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Grand Theft Auto IV - The Fluff-free review

AT A GLANCE
  • The high-def Liberty City is a thing of beauty
  • A brilliant cast and an involving story
  • Fixes all the rough edges of yore
  • Occasional pop-up
  • Still the odd targeting issue
  • Virtual strip clubs are still weak

The new stuff: Like the trailer said - things will be different

As well as using your mobile phone to find out about new jobs and contact friends, Rockstar has slipped in a few other present day communication techniques and made them fundamental to the structure of missions. Shortly after arriving in Liberty City, Niko's cousin Roman sets him up with an email account which is used to alert him to jobs (most memorably to set up a gay date). The internet is put to good use, not just as another outlet for Rockstar's ongoing parody of American culture, but to help Niko prepare a resume to get him closer to a lawyer he has to hit, for example. It's not a deal breaker but it's the natural evolution of the 'ringing public phone' found in San Andreas and Vice City.

Niko is occasionally required to get access to police computers to locate a target. The most amusing way to achieve this is to phone 911 in a remote location, wait for the police to turn up and then hijack their car. As well as searching by name the computer can also link up to your phone to identify any pictures that have been sent to you via text mesage. Then you simply hit A and the computer will add the directions to your SatNav. Smart.

Cimematics: The bits you won’t want to skip

Interestingly the stats section of GTA IV has a listing for 'cut-scenes watched'. It's doubtful you'll skip one during the first play through. The main thing that stands out in these scripted cinematics is the quality of the voice-acting and the lip-syncing.

Where some CG sequences can be a pain to sit through due to their ineptitude - fishlike mouths miming a completely different set of words to the ones being spoken, awkward body movements (usually too much use of the hands) skin tones of a burns victim - those in GTA are frequently funny, for the most part intelligently scripted and with fluid, natural animations.

The damage system: Smashing the place up

You might remember how frustrating it was when you failed a mission in any of the previous GTAs because your car blew up? That doesn't seem to happen so much in IV. It took us a while to work out why: the damage dealt to cars is relative to where they get hit. Furthermore, they tend to just come to a shuddering halt, rather than bursting into flames. Real-time damage basically means you can manually decide how to wreck you car. Put a dent in the front and the bumper falls off. Back it into a post and you smash the brake lights. Get shot at and you get free air conditioning and the distinct possibility a stray bullet might pierce the fuel tank and blow you from Broker into Alderney. Basically you've got the potential of Burnout's crunching auto porn transplanted into a GTA game.

And all that street furniture we mentioned earlier: hot dog stalls, dumpsters, cafe tables, piles of cardboard boxes, newspaper stands, lamp posts, parked cars, people, that's all fully destructible too. You don't have to try that hard to imagine the potential for carnage when you've got a five star wanted level and a parade of cops on your ass and you decide to take the pedestrian route. It's messy. Our personal favourite thing to smash into are the mailboxes which eject an impressive spray of papers into the air, all individually floating around in your wake. And we used to think these Rockstar guys couldn't do graphics...

Humans, too, take damage in a more advanced manner. Using free aim you can target different parts of an enemies anatomy and choose to, say, just wound a leg and then follow them around like a psychopath as they hobble away clutching their caved-in appendage. Even more brutality awaits enemies who you can perform executions on, a little slice of Manhunt hidden away in the nasty bowels of GTA IV.

However, the most shocking example of body deformation is far more commonplace (at least in real-life) and guaranteed to make you wince the first time you see it; having hit something solid at high speed Niko is catapulted through the front windscreen and hits the asphalt with all sorts of contorted body mangling. Gloriously unpleasant.

More Info

Release date: Apr 29 2008 - PS3
Dec 02 2008 - PC
Apr 29 2008 - Xbox 360 (US)
Apr 29 2008 - PS3
Dec 03 2008 - PC
Apr 29 2008 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Published by: Rockstar San Diego, Take2 Interactive
Developed by: Rockstar, Rockstar North
Franchise: Grand Theft Auto
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs, Use of Alcohol
PEGI Rating:
18+

22 comments

  • peter-denniss - July 30, 2013 7 a.m.

    HELP!!! Every time I try to go bowling with my girl, as soon as I enter the bowling lane the P.S.3 freezes up and I have to re-boot, start from my last save and the very same thing again. Freezes up and not a one thing will work. Please help. It is so frustrating.
  • Lando81 - May 16, 2011 10:01 a.m.

    @conjabro because you haven't learned proper English yet
  • conjabro - December 11, 2010 6:14 a.m.

