A new game came out this week, you may have heard of it.

As the biggest installment in the GTA series, Grand Theft Auto IV has garnered quite a bit of attention, even more given its reception of many perfect-score reviews. Given the sheer importance of a title like GTA4, and my love for virtual carjacking, I couldn’t resist but putting together some quick thoughts on the game. By no means is this a thorough review, I'm no where near done with the game yet, but it’s simply a collection of my thoughts on the title.


Grand Theft Auto is one of those games that you don't expect to actually look good, mostly because it never actually looked good. It's not a Gears of War, Assassin's Creed or even Halo, it's a game where you sacrifice visual appeal for gameplay. Grand Theft Auto 4 however restores the balance a bit and actually surprised me with how good it looked. Again, it's not as good looking of a game as Gears, but it's pretty damn good for a GTA.

The cutscenes look pretty good, but in-game graphics aren't nearly this detailed

The graphics of GTA4 fall short in two areas: draw distance and animation. The draw distance issues are pretty annoying; while the game looks great in close quarters, look off into the distance and you're met with a sea of blurry. It's like the cameraman just discovered depth of field and went nuts with it. I get that there are technical limitations that mean we can't have infinite draw distance, I just want to point it out the blemish.

Here's a crop from the picture above it

My second complaint is about animation, and it's not one that's GTA4 specific but really applies to all modern day games. To understand this complaint I must first talk about telling a story in a video game.

It's rare that when a game is praised for having a great story, that it actually has a great story. We must be very careful about how we throw around phrases like "great story" because you might accidentally give someone the wrong impression that the Halo franchise could somehow have a story that is on par with the Godfather. There are some games that, in my opinion, actually come close to having a decent story (read: Mass Effect) but even those pale in comparison to the best stories in movies.

Just as a good story in a movie can be ruined by bad acting, a good story in a game can be ruined by poor, or un-lifelike animation. The problem is that we're not quite at a stage in both the CPU and GPU space, where we can apply lifelike animations to many highly detailed characters, in complex worlds, in real time. GTA4 comes closer to reality than any other previous GTA, but we still have a long way to go. Facial expressions, body movements, environmental interactions, etc... are all no where near lifelike, and it's simply tough to believe in a well written story if it's acted out in a choppy fashion.

These two don't look very convincing, I'm sorry

The story in GTA4 isn't bad by any means, but I'll reserve complete praise for when we've got the processing power to tell it in a way that can truly rival a movie (and this is why we'll continue to need faster CPUs and faster GPUs, we're no where near done folks).

The Ugly is in the Controls
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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 production...you'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 review...so 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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