A new game came out this week, you may have heard of it.

As the biggest installment in the GTA series, Grand Theft Auto IV has garnered quite a bit of attention, even more given its reception of many perfect-score reviews. Given the sheer importance of a title like GTA4, and my love for virtual carjacking, I couldn’t resist but putting together some quick thoughts on the game. By no means is this a thorough review, I'm no where near done with the game yet, but it’s simply a collection of my thoughts on the title.

Graphics

Grand Theft Auto is one of those games that you don't expect to actually look good, mostly because it never actually looked good. It's not a Gears of War, Assassin's Creed or even Halo, it's a game where you sacrifice visual appeal for gameplay. Grand Theft Auto 4 however restores the balance a bit and actually surprised me with how good it looked. Again, it's not as good looking of a game as Gears, but it's pretty damn good for a GTA.


The cutscenes look pretty good, but in-game graphics aren't nearly this detailed

The graphics of GTA4 fall short in two areas: draw distance and animation. The draw distance issues are pretty annoying; while the game looks great in close quarters, look off into the distance and you're met with a sea of blurry. It's like the cameraman just discovered depth of field and went nuts with it. I get that there are technical limitations that mean we can't have infinite draw distance, I just want to point it out the blemish.


Here's a crop from the picture above it

My second complaint is about animation, and it's not one that's GTA4 specific but really applies to all modern day games. To understand this complaint I must first talk about telling a story in a video game.

It's rare that when a game is praised for having a great story, that it actually has a great story. We must be very careful about how we throw around phrases like "great story" because you might accidentally give someone the wrong impression that the Halo franchise could somehow have a story that is on par with the Godfather. There are some games that, in my opinion, actually come close to having a decent story (read: Mass Effect) but even those pale in comparison to the best stories in movies.

Just as a good story in a movie can be ruined by bad acting, a good story in a game can be ruined by poor, or un-lifelike animation. The problem is that we're not quite at a stage in both the CPU and GPU space, where we can apply lifelike animations to many highly detailed characters, in complex worlds, in real time. GTA4 comes closer to reality than any other previous GTA, but we still have a long way to go. Facial expressions, body movements, environmental interactions, etc... are all no where near lifelike, and it's simply tough to believe in a well written story if it's acted out in a choppy fashion.


These two don't look very convincing, I'm sorry

The story in GTA4 isn't bad by any means, but I'll reserve complete praise for when we've got the processing power to tell it in a way that can truly rival a movie (and this is why we'll continue to need faster CPUs and faster GPUs, we're no where near done folks).

The Ugly is in the Controls
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  • StormEffect - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    Wow, someone actually pointed out what WASNT perfect with this game. That's refreshing.

    Anyway, the whole thing was good except where you used the word 'addicting'.

    'Addicting' is not a word. Please don't use it. I get enough of that stupid, nonexistent word in my mainstream media, bunch of idiots. But I like you, Anand, so you can use it this time.

    If I ever get on a news program, I'll open by saying, "Thanks for letting me on your show, it's really gooding," just to keep it all consistent.
    Reply
  • bigben - Friday, May 2, 2008 - link

    Actually, this is a point for debate. Some would say that addicting is not a word, but others argue that it is either a transitive verb or a participial adjective from the verb "to addict."

    If it is the first case, the transitive verb, than Anand is just missing the subsequent clause in his sentence. So, he would have to round out "GTA IV is addicting" with the phrase "me unto itself."

    Addicting might also, however, be an adjective in which case his usage was A-OK.

    Addictive is a safer term, but addicting is not necessarily wrong (especially since its the Oxford English Dictionary which includes it as a part. adj.)
    Reply
  • FITCamaro - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    While I love the game, I will agree with some of what he said. The controls can be a bit slow. I just don't think any of the things he mentioned really detract from the games overall experience. Reply
  • ultimatex - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    Great , your not like those gaming mags that just give it a 10ranking just because of hype. This company will make million on little retarted buyers that fall for it.

    you should give it a rank though .I thought it was like a 7.0 all around and im being kind. Fan boys will never like nagative things said about their little games because of the way their undeveloped brain works ,

    point being they dont deserve make money because of hype . the game is ok but other games should have been super hyped rather than this one.
    Reply
  • goku - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    Every time the GTA series comes onto the PC, it looks exactly like the console it was ported from. What is worse is that not only do you get poor graphics quality, but some how the system requirements continue to go up. GTA III Requires a PII 450, 16MB, Vice City requires 800mhz 32MB T&L, and San Andreas "requires" 1GHZ 64MB video card.

    Yet just as San Andreas for the PS2 looked worse than Vice city for the PS2, the PC versions of all the GTA games manage to look nearly the same as from which they were ported from which is really a shame. I totally understand why San Andreas looked worse than vice city for the PS2, but for the PC? Unacceptable, which is why I didn't bother buying the PC version since you needed a high end system at the time in order to play it smoothly.

    So, do I think things will be different with the PC version this time? Well judging by the article, I'd say not. Unless the PC version removes all the console limitations and looks better than the console version, I think I'll wait until it goes into the bargain bin.
    Reply
  • coreyb - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - link

    Horrible review. I disagree with almost everything this guy said. boo! Reply
  • ultimatex - Thursday, May 1, 2008 - link

    no one gives a shit what you think you retarted pos. go agre with the 10's hyped reviewers gave it. Reply
  • picklebill - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - link

    Off subject but can't shop to get a video card to play the game when the RTPE has been broke for so long. Reply
  • araczynski - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - link

    i played for 20 minutes and just wasn't all that into it. the graphics were definitely improved over the previous stuff though.

    i guess i'm too excited about Age of Conan to even want to get into GTA at the moment...
    Reply
  • martinchnz1 - Wednesday, April 30, 2008 - link

    Don't worry about it, as with all previous GTA versions the PC version always seems to come out a few months after the console, also the Graphics are usually updated quite well and you'll get the difference from say Bioshock on XBOX 360 to Bioshock on a PC! The results are amazing, and I won't be able to wait for it to come out on PC. Reply

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