Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA4) Screenshot 

The term sociopath was coined primarily because "psychopath" had too many negative connotations. It describes people, the Gary Ridgeways and Henry Kissingers of the world, who have absolutely no conscience. It's a blanket term used to describe people suffering from a wide variety of mental problems, the most interesting and relevant to this review being Antisocial Personality Disorder. A combination of antipathy, violently impulsive behavior, and a general disrespect for the rules of society, APD is the medical community's way of explaining that criminals are, almost to a man, suffering from a psychological defect. What does this have to do with Grand Theft Auto IV? Simple. In their attempts to make a grittier, more realistic game, Rockstar North has offered the world one of the best fictional portraits of the pure sociopath in recent memory.

The ninth installment in the long-running Grand Theft Auto series, GTA4 doesn't reinvent the wheel, nor should it be expected to. The move from GTA2 to GTA3 was as significant a leap in gameplay design as Mario's move to the '64 had been, and could even be called the birth of a new genre, if DMA Design hadn't pioneered all the core gameplay mechanics in the underrated Body Harvest three years earlier. For the past seven years, Rockstar North (formerly DMA Design) have refined and tweaked a simple trio of gameplay concepts: 1: Shoot people. 2: Steal their cars. 3: Use those cars to run other people over. GTA4 is nothing more than the latest refinement of that concept, offering only two major additions: A wonderful multiplayer mode, and a truly compelling story, replacing Bully as the company's finest.

Technologically speaking, GTA4 is a borderline triumph. While the graphics don't offer the fidelity of many other titles, and the textures are blurrier than next-generation gamers have come to expect, the game looks far better, and more importantly, performs far better than any GTA game before it. There's still the occasional "GTA Speedbump", that unhappy circumstance when a car crashes into nothing at all, and then a second later a telephone pole is drawn in, but by and large all issues of appearing scenery and disappearing behicles have been resolved, and it makes the game world seem all that much more authentic.

Authenticity is the watchword here, as the developers have gone to absurd lengths to depict a 1/5 scale (or thereabouts) depiction of New York City. It's nowhere near so exact that I'd imagine residents of New York are going to be driving by their own apartments and marveling at how well they were modeled, but it certainly has the look and feel of an actual city, one of the first in videogame history.

This push towards realism in game design has affected the missions as well, and it's a change for the better. While there are probably those out there who enjoyed the hugely pyrotechnic or otherwise outlandish missions of the last few games, I wasn't one of them, and I was pleased to see GTA4 going back to basics. Most of the missions involve driving to a location and shooting a couple of people, or shooting a couple of people while driving to a location. Every now and then I'd be asked to drive a boat somewhere or chase someone with a helicopter, but by and large I kept to simple gangland enforcing and executions.

Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA4) Screenshot

What keeps the more basic mission structure from getting stale or tedious is the level of satisfaction the combat offers. This satisfaction is due in small part to an improved targeting system, and in a much larger part to the brand new progressive animation system called Euphoria. Instead of canned actions or string-cutting ragdoll physics, enemies are now made up of simulated skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems, allowing them to react naturally when shot, recoiling from the impact of a shoulder hit, stumbling if shot while running, or crumpling awkwardly when instantly killed by a bullet to the head. It looks so good and feels so authentic that I found myself eagerly anticipating each new gunfight, so I could watch the new ways there were for my enemies to crumple and die.

Just as developers fell all over themselves to include Havok physics a few years back, GTA4's release has not doubt led to the "Euphoria" people's phones ringing off the hook. Frankly, I'll be shocked if in 18 months time there's a shooting game that doesn't use this new kind of character animation, or some variation thereof. For that reason, I almost don't want to give GTA4 too much credit for the animation—after all, soon enough almost every game will sport it—but still, based on the game's sales so far, this is going to be most people's first experience with Euphoria, and the unbridled joy it brings to people looking to shoot fictional people within the confines of their television screens.

The one place these amazing physics don't appear, however, is the multiplayer. All human-controlled characters are immune to the effects of gunfire, and can soak up bullets unaffected until their health runs out and they collapse. I understand why this choice was made, after all, if player characters reacted authentically to wounds, whoever got hit first would lose the gunfight. Despite the rest of the game's shift in that direction, it's simply not the kind of brutal realism that most people going online are looking for.

Luckily that absence of physics and a needlessly awkward method of going online are pretty much the only things wrong with the multiplayer mode, which is something of a revelation in all other respects. I don't suppose it should really be much of a surprise that the game works so well with extra human players. After all, I've been riding along with AI partners for a couple of games now, and San Andreas featured an experimental co-op mode. What is surprising is just how naturally the game's aesthetic encourages teamplaying. Going online only with complete strangers, whenever I started a team adversarial mode I always found people willing to pull their cars to the curb and let me in so I could help with the shooting. Everyone I played with just seemed to agree that not only was it more practical to have a car full of guns, it made the game more fun, as well.

