Grand Theft Auto 4 (GTA4), the proper successor to Grand Theft Auto 3 (GTA3), is a marvelous game. GTA3 which was originally released on the Playstation 2 was a modernized game for many gamers and became one of the best sand-box games till date. While GTA4 doesn't disappoint, in fact GTA4 excels in many areas, but the leap from GTA4 and GTA3 was not significant. Nonetheless, GTA4 itself is a game worth many hours of gameplay, it simply is that amazing.
GTA4 is located in Liberty City, a city based off New York. Travellers who play the game will immediately notice the similarities between the two cities. In the game, players can drive through Times Square and many of the well-known bridges (i.e. Manhattan bridge). The game focuses specifically on three islands, Jeresy City, Manhattan, and Queens. Credit should be given to the developers because the game layout is nearly identical to these three connected cities.
A lot of GTA4 resembles GTA3 in terms of gameplay, although a few things have changed. Some of the better changes includes, cars not exploding upon flipping over (annoying in GTA3), cop cars getting progressively faster at higher wanted levels, and instantly drowning when thrown into the ocean. However, in GTA4, it is possible to get thrown out of a car at high speed crashes. Also, a trick to sprint infinitely in GTA3 was to tap the run button repeatedly so the character never gets tired has changed in GTA4. Instead, players must tap the run button faster in order to have the character sprint, of course, the sprint time is limited.
The developers got rid of the garages in GTA4, which is a terrible design. Instead, players are given a parking space that saves only a maximum of two cars per location. Unfourtunately, the parking spaces are located on the street level and unprotected from the game's environment. Consequently, game characters can steal your car, or other cars can bump your car out resulting in a lost of your saved car without you ever noticing until you load a game that may have overwritten your save. Players have complained about this issue. Also, in GTA3, the game would save as many cars you could fit in your garage, normally 3 to 5 cars at most. In GTA4, only two cars will be saved in parking space, no matter how many you fit, unless you risk losing a car.
The game has advanced graphics system. Thus, cars look and feel great. There is a lot of realism in the game's physic, though not too much has changed since GTA3, other than a ragdoll physic engine. There is still a weather system, now with fog and heavy rain/storm effects. Cars are more slick during storm weather.
The controls have changed in GTA4. I prefer the controls in GTA3 better, they were simpler to use. For example, in GTA4, driveby shooting requires you to use the right analog to aim, whereas in GTA3, you use L2 and R2 to aim left and right, respectively. Also, bringing up your phone requires the up directional arrow, but you steer your car using the left analog stick. Furthermore, you change the radio channel using the left and right directional arrows. It's too hard to do everything at once, since you only have two thumbs but 4 controls. In one sense, this makes it more realistic, since in real life, it's hard to steer your car while changing the radio, you simply lose concentration. Similarly, using the phone while driving.
A big difference in GTA4 and GTA3 is that GTA4 handicaps the players during missions. For example, in some situations when you are required to chase a car, no matter how fast you go, you can never catch up because the game makes their car as fast as yours, dynamically. Likewise, if you suddenly crash, the game will suddenly slow down the car you were chasing to allow you to recover. This feature allows players of all skills to comfortably adjust their game level. Unfourtunately, for a hardcore gamer, this might be a negative factor.
Many of the side quests in GTA3 reappear in GTA4, with slight twists. Instead of hidden packages, you shoot flying rats (which is annoying because it often gives you a wanted level for discharging a firearm). Unique stunts exist in GTA4. However, there are many new quest and mini-games, such as bowling, pool, and darts. These virtual games are not too terrible at all.
In GTA4, there are sections in the game that offer you to make a decision. While I will not disclose any spoilers, I will mention that these game changes will have an effect on your story and further gameplay. You might want to make an extra save to play the different story types. I am not fan of alternating plots, it ruins the integrity of the game as it is impossible to achieve everything. I am a perfectionist, and so are many other gamers.
If you have not tried GTA4, nor GTA3, I highly recommend you pick up a copy at the store to try. The game is addictive because the game is so open that there are nearly infinite possibilities to have fun. I spent over 500 hours playing GTA3, I expect to do the same with GTA4.
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