The Ugly is in the Controls

Grand Theft Auto is one of those games where it is more fun to talk about what you did in the game, than to actually do it. Let me give you an example:

Early on in the game, I was trying to steal someone's car, the driver got out and we got into a fist fight. The cops arrived and what's the first thing they did? Shot the driver of the car I was stealing in the face. I took the opportunity to hop in the car and drive away.

That's one of those stories that wouldn't exactly be funny in real life, but it's hilarious in the game itself ("hey! I was committing a crime and then the cops shot the victim in the face, woohoo!"). Unfortunately, my example omits struggling with camera, controls and the actual pace of the game itself.

The controls in GTA4 seem sluggish, even moreso than in San Andreas. They do take some time to acclimate, but even after that point they are just not all that great. You can easily play the game with the controls, but your movements always feel slow, almost to the point of frustration. Many have praised the cover system as being very Gears-like; now I liked the cover system in Gears, and the cover system in GTA4 is nothing like it. Conceptually the two are identical, but it's simply much more awkward in GTA4.

The default camera tends to follow you pretty well, so fumbling with the right thumbstick isn't as critical as in a first person shooter (which is one of the things you'll have to "unlearn" when first playing GTA4). But moving around and fighting both feel like the slowest parts of the game.

Decidedly GTA

After reading all of the perfect-score reviews, I sort of expected GTA4 to be a revolutionary take on the franchise. Grand Theft Auto IV is instead more of an evolutionary successor to San Andreas, the gameplay is very similar and the types of things you do are decidedly GTA.

If you were put off by the "drive here, rob this guy and drive back" missions of previous GTAs, then GTA4 does have more of the same. Granted there is a good deal of variation within the missions, but if you fundamentally didn't like the previous games, then there's a good chance that GTA4 will be no different.

At least you can take a cab to your missions, it costs money but you can always murder the driver when you get there and even make money on the trip.

To me, the majority of missions in any given GTA title were never that good, but what kept me coming back was to fill in the gaps in the story or the handful of missions that were unbelievably fun. It's a lot like a season of 24 or The Office, you get a little taste of what you want in each episode which keep you coming back for the whole season. You could even take it one step further and say that GTA4 promotes a healthy outlook on life: if you live for the 1% of the time things work out perfectly, it makes the remaining 99% not so bad. That may be a stretch, but the likelihood of that even being entertained by the mainstream media is next to nothing; they'll be too busy blaming the latest installment in the GTA franchise for some horrible event.

Index It’s an Evolution Baby
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  • larzemodo - Monday, May 12, 2008 - link

    "The reviewer sounds like someone who is not only new to game reviews but new to gaming. The comments about the depth of field and the animation were both painful and hilarious to read...I guess they deserve some credit for being able to invoke such diametrically opposed emotions."

    - I totally agree, nuff said.

    - Depth of Field is a per-pixel effect and is very draining for any GPU at high resolutions, it combined with motion blur can bring a much more photographic experience, simulating acethetics qualities found in film. For GPUs these two graphical effects are in my oponion are most effective SFX in computer games I have ever seen.

    OK GTa4's Depth of field is far from perfect, it still adds to the overall sense of scale, And when your Drunk it looks awesome!!
  • hvypetals - Monday, May 12, 2008 - link

    seems like the reviewer just wants to be different for differents sake.

    its blurry a block or two away? umm.. yeh so what. you cant be in two places at once. like you need to see the ants crawling on the moon?

    its one thing to be unbiased, its another to hold the game to an unrealisticlly high bar.

    and i had a shootout with cops in a building and had no troubles in the confined spaces just using the free aim and not the auto lock. if you would have read the directions you would see you could do both.

  • raj14 - Friday, May 9, 2008 - link

    Finally a review that comes off as professional and well written, and not as some 15 year old teenager drooling over a popular title.

    Please review more games!
  • Schnoogs - Tuesday, May 6, 2008 - link

    The reviewer sounds like someone who is not only new to game reviews but new to gaming. The comments about the depth of field and the animation were both painful and hilarious to read...I guess they deserve some credit for being able to invoke such diametrically opposed emotions.

    This isn't a Pixar're not gonna wow even a casual gamer with your complete ignorance of animation and what is considered realistic today.

    Perfectly in focus boxes on the horizon aren't very realistic. The fact that you seem to prefer that over depth of field is a bit scary seeing as that is how both real life and movies look. Knocking this game for obtaining that realism is silly especially when in the next paragraph you go on to knock the animation for not being realistic. So which is it? You want realism or you don't?

    Stick to hardware. That's what you guys do best.
  • tEthiC - Sunday, May 4, 2008 - link

    I've played the game an hour orso, I'm a PC FPS player and i've played the previous versions of GTA. I really have to agree, the cover system annoys me, walking slow annoys me, car handling isnt that fun too anymore, camera always looks in the wrong direction when turning slow, pretty annoying. Aiming and shoot buttons are really not ez getting used too, they're all on the wrong place(PS3). (all of these problems are probably coz i hate aiming with a controller instead of mouse/keyb)

    i really wasnt that much impressed like those other 100% score reviewers, really don't get where this game is that much better than san andreas, it looks and feels the same (on a normal CRT television)
  • yyrkoon - Friday, May 2, 2008 - link

    *IF* this was not meant to be a review, then it should never have been put on the website, period. Should have been put on your blog page, and left there.

    Most of us who care enough about GTA really do not care what your thoughts are, and we will buy a copy of it *when* it gets put out for the PC.
  • dingetje - Monday, May 5, 2008 - link

    what a bs comment...i liked this speak for your lonely self.

    i would like to know more about thr rumour that this game crashes consoles and even damages them though
  • Andrewsacar - Monday, June 7, 2021 - link

    Does GTA 5 have cheat codes? can gta san andreas codes be used, some poeple are waiting for gta 6 but rockstar hasn't announced it yet.
  • fragbait666 - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    i hope this comes out for PC soon
  • unbaisedgamer - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    Just as people bash magazines and websites for giving the game a 10, so should you people be bashed for jumping on the "hate the mainstream" bandwagons.

    The majority of gamers will find this game to be a 9-10. Fans of the series will find the game to be a 10.

    There will be plenty of people who hate it because its popular. There will also be players who dislike the genre.
    There will be players who are fanboys and toute their system as the superior version.
    There will also be players who just don't enjoy the game.

    All that's fine, but alas we are all drops of water in an ocean. If you didn't like it, there will be a million other people who loved it.

    Honestly though, fanboys and people who hate all things mainstream are wastes of space.

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