Even better than the adversarial modes are the co-operative ones. Made for four players, each of the game's three co-op missions have the players teaming up to take down armored cars, rob drug dealers, and blow up boats. The greatest compliment I can give these levels is that during the single player game I found myself wishing that I could invite a friend into the game to ride shotgun on some of the more difficult missions, rather than having to rely on the always-awkward AI partners. I don't know what Rockstar has planned for their downloadable content, but so long as there are new co-op missions, I'll be buying them.

Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA4) Screenshot

While the multiplayer may be great, it's the story that really stands out in my mind. Well, not actually the story, but rather the story's main character. While the plot is the standard crime game tale of warring factions, betrayal, and revenge, Niko Bellic, the game's star, is anything but the standard issue anti-hero. Rather, he's a fully realized person. A tragic monster fuelled by nothing but hate, he's the best lead the series has ever had. Not that there's a lot of competition. GTA3 offered a mute, personalityless cipher, Vice City gave us Tommy Vercetti, a vicious psychopath motivated by an overwhelming desire to control everything around him, while San Andreas featured the most disturbed of all the characters, CJ, a self styled Robin-of-the-'hood who used claims of familial responsibility and moral relativism to convince himself that all of his mass murdering was somehow justified.

Niko Bellic is an entirely different breed of deviant in that he has almost no motivation of any kind, beyond a dedication to his cousin, and a simple desire to punish the people he feels are responsible for leaving him a hollow shell of a man. He finds himself swinging from master to master, playing both sides for his own benefit, but he never has much of an overall plan. Niko kills some people, has sex with others, and helps out a rare few, but strangely he doesn't seem to derive joy from any of it. Unlike the player's presumptive attitude, Niko never gets any pleasure from the mayhem he causes.

An entirely passive man, Niko fully believes himself to be a product of his environment. Various allusions are made to his time in the Army, and all of the atrocities he was forced to commit during the endless wars of the formerly communist republics. What makes him fascinating is that Niko has allowed himself to be completely defined by these actions—the government turned him into a criminal, so that's what he is, and nothing else. In one chilling speech, he mentions having been a slaver in passing, the way a normal person might talk about their time working at a fast-food restaurant.

Normally main characters in games are ciphers so that the player can make decisions without acting "out of character", since there's no character to be acting out of. Here the developers have done the seemingly impossible, created a character for whom no decision would seem surprising. Even suicide seems like a natural choice for a man so bereft of any emotion. At a few of points in the game the player is forced to make what would normally be a moral choice, but here is framed in a much harsher light, with Niko being forced to choose between a side that offers cash, and a side that appeals to his sentimentality. The player isn't asked to choose between good or evil, but rather greed or narcissism. By putting the player in such an unremittingly bleak position, the developers have done something amazing, and provided the game industry with one of its most well-rounded characters, up at the top of the heap with Kiryu from Yakuza.

It's in the shadow of the story's success that I began to find the game's failures, though. The first of these problems is the game's huge tonal schizophrenia. While the game's story does everything but stand on a desk and hold up a sign that reads "TAKE ME SERIOUSLY!!!" the rest of the game's content resides squarely in the middle-school potty-humor gutter that it's been wading in for over a decade. I doubt there's anything more unpleasantly jarring in the game than listening to Niko tell the awful story of how he discovered his aunt's body after she had been raped by soldiers and tortured to death, while driving past a salacious billboard for "Pisswater Beer". The series's attempts at satire have always been on the weak side, but they benefited by largely being set in the past—since the GTA games were the only ones still making jokes about Reagonomics or the Rodney King trial, at least there was an element freshness to them. Or if not freshness, at least an element of being the thing that doesn't get thawed out too often. Now that the game is set in the present day, the targets they choose to take shots at are all incredibly familiar: Fox News, spam e-mail, conservative politicians who are secretly gay—they've been covered by literally everyone else, and much better than they are here.

Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA4) Screenshot

Things also get a little rough on the combat mechanics front as well. The hand to hand combat is pretty much a wash, but in the entire game the player is only forced to fistfight once or twice, and that's just so they can learn how to do it. The gun combat is definitely an improvement—finally bowing to the peer pressure of every other third-person shooter, GTA4 at long last implements a decent targeting and cover system. Aping Everything or Nothing, the targeting system allows players to lock on to enemies, and then fine-tune their aim with the right thumbstick. This lets players choose between spraying bullets in their opponent's general direction or carefully seeking out headshots, depending on their tastes. The cover system isn't quite as successful. While targeting and blindfiring work well enough, for some reason it's impossible to lean out from cover without shooting, despite the fact that every other game with a cover system allows players to do so. This means that in order to fire accurately, the player has to lock on to an opponent and pull the trigger, which initiates the "leaning out of cover" animation. The second this animation takes can mean the difference between a hit or a miss on opponents that use cover, and if the player wants to adjust their aim, they have to do so while continuously firing, since letting go of the trigger button even momentarily will cause Niko to duck back behind cover. I can't imagine how this mistake was made—literally every other game has figured this one out, so how did Rockstar not? Do they just not want players to have a good gunfighting system?

