Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV Review for PC

On: PCXbox 360PS3

The Grand Theft Auto series returns.

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10Out of 10
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Niko arrives on the PC with a few extras
Niko arrives on the PC with a few extras

Niko arrives on the PC with a few extras

When we reviewed GTA 4 on Xbox 360 and PS3 earlier this year we made some pretty bold statements. Here's probably the boldest: GTA 4 "has moved video games on to a point that most developers just won't be able to compete with". Looking at it again, a fair few months since we'd driven the streets of Liberty City, that was perhaps overstating things slightly (everyone can get caught up in the moment), but it's still abundantly clear that GTA 4 is a high point in video game history, and just as good on the PC now as it was back in April on console.

We won't explain just why we love the game so much (you can get a full, lengthy run down from our console review), but for those completely in the dark, know that you're going to get open world action that makes you care about the main characters in a way we doubted would be possible - at least in this generation. As an action game it's top class, it's larger and more expansive than practically every other non-RPG released this year, and it's got visuals to die for. Having sunk hours into the PC version it's still a sight to behold.

Instead of re-treading old ground, we'll rundown how the PC version of GTA 4 has been handled, including the performance on modest gaming rigs, and the extras that Rockstar has included. Performance first then, and this is probably our biggest concern with the port. To put it bluntly, you're going to need a very beefy machine to get the game running well. Even the game's suggested settings caused our quad core, 8800 GTX equipped machine to struggle, and this was after we'd lowered the resolution to well below our monitor's native resolution.

To be fair, when we finally managed to get the game running well, it still looked superb, but it seems it's going to be some time before you're going to be able to set all the graphical options to max and enjoy the show. A nice touch is the way the game shows you what the visuals are going to look like as you make changes, removing detail in the distance as you slide the view distance slider down from the hopeful 100 per cent to a more realistic mid twenties number. Texture quality appears to be the real killer, with anything above medium causing big issues with our non-SLI setup. It's hard to say for sure without comparing side by side, but a modest gaming rig should be able to pump out visuals at least on par with the console versions.

Keyboard and mouse support makes free-aiming a lot easier

Keyboard and mouse support makes free-aiming a lot easier

Controls next, and here Rockstar has done an excellent job. Mouse and keyboard controls work great for the most part, obviously excelling when it comes to gun-play, but even driving isn't so bad with the WASD keys. It's not completely ideal though, so we'd recommend you have a gamepad plugged in at the same time - preferably the 360 controller that the game recognises automatically. You're able to switch between the two control setups on the fly, so it's perfectly possible to dump the pad when you're done driving, returning to the keyboard and mouse to tackle some goons with your AK-47.

Perhaps more exciting than visual and control tweaks is the brand new video editor. In the PC game you're able to record 30-second clips and then edit them together using the in-built editing suite. We're not experts (at all) when it comes to video editing (apart from Seb), but in 30 minutes or so (including play time) we were able to put together a fairly amusing short video, manually positioning the camera, zooming, panning, and other things that are over our heads. We ended up with a rather dramatic scene showing Niko being shot by a cop's shotgun, before falling to the floor in slow motion. Not Oscar worthy material, clearly, but we can see YouTube being dominated by this stuff in the near future. Once you're done editing the video, inserting music and adding any text you think will improve the film along the way, you can save to a 720p WMV or upload to the Rockstar Social Club - both took a fair amount of time, but the results are worth it.

The visuals look great if you've got a good PC

The visuals look great if you've got a good PC

The final tweak of any real significance is the increase in multiplayer numbers from 16 to 32, at least in the Deathmatch, GTA Race and Free modes. It's one of those things that you assume is going to be great, but it's hard to know how much difference it's going to make until you play it for yourself. We're glad to report that it helps and awful lot. While we really like GTA 4 multiplayer on Xbox 360 and PS3, at times the games felt a little empty. On PC, with up to 32 players running around and driving cars, the game feels more alive. If you're after the best multiplayer version of GTA 4, the PC game wins hands down.

Aside from the aforementioned performance issues (we expect people will be using GTA 4 as a benchmark tool for years to come) there's the issue of all the apps that need to be running in order to play the game. If you want to play online you'll need a Rockstar Social Club account (free) and a Games for Windows LIVE account (also free), and both of these must be running. Add in Steam if you've got the digitally distributed version, and that's three apps all running while you're blasting away gang members. Our experience was quite painless, with our Games for Windows account linking to our Rockstar Social Club account seamlessly, with the only odd thing being how our friends were split between Steam and the GFW service. Still, it's nice to be able to earn Achievements (tied to your gamertag) - something few PC games support.

