|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Rockstar North||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Rockstar Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 29, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (16 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Historically, GTA has always been thought of as a single-player experience. While the single-player experience is quite important, and really well done, the multiplayer aspect of GTA IV is downright shocking. You will be able to play with up to sixteen people online in a plethora of different online modes. There are around twenty different modes to choose from, and there is definitely something for every kind of player. You will get to compete in traditional car races, deathmatches, fight over turf, complete random tasks, protect a specific character, plant bombs, steal cars, and much more.
There are honestly too many options to list, but all work rather well and add a significant amount of replayability not typically found in a GTA game. My only real concern with all of these modes is that it seemed incredibly difficult to get a full (16 players) game in any of the modes. At least this is the case for all except the free for all mode. This mode basically just puts 16 players into the city with no objectives other than to have fun. If you want to jack a car and run over pedestrians, go right ahead. Want to find a rocket launcher and shoot at cars, no one will stop you. The real fun of this mode is just the freedom it gives you to do whatever you want with 15 other people doing the same.
Visually, this game is stunning. With all of the details in both the characters and the environments in the game, this is easily one of the most beautiful games that is currently available. Gorgeous cars show realistic damage from collisions, dramatic lighting effects will cast warm light and shadows on the world, and realistic facial expressions make every person in the game feel like a real human being with feelings. You can even have Niko sit on the couch and watch some of Liberty City's fine television programming. All of the specially produced shows were done in-engine and look excellent. There is very little pop-up, although you will occasionally notice some, but it is only at a great distance and has absolutely no affect on the gameplay.
While your eyes are being delighted by the game's amazing visuals, your ears will be in ecstasy as well. There are tons of great sound effects in the game that further aid the realism of Liberty City. Whether it is overhearing random passerby's conversations or distant sirens, the orchestra of sounds that would normally permeate cities are always present. However, if that sort of noise pollution bothers you, just crank up the radio to drown it out. Since GTA IV isn't era specific, like the last two GTA games, there is a wide variety of music from multiple eras in almost every genre. With over 200 songs, there is a ton of great music in this game that should suit just about anyone's tastes. While listening to the radio, you will also be treated to the same humor that we have come to expect from the various ads and radio personalities from the previous GTA titles.
Simply put, GTA IV improves upon the GTA formula in just about every way imaginable. Almost anything that I can think of that frustrated me about the previous titles in the series has been fixed or completely reworked, leaving only an amazing experience in its stead. With one of the most compelling stories ever told by a video game, an extremely likeable main character, an insane amount of online modes, and virtually no flaws to be detected, GTA IV is even more than it was expected to be by fans. This is honestly a must own title for anyone who is of age and owns a PS3 or Xbox 360. The original kings of sandbox gameplay have clearly made this a game that will not likely be dethroned easily, if at all. But as with GTA 3, it is likely to spawn several sub-par imitations from other companies that try to recapture the same magic for years to come.
CCC Freelance Writer