    Dham that suxx how some cheats deactivate some for ur acheivements thats if ur playn xbox360.
  • risegerman - January 28, 2010 6:30 a.m.

    this game would be a lot better if it was like GTA:SA with country land hidden land marks and more guns and cars theres thousands of them both out there and thats the best they can do am ashamed there could be a lot more to this game.. PERIOD!
  • Vivapwnata - December 7, 2008 9:01 p.m.

    Great game, but my only petpeve(not that anyone say's petpeve anymore, it just sounded fitting) is that you can't fly airplanes!!!That's all I used to do on SanAndreas, and now i am about to cry. At least you're russian. Oh well, this game maybe deserves a 9.5 for graphics, the damage to cars and other s@#% is really good compared to SA.
  • Army_of_One - October 8, 2008 5:52 a.m.

    This game is pretty cool i would give it a 10 out 10 i love the glitches and the shooting is hella fun
  • CDAUG - November 27, 2008 6:40 p.m.

    this game is amazing! theres a few things that i didnt like about it. the story mode should have been longer. and they should come out wit an update on xbox live for more missions and more cars. that would be cool.
  • xxBIONICxKiller - October 1, 2008 6:44 p.m.

    this is the worst game ever. I hate this game. I loved III and vice city and san andreas, but I just hate 4. the gameplay sucks when u jump it takes like 4 mins too f**king jump!!!
  • MultiGamer - September 24, 2008 9:05 p.m.

    This is the greatest game i've ever played, and I'm NOT exagerating.
  • Drake98 - September 18, 2008 11:15 p.m.

    This is a great game, but not desrving of a 10. Maybe a 9.5, but very few games deserve a 10, if any.
  • assaultjoker - September 2, 2008 10:23 p.m.

    ive played this game a little and its awesome
  • Demonflare - May 6, 2009 12:33 a.m.

    This game is bad ass n awsome! Although it takes 4ever to beat.
  • HungryBeaver - March 4, 2009 9:53 p.m.

    Hey can someone tell me if TLAD cheats disable achievements? Thanks =D
  • Cwf2008 - February 23, 2009 3:27 a.m.

    At above...dumbass its The Lost and the Damned...you suck
  • camel - August 8, 2009 5:42 p.m.

    its over rated, not as good as san andreas theres a crap countryside you cant fly planes no mountains no parachute no bicycle no gangs no underwater but there is a lot of pluses with better graphics greater driving, combat is amazing but gta san andreas still wins in my view
  • aqibloz - July 24, 2009 2:59 p.m.

    Id have saints row 2 over the repetitive boring crap Rockstar are coming out with these days with GTAIV. Rockstar tried there dandest to make sure that no two levels were the same but what did eventually come out with? a boring lackluster of a game that turned into a blockbuster. I you were dissapointed by this saints row 2 will more than make up or it. a game is meant to be FUN first then absorbing after if u lose the fun theres no point of the absorbing u can do that outside in real life cause a game is meant to be a fun ESCAPE from reality not to simulate it like this bogus games does, try saints row 2 trust me :D
  • CheatMaster27 - July 4, 2009 5:06 a.m.

    I love GTA 4, GTA San Andreas was awsome, GTA 4 TLAD is great as well,but better graphics wouldve been nice though. but stll there are better games, but i do agree its not a 10 rank game more or less 9-9.5 its good but not 10 rank good.
  • GeNeRaL - May 23, 2009 1:12 a.m.

    I LOVE this game soo much .. I have completed the games and i did it in under 42 hours . . . . I think the way he falls out of planes and stuff should look different every time , or just mix it . . they should make another one that lets you pick which path you want to take . soo like if you want to join a gang you can , if you want to join a maifa and soo on . and each path dose different stuff , so when you finish one path you can start the game agian and do a different one . =) , thats what i would like but people think different . For an MA game this dosent show much , like the stripers , you would think they show something , and the cars: it starts to fell like you keep seeing the same car over and over and over and over and over and over again , and they should make an update that lets to customize a car , like in GTA 4 . And the guns Grrrrrrrrrr Need more , and what would be really cool , Customize your own weapons at a special shop in the game , now that would be awsome =) Ok thats all i have to say , GeNeRaL OUT ,.........
  • sft10 - March 9, 2009 7:36 p.m.

    One of the best games i have ever played great reveiw GR.
  • charley235 - March 2, 2009 11:36 p.m.

    i think the character models faces dont show enough emotion, and characters still look a little blocky like when you get a strip dance, otherwise grrrreat game

Showing 1-20 of 22 comments

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