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whatshot Grand Theft Auto IV PS3 Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Gameplay 9.8
Graphics 9.3
Sound 9.6
Value 9.9
Distributor: Rockstar
Classification:
MA15+
Review Date:
May 2008
Reviewer:
Howard Bourke

9.8


Grand Theft Auto IV
Grand Theft Auto 4

Welcome back to Liberty City, a living, almost breathing virtual city where you can experience all the sights and sounds of this amazing gaming environment. This is achieved through the eyes of Nico Billic, a former Serbian soldier who has been lured to the United States by his cousin Roman who made this country seem more promising than it really was.

Unlike the previous incarnations of Vice City where the gamer was involved in Mafia-esq and gangster type activities, Rockstar have taken a different road that involves Eastern European criminal elements which is easily the most realistic version of the series to date. It's not just a game... it's the game of 2008!

Relationships play a big role in Grand Theft Auto IV and although this is not a necessity to engage in, it helps in fleshing out the characters and plays towards the interlinked story of the game. This aspect has a touch of the Sims in it as you need to keep in touch with your friends to receive the benefits and your dates will even know if you have worn the same clothes twice.

As mentioned, the main character Nico can even go on dates and visit a variety of places from bowling lanes to cabaret shows. Best of all, you can also engage in some fun activities like bowling or even playing pool. Feeling like up for a night with your friend? A quick call to your cousin and you can select to visit a strip club, pub or fast food restaurant. With that said, this game has not been designed for children and is far from it as the content of the game is quite gratuitous such as Nico receiving a provocative lap dance from two pole dancers or even engage in unsolicited acts with a working lady.

Your mobile phone in GTA IV is your lifeline which allows you to keep in contact with your friends and missions by receiving calls and text messages. Simply by pushing up on your D-PAD, can you access your mobile phone and reap the rewards. Definitely a entertaining part of the series which mirrors the real world.

The biggest change to the franchise is that the city is truly autonomous and where the previous cities were limited in size through cleverly laden smoke and mirrors, Grand Theft Auto IV is truly a gigantic city which allows the gamer to visit almost every nook and cranny of this amazing place. The denizens of Liberty City have also received a remarkable face lift and each and every virtual person has a more life-like personality who all interact differently with your character and others.

For instance, an act of crime may see your virtual citizens flee in terror, where some may actually intervene and attempt to rescue the person who you have targeted. The Liberty City police are more aggressive and once again the star system returns and depending on where you are, it is sometimes almost impossible to avoid the law. Once you have reached 6 stars, the FBI will start hunting you down and needless to say, if you can make it to a safe house, you are a true GTA IV hero and thanks to a GPS system, it can almost be done as this shows you were the police are on the map. Avoid the red circle on your GPS map for ten seconds and your clear.

DualShock... SIXAXIS... is now part of the Grand Theft Auto IV universe which goes in adding a few different twists to the gameplay. For instance, you can use SIXAXIS to control your motorbike and as you turn the controller, so does your bike. Pull the controller back and Nico will perform a mono as he drives on one wheel.

The DualShock is also used to enhance the storyline, whether it's a horrific car crash or if your character is involved virtual sex (this cannot be seen but your car might rock), the controller will vibrate. The save feature of the title has also been revamped and once the player competes a mission, the title automatically saves, although going back to your safe house still allows you the option to save.

Although the title has a major storyline, the developers have ensured to include a wide gamut of mini-games that are littered throughout the title. Even though you can walk through the city, the gamer has access to a variety of interesting vehicles from helicopters to boats which goes a long way of increasing the playability of this title. There's even a segment where the player must perform a variety of stunts in their car which are squirreled away throughout the game.

The missions in Grand Theft Auto IV are quite entertaining and whether you're escorting a "thug" to an intended destination or have been hired to hit one of your bosses competitors, the game is original, entertaining and thoroughly addictive. Some of the most memorable missions are of course the bank heist and a job interview. Yes, the game is that diverse!

Nico also has access to a plethora of weapons and the enemy can be quite a pain in the title due to their realistic behaviors, especially the police. Fortunately the title contains a "lock-on" option that can make disposing your enemies an easy process, provided they are limited in numbers. Needless to say the "biker" mission took me a few turns in working how to complete that particular mission as you needed to use the trees for cover. There is lots of thinking in GTA IV which is great and you need to use the environment to your own advantage. With that said, an average gamer should complete the title in around 30 to 40 hours.

Graphically, the title is a visual masterpiece of the PlayStation 3 which is one of the most interactive gaming experience that I have had the pleasure of playing. Every citizen in the game moves with a humanlike grace and whether you're accidentally pushing them over or fighting a villainous criminal, the realism is amazing. The weather effects in Grand Theft Auto IV are pure eye candy and rain effects almost make you believe that you are watching a storm through a window. Add in a variety of realistic lighting effects and Hollywood style explosions, Grand Theft Auto IV is more than a game than a true work of art.

The driving engine of the title makes the Burnout series look like a cartoon with its highly realistic vehicle damage and motion control. The only downside of the title is that sometimes the frame rate does drop due to the amount of detail happening all at once and the camera angle is sometimes a little slow to react. For instance, if you turn around quickly in a car, it will take the camera system a little time to catch up which means the user needs to manually turn the camera.

What sets the game apart from almost anything on the market at the moment is realistic voice acting, even though at times it is extremely clichéd and over the top but this my reader is what Grand Theft Auto is all about. Match that with a plethora of radio stations from music to shock jocks and playing this game is an experience which makes it quite easy to get lost in this wondrous city.

The game doesn't end their and contains an amazing online mode and once selected, you are taken to a lobby where you await other gamers to join with up to 15-players simultaneously for Liberty City entertainment. There is an assorted of multiplayer games to choose from and some great tweaks to make the game more interesting. Whether you're playing Death Match or Race and even a Cops 'n Crook mode, this is another part of the GTA IV experience that will have you playing this title over and over again. There was some lag, however with the majority of the time, the game was flawless.

In conclusion, Grand Theft Auto IV goes beyond the previous installments of the series with characters who are extremely realistic and even likeable in their own twisted fashion. The attention to detail is amazing as is the violence of the series which could be quite sickening to some gamers but it must be said that this title has been developed for adults and the sooner this country receives an "R" rating for games, the better for the gaming community.

Rockstar gives the gaming world a true sequel that is better than its predecessor in every sense from gameplay to graphics and playability. Be warned though, the game does start a little slow but once you start playing and become immersed into Vice City, you will have difficulty in putting this game down. Brilliant, amazing and a must have game!





 

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