The Second Part of this Ever Evolving Review of GTA IV
Grand Theft Auto IV was released April 28th, 2008. It is amazing that within the span of four years this game still continues to hold its own. With the release of a variety of add-ons and DLC, GTA IV has become somewhat of a living legend within the video game world. The original game can now be purchased for around $5 dollars used in most markets, but the core experience still remains the same. Even with the release of many new titles working in a similar game style, such as Mafia II and L.A. Noire, Grand Theft Auto still remains the most interesting of the bunch.
While the initial media fallout with regards to GTA IV and it’s heavy adult themes and elements has died down significantly, I have found that this game is still mentioned near the top of every new piece of legislation intent on censoring video games (or art in general); as well as within every piece of news suggesting that video game violence causes real life violence. While modern psychological research would suggest that a video game like GTA 4 might be correlated with violence, often society is left overlooking other important elements in this equation. Maybe it is not the video game that motivates violence, but rather the people who play this game are already depressed, suicidal, or violent themselves? These hard hitting questions may be a great topic for an alternative article on this website, but they remain very significant ones as you are making a decision on whether or not you should buy a product. Still though, with it’s well deserved M-rating by the MSRB; issues of adult content should not hinder how a person who is playing this game perceives this game, because all of the evidence of what this game contains is right on the box.
Almost 5 years since the release of GTA IV, and the gameplay mechanics still work. If a person was to pick up this game for the first time today, they would not easily be able to say to themselves “this is an old game!” On this point, Rockstar has developed a rather simplistic and minimalistic control scheme that makes playing this game a simple thing to do; whether it is for an expert gamer or someone who is just getting into video games. Of course, there is a slight learning curve; but even to the most naïve gamers the controls are not particularly complex.
Graphically, Grand Theft Auto 4 still holds up; and is an absolutely stunning world to be in. With quite a few shoddy video game releases, most notably in my mind Duke Nukem Forever; I have no doubt that GTA IV was ahead of it’s time in so many respects. I still cannot get the well placed shadows, lighting, and weather effects that you encounter within this game right out of the box. And if you are playing on the PC version, access to a variety of mods that make this game border on photorealistic just increases the value.
While I still maintain my earlier opinions with regards to the flaws of this game, there is no doubt in my mind that it has really held up against the passage of time. On video game forums, in the media and in scientific literature, and even in daily conversations with my friends I still find that Grand Theft Auto IV is being actively discussed. It is an odd sensation to see something in the gaming world simultaneously so hated and so loved, depending on who is looking.
Really, at the end of the day my personal thoughts on Grand Theft Auto are these: this is a great video game, and contains an even better experience with regards to the cinematic and theatrical elements. While the gameplay after several years has begun to feel stale, I still enjoy it from time to time; especially just for checking out the hilarious radio stations and the mindless killing sprees I can go on. I’m coming close to officially retiring this game from my collection for a while, but I will definitely be bringing it back out to show my kids and friends who have never played this great title in the future.