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.

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  • StormEffect - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    Wow, someone actually pointed out what WASNT perfect with this game. That's refreshing.

    Anyway, the whole thing was good except where you used the word 'addicting'.

    'Addicting' is not a word. Please don't use it. I get enough of that stupid, nonexistent word in my mainstream media, bunch of idiots. But I like you, Anand, so you can use it this time.

    If I ever get on a news program, I'll open by saying, "Thanks for letting me on your show, it's really gooding," just to keep it all consistent.
  • bigben - Friday, May 2, 2008 - link

    Actually, this is a point for debate. Some would say that addicting is not a word, but others argue that it is either a transitive verb or a participial adjective from the verb "to addict."

    If it is the first case, the transitive verb, than Anand is just missing the subsequent clause in his sentence. So, he would have to round out "GTA IV is addicting" with the phrase "me unto itself."

    Addicting might also, however, be an adjective in which case his usage was A-OK.

    Addictive is a safer term, but addicting is not necessarily wrong (especially since its the Oxford English Dictionary which includes it as a part. adj.)
  • FITCamaro - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    While I love the game, I will agree with some of what he said. The controls can be a bit slow. I just don't think any of the things he mentioned really detract from the games overall experience.
  • ultimatex - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    Great , your not like those gaming mags that just give it a 10ranking just because of hype. This company will make million on little retarted buyers that fall for it.

    you should give it a rank though .I thought it was like a 7.0 all around and im being kind. Fan boys will never like nagative things said about their little games because of the way their undeveloped brain works ,

    point being they dont deserve make money because of hype . the game is ok but other games should have been super hyped rather than this one.
  • goku - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    Every time the GTA series comes onto the PC, it looks exactly like the console it was ported from. What is worse is that not only do you get poor graphics quality, but some how the system requirements continue to go up. GTA III Requires a PII 450, 16MB, Vice City requires 800mhz 32MB T&L, and San Andreas "requires" 1GHZ 64MB video card.

    Yet just as San Andreas for the PS2 looked worse than Vice city for the PS2, the PC versions of all the GTA games manage to look nearly the same as from which they were ported from which is really a shame. I totally understand why San Andreas looked worse than vice city for the PS2, but for the PC? Unacceptable, which is why I didn't bother buying the PC version since you needed a high end system at the time in order to play it smoothly.

    So, do I think things will be different with the PC version this time? Well judging by the article, I'd say not. Unless the PC version removes all the console limitations and looks better than the console version, I think I'll wait until it goes into the bargain bin.
  • coreyb - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - link

    Horrible review. I disagree with almost everything this guy said. boo!
  • ultimatex - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    no one gives a shit what you think you retarted pos. go agre with the 10's hyped reviewers gave it.
  • picklebill - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - link

    Off subject but can't shop to get a video card to play the game when the RTPE has been broke for so long.
  • araczynski - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - link

    i played for 20 minutes and just wasn't all that into it. the graphics were definitely improved over the previous stuff though.

    i guess i'm too excited about Age of Conan to even want to get into GTA at the moment...
  • martinchnz1 - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - link

    Don't worry about it, as with all previous GTA versions the PC version always seems to come out a few months after the console, also the Graphics are usually updated quite well and you'll get the difference from say Bioshock on XBOX 360 to Bioshock on a PC! The results are amazing, and I won't be able to wait for it to come out on PC.

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