The combat is also harmed by the fact that the enemies have no AI to speak of. Once in a blue moon an enemy will run towards or away from Niko, but for the vast majority of the time they will either stand still, firing away, or duck in and out from behind a single piece of cover. Almost no strategy is required to kill them, just a basic understanding of how to use cover and the ability to flick the targeting reticle between a number of static targets. If the Euphoria-powered animations didn't make actually shooting people such a pleasure, I'd go so far as to call the game's combat a disappointment.

There's also a problem with the size of the city. While considerably smaller than San Andreas, the last game's location, Liberty City still takes an awful lot of time to drive around. The driving is fun enough that this isn't a chore for the first dozen or so hours, but by hour twenty, when every mission asks the player to drive from one end of the map to the other, let's just say I started taking a lot of cabs, the game's helpful way of allowing the player to warp around the map in a flash.

While Liberty City is a huge, beautiful location, I was surprised by just how little there was to do in it. Perhaps because of the move towards realism in the game, Ambulance and Fire Truck missions have been removed, as have the mysterious "packages" that seemed to litter the ground of Liberty City last time around. Gone with them are the unlockable perks. Players can't become fireproof, nor are there ever any respawning weapons available at their cribs. Luckily Vigilante Missions remain, allowing the player to clean up the streets, although for no reward beyond a sense of self-satisfaction. This seems to have been a last-minute change, though, since a line of dialogue in the game explicitly states that the police car missions should be paying, they just don't.

Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA4) Screenshot

This dearth of activities also shows up in the social networking system, which has been expanded quite a bit since San Andreas. Now Niko doesn't just have to take girls out on dates, but all of his friends as well. When the player completes certain mission lines, his employer becomes a "friend" who will call him on his cell phone and want to hang out. This hanging out can involve getting some food, playing minigames, or going to see a show, and it takes up far more time than it really ought to. Not only because there are so many friendships that need to be maintained, but because there are so few places to hang out and do things in the city. One would think that a place like Liberty City would have a restaurant or bar on every corner, but one would be very, very wrong. Every time one of these "dates" begins the player has to drive to pick up their friend within an hour of game time (about two minutes), and then drive them across town to someplace they want to hang out. Of course, the entire social aspect of the game can be ignored, but since these friends and girlfriends are the game's only source of helpful perks, like cheap guns, health boosts, and resetting the wanted meter, the player would be put at quite a disadvantage by ignoring them.

Perhaps the most frustrating mistake the game makes is in the car combat. When this works, it's one of the game's bright points, as passengers blast away at other cars, shredding metal, blowing out wheels, and slaughtering the occupants, but when it fails, the game is crippled by that failure. I can't understand, for example, why passengers in a car are restricted to using pistols and submachine guns, the same way the driver is—sure it makes sense that a person driving a car has just one free hand, but why can't the person riding shotgun use a, well, shotgun? A far bigger problem is that the car-chase missions are divided up into two distinct styles: Free-form and Scripted. In the free-form chases the player can shoot out wheels, run the enemy off the road, really do anything they like. In the scripted missions, the enemy car can't be destroyed until it reaches a specific point on the map where an event is triggered. Unfortunately, the game doesn't tell the player which missions are which, so more than once I found myself emptying hundreds of round of SMG fire into a car, puzzled as to why it refused to catch on fire.

Some of GTA4's problems can be attributed to the developers' desire to hold features over from previous incarnations, and the rest seem to be caused by the understandable lack of focus that results from attempting to create a truly epic game world. All of these problems are outweighed by what the game gets right, both in the superlative story it tells and the unprecedented freedom the multiplayer mode offers. The GTA franchise is a funny one. Sometimes a sequel will be a leap forward in gameplay design and overall fun (like 3, or San Andreas), but other times they'll wind up being little more than an exercise in wheel-spinning or cashing in (Vice City and the Stories titles). GTA4 is certainly a step in the right direction, and I'm really looking forward to whatever the series has in store for us next. That being said, I hope that now they've produced a new engine that they can milk for the forseeable future the developers at Rockstar North take the time to iron out some of the larger problems next time around. Oh, and while I'm hoping for things, as a longtime fan of the series and knowing how much Rockstar North enjoys going back to the well, I'd like to formally request that the next game be set either in the near-future dystopian city of GTA2, or the "swinging London" of GTA: London 1969. Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

Disclaimer: This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game.

