The Average Gamer

Grand Theft Auto 4 Review – Part I (360)

IV_LogoI’ve had to cleave my fingers from the Xbox 360 controller in order to write this review. Yes, really. GTA 4 is one serious addictive game and a real time killer. Prior to GTA 4 the series had peaked with GTA III, as far as I was concerned. The 2 sequels that followed – Vice City and San Andreas – consisted of far too many unnecessarily difficult missions to seriously challenge GTA IIIs crown of fun. Although the music was fantastic in Vice City with literally minutes of fun to be had driving along to Spandau Ballet’s Gold ringing in your ears. Oh, and the graphics looked like arse in both of them.

GTA 4 is a great game, but not the perfect game that many reviews would lead you to believe. It’s extremely playable and great fun, with multitude of different gameplay elements crammed in there. You’ll also get somewhere approaching 40+ hours of entertainment from just completing the core missions (i.e. following the main games plot). I haven’t even factored in the multiplayer aspect, which is another game itself and a very welcome addition too. But there are a few unsavoury bits in GTA 4, and I’m not talking about the dodgy characters! I’ll discuss these bits as part of my look into 2 of the main elements of GTA 4; in-game artificial intelligence (AI) and in my next post the in-game graphics.

The AI – A bit dim, me:

If GTA 4s AI was asked to hand over its end of year report to its parents it would show a D+. Shows glimpses of intelligence but spends too much time asleep in the corner, dribbling.

Although to be fair, the GTA 4s AI had a mountain to climb to be anything remotely good when all the previous games were a bit thick. That’s not to say that the AI hasn’t improved. It has, but not as much as I’d expected, or even felt was needed. I can’t help but feel that Rockstar has been a bit lazy in this department. Given the ridiculous budget ($100 million depending on who you believe on the internet) that was available to develop this game we should be marvelling at the realistic, living, breathing, sprawling metropolis populated by realistic inhabitants. Instead, we get a bloody great city populated by idiots. As such I present to you 2 examples of GTA 4s rather stupid behaviour:GTA4-BusyCity

It wasn’t me Officer
There I was sitting in a taxi, enjoying the sights and sounds of Liberty City, when my ride came to an abrupt halt. I could see that we’d stopped because of all the traffic ahead waiting to get over the bridge. Fair enough, citizens dutifully paying their tolls. But as the minutes ticked past, and we failed to move an inch, I became just a little bit board. So I paid the nice taxi driver and decided to go jack the car at the front of this toll booth queue. It’s the done thing in GTA, trust me. However, as I got closer to the toll booth the actual cause of the gridlock became clear. A police cruiser. I stood there and watched the pathetic sight of this cruiser gently rocking back and forth stuck between a concrete wall and a toll booth. It was mildly funny until I realised that it never looked like it was ever going to escape. I hadn’t expected the games AI to trip itself up so easily. All very disappointing, even if a little funny to watch.

I seem to be missing a gear
Your character is the only person in the whole of Liberty City that is able to put any car into reverse. I’m serious. I’ve not seen a single, damn car try to reverse itself out of a tight spot/pile up/around an obstacle. Due to the AI being generally rubbish, these situations occur all the time. Also there always seems to be one of these traffic jams when you’re trying to outrun the cops or tail/chase/kill someone. Mmm, suspicious. Couldn’t Rockstar have engineered with a better way of challenging the player than using lazy AI?

Here’s a video illustrating some of the more interesting “features” of GTA 4. As you’ll see it’s not just the AI which is a little bit buggy, its affected many of the vehicles in Liberty City as well:

So that’s the AI covered; lazy and frequently buggy, but hey that’s part of the GTA charm! For my next post I’ll cast my eye over GTA 4s graphics. Next-gen lovelyness or another case of Rockstar being lazy?

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