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Grand Theft Radar: Could GTA IV disappoint?

#10 - The customization is limited

Gamers aren't satisfied playing a locked and pre-determined hero anymore. They want to play themselves and, if that's not an option, they want to mold the main character to be as much like them as possible. The Sims understands this phenomenon, as do Mass Effect and GTA clone Saints Row. Heck, even San Andreas understood.

Has GTA IV taken a step backwards here? Niko can switch outfits, but he can't switch hairstyles or physiques. As for the multiplayer, Kotaku claims you can choose only "male or female... four different heads, four torsos, four legs and several types of glasses and hats." Oh boy... hats.

Why it doesn't matter

Sorry role players, but Rockstar's right. Niko shouldn't change. His characterization is distinct; dressing him up in a pimp suit or trucker hat would totally ruin that uniqueness. As for the physique part, we expect most gamers will be ecstatic to see the San Andreas exercise regime gone.

Multiplayer's a different story, but... seriously, have you read about what this sucker is supposed to deliver?

#11 - What happened to all the celebrities?

Sam Jackson, David Cross, James Woods, Peter Fonda, Ice T, Axl Rose, The Game, Andy Dick, George Clinton, Chris Penn. Ignore the star-studded casts of GTA III and Vice City... the voice talent in San Andreas alone puts most games - and many films - to shame. Moreover, these celebrities' presence in the Grand Theft Auto universe has always lent a bit of credibility to our hobby, no matter how much they got paid to participate.

Meanwhile, take a look at the currently announced cast for GTA IV. While this is a very, very far from complete list, there's no denying it's also a very, very depressing list. Even the esteemed Rob Smith, Editor in Chief of Playstation: The Official Magazine, couldn't recognize many names... and he's finished the game! And watched the credits!

Why it doesn’t matter

As far as we can tell, the triple-A names are mostly gone from GTA IV, but that doesn't mean the actual talent is missing. Trust us - celebrities do make appearances in the game. A lot of the time, they'll even portray themselves. Not all of them are glitzy marquee names, but this time, Rockstar seems to be casting more for quality and authenticity than for glamour.

#12 - The violence is no longer funny

You commit some truly heinous crimes in the Grand Theft Auto series. Robbery. Assault. Prostitution. Carjacking. Mowing down old ladies as they cross the street, then firing rockets at the paramedics trying to save them...

Somehow, though, none of it ever seemed wrong because none of it ever seemed real. In GTA IV, however, the pedestrians appear alarmingly lifelike and their animations are modeled using NaturalMotion's euphoria engine. How will you feel when that old lady crumples and splatters just like a real old lady would? Will the guilt - no matter how tiny - spoil your giddy fun?

Why it doesn’t matter

Don't worry. In the still exaggerated world of GTA IV, the old lady is much more likely to spin wildly off the hood of your car, soar dozens of feet through the air, rebound on the plastic cone of an ice cream truck and slide (or bounce) into a terrified throng of pedestrians. If you don't find that funny, maybe you shouldn't be playing GTA IV to begin with.

April 11, 2008

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