According to ESRB, this game contains: blood, intense violence, strong sexual content, use of drugs and alcohol, partial nudity, strong language

Parents should keep their children far, far away from this game. I know that all of their friends are going to be playing it, but seriously, you're a parent. Grow some backbone. The content listing should have made the point clearly enough, but just in case you don't know what those words mean, let me make this absolutely clear: among other things, the game features strip clubs, endless headshots, drug dealing, implied and threatened torture, and plenty of offscreen sex. If your older teens beg for it, fine, but it's not to be played by anyone who confuses fantasy with reality.

GTA Fans can rejoice, this is everything that you had hoped it would be. Sure, all of the RPG elements of San Andreas have been pruned out, but the tradeoff is a fantastic story and incredibly entertaining multiplayer mode, so don't be too sad that you can't make Niko eat burgers until he's a waddling tub.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing gamers should be pretty safe with this one. The onscreen HUD is great at keeping you oriented, the subtitling extends even to some of the incidental dialogue, and Niko's in-game cellphone can even be set to vibrate, so the controller shakes in your hand whenever you're getting a call. Rockstar North has really shown a dedication to accessibility with this one.

Daniel Weissenberger

Daniel Weissenberger

What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?

Nothing relevant to this conversation, that's for sure! Because we're here to talk about (sorry, write and read about, respectively) GC_Danny, who's updating this profile for the first time in thirteen years!

So let's take a gander back at that time and see what's happened! In addition to writing hundreds of video game reviews, Dan produced a book that can be legally purchased by almost anyone! He also wrote two short films, two episodes of television, and two movies! Although, sadly, and through much fault of his own, the movies have yet to be released.

In addition to general game reviewing, he's also dabbled in more long-form work, writing some of the longest and most comprehensive game reviews of all time. Then there's his non-GameCritics blogging, where he's famous as the world's foremost expert on the TV show Criminal Minds, as well as the co-host of a weekly podcast - he's even working on a new videogame/critical experiment, which you can find out more about here!

If all that wasn't enough, just a few months ago he rebranded himself as 'The Hidden Object Guru', hoping to stake another claim of ultimate expertise, this time over a genre of casual games! Will he be successful? Only time will tell, but you're free to join the thrilling ride at his YouTube channel!
Daniel Weissenberger

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Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

[quote=Anonymous]Daniel. You have insulted the games industry by giving VF5 9 and GTA 8.5. Don’t you feel really stupid? A poxy fighting game that has a few extra moves and combos compared to genre defining game and a game that pushes the games industry forward. I can understand you saying that it is not as good in your OPINIOPN as you maybe expected, but to give it less than a standard fighting game, you have lost any self respcet as far as I am concerned. This game needs a proper review from one of your colleagues.[/quote] vf5 is way deeper… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

Dude, not everything’s perfect but don’t count on a game with this much content, this kind of exceptional storytelling, that’s this much fun to play to come out in the next couple of years. Games this close to perfection come few and far in between. Cherish this gem and review it for what it is. It’s not just a shooter or just a racing game or just a sandbox game. It’s all that and more, perfectly melted into one, taking place in a beautiful convincing city with characters and a plot that few games can top. No game is perfect… Read more »

SPCTRE
SPCTRE
12 years ago

[quote=Anonymous]This game has gotten perfect or near-perfect reviews around the board. I’m glad someone finally took the time to take off their hype spectacles and give the game an honest review. It’s pretty damn far from perfect, although I would still classify it as a “great” game. I don’t think it raises the bar for anything, though. If Rockstar owned and developed the Euphoria Engine it might be some feat that they implemented it. Rather, like you said, it will pop up in more and more games as time goes on. And better gunplay – which GTA has needed for… Read more »

damon
damon
12 years ago

I am a huge San Andreas fan. I think that game is the best game of all time. Needless to say, I was stoked for IV and bought it on the first day. After playing it for about a week, I stopped. It’s not that great. I went back to playing Oblivion. Hopefully the next GTA will be better.

Edgar
Edgar
12 years ago

[quote=Billy ]Ha Ha danny boy 10 for resident evil 4? everyone knows that game suck. i just look on METACRITIC and it got 23%!!!! HAHA no one like that game! [/quote] Look again dunghole. That game got nearly perfect scores on Metacritic and Gamerankings.com and won the most Game of the Year Awards in recent memory. So get out of here you damn troll. And I just wanted to say, that as I predicted here on this very thread, MGS4 would also get “the perfect score treatment”. Yes, despite the fact Kojima continues to abuse the use of cutscenes (been… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Hahaha…what a fucking joke. Daniel Whineberger has struck again! All you fucking dumbshits that bought into his conniving “I’m smart because I can find fault in anything” bullshit are total idiots! This is just an unqualified reviewer who not only sucks at English, but is out to make a name for himself by dissing awesome games just so he can appear “different”. What a fucking loser. What’s sad is he’s totally predictable. He’ll give high scores to shit games, and low scores to great games. And some of you retards actually believe that makes it a “good review”. Like he’s… Read more »

