The reviewers have glorified it. The consumers have gone crazy for it. The activists assume it is destroying our youth. Indeed, there are a lot of good things surrounding the latest installment of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series. It is even being heralded by some as the best game of all time (The Zelda fans let out a collective shutter). But as good as it is, it is far from perfect. I have come up with a list of the top 10 problems Grand Theft Auto IV failed to overcome.
- Basic Cable… One very cool thing that is new to the series is the in game television. This is a place where Rockstar’s wit and social commentary really shine. You can easily judge how well you are doing in the game by the size of your TV in your newest pad. The problem? There are only two channels with limited programming on each. Usually when a new feature is added to a GTA game, Rockstar goes all out. Here it seems like they are just testing the waters.
- Must be MADD… An interesting new mini game involves driving yourself home after a hard day at the local tavern. Coincidentally, once you consume alcohol every police officer in the city suddenly cares about you going in and out of the lines. Even if you are doing your best to drive perfectly, the police will turn on their lights the second they see you. I agree that the police should go after you, but they should at least tail you a bit before you are given your first star.
- Rules of the Road… When you drive overly aggressive with a passenger, being it speeding, slamming into scattered objects or what ever, you get yelled at. After all, the passenger must be worried about their safety! The police, however, only care if you pay a toll on the bridge. The police don’t really care if you speed, run red lights or slam into other cars (unless it’s theirs). It is about time the police started caring about traffic violations! I am not saying that we need a star for EVERY time we run a red light, but doing 100 in a residential area should at least draw some lights sometimes…
- Always recruiting… I believe that the ratio of police to citizens in
is about 1 to 10. No matter how many officers are killed in the line of duty they are still everywhere in the game world. I think I would rather see more citizens phoning in your first star, rather then seeing a cop on every other block. Haven’t they been paying attention to gas prices? Why are there no female cops? And why no unmarked cars, just to keep us honest? Liberty City
- Mini disaster… Grand Theft Auto is known for its mini games. This installment is no different. However the mini games have taken a decidedly sour turn. They feel a LOT more like a dating simulator then an organized crime game. Bowling and darts have replaced staples like ambulance and fire truck missions. If I want to play those silly mini games I will buy a Wii. If I want to drive around in a fire truck that I stole, putting out car fires and spraying down flame engulfed citizens as the run in circles life lunatics, I but GTA. The loss of more crime oriented mini games really hurts this installment.
- Pop Up Blocker… When driving around on the street pop-ups are rare. One of the biggest kill buzzes of the game, however, is when you finally get a hold of the Annihilator, the police chopper loaded with mini guns and rockets. When you are flying around scoping out enemies to blow up, vehicles pop in and a disappointingly short range. It is especially difficult to aim at the cars cruising on the streets below because of this short range.
- Hello, My Name is… I am going to be blunt about this. No multiplayer game should have bright colored names floating above people you are trying to kill. I don’t care what “bmx_Kid”’s name is, I just want to shoot the brat! And what is up with the GPS locations of every player showing up on the mini map? I want to be able to blend in with the city a bit before jumping out and dispatching my opponents. These problems suck a lot of fun out of multiplayer, especially on free roam.
- Outcast… What is a really great way to give your fans a slap in the face? Promise post release downloadable content to only half of your fan base. Grand Theft Auto grew up on the Playstation and to say thanks they are providing Xbox players exclusive content. I understand that this choice came from some big wig who took a payout from Microsoft, but this is a disturbing trend in some games. Both groups paid equal amounts to play this game, why should one be given access to content and not the other? This move really hurts Rockstar’s reputation with its original fan base.
- It’s a Small World… This was a conscious choice of direction the developers made that the reviewers of the game loved. GTA:IV is the most detailed game on the market. Every square foot is completely unique. This comes at a price, however. When compared to San Andreas,
makes me feel claustrophobic. Even if Liberty City had airplanes like the previous installment, there wouldn’t really be enough room to fly and there wouldn’t be anywhere to fly to. I appreciate what Rockstar tried to do, but when cruising down the streets in an epic gun battle I am not going to notice 90% of what has been stuffed into the city. What is the point of spending months developing a city if gamers will hardly notice it! I would rather have a much larger city then one this polished. More area to explore is worth more to me then standing in an ally staring at the cracks in the building and the vegetation sticking out. Liberty City
- Cliffhanger… This is a problem I am not sure is possible to address. It is created by a combination of excellent story telling and the fact that I haven’t forgotten about San Andres. The story is told so well it is difficult to pull yourself away. While GTA is known for being the ultimate dick around series, this narrative pulls you in so well that it’s hard to not do just one more mission. This gives you the effect of driving a car 100mph over a cliff. As soon as the story line is over, the game feels very empty. Unlike San Andres, the city just isn’t as fun to run around and explore. I remember a sinking feeling in my heart the moment I realized it was all over. Thankfully you can jump right in to multiplayer after you realize this sad fact and, with time, you can move on.
All this being said, Grand Theft Auto IV is the greatest installment yet of one of video game’s most historic and controversial series. Major issues such as the targeting system and loose story have not only been addressed, but perfected. It has surely set the bar for video game development and execution for years to come.