I’ve been playing a lot more GTA IV, but mainly online and mainly just messing around in the city flying helicopters around. There’s something therapeutic about driving boats and helicopters around a city that seems so big and interactive. The main problem I’ve had with GTA IV is the lack of co-op missions, the game would have been twice as good if you could play the boring singleplayer experience with friends. But the real tragedy is that GTA IV is such a waste, the graphics engine, the world design and detail are all completely wasted on the stupid “Grand Theft Auto” theme.
Let me elaborate; you have this whole world where you could basically do anything and the game wants you to take virtual people to go bowling. The missions are so linear it makes the whole fantastic world they have created superfluous. Not only that but they’re generally “go here, shoot that” etc, or mundane things like smash a brick through some guys window. The main character is also terrible and hard to identify with, he has no real substance to him.
You take all this into account and you think “How could GTA IV be better?” well for a start it shouldn’t have been GTA IV, it should have been a different franchise, one which makes use of the power of new hardware and one which is as dynamic as the surroundings.
For example, my friend and I find it fun to dream up scenarios… This is going to sound like role-playing but it’s not, we simply think up situations which would be fun to defend or attack certain points or people. Like making roadblocks with stolen buses and holding out against the police for as long as we can, comically ended by the helicopter that I just shot down landing on my team-mates head.
Imagine this in a game scenario though, imagine you have to rob a high value bank… While your comrades are inside getting the money and shooting up the place, you’re outside holding out against the police with your ramshackle roadblock until you all get in your getaway vehicle spraying the pursuing police cars with automatic weapons fire. Best of all you can plan your own getaway route. It makes use of the open world and it makes use of your own ingenuity within that world, it’s fun and challenging. You can rob banks in GTA IV, but it’s just a linear scenario, anything you try to set up before the mission will be reset by the mission mechanics basically dumping you in a pre-set chain of events.
I hope that one day Rockstar will drop this GTA 4 crap and utilize the resources they have better. As I said I cannot fault the team for making a fantastic looking game with the lovely detailed city, but I can fault them for making such a limited game out of it.