SparkingConduit
SparkingConduit
12 years ago

Though semi-harsh, I can’t believe the one thing this review didn’t mention is how the realism drags the fun in the game down. To me, if anything could make this game an 8.5, it’s the fact that the driving is so realistic that it sucks. I hated how difficult it was to make even the simplest of 45 degree turns going anything over 25 miles per hour, and quite really this has put me off the game for a while because it makes the car chase missions so annoying with the need to rote memorize routes. I applaud the turn… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

I can’t believe someone said that. What kind of twisted son of a bitch would think it necessary to type those words…about a fucking 8.5?! Especially in regards to the man that showed the world how truly great Urban Chaos is? I am not only appalled to the core of my being, but ashamed of a society in which anonymous fucks like him can spew their offensive and ignorant hyperbole to whomever they choose on the internet. Say what you like about the content of the review, but know that there is a line, and if it is crossed, the… Read more »

Billy
Billy
12 years ago

Ha Ha danny boy 10 for resident evil 4? everyone knows that game suck. i just look on METACRITIC and it got 23%!!!! HAHA no one like that game! superman 64 kicks resident evils ass!!! HAHA i will say though, if you look at the seperate parts of that game, it’s perfect, but when you rate it as a whole, it’s like a 2.4 out of 10. HAHA i am writer for video game magazine!!! so I’M know what i’m talking about!!! on my site we just copy and pasted ign review for GTA IV THATS how much we like… Read more »

max
max
12 years ago

I applaud you for giving a honest review and not giving into same hype or pay check as every other gaming site.

i would honestly give the game 8/10, Do people who yell and demand you give this game a 10/10 honestly know what your saying? your saying this is the best game ever and no other game could be made which is better there is no 10.1/10. So get over the hype actually play the game for a while and you will relies why him giving even a 8.5 is generous.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

I liked this review. Well written, informative and you could tell it was from the perspective of a real fan of the series. I haven’t played the game yet so this gave me a good idea of what to expect.

Sholo
Sholo
12 years ago

I completely agree with this review, and if anything it is a point too high. I just don’t understand these screaming dweebs who insist everyone must see the game as they do. For older gamers, who have to wade through so many crappy games on their own, because every review falls in the 9.5-10 scale for the youngsters who’ve never played anything before…reviews are completely useless. Is this a good game? I guess so, if you like 40 hours of repetitive gunfights and endless gaybashing. Is it innovative? Yes, there are lots of graphical innovations, but this game makes the… Read more »

k9wazere
k9wazere
12 years ago

Some of my favourite games of the 90’s were given 80% scores. The reviewer would often say something like “fans of strategy games should pick this one up” but “it’s not for everyone”. 80%, to me, was a great score and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed with the game. Cut to 2008. Reviewers do not give “great games” 80% any more. You only need to look at Metacritic to see that “great games” all get 100%. Now, Daniel said “what is a 50% game, is it not average?” Personally, I’d say not. 1%-40% are bad games – not only… Read more »

pwnnoobslol
pwnnoobslol
12 years ago

[quote=Knows Daniel is Full of Himself]Wow, Daniel, you get more and more arrogant each review!!! LOOK AT ME! I’M DANIEL THE FAG! I WAIT UNTIL A LOT OF SUPER-HIGH-SCORING REVIEWS COME OUT FOR A GAME, THEN I GIVE A SHITTY-ASS SCORE IN RETURN TO STROKE MY EGO! You gave this an 8.5 and Halo 3 a 7.0. You’re a fucking joke and nobody can take you seriously. Don’t even dare call me a fanboy. You know those reviews are NOT even close to what those games deserve, but you love it that little 15 year-olds jack off to you giving… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

daniel’s marking down the biggest releases to get site traffic through gamerankings etc. and it’s working i guess, i would never read his crummy reviews otherwise. no game is EVER perfect but there’s no way he really thinks it’s an 8. he even mentions that he is a long term ‘fan’ of the series and yet dislikes ‘fan’ favorite vice city and gives an 8 to the best game in the gta series and clearly the best sandbox game yet released. if the flaws bothered him a 9 would have been accurate, the extra point is marketing for game critics.… Read more »

Jack
Jack
12 years ago

Good review. For me the games a solid 10, but I’m a huge fan of the series and somewhat biased. You did a good job pointing out some of the flaws the game has. They’ve not effected my enjoyment of the title but you wouldn’t doing your job if you didn’t identify and mention them. The one I really hope that gets sorted out for the next game is the scripted car missions which really spoil the immersion. Still, forty hours in and I’ve loved every second of it. Anyway, like I said, good review.

