Grand Theft Auto IV Review
Monday, 19 May 2008
For the latest instalment of Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar have pulled out all the stops and immersed their protagonist Niko Bellic in the most consuming world imaginable. Not even a movie trilogy has come close to this sort of detail, which, short of olfactory influences, seems to entice every human sense. The games only shortcoming is the amount of time you need to enjoy it properly, but more on that later.
Opening with a deliciously moody introduction featuring a dirty boat for immigrant stowaways (complete with a corrupt people smuggler banging some chick in a back room) and credits creeping through the scenery, you really begin to get a feeling that this is indeed an epic. The graphics have done away with the blocky heads and chests, instead, fluid motions and attention to detail is key. You can almost tell how many days it’s been since the character has had a shave and if they’re a smoker or not. Still on graphics, the landscape is incredible. I have spent hours just cruising around at certain hours of the delay, marveling at the sun coming up over the river or watching the bright lights switch on in the Liberty City equivalent of Times Square. It’s dazzling.
Central to the plot’s development is Bellic’s mobile phone, which is one of those elements that, for me, removes a bit of the escapism I love to get from video games, but it’s a small gripe. Complex relationships exist in Liberty City, and a new addition to the game play is the ability to choose another character’s fate, which will surely have repercussions later on in the piece.
The music is absolutely incredible and features exclusive artists, songs and presenters such as Juliette Lewis, DJ Premier, Francois K, Iggy Pop and more. Not unlike Gary Numan, you spend so much of your time in cars and the exposition from the game’s Weasel News is as funny and clever as ever.
At the time of writing, we’ve barely scratched the surface. We’ve done some missions, got a girlfriend or two, met some homies, saved some lives, ended a lot of lives and managed to not get killed once. It’s a real action and consequence scenario in each mission, which at times makes it feel so much like reality. In that sense it’s almost a complex series of puzzles rather than a straight shoot-em-up. You’re given endless freedoms but I suspect that usual shameless pleasure of tearing up the town in a tank won’t be an option for us for some months to come. By all reports that’s how the game has been developed, to let you slowly unravel pieces of the puzzle, rather than promote recklessness. It’s the future of entertainment, I’m just worried it might lose me my job and my girl; it’s just that engrossing!