Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Past and times of Yore: Grand Theft Auto 4‏

Also Known As: GTA 4, Grand Theft Auto 4, GTA IV
Also on: PS3, XBOX
Genre: Third-Person Action Adventure
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar North
Release Date: December 3, 2008

I’ve been wanting to express my love for Grand Theft Auto 4 for a while now, although recently it’s been kind of muted because I’ve been reading some old Official PS3 magazines and gosh darn it do they sing it’s praises or what, over several pages even. But even so I can say that this title brings out the best in games, storyline, gameplay, graphics and possibly multiplayer. It has that sort of charm that Half-Life 2 did but just nowhere near as serious. This game is about fun and I love the way I can do many things that I can’t (or shouldn’t) do in real life, I’ve played it through for about the 4th of 5thtime now, almost as much as I did GTA3, and believe me it’s still as good even after a few times through. GTA4 was one of the GTA series that I didn’t really pay much heed to when it was coming out. Come to think of it I guess I didn’t pay much heed to the hype for the first GTA or GTA2 either, this title was really just a case of “oh yeh GTA4 is out (for a while now) I’ll have to get it”, and wow once I did, I couldn’t put it down. There hasn’t been many games that have made me give WoW a break, namely Minecraft and partly Dragon Age Origins but this was definitely one of them. I did a previous post regarding the two new content DLC expansions earlier that was mainly about The Ballad of Gay Tony and Just brushed on The Lost and the Damned but this one I think is old enough to be under the Past and Times of Yore heading. I may do another post of the DLC packs when I replay them though.

The Lost and the Damned
The Ballad of Gay Tony
The storyline for GTA4 is pretty straightforward, you’re a Serbian immigrant named Niko Bellic with a dark and complicated past and you’re going to see your cousin in Liberty (New York) city, and the usual action and drama film shtick ensues with the story missions, side missions, friends to meet, random people, car races and believe it or not grand theft auto. I enjoy the way you’re just dumped in this new city and start off with nothing, the game doesn’t exactly have a point system but you do have money as a currency, throughout my times through the game I never bothered trying to get %100 as this is a tedious not fun task, I’d rather see how much money I could amalgamate through the entire game, and that’s really been my only goal each time I’ve played (similar to Red Dead Redemption) the game but with most games I play, my favorite part is the start, where you start off with nothing and everything is so damn simple, which is partly why I replay most of my games at least once.

Niko Bellic: Our (semi) honorable hero
Vigilante work, one of the many ways to earn some sweet dough
The first thing that struck me when I entered GTA4 for the first time, was both the graphics and physics system. The game looked almost nothing like San Andreas, the blocky and bad textures and the polygonal models were no more, of course we can obviously attribute this to the graphical upgrade over time, as the previous three GTA games were for the PS2. I bought the PC version of GTA4 because at that time I did not have a PS3, this caused both some minor problems and advantages. The former being that I could not use my trusty PC gamepad as there was only really calibration for an XBOX360 controller even on the PC version so I had to use the keyboard and mouse which had some adverse effects such a no pressure sensor buttons or joystick to use so when moving normally it actually defaulted to walking not running and the only way I could go faster was to sprint, which obviously has led to some funny ragdoll shenanigans. This got even worse when driving as it meant I can’t turn slowly it’s either full turn or I have to tap the keyboard to inch slowly which gets even worse in the fact that I always have my foot flat down on the pedal so to speak wherever I go, this leads to some erratic and dangerous driving because quite frankly I have no choice but to be a hoon, which now I think about it suits me just fine. I am a borderline car enthusiast after all and I say borderline it’s mainly because I call myself a car enthusiast but in reality I drive an automatic car and really don’t know that much about them, but when a game let’s you scream around in a car, bike, boat or even helicopter with almost no consequences whatsoever it’s hard not to let loose.

Of course playing on PC does have its advantages as well, a big one being that you are able to use the mouse, and we all know using a mouse to aim is a lot easier than using a joystick, of course some can claim auto target is just as good, but the other major reason is an amazingly powerful but tiny little tool called simpletrainer which is probably the no.1 reason why I don’t play GTA4 on the PS3 even when my brother got a copy from his friend. The simpletrainer, made by sjaak327 is a immensely useful little tool for hacking the game, just press F3 and it brings up a menu where you can do almost anything you want, get invincibility, no wanted level, infinite ammo, all the usual, plus teleportation, vehicle, npc and object spawning and customizing, internet access from anywhere and a hundred other fun or useful tools to screw around with the game, I’ve played the game so much using it, I really just can’t play without it, whether it’s the incredibly useful invincibility or teleportation options or even just spawning, cleaning or fixing your favorite car makes the game experience so much better. Of course some small minds would call this cheating, and yes in ways it is cheating, but it’s cheating in singleplayer and there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s the same small minds that ridicule my way of playing some games with invincibility on but pretending it isn’t, But that’s a matter for another time.