Sarah
Sarah
12 years ago

I Think Daniel needs to stop logging in and pretending to be other people agreeing with his review. Most of the comments agreeing with Dan seem rather similiar to each other and the style in which the review was written. But hey it could be just me 🙂

Patrick knows best
Patrick knows best
12 years ago

Now that the hard ons of fanboys have had a chance to die down a bit, it’s my turn to agree with the the reviewer. Essentially it’s a great game, just not a fantastic one. It feels a little like going back to GTA3. That game was good, but then came Vice City. That game was better. More to drive, more to fly. Next came San Andreas which added even more things to do and was rarely ever boring. Now we’re back to basics in the ‘next-gen’ round and unfortunately for all the greatness of GTA 4, it’s rather boring.… Read more »

Shawn G.
Shawn G.
12 years ago

I first heard about this site from MSNBC, and honestly… I must agree with everything you said in this review. Why? Because it’s true! I honestly questioned the motives behind every other critic giving the game a 10/10 while there are clearly bugs in its framework. For example, I’ve had a periodical slowdown that occurs while driving or dying – within the first 4 hours of playing this occurred 6 times. It’s difficult to gauge a 10/10 game, but this certainly isn’t one. It plays just like its predecessors and fails to push the hardware to its limits.

Snap Wilson
Snap Wilson
12 years ago

Yes, there are a host of positives about GTA: The plot, themes and dialogue are noteworthy, the lead character is intriguing, the graphics and physics are outstanding, the multiplayer is a lot of fun. Roman is a kick–I wish I could play as him instead. It doesn’t “surpass the medium of film,” as one commenter put it (although given the films most gamers probably watch, that’s an understandable perspective), but it’s a good story. While I appreciate that, Citizen-freaking-Kane wouldn’t be enough to keep me interested for twenty-plus hours. The reviewer mentions the missions all consisting of basically the same… Read more »

John
John
12 years ago

I think it would be a great idea if we get a 2nd opinion on this game from this site. I havent yet bought the game but everyone ive talked to thus far says its one of the best games ever made. Every review site with the exception of maybe 1or2 rated this game really good. I am still skeptical about buying this game because this is my favorite site and the review seems to trash it. If you guys can also get a 2nd opinion on Halo3 too that would be great.

Chi Kong Lui
Chi Kong Lui
12 years ago

[quote=Anonymous]I understand your points, but you wouldn’t want someone who thinks the wii controls are a novelty that wears off fast, to review a good Wii game, would you, and i haven’t read the consumer guides and neither have many of my friends who use this website, i want to know if there is gonna be a second opinion, i find reviews on this site very interesting[/quote] We actually have a second opinion on GTA4 coming soon. Keep an eye out for it in a day or so.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

now i am sure i am speaking on behalf of the gta lovers when i say how crap this review is. first of all there are hidden packages which add to the games highly realistic city that are pigeons which if you spent a little bit more time actually playing the game you would of discovered. second of all, they ditched the fire and ambulance missions because they wanted to make it realistic. my guess is that the minute you put the disc in the console for the first time you were going to find things that were wrong with… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

[quote=Chi Kong Lui][quote=Anonymous]personally, I feel your review is a little to nitpicky, sure most of the problems you saw were annoying, but not nearly as disastrous as you made them out to be. I think your comment on the online play is a very good point, but I thing gamecritics.com should have used a bigger fan of sandbox games to review this game, because sandbox fans will buy this.[/quote] Sure enough, this is what Dan wrote on the Consumer Guide: “GTA Fans can rejoice, this is everything that you had hoped it would be.” So no where does Dan tell… Read more »

Not a Mindless Corporate Whore

[quote=ololo3]it’s difficult to imagine how anyone that has fully gone through the game and [b]devoted themselves to it[/b] could possibly recognize it as anything but perfect, or at the very lowest, a 9.5. [/quote] Umm, doesn’t the word “devotion” with relevance to video games usually go with games like MMO’s or other games that require you to constantly play to keep up with other players, or at least something to that extent? Devotion is a very strong word when it comes to how much you like a game, and maybe I’m being harsh, but anyone who would “devote” themselves to… Read more »

DJM
DJM
12 years ago

It’s good to see that not all reviewers or publications have been mindlessly subjected to the pressures of expectations set forth by both their audiences and publishers’ marketers alike. No one ever learned from complete success, so it’s important that failures should be highlighted — even if it’s to guard even the most enthusiastic of gamers from the shortcomings destined to be within every product. I admit that my expectations from this title were a trifle high. Like many, I was expecting GTA4 to be as much a move forward as GTA2 to 3 or Vice City to San Andreas.… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Best Review I’ve read full stop. I hope some of the developers will be reading it. The cover application in combat is driving me crazy. Definitely amazing how such high level game developers can miss something so basic and yet one of the foundations of the game. No good AI in 2008 is very disappointing. I won’t even go into the realtionship stuff. 10 pin bowling? Darts? Give me a break. I’d rather have some real gritty applications where you go get drunk and brawl (fist fighting is usually fun and would deserve more effort and development), get high and… Read more »

