Grand Theft Auto IV
“I may have left this too late” I said to myself as I booted up Grand Theft Auto IV a little over a week ago. The last two games I’ve been playing serving as a distraction from the commitment that I knew I had to take care of. Like a debt that had been built up over a few years sitting in the back of your mind. Always there, always present in every decision that you make, knowing that at some point in the future you’re going to have to face it.
GTA IV had become the video game version of that debt. Sitting on my shelf, taunting me with its game play lasting dozens of hours and . Not only that, I had bought the complete version containing the DLC campaigns as well and the task was crippling in its enormity. I’d bought GTA IV during the Christmas of 2010 with some money I’d been given, fresh from playing through Red Dead Redemption and still basking in the glow John Marston’s story had produced in me. Red Dead had surprised me. I actively dislike westerns and was uninterested in other GTA games released since its first move into 3D. I can’t remember why I played Red Dead considering the road blocks created by my psyche but the story hit me incredibly hard and the fun to be had from just hunting and riding around the beautifully rendered countryside kept me on its leash for a long time.
Your words are useless at times during Red Dead
With all of that in mind I picked up GTA IV with a sense that Rockstar had moved on and I was going to experience a deep story line set in a contemporary American setting. I was let down quickly and painfully. The controls felt so bad in comparison to Red Dead that I felt put out straight away, The story didn’t have any effect on me and I gave up after about 3 hours. I moved on and haven’t gone near it since February 2011, until now.
I put the disk back in and picked up where I left off and the game felt better some how. Maybe the gap between Red Dead (and LA Noire to some extent) had grown enough for me to not compare how the games played?
Has everyone forgotten about this game?
Maybe I had let my standards slide? Maybe I had let the hype for GTA V smash through my hesitance so that I could at least play some kind of GTA before the 17/09/13. Whatever it was I’m glad that I did. It really is an enjoyable game and the amount of content that is contained within it is staggering. The missions just keep coming and that’s before the side missions and content are touched. I have to just play through the missions in an attempt to finish the campaign and it’s still surprising me with new features, guns and vehicles 16 ish hours into the game.
The story does not feel as accomplished as other Rockstar games but I don’t think they found their feet until Red Dead came along. Nikko feels empty as the focus of the game surrounded by such an animated and interesting supporting cast. I haven’t finished the campaign yet so my attitude may change. If it doesn’t I’m not going to cry about it as the game is still a lot of fun. I don’t find the anarchic, kill and smash everything until you can’t kill anymore, way of playing to be fun. I need structure around my fun and the missions are full of racing, shooting and robbing joy. If that continues until Nikko’s story concludes I’ll still be very happy I picked this game up again.
I also realize how crazy it is to write about GTA IV the day that GTA V is released. I do find it useful to look back during these huge game releases. What are the pitfalls these franchises have stumbled into in the past? Did GTA IV change the landscape of gaming as much as we thought it did? Will anyone pick up this game again now that GTA V is out? I have bought my copy of GTA V and I can’t wait to start it, but I really feel that it will look archaic once I boot up this years version. So back I go with my nose to the grind stone to complete this wonderfully made, brutal yet beautiful and touching at times game that will soon be completely ignored in favor of its even newer, even more wonderfully made, brutal yet beautiful and touching at times game.
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