cockpit of a chopper. The heli almost hit me on the building I was standing on.

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2008, 03:21:37 PM »
I hated GTA4.  I didn't enjoy the control scheme (I mean, seriously, who doesn't use one thumbstick to control acceleration and deceleration?  Halo had it, so why can't a game with "Auto" in its title?) and I found the vehicle physics to be more than a little over-blown (how many cars have you driven in that sway as badly as these do when taking a corner at anything faster than a snail's pace?).

But what really killed the game for me was the lack of checkpoints or in-mission saving.  Every time I died on a mission, I would have to go back to before that mission started, sometimes replay the whole frigging conversation to get started, and then I got to re-drive myself to the mission point.  Joy.  I know the city is a technical marvel that has no loading times, but still!  Having spend ten minutes just to get to mission point got very old, very fast.

The combat physics are okay, but hardly anything to write home about.  I found the cover system to be more hit-and-miss than anything.  All in all, I disliked playing it so much that I quit at less than 30% completed and haven't gone back yet.  I keep thinking of trading it in for store credit.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2008, 03:33:59 PM »
I hated GTA4.  I didn't enjoy the control scheme (I mean, seriously, who doesn't use one thumbstick to control acceleration and deceleration?  Halo had it, so why can't a game with "Auto" in its title?) and I found the vehicle physics to be more than a little over-blown (how many cars have you driven in that sway as badly as these do when taking a corner at anything faster than a snail's pace?).

But what really killed the game for me was the lack of checkpoints or in-mission saving.  Every time I died on a mission, I would have to go back to before that mission started, sometimes replay the whole frigging conversation to get started, and then I got to re-drive myself to the mission point.  Joy.  I know the city is a technical marvel that has no loading times, but still!  Having spend ten minutes just to get to mission point got very old, very fast.

The combat physics are okay, but hardly anything to write home about.  I found the cover system to be more hit-and-miss than anything.  All in all, I disliked playing it so much that I quit at less than 30% completed and haven't gone back yet.  I keep thinking of trading it in for store credit.
First off GTA has never had in mission checkpoints or saves. 4 actually has one at the last mission and I was shocked.
Second off the accelerate with the stick mechanic sucks. It's too hard to turn. It's good for the Ghost and that's it. And that's only because the Ghost strafes

Offline Canuckian

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2008, 03:44:36 PM »
But how hard is it to have in-mission saving?  It was that long drive all the way across the city that really made me turn the game off in frustration.

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2008, 03:48:34 PM »
It sounds to me like your just not very good at it... majority of missions can be made without dying once, especially in the earlier levels. If your having trouble with the first segment, I think you may just be... bad at it.

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2008, 03:59:32 PM »
That's entierly possible.  I'm referring to the Snowstorm missions and the Bank Robbery missions.  Whenever I died on them, there was the boring tedium of having to restart the whole damned thing and get to the point where I died.  Which was halfway through each mission.  Either way, checkpoints are a must for me.

Offline Aiden

Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #21 on: September 08, 2008, 04:51:33 PM »
Bank robbery was the Sweetest mission ever! I loved it.

I think the introduced the Cellphone "continue" and the cabs to travel to locations faster..was enough honestly, I think it is too easy to have "mid save points"
I failed a few times on those missions but I learned to be really tactical while on missions, for snow storm, you can place a car by the docks scale the fence and laugh as the cops all remain at the point they "expect" you to go.
Christ I loved cabs....
Step 1. Steal car
Step 2. Chase down cab
Step 3. Block Cab
Step 4. Get in cab
Step 5. Get to location.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #22 on: September 08, 2008, 10:35:37 PM »
You can actually hold Y to jack the passengers riding in cabs and the cabbie will just let it go and let you get a ride.

Offline Aiden

Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #23 on: September 09, 2008, 11:03:27 AM »
I think that is the best way to catch a cab...with aggressive authority.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Sabby's GTA4 Review
« Reply #24 on: September 09, 2008, 11:23:19 AM »
Yeah but if I've already got a car. It's going to see more air than a skateboard at the X Games.
I don't see the purpose in forcing a cab. They're usually everywhere most the time.