Englishman
Englishman
12 years ago

But 8.5 is hardly a bad score, is it? and I myself happen to agree with the review more than I do the vast majority of other reviews. It’s a very good game, but hardly without flaws.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Well, most people are far past the hype right now, but Grand Theft Auto IV is still beating Call Of Duty 4 online. It must be a really disappointing game, huh? The Euphoria engine my “pop” into more games as time goes on, but the fact that Grand Theft Auto IV was the first game to use this engine solidifies it as the benchmark. You can compare this to how Super Mario 64 was the first videogame to have a working camera in a 3-D environment. Also, this game isn’t even classified as a shooter. If anything, it’s an adventure… Read more »

John
John
12 years ago

Someone earlier made a comment about the die hard “Saints Row” fans. Until that was mentioned I didn’t realize just how much this game was actually missing. Car Customization. It was in San Andreas and now it’s gone? bad move. Character Customization. This has been beat to death, but people want to be able to change/define every little detail about their characters, Even in single player. Saints did this well. Car Selection, it could just be me but I seem to recall a much larger number of cars in the previous games, although that could be attributed to the lack… Read more »

Englishman
Englishman
12 years ago

An excellent appraisal, and a much more well balanced piece than the vast majority of reviews (of which I believe are just rating and spouting undeserved praise based on the level of hype, my opinion of course)Yours is fair and highlights obvious flaws of the game, that others ignore. In short it’s exactly what a review should be, fair and not overly gushing, good work!

Chi Kong Lui
Chi Kong Lui
12 years ago

[quote=Anonymous]personally, I feel your review is a little to nitpicky, sure most of the problems you saw were annoying, but not nearly as disastrous as you made them out to be. I think your comment on the online play is a very good point, but I thing gamecritics.com should have used a bigger fan of sandbox games to review this game, because sandbox fans will buy this.[/quote] Sure enough, this is what Dan wrote on the Consumer Guide: “GTA Fans can rejoice, this is everything that you had hoped it would be.” So no where does Dan tell the reader… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

personally, I feel your review is a little to nitpicky, sure most of the problems you saw were annoying, but not nearly as disastrous as you made them out to be.
I think your comment on the online play is a very good point, but I thing gamecritics.com should have used a bigger fan of sandbox games to review this game, because sandbox fans will buy this.

Daniel Weissenberger
Daniel Weissenberger
12 years ago

[quote=Alevine]However, you can’t deny that you are frequently at one end of the spectrum which indicates your views/opinions do not generally represent that of the masses. Freedom of opinion and expression is a good thing, but when one has a journalistic mouthpiece to express relatively extreme views, this polarises opinion greatly leading to obvious accusations of deliberately wanting to stand out from the crowd.[/quote] Well, first off I’d like to know the numbers you’re using to say that I’m ‘frequently at one end of the spectrum’. There’s over a hundred reviews in my archive, so just what is ‘frequent’? Ten?… Read more »

Inso
Inso
12 years ago

This review and one other are the only ones to really notice the multiple personality disorder the game seems to have. I thought it was just me! I think it does extend to Niko himself, too. After all, at the start Niko is kind of driven to do bad things out of either necessity or to protect his family. There’s a feeling that he’s getting trapped into the criminal world. But it’s almost jarring how all that goes away and soon he just becomes another gun for hire. I thought it was way more interesting to make me really feel… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Daniel Weissenberger, you should be ashamed of yourself. Instead you are probably proud that you are on record as giving the lowest widely pulished review of GTA IV. This review is pompous. It is a “my S don’t stink” style review. I hope you are happy, padding your own sad life by cruely rebuking the game that is the most elegantly crafted satire and fun that we have been privilaged to play in the last decade. If the worst part of this game is the “car combat” than what exactly qualifies a game for a score higher than an 85%?… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

There’s no such thing as a perfect score, it got the highest marks available because it pushed the boundaries of the genre and was a massive, expansive, highly polished masterpiece which incorporates a wide variety of gameplay and whatnot. IGN Australia refused to give the full 10/10 saying that they know the next game would be better. But if you mark it like that, what about when NES games were new? The reviewers didn’t say “Yeah it’s fun, but these graphics will look rubbish in a few years time. 6/10.” Games will always have room for improvement, a game should… Read more »

Edgar
Edgar
12 years ago

First of all, the reviewer gave this game an excellent score and a score that actually matches what was said in the review (unlike IGN’s review and score… pfft! those guys are a freakin joke!). With that out of the way, let me say this: Gran Theft Auto IV had to have perfect scores. It didn’t matter if the game wasn’t perfect (it wasn’t) it still needed to get those perfect scores. Why? Because the whole damn gaming industry depended on this game being Gods gift to mankind. Let me explain. You see, if you happen to read some magazines,… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

What a surprise; you appear to have the lowest score of another high-profile title. A great way of attracting traffic, bravo!

