96 of 123 people found the following review helpful
I don't know... I just don't know.
, 30 April 2008
This review is from: Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
The most eagerly awaited game ever? Well it's certainly up there in the top five, rubbing shoulders with the Master Chief which ever way you cut it.
Does it look amazing? Yes of course it does. More gritty and less cartoonish than it's predecessors, detail aplenty, pop-up and draw-distance problems controlled if not entirely removed, cars that look as good as a racing game, characters that look as good as a third person action game. It's all here.
It looks and feels fantastic, but...
If you've been there since the beginning there is just a tiny nagging feeling that past all the glitz and glamour, beneath all the media hype it isn't really that much of an advancement from GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas.
You see, when GTA III came along it replaced a crude but addictive top-down scroller. It took that world and used the newly minted PS2 to blast it into full 3D, defining that platform and ushering in the era of the sandbox game.
As I stare at GTA IV in 36 inches of HDMI beauty I simply don't feel quite as excited as I did when I hit the streets of Liberty City the first time. There's a tiny voice inside me that keeps saying that all the glowing reviews in the mainstream media are only written because those reviewers weren't there to see how incredible it was when the series first went 3D. Struggling to come to terms with a form of media that they neither understand nor respect, they are only written because they feel they are expected to crow about how great it is.
I try to put my finger on what exactly has disappointed me but it isn't easy. Perhaps it was the fact that Saints Row really made a feature of the car modifying thing, that San Andreas gave you a whole county to explore, perhaps I just like the playlist less this time or perhaps its just one sandbox too many?
Don't get me wrong, this still beats most games by a country mile. The voice acting is beyond reproach, as are the character models, the level design, the cell phone system. In short, it oozes quality from every pore and yet remains a bizarrely muted experience.
Of course you'll buy it. Everyone will. But twenty years from now, will we talk most fondly about this one? Or will it be one of the previous three?
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