Anyway as I was saying a couple of paragraphs ago I really enjoyed the new physics and ragdoll features available, when you ran into someone, you knocked them over and if they have a coffee cup or something in their hand they dropped it, in fact they dropped it for a lot of things, if you simply ran past them they’d drop their coffee cup as if the whole city always had some coffee cup they continued to carry around even after they had finished drinking it and kept a ever so loose grip. Apart from that you could lightly push people over with your car, barge them out of the way on foot or watch the ragdolls fly as you threw a grenade into a group of enemies or even the simple way that “Niko” (the game’s protagonist) steps over or onto things rather than just stepping through them my personal favorite was when you and a friend got drunk and you could only barely control your character from falling over everything. The whole new physics thing was a dramatic change and whether you bumped, pushed, punched, ran over, shot or blew up people it’s always a hoot to watch.

Damnit that's my craaaaaaaack! (you're actually controlling Niko during this btw)
As much as I liked all the running around and shooting, one of favorite aspect was surprise, surprise the cars. The first being as I said before the way you can drive how you want with no regard for your or other peoples safety, I can forgo the handling because this isn’t exactly the type of game where handling really matters that much. The best thing about the cars in GTA is that most of the models look really cool, and not cool in a way as they look real or graphically good and not cool as in just the Lamborghini and Aston Martin models but most of the normal looking models somehow looked cooler then the cars you saw on the road everyday, cars which looked like new or old celicas or lancers but somehow looked slightly different and there was a reason for that, the cars in GTA4 aren’t officially licensed so they have different names i.e. a Subaru WRX lookalike is called a “Sultan” so unfortunately my will to try and find these certain cars in real life is fairly futile. Though the cars are good, a lot can be said about the small number of bikes available in the game. The bikes in GTA4 are much less prominent obviously than in the Lost and the Damned DLC, but all the ones you need are there, from the super fast NRG9000 to the Vespa-like Faggio and wow has the physics and handling got better, I personally like to the chopper-like Hellfury which when riding you bounce along realistically when you hit bumps then get back to that smooooooooth cruisin’ despite the fact that I have no choice but to permanently go full throttle and I have to jerk the bike when turning because of keyboard button simplicity.

The Sultan and Merit, both close to real life cars, but not quite identical
I have to say a quick word about the multiplayer, I did try to get on and play the multiplayer a few times, and there was a few modes I did like “Team Mafiya Work” was where you were in teams or“gangs” and you each had to complete missions that were sent to you by phone, one quite hilarious one was the Mafia boss had cut the heads of his enemies and had left them in the city, you had to find them and throw them in the nearest body of water. Other than that my favorite was the races, multiplayer races in GTA are quite crazy as you’d expect and can be done in any vehicle, yes ANY vehicle I’ve raced on vespas, boats and even choppers, yes there were 4 of us zooming across treetops and ducking under bridges narrowly missing each other in passenger helicopters. Sadly I didn’t give the multiplayer as much of a go as I had liked I guess this was because I suppose the game was more popular on PS3, as the last 3 had been for the PS2 but lacking a PS3 at the time I had no choice, I would have really liked to experiment more with it especially in the Ballad of Gay Tony expansion where multiplayer skydiving and base jumping looks incredibly cool but due to me having other things to play multiplayer this kind of took a back seat and I only dabbled in the multiplayer when I was currently doing the singleplayer I also had a fairly frustrating try at LAN but I myself was not able to join in, making me quite annoyed.

Time to burn it up in times square (I was the king of boat racing)
I haven’t quite covered all of GTA4 here but I think it’s a sufficient display of my thoughts and appreciations of the game, in my opinion it’s definitely worth playing through at least once, just to appreciate the gameplay, the graphics and the storyline. it doesn’t have quite the crazy off-road and airborne antics of San Andreas or the make-it-to-the-top storyline that Vice City had, but it’s a hell of an improvement over them in most regards, not to mention GTA3 which was set in the same city as well as having a similar story. GTA4 is one of those games that deserves a place on my shelf of greatness but unfortunately I’m not really sure what to expect next, whether the next GTA is going to flabbergast me even more than this one.


This close too hoonerfication


  1. I’m impressed, I must say. Really rarely can i encounter a blog that’s the two educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail over the head. Your idea is actually outstanding; the issue is a factor that not enough people are generally speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that stumbled across this around my search for something relating to this.

  2. Thanks for the comment, glad to see people are finding and enjoying the blog. may I ask though which issue and idea you are referring to? or is it just the overall issues covered in the review?