You heard the hype, you read the astonishing array of perfect-score online reviews. So you bought a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV, sat down to play and . . . what's going on here? How can a perfect game be ticking you off? I'm not saying that GTA IV is less than amazing, but it most definitely is less than perfect, particularly if you're not one of the professional gamers writing those frothing-at-the-mouth-with-delight reviews. Some of the most basic elements in the game are just plain aggravating.
I'm talking controls here, my friends. GTA is often described as a driving and shooting game, but the controls for neither activity approach the level of sophistication and precision that you'd find in a first-class driving game (Burnout or even Project Gotham Racing) or shooter (Gears of War, for example) played on the Xbox 360.
The first problem with driving is that you can't see where you're going before making a turn. Antisocial driving is fine if it's intentional, but plowing into pedestrians and ramming other vehicles simply because you didn't know they were there is just plain awkward. Yes, you can turn Niko's head manually, but that's not practical when cruising at breakneck speeds. And would a rearview mirror have been too technologically taxing to implement? Add the cars' horrendous turning radius and sloppy handling, and toss in narrow streets with lots of traffic, plus a ticking clock that requires you to drive as fast as possible to complete your mission. Are we having fun yet?
The shooting action is better than in previous GTA iterations, but that doesn't make it great. You can lock onto a target and never miss a shot, or depress the trigger partway (none too easy during the heat of battle) and use free aim to pick off targets. Good luck with that.
Do you get better at driving and fighting and shooting with practice? Of course, but the action is never as fluid and precise as you'd hope. Then there are the annoying snafus I hit within the first hours of gameplay. For example, I took a young lady to a club, walked in, and could do nothing. There were lots of characters inside, talking and moving around, but nobody acknowledged our presence and nothing happened. Finally, in frustration, I walked outside to leave. Lo and behold, a floating arrow had appeared. By stepping up to the arrow, I was able to make the in-club sequence begin. Say you want to enter a nightclub. Would you look for a mystical arrow floating in space, or just push open the doors and walk in?
Another illogical moment occurred during a heated chase up ladders and across building roofs. Climbing the ladders was enough of a pain—if your position is off by half a step, you can't climb. Finally, I was about to make a crucial game decision: Do I let my quarry live or push him down to the ground below? Then I realized that I couldn't move forward to reach him. I'd landed on a small ledge around the building. Not 30 seconds earlier, I'd put my hands up and vaulted over a wall much higher than the hurdle I now faced. But in this case, my only option was to plummet to my own death and play the level again. Arrgh!
If this kind of annoyance came up in a crappy game, I'd just shrug it off. But the enthusiasts aren't wrong about what's right with GTA IV. It is an epic game, with a fascinating cast of characters and an extraordinary setting. It's worth pushing past the parts that lack polish in order to fully experience the exciting story, the over-the-top action and the artistic achievement that is GTA IV. Just understand that, when faced with problems playing this game with a string of perfect ratings to its credit, it isn't you—it's the game.
After playing the game and reading the reviews I had the same thought: "Say What?" The controls are weak at best. Even walking around in a tight space can be a chore. I can't count how many times I have fallen to my death because Niko can't do an about face.
I agree that some of the controls are difficult to use. The most frustrating part for me is the cover system, i just can't seem to get cover and out of cover when I want to often gettin buttons confused.
I must admit that the handling on GTA IV is a little worse then i expected...but once i got into a banshee or another nice car which has good specs, you see the handling issue is more of a realistic feature installed in the game (not all cars have ultimate handling). The shooting was better than previous version...I think that the great reports that this game has been getting gives it justice, its an amazing leap from GTA: SA.
The corner thing with the camera is the only thing which has anoyed me about this game but after 3 days of solid playing it has passed and i can get around at high speeds without running into pedestrians or cars.
The graphics are spectacular and i love this game.
PS; GTA IV has sold just over 6 million copies worldwide in the first week of release...merit given where merit is deserved i rekon.
you guys ever think that maybe you just suck at it? after playing for an hour or 2 i got used to all the controls and they work pretty well. I have no problems at all.....maybe you just suck?
Surely the 10 out of 10 business means its the best the console/s can produce within their parameters. If any of you know the ins and outs of a Xbox or PS3 better that the people who made this game "cough Steve" then you are surely obliged to comment other than that I agree with the chappy above, you are just crap at it.
He said within the first hour. Keep playing and you realize that the games abilities become more controllable and less annoying. Added on to this is the option to turn free aim off. It makes the shooting so much better.
I agree its not perfect but these problems seem to be due to short play time more then actual annoyance.
"I took a young lady to a club, walked in, and could do nothing. There were lots of characters inside, talking and moving around, but nobody acknowledged our presence and nothing happened..."
Steve has obviously never been to a real strip club (at least not one in the Big Apple). Unless you're pissed that your cash counter didn't drop to zero the minute you entered, you're describing this as an accurate portrayal of a NYC strip club.
"Add the cars' horrendous turning radius and sloppy handling, and toss in narrow streets with lots of traffic..."
Are you serious? It's New York f-ckn' City! Rockstar is obviously going along the route of realism here, and unlike you, they're not being a baby about it. It's all or nothing here. Look up some pictures of Greenwich Village, or just about any Dutch-era NYC neighborhood for that matter, and you'll see what I mean. If you want abnormally wide streets and Sunday-traffic all the damn time then go back to San Andreas. It's a large playground, not a typical American metropolis. BTW: Not all cars handle like Maseratis/Banshees. Among the near infinite number of high priced, high-perfomance vehicles on todays roads, you might run into a Ford Taurus or two. Yes, they still make them.
GTA IV is the real deal, and maybe you've spent so much time playing games that you've forgotten that real life isn't a walk in the park. And as for the glitches, stop whining. All games have them. Being the only person giving this game a bad review doesn't make you unique or special in any way. Find a better way to stand out. Maybe you can write about how much the Beatles sucked.
Well, I was reading a report from the people who made the game. And they were going for realism. So, better car=better handling. And maybe he was scared to jump cause he was afraid he'd fall. And why would you try to miss? Why don't you just kill everyone else and go get in ur fast car! :). But pretty good review other than a few facts.
I believe that the whole point to this article is (I'm guessing) Steve has already played San Andreas to death and had high hopes for GTA IV to be not so much a graphical improvement, but an improvement in design and mechanics. Again, that's basic, fundamental design.
It's not asking too much for a game to have the basics nailed down, like movement and driving, and being able to easily climb a ladder that's right in front of you, is it? Those are lessons that were learned by developers of games like Tomb Raider and Burnout, and everyone else could benefit by doing the same. Yes, the cars improve and you'll improve over time as well, but the point of Steve's article is that GTA IV, while an excellent, top-notch game, is realistic in graphics only. It's no gaming panacea for those of us that remember the flaws from games past.