Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
04 July 2010
GTA4 (PC): FImp
Been playing GTA4, even though I've got God of War 2 in the PS2 and Team Fortress 2 sitting on the Mac. (And, admittedly, Golden Axe 3 on the Wii.) Quick notes.

* I've gotten just past (potential very minor spoiler here) where Roman and Niko have to move.

* The game is very good.

* That said, it's nothing like its reviews. It doesn't really feel "more realistic" than GTA3:SA. Too many reviews talked about how you had to earn your weapons and that you started with no money, etc. Forgive me here, but I remember starting out with a bike in SA, and, in GTA3, it seems I recall running around with a bat for a really long time. Nor does the city feel (operative word is "feel" here) that much larger than the cities of SA. That is, it's not that horribly much more immersive.

That is to say, GTA4 is ultimately very much like GTA:SA and GTA3. Cars with hoods flying off, bad driving ignored by cops, easier to run mobs over than shoot them, lots of ammo available at the Ammu-Nation equivalency, radio is as snide as ever, etc. There're slightly fewer over-the-top locations and I don't yet own an airstrip, but when the nearby restaurant waitress routinely & sarcastically asks me if I want a "meal and a h**d job," I'm guessing we're not exactly toeing the realism line here either.

I mean, though I do miss its gang wars, I don't miss SA's arcade-style jetpacks and the "chase the koosh" missions straight from Power Drive Rally. Still, other than a slightly harder, slightly more realistic/less arcade-ish edge to some missions, it seems, it's the same game as SA. That there's no real shift in game mechanics is a shame -- Niko started off sounding like he wanted to have some ethics, and at one point can choose to wax or release a guy he'd been sent to kill. I'd hoped for a little more character development and influence between in-game choices and the story you play out, and that promise goes out the window shortly afterward the choice to spare (or not) that earlier mark. After the missions he does solely for money soon after, Niko strikes me as the hardest criminal of the series now.

* Perhaps it's because I'm dual booting into Vista instead of living there, but the Games for Windows requirements and phoning home bothers me not at all. As long as I can play indefinitely and Rockstar provides a single-player enabling patch once their servers are down, I'm fine.

I'm also fine with the Xbox 360 controller requirement. At first not being able to use my Logitech rumble pad (and I tried the dll hacks) riled me, but after eBaying a used Xbox controller for $6 shipped, I've got to say I like the feel of it. Why not make Windows more console-like? And I do find myself wondering how often the Xbox phones home too.

* I enjoy the characters. Little Jacob, Michelle, Malorie, Vlad, Faustin, Dmitri, Roman, Brucie -- this is probably the first GTA where I remember nearly every NPC's name. Most memorable story so far for me for some reason. This isn't to say Caesar, Tenpenny, and James Woods' character aren't memorable. And Big Smoke. And Ryder. And the blind dude who owns the casino. I guess the pot selling dude was memorable too.

Okay, perhaps it's not so much "memorable" as "engaging." These characters in GTA4 are much more engaging so far. So far, they seem a little less foils to set up the possibility of missions than characters I'd like to know more about.

* Running GTA4 on a 2.26 Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook with two gigs of RAM is actually quite playable. It's burning itself up, but plays well. I'm sure it'd wow the crud out of me if I had real hardware, but I don't find myself complaining in my ignorance.

* The game is hella cheap. I got it for about $6, iirc, from NewEgg a while back. Steam has it on sale for $5 through today. Again, this is for WinPC.

If you're looking for a brand new experience, this isn't it. Probably the most notable change so far for me is the inclusion of talking GPS in cars. But if you were addicted to a previous GTA3+ and want more of the same with a better plot, now's the time to pull the trigger for your Windows box. If you have one -- and an Xbox controller you can borrow -- that is. The console version is still pretty steep.

Oh, and note to Matt: Did you play Vice City Stories on PS2? Horrible, horrible plot, at least to start. Voice acting, dialog, plot all atrocious. I'll stipulate that for $5 I owe it the chance to get better, but I'm pretty sure I'll be well through GTA4 before I return to VCS. I'm interested, but I'm not sure I trust Rockstar Leeds at this point.

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--ruffin at 14:06
Comment [ 1 ]

Comments on this post:

Power Drive Rally? That was Club Drive, dude.

By Blogger jvm, at 04 July, 2010 15:06  

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