Grand Theft Auto IV


I’ve never been much of a gamer.  I used to play a few games here and there and all that was long ago.  The only game I played seriously at all was Quake III.  But that too was way too long.  Then I had a break for a few years, and I’ve been too busy at work.

Last year I somehow got interested in consoles.  So I borrowed PlayStation 3 from one of my co-workers.  Just to try it out, you know.  Needless to say, I was stunned.  Game industry moves very fast, and it’s hard to keep up even if you play all the time.  When you have a several year break, it’s like you get off the planet.  Games, graphics, special effects, stories, controllers – everything is different all of a sudden.

Together with that borrowed PS3 I also got a few games.  Some of them were of that cheap flavour that they add to a gaming console package.  But some were really good.  The one that got me hooked back into gaming instantly was “Grand Theft Auto IV“.  That was something.

In brief, GTA IV is massive, detailed, bloody, swearing, and addictive.  You play a character called Niko Bellic, who is an immigrant just arrived to the USA.  Niko has some dark past and he came to the country to stay with his cousin Roman.  It turns out that Roman is half a criminal and he is in a heap of trouble with the local mob.  Mission after mission Niko tries to help his relative, but instead he is just getting deeper and deeper into mafia wars.

The game is very engaging.  The story line is continued by short movies between missions.  Sometimes, you have to make a choice which way the storyline goes (for example, when being hard by both sides of the conflict, which side do you take out?).  And while missions are cool, there is much more to this game.

The GTA IV world is amazing.  Everything is happening in a huge Liberty City.  There are poor regions of the city, with crappy shops, rusted cars, and street fights.  And there are rich regions with lots of expensive cars, excellent roads, and such.  And there is everything in between.  The city is full of people.  Some walk around, some drive.  You can scare people, shoot them and hit them, drive them over, and do all sorts of crazy stuff.  You can still their cars, motorbikes, boats, and even helicopters.  You can take a train from one region to another.  You can have a really serious conflict with police.  You have a phone which you can use to call people and send messages, take pictures, utilize the organizer, etc.  There are quite a few things that you can buy – from food and beverages to clothes and weapons.

Did I mention that the game is huge?  It has loads and loads of missions.  It took me a few good weeks to get to the closing titles.  And then I was just dropped back into the game with more missions.  And the game statistics show that I have only completed 62%.  I don’t know much more is there.  But I’ll probably need the rest of the year to push it to 100%.  And then there is also a multi-player mode, which I haven’t even started.

One thing that I really enjoyed about the game is the level of details.  It’s the fourth game in the series, and it shows – every tiny thing has been thought through, tried, and tested.  For example, when you drive a car, you can switch radio stations – and there is a whole bunch of them to choose from. Some are music radio stations, some are talk shows.  The stuff that goes on in advertising and in talk shows is hilarious.  You can just listen to it hour after hour after hour and it never gets boring.  Or, when you make a traffic accident, the other car’s driver shouts at you, and often he complains in a foreign language.  Greeks are frequent among taxi drivers, for example.

By the way, the game is definitely not for kids.  There’s just too much graphic violence and swearing.  And I haven’t seen any options to switch them off.

Overall, an excellent game that will keep you occupied for hours and hours.  Highly recommended.

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