Grand Theft Auto IV – PC
Developer: Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Release Date: December 2nd, 2008
Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10!
After months of issues with Games for Windows Live, I was finally able to install and play Grand Theft Auto IV for my PC. It’s a shame to see a game that Rockstar obviously spent a lot of hard work on fail due to such a terrible DRM program like Games for Windows Live. I honestly feel like Games for Windows Live is the DRM program equivalent of EA, even worse then that of Origin, Steam, Uplay, etc.
Back to the topic of the actual game, Grand Theft Auto IV is a open-world action-adventure game developed by Rockstar North, which is obviously a division of Rockstar Games, known to most as the most controversial triple A video game developers today. Grand Theft Auto IV takes place in Liberty City, which is Rockstar’s interpretation of modern day New York City. You play as Niko Bellic, a cynical down-to-business European who immigrated to Liberty City in search an old acquaintance who betrayed him in the past.
Grand Theft Auto IV has an interesting story full of betrayal and violence, and it will make you want to keep playing to see what happens as you progress. The game has a huge cast of characters from many different nationalities, and many different personalities. There are quite a lot of characters I liked, but there were even more that I hated towards the end of the game. When I say hated, I mean there are characters that were so annoying I was desperately hoping that the story kills them off somehow. (Yes, that bad. I don’t want to go bowling, Roman!)While New York City sounds like a good place to have an open-world game take place in theory, the city atmosphere of Liberty City got boring after a few hours of playing. The map doesn’t have too many changes from the constant buildings and highways, other then an airport, the Statue of Happiness (which is Rockstar’s way of making the Statue of Liberty,) and a few restaurants and other places for entertainment like bowling, etc. Then again, the map of Liberty City is quite big, and Rockstar’s known love of Easter eggs and hidden areas makes me wonder if I have even seen it all. Even though Liberty City gets boring at times, it’s as good a place as any to have a high speed chase with the Liberty City Police Department.
The actual gameplay of Grand Theft Auto IV truly doesn’t differ that much from previous games in the title. The game still follows the same free-roam format with a wanted level, though there is no military to come after you at the maximum wanted level. I feel like the handling of vehicles in Grand Theft Auto IV is difficult in a realistic sense, getting progressively more difficult at higher speeds. The weakest gameplay aspect in my opinion would be the gun play, which is very basic without too much going for or against it.
The side-quests in Grand Theft Auto IV are quite pointless and boring. For an example, one side quest is traveling all around the city trying to find and kill pigeons, of which there are hundreds of. Other side-quests consist of doing random things for random people, like taxiing them around or protecting them while they do shady deals. While they add hours to the game for people who insist on getting 100% completion, I feel that a lot of people won’t waste their time trying to complete these side missions, especially the pigeon one as it’s not even fun.
As Rockstar is known to do, Grand Theft Auto IV has tons of Easter eggs. Most of these Easter eggs show homage to Rockstar and their previous games, but some are to random things. One example of this is that the Statue of Happiness is actually Hillary Clinton holding a cup of hot coffee, which is Rockstar making fun of Hillary Clinton’s attempts to get rid of the “hot coffee” mod for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which was a mod that unlocked sexually explicit mini-games in the game. There are also Easter eggs showing old characters on graffiti and television shows, as well as other places among Liberty City.
In Grand Theft Auto IV, you are limited in the area of character customization to just being able to change clothing. While some of the suits are nice, the clothing in Grand Theft Auto IV is just boring in my opinion, and I wish there were more choices. I pretty much kept to one outfit the entire time I played, which was a black and red suit, a Russian ushanka, and ugly sunglasses (as they were the only sunglasses in the game, sadly.) While I understand why changing your hair wasn’t an option in Grand Theft Auto IV, I wish they offered tattoos like in some of the former games in the series.
There are tons of vehicles in Grand Theft Auto IV, but I feel that a lot of the vehicles were boring. I didn’t feel there was much variety. As I adventured the streets of Liberty City, I felt myself seeing the same vehicles over and over (mainly taxis.) I feel this could’ve been fixed by adding car customization, which is something that I feel Grand Theft Auto IV really lacked. I feel like car customization would have done wonders for the world of Liberty City, and made the game much more enjoyable then it already was.
