We all like to relax sometimes, so here is the first of many game reviews.
First impressions were great, as a PS3 owner with an embarrassingly low amount of games I was ready to buy it on its first day of release, the reviews that I read praised the game for… everything, surely no game is perfect enough to score 10 out of 10 in every category?
I first started playing once I got my copy of the game fresh from eBay; the game was familiar and it was easy getting back into the GTA style gameplay. However my first issue occurred when in the opening cinematic and first missions I found myself completely blanking out when anything regarding the character’s story was involved, it just wasn’t interesting to me, but I was willing to overlook it.
Regardless of what you think makes a good game, graphics is the first thing you experience when you play a game. It’s what you use to navigate the game and is important as some graphics issues can cause hindrance to the game.
The graphics have been much improved from the previous games, there is much more going on in general and that helps create the atmosphere of an active city, the weather system works well at changing things up so that it’s not so static and the rain looks great.
The game lacks colour, things like cars, signs etc. have bright colour but the environment is quite grey and brown, this is most notable in areas of shadow, I feel that the game over darkens shadowed areas to the point where it’s hard to see, however at night the game is much more colourful due to the lighting and the general atmosphere seems much more real.
I also found the graphics in general quite blurry on my TV, this may be due to the 720p resolution but most games run in that resolution and are much more crisp, on top of this the motion blur is quite hard to deal with when you are trying to quickly turn around when in a fire fight.
The sound in the game has not changed much over the years, the familiar radio stations are back, though I found myself listening to PLR, Integrity 2.0 (The station Lazlow from the previous games is on) and WKTT. Ambient sounds have been improved, a nice addition is the ability to hear a car’s radio from the outside.
As I stated earlier, familiar controls get you in to the game easily and for a game that requires you to aim using a controller’s thumb sticks it’s not too hard. The cars seem to be harder to control now and it reminds me of how cars in the 90s PlayStation game Driver controlled, it’s a steep learning curve indeed but more realistic (if you’re into that kind of thing). The only issue I would say is that holding X to run is very hard to handle when you’re busy in a fire fight trying to hide.
Missions haven’t changed all that much from previous GTA games, but as the characters don’t vary all that much you get much less quirky missions and I found the amount of missions where you had to kill some guy or a bunch of guys and then escape the police to be quite repetitive. The locations change and occasionally you get to snipe people from a distance instead but it doesn’t change things enough for me. Vice City is a good example of a GTA game that shows that there can be much more to it than that.
The in-game map and GPS is great and very handy when you need to stop and grab a burger on the way to the next mission. It shows a green line to the destination that you choose and if you already have a mission based destination line it won’t override it.
There are much less side missions in this game, they seem to have replaced them by the annoying “call your friends/girlfriend and take them out” that the game nags you with occasionally, I found myself in a situation where I would need to deal with 3 people before I could get to the next mission or suffer the thumbs down treatment.
The city is expansive, not as much as in San Andreas but enough that it kept me busy for a long time exploring, it would have been interesting to have country areas included as the city got a little repetitive, something that bugs me is the safe house, there are very few of them and it is the only place to save, sometimes it takes way too long just to get back there to save, though this isn’t different from previous games in the series.
Character customisation makes a comeback, though I rarely do it if it’s optional, I did play around with some different looks for the character throughout the game, starting with basic clothes, then moving to a $2,000 suit half way through for that hitman look.
I found the retry mission feature handy but I tended to only use it when I failed a mission, if I end up in hospital or jail I find it much easier to just reload the game and deal with the long drive back to the same mission, which brings me to my next issue.
Loading times are horrible, perhaps I am used to playing PC games but I just can’t stand this game’s loading times, I almost change my mind about playing it while I’m first loading it up.
The core part of GTA games ever since GTA 3 has been the story, it plays out well, each game has had a different story and different characters, GTA is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
This game however has a somewhat serious theme containing your character, a wisecracking douche-bag that doesn’t shut up and wants to make a new life in Liberty City, he appears to be the only character in the game that was made with this seriousness in mind, many of the other characters thankfully contain the personalities that you expect in a GTA game.
As I mentioned earlier I wasn’t interested in the story when I first played and I am still not interested, I understand it’s common today for games to have a more serious and darker theme but it just seems like a misguided attempt at realism to me. Realism just doesn’t seem right with what else they have done in this game, it’s almost like they weren’t sure what direction to go.
Every game has bugs, this one was a train wreck when it came out for each system, thankfully I was unaffected by the freeze bug that caused the console to lock up, deleting the game data was a temporary fix at the time which I would not have been happy with. The game is fairly bug free now on the PS3, aside from the occasional graphics glitch and frame-rate drop. There hasn’t been an update for it since 2008.
What’s wrong with it?
Graphics – Bland, Grey and brown, too dark in places, bit blurry too.
Gameplay – Repetitive missions, annoying phone, long load times.
Story – Annoying character, boring story in general.
What’s good with it?
Graphics – Much improved, smoother.
Sound – Brings the best from the previous games and adds to it.
Gameplay – GPS/Map usage, retry missions shortcut, good controls.
Bugs – Quite rare.
Don’t care for the story, or the character, but the game is still GTA, it’s still fun and it can be enjoyed for short periods at a time.