If you've been waiting for the ultimate version of GTA 4, then this is it, providing you can put up with a fair amount of hassle to get the game running well and all the services you need to sign up to in order to play the game in the first place. The mouse and keyboard controls are great, the video editing suite is a brilliant bonus and the enhanced multiplayer is what the game really needed. There's no doubt about it. GTA 4 is one of the best games of the year and as such one of the best we've ever played.

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tashie55's Avatar
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tashie55

ballad of gay tony is a great game, i have only just started playin it but im so into it already. there is so much to, do i will never get bored of this game. Luis Lopez seems a good guy cant wait to see what happens in the end. thumbs up.
Posted 07:27 on 07 November 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu

Yea to be honest I agree with the negative comments, take The Orange Box.

PS3: 8/10
Xbox 360: 9/10

But the PC version wasn't rated. If GTA on the PC is flawed far more then the other ports it really should get a lower rating, because it's flawed...makes sense.
Posted 18:48 on 02 November 2009
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Grespon

Hey no WAY it's a 10 ! Maybe for PS3 but for PC this game is full of bugs and glitches. Are Rockstar paying for your reviews ?? Nothing special with the graphics. Crysis is far better and runs smoothy in my PC.
Posted 17:41 on 02 November 2009
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Brandon

In reply to performance issues; The PC needed to make the game run well is not rated. And it's a good thing for all games. Overrated because of performance issues? why? good PC = good performance...

This is something that applies to all games not just gta4... try to play any recent game using an Nvidia FX series and then judge the gamescore from that... Obviously several games won't even run so the PC/Performance should not be rated.
Posted 11:52 on 11 February 2009
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lololol

Geeze what's the point in making a game if half or more of the regular gamers can't play it
Posted 20:50 on 17 January 2009
I love it free's Avatar
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I love it free

Plain and simple, get A better pc.Then GTA will be 10-10
I have GTA and love it so...I have A monster P-C
Posted 06:20 on 11 January 2009
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What the

Just to cut this out, so the article author can understand what I'm saying. This will not become a benchmark for anything, it is too unstable and it's steep requirements has nothing to do with what is going on on screen, but the fact that it prefers to handle most graphic through the Cpu (preferbly 3 cores like this code was written for) leavingour (by console standards) monster GPU's hardly breaking sweat, and it doesn't scale very well. Gta4 for pc = really embarransingly sh*tty port, rushed out the door in Beta state (perhaps even late alpha), for the Xmas sales and jolly season. That's the truth, and I would regain some respect for R* if they just came out and admitted what most programmers who tried the game allready knows for a fact! There is only limited shame in making even terrible mistakes, but not to admit them and correct your behavior is to commit new even worse ones.
Posted 18:32 on 30 December 2008
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What the...

The reviewer either simply have NO idea what he is talking about, or he is on the payroll at R*. Gta4 is one of the worst ports the PC have seen for a while, since bully (another R* title) actually. For those who have quads and octa+ mahines, force turn off one core at the time and see if the game scale, it doesnt. Only when you go below 3 cores (the number that happens to be in the Xbox) will you start to see worse performance. But...But...didn't R*r say that this version was programmed from the ground up for the PC: this is quite clearly A LIE! (yet another one). Next. a 10? what on earth makes this game deserve a perfect character? It can't be justified, and the article wirter flat out fails to explain why 10 is a valid character, or why it ever was in the first place. take some anti-hype pills, valium, whatever, and sit down and give it another go will you. The city that causes so much technical hardship, is treated merely as a backdrop. It is the star of the game, it always was, now it is some nutter from Balkan that I can't relate to really. He is not trustworthy as a "hard guy", nor is he particularly pleasant as a person, The choices you are forced to make made me feel forced to make the decisions and thus, unlike in games like fallout 3 (a real 10 character game), I don't relate to what I did. I had no choice really, and whatever I chose made little difference. Then there is all the social hogwash the game forces you into, then there is the DRM bloatware, socials clubs, windows games....I was awestruck when the FAIL of this game started to dawn on me. Now im just disgusted by the way R* treat their PC costumers. Lies, deception, coverups, blaming all and everyone (pirates, their costumers, kids, you name it, R* took a swing at them) for their own FAIL and then...defening silence. yyeah R* **** you too. Good think that I'm a regular at my Gamestop, so they gave me a refund, no questions asked. And the clerk told me that I propebly would'nt be the first. He wasn't happy with his copy either.
Posted 18:27 on 30 December 2008
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Love_GTAIV!

