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Review: Grand Theft Auto IV

August 6, 2012

Hoo boy, Grand Theft Auto IV.

Well, I suppose I should start out with the good things. The city is heartbreakingly beautiful, in particular Algonquin/Manhattan. The Broker/Brooklyn Bridge is a fair match for its real-life counterpart, the famous landmarks of New York are all present (with the exception of Ground Zero/The 9/11 Memorial/Three World Trade Center), and the civilian A.I. makes Liberty City feel alive.

I really dug the story and thought that Niko was a good choice as the first immigrant protagonist in the 3D-eras of Grand Theft Auto. Some of the missions were a little…predictable, given the history of stories in the series (for instance, the inevitable betrayal to end the first act), but I’d describe them to be, collectively, too easy, and I am not widely known for enjoying a stiff challenge. Although, my favorite mission of all would probably be the bank robbery, mainly for how the running firefight reminded me of Heat.

That being said, the game isn’t without its flaws. The story, while good, isn’t quite robust enough, some of the minigames can get annoying, and on that topic, your friends won’t leave you the fuck alone. Well, that’s not quite true. Yes, in the main story missions when you have to keep your phone on, they can call at the absolute worst of times. Yes, Roman. I know I’m your cousin and we haven’t seen each other in a decade, but I’m kind of busy trying to get diamonds that were smuggled in on the ship I arrived on for an Irish gang in exchange for a mob daughter I kidnapped so they can sell them to the Jewish Mob, so I’d appreciate it if you would kindly fuck off for five goddamn minutes.

The game doesn’t really have much carry to it after you finish off the story; it more or less just dissolves into something of a car chase simulator. It’s kind of like the old stereotype about Chinese food – half an hour later, you’re hungry again. Sure, there’s the races for Brucie and the Text Message Cars, but that’s not much. Fortunately, one thing this game does have in abundance is mods that can extend the game. One of my personal favorites is Liberty City Police Department: First Response which allows you to play as a police officer and respond to various crimes around the city.

Grand Theft Auto IV isn’t a bad game. But it’s not going to blow any minds either. At the best of times it can be pretty good, while at the worst of times it just gets annoying, the sum total of which being just mediocre and falling short of a lot of fans’ expectations. And yeah, I didn’t get everything out of the game that I would have hoped either. But the game’s still fun, especially when you take mods into account.

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