Review: Grand Theft Auto IV -- Part 1

Filed under: , by: Grundy the Man

I know that this post has been long overdue. This is a game that has gotten universally good reviews and there really isn't anything that I could say that would change that. It doesn't help that the game came out several months ago, but I figured it is better to actually finish the game before I pen a review.

Storyline and Character Development

The story revolves around an illegal immigrant by the name of Niko Bellic, from an unnamed country in Europe. Initially the only thing known about Niko is that he is a veteran of the Bosnian war. He has come to Liberty City in search of the "American Dream," which his cousin Roman raved about in his letters home.

From the very start, it becomes very evident to Niko that Roman is a troubled character that has issues with embellishment. What was described in letters to be a huge mansion, turns out to be a dingy, dirty apartment, infested with insects of the worst variety. Feeling upset by the deception of Roman, Niko sets out to make a new life for himself in the United States. More than anything else, Niko desperately looks to distance himself from his troubled past. This is something that he hauntingly reflects on over the course of the game.

Throughout the storyline you get to meet many different and interesting characters. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • A gibberish speaking Jamaican who has a strong appreciation of the hippie lettuce and unfortunately little appreciation for English grammar. His dialog is saved by the fact that the game has subtitles. Ironically sometimes even the subtitles will show that his speaking is unintelligible!
  • A rare female drug lord who has a habit of snorting away a good portion of her profits.
  • A selfish, wanna be gangster who speaks of doing great things for the community once he hits it big. It should be noted that all of his income is from a collection of strip clubs that he owns... a real model citizen.
  • A troubled, but endearing Irish family that has there hands in crimes all around the city. Did I forget to mention that the oldest sibling is the much maligned Liberty City Chief of Police?
These are just a few of the early personalities that you will come in contact with. Each character in the game is an interesting contradiction within themselves. That said, they are so well developed that you can't help but want to help them. Later on in the story there are characters that are even more compelling, that will pull you further into the gutter of organized crime.

The most revolutionary new feature of GTA IV is the complex relationship mechanic. Every character that you meet will add their phone number to your cell phone. It is then your responsibility to keep in touch with these people and keep them happy. Remaining in the good graces of these characters will benefit you later on in the story in the form of backup going into intense firefights, a ride when you can't hail a taxi, or an instant healing over the phone. However, if they feel ignored, you will not be able to reap the rewards.

These scenes where you essentially "hang out" with your friends are used to develop the back story of Niko. Through dialog and deposition, you are allowed a look inside of the head of a very complex individual. I found these to be some of the most satisfying and rewarding scenes in the game.

Below is the second trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV --

"Looking For That Special Someone":

Stay tuned tomorrow for the continuation of this review feature.