Didn’t bother reading the review; you guys are rarely helpful.

travis
travis
12 years ago

[quote=Kevin B.]The reviewer clearly just wished to stand out as the one person who didnt believe the game was perfect. He was putting his personal opinions aside in order to stand out as a reviewer. Pathetic.[/quote]

this game is not perfect i think its pathetic that little fanboys like you think this game is 10/10. i agree with this review. i own the game an i think this game can get very “go kill this guy.. good job pick up that thing… ok come back… heres money” ::phone rings:: “go kill this guy ::same thing::”

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

Hey Daniel, Love the spot on review. It makes me sick to see every other review give perfect scores when the game is CLEARLY not a perfect game. Don’t get me wrong either, it’s loads of fun, but to say it’s flawless and perfect is ludicrous. Here’s a perfect example of a bug that I regularly encounter: 1. Enter a taxi as a customer. 2. Taxi cab driver gets stuck on a light pole (or any other geometry he can’t navigate around for whatever reason.) 3. User must press X to skip to their destination. Now, that issue may seem… Read more »

ssoltero
ssoltero
12 years ago

Hey Stevo, try leaving spoilers out of your comments in the future. Thanks for spoiling a major event in the game for anyone that hasn’t yet progressed that far.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

I played GTA 3, Vice City, San Andreas, and Liberty City Stories all to completion and I couldn’t make it past hour 8 of this game, despite repeatedly trying to convince myself to give it another chance. I was thinking I was the only person who saw all the flaws, but at least somebody is willing to NOT overlook flaws just because of the brand/history. Good review, although 8.5 is still a bit high.

Stevo
Stevo
12 years ago

A 10 does not mean a game is ‘perfect’. There is no such thing as perfect. Kaka was crowned the best soccer player in the world last year (should be Ronaldo though), does that make him perfect? No because has room to improve. A 10 as stated in this forum previously means that a game is a huge leap above anything else in it’s genre and most likey in its medium. (please do not mention the metric system as the many ‘0’s in there bring the score down). I think GTA IV has broken the record for 10’s with this… Read more »

Paintrain
Paintrain
12 years ago

Thank you for providing an honest review. I’ve played through most of the game and agree with the majority of what you said. This game’s been overrated by way too many sites. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game, but it’s not perfect. And when IGN even states it’s not perfect, yet gives it a perfect 10, then it’s just appealing to all the fanboys and asking them not to send a wave of hostile emails and posts.

The story is what sticks out. Gameplay-wise, I’ve played this game before several times.

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

I love how people automatically assume that EVERYONE loves this game.. and claims the reviewer wants to stand out as the ‘one person who didnt believe the game was perfect.’ … Because the reviewer is only one of a large audience who hates this game and what it stands for in every incarnation. I am a gamer, Im not religious, but when I see parents letting their 8 & 9 year old kids play these games, then I see those same kids playing outside, a cop drives by and they hold up plastic guns and start ‘shooting’ at the cops,… Read more »

Anonymous
12 years ago

Great review. It’s good to see someone has the balls to call this game out for some of it’s very questionable gameplay. Crappy autofollow camera. Bad camera angles while driving. Horrid cover system. A-button to run? I thought they invented Analog Sticks for a reason. No mission check points. Boy, how fun it is to start a mission over from scratch and have to drive to the location again. For some reason, most other sites gave GTA IV a pass on so many issues with BASIC gameplay problems. Fundamental things that most other developers can get right, but Rockstar can’t… Read more »

Alevine
Alevine
12 years ago

Daniel, When all reviews are considered, the average score provides the best indicator of a game’s true merit. As such there should be no great objection to your review on it’s own. It simply represents one end of the spectrum of opinion. However, you can’t deny that you are frequently at one end of the spectrum which indicates your views/opinions do not generally represent that of the masses. Freedom of opinion and expression is a good thing, but when one has a journalistic mouthpiece to express relatively extreme views, this polarises opinion greatly leading to obvious accusations of deliberately wanting… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
12 years ago

[quote=Anony Mouse][quote=Anonymous]I think it’s correct to presume that games have not really “grown up”, because we are always talking about evolution in terms of graphics and size rather than gameplay. Only when games have STOPPED evolving in terms of graphics will games reach a level of maturity (and art?) [/quote] My comment about needing to “grow up” was in reference to people, not games. But anyway, I disagree with your belief that games need to stop evolving graphically to become mature or art. A perfect example is ICO or SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS. Both very graphically intense games (for their… Read more »

Stevo
Stevo
12 years ago

Daniel. I can see what you are saying about GTA being basically the same run, drive and shoot premise. But on this basis you have already dropped marks of the game before even playing it. Rockstar has not tried to mess around with gameplay innovations at this point (maybe they are saving them for future GTA’s) as their main focus has been on the world, it’s story, how you interact with it and Niko himself. I think GTA acheives all that its developers set out to, draw you into a game and make you believe in the world and the… Read more »