GTA IV – The Perfect Game?

On May 3, 2008, in Games, Opinion Pieces, by Steffen Itterheim

GTA IV is receiving rave reviews. Many reviewers even give it a perfect score. But is it all that perfect?

Some gamers report that the game did not meet their expectations and state that the graphics are too blurred, edges are jagged, the screen flickers, the framerate is less than optimal. In general they are disappointed because they expect a graphical quality along the lines of Call of Duty 4 or other prominent driving/shooting titles. Well, yes of course the graphical quality in Call of Duty 4 is superior. But they don’t have to constantly stream the game’s world from a relatively slow DVD (16 MB/s) or even a less slower BlueRay disc (9 MB/s). In the GTA world, there are no “levels” and there are no loading screens – unless you jump from one location to another (say, by skipping a Taxi ride). So even though this kind of comparison is unfair, to the technologically less involved person it is still a valid point. But it should be noted that this isn’t due to bad programming and it should also be said that GTA was a lot of fun even when it didn’t look as good as it does today! It is in any case an improvement and once you stop comparing the game’s graphical quality to other games and simply enjoy the vista of the distant skyscrapers during sunset, all of that becomes meaningless.

Others state that they do not like the vehicle physics, it has become too realistic and so driving cars is too hard for them. Others however feel that the vehicles are not at all realistic and that they behave abnormally compared to real life behavior. I think the game simply feels different at first. Yes, you can’t slide into drift using the handbrake as easily as in previous GTA titles. Or at least you can’t do so with every car. The difference between the different types of cars is much more significant now, and i believe that is way say it’s too realistic to handle while others appear to be disappointed in the realism. Yes, there are vehicles that may flip over easily when turning the handbrake at low speeds. But there are also vehicles that will slide into drift just as easily. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the game is to adapt your driving style to the type of vehicle you’re driving and the state that vehicle is in. I even enjoy the challenge to ride a sports car with four flat tires, although not necessarily so while i’m in a mission.

Then there are a lot of gamers who complain that GTA IV is a step back – gameplay wise. They point out all the features of the previous titles that are missing in GTA IV: bikes, bodybuilding, changing hair style, pimping your car, parachutes, countryside areas, airplanes and so on. I don’t even remember many of those “features” nor did i miss any one of them while playing through the story mission in 32 hours. To be honest i’m actually glad there are no boring countryside areas anymore, or that i don’t feel forced to play stupid butten smashing minigames to pimp my character’s body. Many of these “features” are actually detrimental to the GTA experience from my point of view, and where they aren’t (parachutes maybe) i don’t miss them at all because we got something else instead: Multiplayer!

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