I was excited to receive this game for xmas. I rushed to my PC to start the install process.... then the frustration set in. I knew my PC would handle it (AMD 64 x2, 4 gb OCZ ram, 8600GT 256 Videocard, Vista 64bit)

After being forced to update to vista service pack 1, updating my videocard drivers (180.XX), it was smooth sailing, sort of.

I was only able to play the game at low settings at 800x600. Kinda crappy for such a beautiful game. So forced quit explorer, ctrl+alt+del and ran the game from the 'run' prompt, I can get it to 1024 x 768 with med settings, even higher res with low graphic settings....

And yes I got the 'Error %P' when i first tried to install, you must update to vista service pack 1 or XP service pack 3.

I love this game.... after the installation process.....
Posted 19:29 on 26 December 2008
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ffs

Ohh i can't even run with 3gb ram ATI because it says "Error %P cannot complete instalation"

And i payed 50$ for the damn thing.
Posted 18:50 on 25 December 2008
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LEsely

i have a problem.my computer is:Intel Core quad 2.40GHz ,GeForce 8800 GTX 768 mb SLI, 2GBRAM DDR3 and Windows Vista.I donĀ“t know,if I can play GTA 4 on maximum or medium details.

Thanks for early answer
Posted 19:36 on 21 December 2008
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Ewok #7

Geez.... you know, I bet you they rushed to release the game in time for christmas... its pathetic! And Roc$tar said that they estimate only 1% on PC games are having issues :/ I agree with Joe! Im reading this stuff while my GTA IV is still wrapped up under the x-mas tree... hoping its not as bad as they say it is!
Posted 19:09 on 19 December 2008
Joe's Avatar
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Joe

Did you play the same game I played? Or did you just play the console version and add "its easier to aim with a mouse" and call it a 10.

This game doesn't work! You don't give tens to games that don't work!

You have a quad core, 8800 GTX and you can set stuff to the mid twenties.

I have a dual core 8800 GTX and 6 gigs of ram and I can't set anything above FOUR, 800x600 low res textures with a draw distance of FOUR! It looks a hundred times worse than GTAIII, even at 800x600 with a draw distance that makes buildings turn to blur ACROSS THE STREET I get less than thirty frames per seccond, I can run crysis fine but this game I try and drive and suddenly I hit an invisible transformer box that only appears randomly after I look at the invisible sparks for a while
Posted 17:55 on 11 December 2008
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UK_John

This a a huge turning point in PC gaming. A GTA PC game that has been not cared about unlike it's console counterparts. The first time in gaming history that a GTA PC version is not the best. The first sign that even Rockstar just don;t really care about the PC any more and left this to junior programmers to produce.

With fewer PC games being released, the stores around the world empting their shelves of PC games and only 17% of game sales now being on PC, Rockstar obviously feel they can give us any old trash and we will gobble it up. This version of GTA IV and the scores given it so how redundant modern PC gaming and gaming sites have become. If you are a true PC gamer of 20 years, like me, you must be crying into your beer, like I am.

My problm is PC gamers WILL gobble this up - and then complain and complain and complain - and with millions in revenues from those sales, Rockstar won't care at all.

I'll tell you one thing: This is a sure sign we will not see another GTA game on PC. So as I started out by saying: This is PC gaming history and another nail in the coffin of PC gaming.
Posted 17:00 on 11 December 2008
booglaJ's Avatar

booglaJ

The game graphics are amaizing, the game play is good, yet after 10/15 min game play it crashes my computer!
Posted 12:38 on 11 December 2008

Game Stats

System Requirements
Grand Theft Auto IV
10
Out of 10
Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Improved online play
  • Video editor is great
  • An amazing single-player experience
  • Needs a mega PC to run well
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 21/11/2008
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: Rockstar
Publisher: Rockstar
Genre: Action
No. Players: 1-32
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 198 12
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