Grand Theft Auto IV - video game review

Grand Theft Auto IV

You're probably wondering why I'm reviewing Grand Theft Auto IV after so much time. Well, jerk, the reason is quite simple. I have finally given up trying to beat it.

It's been a couple months since Grand Theft Auto IV was released and I'd like to re-capture a few snippets of the buzz going around at that time.

IGN called it "one of the best games we've ever seen," Gamespy referred to it as, "a gaming masterpiece," Gamepro knighted it as "one of the best gaming experiences ever produced."

But it's been a while since then, and in this post-Metal Gear Solid 4 society, who is to say what a gaming "masterpiece" is? Then again, Metal Gear Solid 4 did come out for the Playstation 3, which is kind of like having a masterpiece fall in the middle of a forest.
It's a shame no one will ever play it.

So I decided to take a look at Grand Theft Auto IV after all the hype.

I don't know much about graphics, but short of the one God produced, I'm pretty sure there has never been a world more intricately detailed than this one. Although glitches abound with frequent pop-ins, some seriously stilted character motions, and some finnicky lighting dynamics, the world is about the best you could possibly hope for out of this generation of gaming technology. It looks far better than the majority of games out on the market today, all the while featuring a landscape far more expansive.

There are moments that simply take your breath away. If it's not simple things, like the geometric shadows being cast off by a nearby rollercoaster, it's the vast world you can witness just by looking up at the night sky and watching the distant airplanes soar silently above you.

The only problem here is that the world of Grand Theft Auto is not one meant to mearly be seen or discovered. You're supposed to fight your way through it. The docks might look pretty, but it somehow loses it's picturesque qualities when you kick a corpse off it's edge or take a prostitute down to the waterfront.
It's all real wholesome fun.

Or at least it was fun.

Months have past, and to be brutally honest with you, the joy of paying prostitutes, killing them, and then taking my money back by force, has lost it's luster. Driving on sidewalks and then turning my car into a human lawn-mower has gone from laughably absurd, to a matter of common occurance. Why do I insist on careening my car through the local park? Because it's faster. Cop cars are an all too frequent inconvenience, and they have gone from fun to avoid, to just annoying. The game has turned me into a monster looking for nothing but convenience. Not that it's bad or anything.

Gun fights are the core essential ingredient of the Grand Theft Auto games. Unfortunately the gun fighting mechanics are for the most part, completely broken. The cover system, the one that's meant to help you shield bullets by crouching behind cars or buildings, is essentially useless. When it does work, it's not supposed to. As a result, you'll end up diving behind a flagpole and stand there convinced that you're invincible. You aren't. The trigger is a tad too sensitive at times. As a result, the challenge will become not trying to kill as many civilians as possible.

So here is the grand philisophical problem within the world of Grand Theft Auto: is it possible to be a good person within the limits of Liberty City? To be honest, the core audience won't ever ask this question and continue to gleefully murder as many residents of the city as possible. However, I couldn't help but wonder how a game based purely around the concept of "go anywhere, do anything" could get away with not rewarding at least some decent attempts to obey the law.

Still, there is an undeniable charm to the sick thrills of the Grand Theft Auto universe. In fact, if there is any one flaw that truly warrants a complaint, it's that the game is too devoted to it's realism. Had it been neon colored and featured lazer swords, I'd probably be more forgiving of it's flaws. But it wasn't. So I'm peeve'd off that I can drive a dump-truck through a building, but can't run over a fledgling tree.

No matter what the case, this unfocused spectacle of violence is entertaining. The simple fact that it has taken me this long to realize I'll never fully complete the dang thing and just write a review already, should stand as a testament to the depth of it's gameplay.

Nevertheless, this should be considered to be a casual game. The second you start to play it seriously the flaws will begin to overwhelm you. And before you know it you'll start to notice the strange glitch in the game that sucks all the time out of your real-life.

I recommend Grand Theft Auto IV, especially if you're a child with no other role-model in your life. It has given me a lot of great memories, not to mention numerous virtual dates that were far more successful than most real-life dates I have been on. The moment I realized this, I stopped playing and silently handed my housemate Anthony the controller. He already has a girlfriend, so what harm could happen there? Right?


Oh no...

I have to check the waterfront!

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