Well I finally gave it a stab, spent a good couple of hours playing. The first thing that struck me is that the game seems to want you to carry out Niko’s life in minute detail. You have to go play pool with people, take them to the “cabaret” and go for meals etcetera… I’m really surprised you don’t have to go to the toilet and wiggle the left stick to force out a big log. I’m sure it will be a part of GTA 5 or 6.
The graphics in GTA 4 are quite good, obviously they’re not up there with the best, there’s just too much stuff to render for the graphics to be top notch and handle an entire city with people in it. The cars look nice, and the character animations are great and the way they handle distant objects like skyscrapers is pretty nice too. The only real problem I had with the graphics was the contrast and brightness, on the default settings night was way too dark (we’re in the middle of a city it should be bright, all that light pollution!) even places in the daytime in shadow were stupidly dark.
I have now done quite a few missions, which are the usual “go here”, “do this” affair. Some of my first missions were a frigging nightmare! One of them that really got on my nerves was where I had to go rough up someone for money, they gave it legs and got into a van and drove away, so I smashed my way into a vehicle and gave chase. The first problem I had was driving the dam car, almost every car in GTA4 handles like a two ton stick of butter and is as top heavy as Pamela Anderson, so I ended up in some river or something the first time. So I retry and have to drive from my safehouse back to the shop again, this time I thought I would be smart and get rid of the getaway van. Oh no the game didn’t like that at all, I got the message “the shopkeeper got spooked and ran away”, ffs now I have to restart and drive all the way back again. So this time I thought I would be a little less smart and park my car out the back, to save me having to hotwire one. So I park up out back, run all the way to the front and low and behold when I chase the guy out the back of the shop my ride is gone, I looked around aimlessly for a bit and then gave chase, I finally got that one done.
There was another early mission which made my blood boil even more, i had to go and fight two guys and then chase this guy down, chased him for quite a while and then he turns around a corner and HIS CAR DISSAPEARS and all of a sudden the marker showing where he is on the map JUMPS 200FT… WTF?! Now I run around trying to figure out exactly where the dot is saying he is and I get the message “Roman’s cab has been abandoned” and I fail the mission!! WHAT?! So I do it again, drive to the mission again, beat up the two guys again and chase the guy for ages again, this time I figured out where he went and ran up some stairs, saw the guy and thought “woot” but nooooooo, I get the message again “Roman’s cab has been abandoned” and I fail the mission again. So the third time I drive to the mission AGAIN, beat up the guys AGAIN, I chase him for ages AGAIN, chase him up the stairs again and finally push him out of the window. FFS! Why the game decided that his car should fucking disappear is beyond me, why it decided his body should defy the laws of physics is questionable, but making me fail the mission for a completely arbitrary reason is just fucking stupid.
I can’t see myself playing this game too much, it’s like it wants you to have a second life. The missions, carjackings and killing is fun. Driving people around to play little minigames to make better friends is a joke. I didn’t buy GTA 4 to play bowling, darts or pool. I did it because I thought it was a free roaming game, yet every time I try to free roam, I fail the mission, lose friends and oh if I decided I want to swim across to another island I get shot to pieces by 6 boats and 2 helicopters.
Oh and another thing, how come I can drive around in a stolen car, ram other cars, knock over lampposts, run people over and drive recklessly without the police batting an eyelid… But when I’m drunk and decide to get in a car [and not even move] I have 3 squad cars chasing me down and SHOOTING AT ME! And it’s not frigging easy to drive when you’re drunk, infact it’s a fucking chore!
In conclusion though, I’ll play some more and explore some more, maybe I’ll like it, but personally I think I’ll probably get bored of darts and driving people to the local KFC.