Monday, December 21

Reloaded Review: Grand Theft Auto 4 (Xbox 360)

Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar North
Player(s): Offline 1, Online 2-16
Genre: Action, Sandbox
Release Date: April 29, 2008
Platform(s): Xbox 360 (also on PS3, PC)
Rated: Mature

As you would expect from Rockstar and the GTA series, the stories never seem to disappoint and Grand Theft Auto 4 is no exception. This time, we are introduced to a new protagonist named Niko Bellic.

Niko is a Russian war veteran from some undisclosed country in Europe who has come to the newly modeled Liberty City to live the "American Dream" with his cousin Roman.

As you can already tell however, this doesn't go over so well and suddenly, Niko and Roman are head over heels in trouble with virtually every single person in Liberty City. Nice welcome right?

Remember back on the age of the Playstation 2 where the Grand Theft Auto series was actually a very ugly game? Low-res models and what not? Well no more! GTA4 is one of the best looking games on any of the consoles today.

Every human character is modeled in a very realistic manner, all vehicles are shiny, polished, realistic and when you smash into something, the vehicle gets damaged realistically. Weather effects like fog, rain and wind not only change the look of the city quite drastically but also affect the gameplay.

Rockstar not only did an amazing job at re-modeling New York City but also at bringing the city to live. Civilians will react independantly with each other and you can spend countless hours just exploring the hustle and bustle of the city streets, watching what everyone does.

Another thing that has been improved upon since the last generation GTA games is that this game makes brilliant use of the Euphoria physics engine resulting in all the characters reacting realistically to bullets, contact with Niko or contact with the front end of a truck because that is always a good time.

Most people who have played any of the GTA series will know exactly what to expect when coming into GTA4.

The story progresses through missions, each blended together by brilliantly created cutscenes. You can steal any vehicle you see and proceed to cause immense mayhem with said steel death machine which results in the police high-tailing it after you. As usual, the game's wanted system is a 6 star meter but this time tanks have been removed from the game, I guess for a more realistic look.

Another new addition to the series is the ability to use and customize a cellphone that you are given near the beginning of the game. This cellphone basically acts as your HUB allowing you to choose options like contacts, multiplayer, cheats and what not. It's a very simple system that keeps you immersed in the game without having to fumble through menus.

You can also enter internet cafes and explore the web, downloading ringtones and wallpapers for your cell as well as finding dates and recieveing emails. It's little things like this that players will barely notice that really sets this game above all other sandbox titles.

Mini games, bars, comedy clubs and even televisions in your safe houses with full length channels (i'm not kidding) can be viewed at any time and can be very effective when you are trying to make a friend like you in the game's new relationship system.

There is so much more to GTA then I can really explain but I will say that it has small flaws. Sometimes I have found myself dying just because I fell over on my bike while not moving. That makes no sense to me. There are also glitches that just seem to happen at random like suddenly falling through the ground and appearing beneath Liberty City. They aren't a big deal though because they rarely happen.

How can I forget GTA4's biggest feature? This game now features multiplayer playlists ranging from normal deathmatches to co-op missions and ever an online free mode where you and a whole group of people just wreck havoc in the city at your leisure.

The playlists are so varied that they even give other games like Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 a run for their money. I would go as far as to say that the entertaining multiplayer would be enough reason to buy this game.

I think if any game has perfected voice acting, it would have to be GTA4. Each character is brilliantly and flawlessly voiced with the small exceptions of non-important characters but regardless, the fantastic voice talent makes this more then a game. It's basically like an interactive film.

The music (as always) is great and full of variety ranging from rock to hip hop to pop music and even to talk radio. The music selection is also fairly large so there is bound to be something for everybody.

Every vehicle, weapon and everything else for that matter sounds exactly like it would in reality and if you're playing this with a surround sound system, I promise you will sometimes forget if you are in your home, or roaming around a large city yourself, it's just that immersive.

Rockstar really set the bar high with this one and I'm hardpressed to see any other company outdo Rockstar in this category of gaming.

Only one game will probably ever reach the level of quality that GTA4 sports and it will most likely be Grand Theft Auto 5. There is a ton to see and do in Liberty City and trust me, you'll enjoy your stay.


- Incredibly realistic setting
- Engaging story and characters
- Some of the best multiplayer out there
- Fantastic graphics in every aspect
- Tons of replayability

- Not as much to see or do as GTA: San Andreas
- Occasional glitches and unexplained deaths


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