Monday, May 05, 2008

My first impressions of GTA IV - about a third of the way through the game.

If you've been following any of the reviews online or off then you will know that GTA IV is one of the most amazing games to ever be released. There are certainly a few minor problems here and there but over all these are simply quibbles. I'm gonna get the complaints out of the way:

  1. The soundtrack isn't my cup of tea. The score is great and some of the stations - i.e. Vladivostok & IF99 playing Eastern European pop and Afropop/Funk respectively - are a blast. The Latin station is a welcome change. I was happy to hear a Jazz station though I kind of miss a Classical station. Journey FM does a decent job of filling the Classical slot though with ambient Tangerine Dream-esque tunes. There are a good number of stations that are hit or miss for me. The rock stations are meh. One is old hits DJ'd by Iggy Pop and the other is new white belt rock DJ'd by Juliette Lewis. The rest of the stations are okay, some modern urban crap, rap classics, some smooth gettin ass music about shorties, and an electronic station I always skip past. I usually end up just turning off the radio.
  2. I want more clothing options. So far there are only three stores. Yes this is a ridiculous gripe.
  3. I miss taking pictures of stuff. In past games you could take snapshots and save them. Maybe this happens later in the game.

And those are the only three I can think of right now.

You can read all the other reviews about how awesome GTA IV is. It truly takes gaming up to a new level. There are countless moments of "Holy shit I can do that?!?" and "Holy shit look at that!".

What really makes GTA IV an amazing experience for me though are:

  1. The character interaction. A lot of the game depends on social interaction and keeping up with various characters through out the game via phone, hanging out and email. It's kind of bizarre because I am so bad at this in RL but have some what mastered it in IV.
  2. The high quality of writing. The dialogue and story are top notch. IV is much more serious and adult in content than any other in the series. I don't mean adult purient I mean characters are dealing with some pretty awful issues on a personal level. This lends a level of sophistication that's refreshing in gaming. A lot of the wacky humor the series was known for has also been scaled down.
  3. The overall theme of addiction and recovery is pretty astounding and handled in a way that blows me away. I actually wonder if the writer is in recovery. What could easily be over wrought After School special junk is not. The addictions run the gamut from gambling to alcoholism to drug use to violence. I am looking forward to finding out what happens with the main story line.

More news to follow.

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