Grand Theft Auto IV

June 9, 2008

GTA IV is the story of Niko Bellic and his search for answers, money, and vigilante justice. GTA has always mixed genres, but GTA IV exemplifies the sandbox game type by being equal parts racer, third-person shooter, dating simulator, and playground – there’s even an option to turn off the story so that the plot and characters won’t bother you while you’re rampaging through Algonquin and trying desperately to avoid the NOOSE (Liberty City’s SWAT equivalent).

The story is worth following (a first for the series) so I won’t spoil it here. Suffice it to say you’ll despise Niko one moment for being so cold and vengeful and you’ll feel sorry for him the next. The guy’s been through a lot, and it’s hard to say that anybody else would feel differently in his position. Rockstar has created a sympathetic antihero, and that’s something to be applauded.

Gameplay is a mixed bag. Some things have been improved dramatically while others feel like a step backward from Saint’s Row (and if you really think R* didn’t study Saint’s Row like Volition studied GTA you’re mistaken). The gunplay is much improved over prior installments. Additions to your repertoire like blind fire, precision aiming, and the ability to take cover make Niko Bellic more useful in combat than Claude, Tommy, or CJ ever dreamed of being. Niko can also climb fences and jump over low obstacles. Small additions like this really make you realize just how limited our old sandboxes were, and the new Liberty City is better for it. A knee high wall shouldn’t stop me from chasing a drug dealer.

Driving is, after you get accustomed to the new scheme, also improved over previous entries. Gone are the days of A

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.