Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Grand Theft Auto IV

It seems that every main character in the Grand Theft Auto franchise has a sordid history.  Usually, they’re a criminal.  Nico Bellic is a little different, though.  He’s been through war.  That’s not to say he hasn’t done some horrible things.  In fact, he’s come to Liberty City to start a new life.  He has his cousin, Roman, to help him out as well as a cast of other characters he meets along the way.

At first, the missions are about getting settled.  Niko needs a place to stay, which he can do at Roman’s place.  However, Niko wants revenge on someone who betrayed his unit.  Niko needs to make connections.  He takes jobs, which usually consist of killing people.  Sometimes, it’s just kidnapping.  Maybe it has to do with drugs.  There are a few occasions where he has to rescue Roman or someone else, but it’s mostly focused on doing jobs no one else wants to do themselves.

The biggest adjustment for me was learning new controls.  I played Grand Theft Auto IV right after finishing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.  Driving took some getting used to.   You also have an assortment of side missions similar to San Andreas.  Instead of packages to find, you have pigeons to kill.

Instead of vigilante missions, you now have Liberty City’s most wanted.  Rather than go after random people on the street, you have to find a police car and access the computer to look up individuals and go after them.

There are also individuals you can steal cars for.  It’s not exactly like previous games, but how can you have a game called Grand Theft Auto without a mission or two where you steal cars?  If you want to do taxi missions, you can usually do that, too, but I never found that too exciting.

One thing that kind of got on my nerves is many of the NPCs having both a like and respect rating for Niko.  This goes up based on mission completion and if you hang out with them.  Not hanging out causes your ratings to go down for that character.  It normally doesn’t matter, but there are a few cases where you have to keep it up.  Some of the characters help you, assuming they like and respect you enough.

Usually, a character will call you and ask if you want to do an activity like darts or bowling.  They may also want to go drinking or to a strip club.  It seemed to me that the characters would call right when I’m about to reach someplace that I wanted to go, but it is random.  Also, the character will have you pick them up.  You have one minute, but they are usually on the other side of the map.  Being late causes your rating to go down.  It gets annoying because it’s an element that’s not really necessary, but is sort of forced on you.

The number of save points is drastically reduced.  With the 3D games, like San Andreas, you could buy properties to save the game.  You had to go to one of those locations, but there were a lot of locations to be had, assuming you had enough in-game money.  With this version of Liberty City, you have maybe three or four at a time and the map is large enough that this becomes a chore by itself.  Imagine completing a difficult mission only to have to spend a few more minutes driving to the nearest house.

You also don’t have garages.  You have street-side parking for two vehicles.  This isn’t that annoying because it’s not that difficult to find cars.  It’s only really necessary if there’s a particular model you like or just want to have a car ready for you.

Speaking of which, it seems that the missions all involve a lot of driving.  There’s no way to skip it the first time, but you are allowed to restart at a checkpoint if you fail or get shot or arrested.  This, at least, makes things a little easier.  It was even possible to buy more weapons and body armor before restarting.  (If you don’t take the option to continue before saving, you’ll have to start over.)

The driving is usually to give time for some dialogue, but it’s kind of annoying since Niko always gets stuck with the responsibility.  It would be nice to have someone else take care of it or, maybe, take the subway.  Do we really have to go all the way across the map several times for each mission?

I will say the addition of GPS really helps.  It was usually hard for me to find my way in previous games.  To have a voice assisting me was a big help.  It keeps me from having to check the map every minute or two.

Overall, it’s a good game with a great storyline.  There are a few choices in the game which will affect your path in the game.  (If you want more details on this, there are guides you can look at.  I don’t want to give away too much.)  Of course, it’s as violent as previous entries.  There’s nothing new there.  It does seem a little toned down.  It was a little harder to find weapons and there weren’t any rampages, which I miss, but it is still a great way to take out some frustrations.

Even as someone who has only visited New York City, I was still able to recognize things like Middle Park.  The subway was also a nice addition, although it was usually easier to just drive if you had to get somewhere.  I often had to double back because I had taken the wrong train.  It would have been interesting to see what someone from New York would think of it.  To that end, I’m hoping that if a Grand Theft Auto VI happens, it will be in Vice City.  I’d like to see how Miami gets the HD treatment.


IMDb page


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