GTA 4 has been met by near unanimous praise by critics, including ourselves, but all isn't well in the hardcore GTA fan camp. Disgruntled reader John from Croydon contacted VideoGamer.com with his complaints earlier this week, after spending time with what he expected to be a game he'd be playing for years. Having put thousands of hours into the GTA series over the years, including playing through GTA 3 twice, Vice City six times and San Andreas three times, he's more than qualified to offer his opinion on what many are already claiming is the game of the year. Read on as a GTA fan goes head to head with GTA 4 and reveals what a growing number of GTA fans think of Rockstar's latest game.
John Vs GTA 4's Driving
It's all related to realism or their attempt at it. All the fun of the old GTAs has been severely reduced because you cant do stuff any more. The driving; you used to be able to fling the cars around at almost max speed - it was really fun. Now they are forcing you to drive slow at corners or you skid off. When you roll out of a car, you take tons of damage - it used to be much less. The driving isn't even realistic, ask anyone who drives. Someone on a forum joked that their Vauxhall Corsa can take corners faster than any car in GTA 4, and he's right.
You can't do crazy stuff any more and survive. The windscreen thing, flying out of it, that's just so lame. If you have a head on crash, you want to continue, because you've already been slowed down, not go flying for miles, lose tonnes of health and have to run back to the car.
It's not just me. A guy on a forum summed it up pretty well:
"I can drive in GTA, I can outrun 4 star wanted level w/o breaking a sweat (or crashing for that matter), but that doesn't change the fact, that I find the - so called realistic- driving boring. If I wanted realistic, I would set up a racing wheel and knock around with Forza, Sega rally et al. I miss the arcadey controls of previous iterations."
John Vs GTA 4's Cops
The cops are harsh. They usually crack down on you for the tiniest things you do wrong: pointing a gun at a pedestrian, firing one bullet into a wall, etc. It might be realistic, but it's not fun. You will have cops on you straight away. While my brother was playing he walked on the stage in the strip club and the bouncers came after him and beat him up. Again, it's realistic, but it limits what you can do - It's a game not a life sim.
The cops are on you really quickly, and you have to forget whatever you were trying to do, and just get out of the radius. It's not even realistic, no cops turn up that quickly. In GTA 4 there are usually 2-3 cars within 10 seconds. They kill you so quickly via headshots and stuff, and they kill you inside the car. You used to be quite safe in the car until it got too damaged and caught on fire, but now they can shoot through the windows
John Vs GTA 4's game world
Despite having so much stuff, the world seems really empty, there's nothing to do - no hidden weapons or hidden side missions that I could find. The city is just really detailed, with things that snag your car as you try to explore and makes it really tedious.
John Vs GTA 4's Combat
The hand to hand is lame. Niko is a wimp. You can't really beat two people up at once as you're likely to die if you do. The game doesn't make you feel powerful any more. The gun combat, the lock-on sucks, always targeting the wrong thing - prioritisation is rubbish. It will target things behind a wall instead of the cop right in your face. And cops seem to take too much damage. I shotgunned a few right in the face 2-3 times from almost point blank and they were fine, kept getting up.
John Vs Fun
It just seems they focused on things like pretty water, and making the pedestrians drop litter, rather than making a fun game. And the sad thing is, people actually seem to like it, so it wont change in future GTAs; that's it. Game Over for GTA by the looks of it. You can't even go on the airport runway without getting an instant max wanted level. What's the point of having it there if you can use it?
Niko's clothes suck, all the clothes in the stores are boring. I wanted the same choice as in San Andreas. It's the whole realism vs fun argument again. There are no planes to fly, or bmxs to ride. I know they might not fit with the story, but why not give players the choice to use them if they want. There's no chain-gun, chainsaw, knuckle dusters etc. The fun weapons aren't there.
John Vs GTA 4's Story
I've played bits of the story, but there's only so much you can play when the game isn't fun. A story alone isn't enough. It's the mechanics, the things you do 95% of the time that are most important. If those suck the story is pointless. I don't care for realism, cinematic quality, or immersion etc, just good controls and freedom. Those are the things that immerse you.
John Vs GTA 4's Graphics
When you get hit by a car or watch someone fall down some stairs realistically it's OK but it doesn't make the game amazing. You lose tons of health from tiny bumps. Like, I stood on a car bonnet, and the driver drove off at 2mph. I fell in a ragdoll style onto the bonnet, really lightly, but lost tonnes of health. You used to be able to stand on their bonnet and get a ride around, not any more.
The city sucks. 90 degree corners every few metres, making it difficult to build up speed in most areas. There are very few open spaces to cruise through. Everything looks the same so it's easy to get lost or go round in circles.
The graphics are nice, but I still prefer the previous GTAs' almost cartoon-like appearance. When things are cartoonish they are simpler, easier to see, so you don't miss mission markers, shops are easy to see because its not pitch black at night. The water looks really nice though - I'll give them that.
John Vs GTA 4's Multiplayer
I played the free mode for a while, but it's just not as much fun as it could be. The cops are too good. They're on you in seconds so can't can't build up to anything. You get a wanted level for what seem like small misdemeanours and they're on you, with 2-3 cars straight away. Then they kill you really quickly, with headshots, so you have to leg it, which forces you to drive, which sucks. I just don't want to play it any more.
It's a sandbox game which is no longer a sandbox. It's more like a very small steel box. You can't break any rules. People playing GTA 4 without wanting to break the rules can probably have a good time, but for me this isn't GTA any more. They might be able to patch it to make it more like old GTAs but that won't happen. If this is what GTA has become I'm never buying another game in the series. I didn't like Saints Row because it wasn't enough like GTA, but it's better than this.
We stand by our view that GTA 4 is one of the finest games released on this generation of consoles, but what do you think? Do you agree with John? Has GTA 4 been a huge disappointment or a generation defining game? Let us know in the comments section below.