GTA 4 Review (PC)
A stunning game that sets a new bar for the genre, in both it's breathtaking detail and excellent gameplay. If only Rockstar kept the PC port in the right hands.
Posted by Alex V (SpectralShock) on Jan 18, 2009 - 7:06pm EST (Jan 18, 2009 19:06)
There is no better propaganda to join the console way of life than Rockstar’s version of Grand Theft Auto 4. The initial setup is just the beginning of tons of PC-specific annoyances. Installation of service updates for Windows. Internet activation of SecuROM. Compulsory registration on the Rockstar Social Club website, without which it is impossible to play online or to load your short movies to the site of developers. Connecting to the Social Club client, and then of course Games For Windows Live. The megabytes of content you have to load before you can even start the game properly, your hand twitching as you fight with the graphical settings, the constant fps drops, trips to the shortcut command line options…during all this time the guy with an Xbox 360 finished a couple of missions. Rockstar decided to behave like my Serbian friend with this port – do not take the easy way out
But enough of that, on with the game. And so we begin our life as Niko Belic, an immigrant from Serbia who jumped on the boat across the ocean in hopes of a better life that was promised to him by Roman, his cousin. Roman claimed to live the life of luxury since moving to Liberty City – a replica of New York city – and charmed his cousin to make the move. However upon arriving, it becomes rather clear that Roman may have exaggerated his worth in “the New World” a little. The “Ferrari” turned out to be a used-up taxi cab, and the debt is piling up. But lack of funds does not scare Niko, a war veteran back home, so he gets his hands dirty and starts looking for work. Work starts off slow, doing some delivery missions and learning your way around the city. But it won’t be long until you are hijacking, killing, robbing, and lying your way through the city – now you know you’re playing a Grand Theft Auto game.
The metropolis, based on New York city, is a busy and rather dark city, with missions spread out across its various neighbourhoods and back alleys. The classical formula in this regard has not changed. The extras from previous games are gone though, so no more DoDo flights, RC Cars races, trips to the gym or military tanks trying to run you over. Expressive palette of colors is gone, washed away by the common “next-gen” bug of greyness and urbanization. On the other hand the pedestrians now actually feel alive, everything feels 3D and has proper shadows, and mornings bring a fog that would make the Silent Hill series jealous. The game took a huge leap towards realism and actually pulled it off without coming across as dull or static.
The reason for is? The love Rockstar has for details and humour. Ballots promoting an election candidate, social and political satire and commentary are found left and right. Not to mention full-fledged talk shows with real celebrity voices, and a huge internet system with tons of content ranging from classic spam emails to hilarious scam websites. New in this game is the inclusion of yet another media, the TV – it is filled with various hilarious and “educational” programming which airs at certain times of the day, so this is probably the first game you have played where you try to catch a simulated TV show on time… The radio is back of course, with even more stations, music, Dj’s, ads and infomercials. One thing is for sure, you’ll never be bored with LC’s entertainment.