While Grand Theft Auto IV has tons of music stations ranging from many different musical genres like disco, funk, hip-hop, etc, there are very little songs I actually like. I feel like Rockstar could’ve included more genres to make the music appeal to everyone. The talk show radio stations can be quite funny and entertaining, but they start to become boring after listening to them for hours and hours. Thankfully, on the PC port of Grand Theft Auto IV, Rockstar made it possible for the player to add their own music to the “Independence FM” station.
Grand Theft Auto IV had two different DLC’s released, The Lost and Damned, which follows new protagonist Johnny Klebitz and the Alderney chapter of The Lost motorcycle club, and The Ballad of Gay Tony, which follows new protagonist Luis Fernando Lopez, who is an ex-member of the Dominican drug dealers, and the personal assistant of Anthony “Gay Tony” Prince. Both DLC were also released as a single standalone game called Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City. The DLC stories coincide with each other as well as the base game story, allowing you to experience different sides of the story while being different enough to still feel as though are playing through another story.
The Lost and Damned DLC is the first DLC released for GTA IV, and you play as Johnny Klebitz, vice president/president of the Alderney chapter of The Lost motorcycle club. The first thing I noticed about The Lost and Damned is the fact that the writing is superb. There is a death very early in the expansion story of an under-developed and unimportant character, yet the speech given by the president of the club had me mourning the character as if he was a close friend. The characters in The Lost and Damned expansion are interesting, and I prefer them quite a bit to the characters from the base game (and thank god Roman only has a tiny part in this expansion and he can’t call you to invite you to bowling!).
The Lost and Damned expansion improved the setting quite a bit without changing a single aspect of the map. Due to the fact that the expansion added sixteen new motorcycles to the game, the city simply felt much more alive. While there was still way too many taxis and way too little of any of other car or truck, at least now the taxis were competing with motorcycles for the amount of them seen in-game. The expansion also added seven new cars and trucks that fit into the biker theme, though they are hardly seen much outside of missions. The Lost and Damned really encouraged using your motorcycle to get around by making it so motorcycles handled better then cars, which while this made motorcycles much more enjoyable, was kind of unfair to those who still enjoyed using other vehicles.
In The Lost and Damned DLC, there are six new weapons introduced, most of which are designed for bike drive-bys. The first new weapon is the pool cue, which is essentially just a baseball bat with a different model. The second new weapon is a pipe bomb, which is an explosive that can be cooked like a grenade and will give off sort of a smoke warning when thrown to alert others to it’s presence. The new pistol added by the expansion, the automatic 9mm (Tanfoglio TA90,) is my favorite pistol in the game as it is a fully automatic pistol that can hold up to seventeen rounds. Two new shotguns are introduced in the expansion, the sawed-off shotgun (12 Gauge Double-Barreled Shotgun,) perfect for shooting while riding a motorcycle, and the assault shotgun (DAO-12,) which is a fully automatic shotgun holding eight shells. The final weapon added is the grenade launcher (Heckler and Koch HK69A1,) which is decent, but is still no match for it’s counter-part the RPG.
The Lost and Damned adds quite a bit new side-missions to do in your free time, but they also lack in the “enjoyment” factor, much like the base game’s side-missions. These side-missions include motorcycle racing, motorcycle stealing, assassinations, arm wrestling, card games, air hockey, gang warfare, and the worst of all, 50 stupid seagulls (basically the same as the base game’s 200 pigeons I discussed earlier.) The expansion also adds minor additions like three new restaurants, more TV shows, a new stand-up comedian at Split Sides, and more radio content. The Lost and Damned also adds six new multiplayer game modes, but sadly at the cost of removing eight old multiplayer game modes.
By far the nicest addition added by The Lost and Damned expansion is the fact that you no longer feel “alone” in the world. When playing as Niko Bellic in the base game, you had all these “friends” you did jobs for, but the only person really to ever do anything for you was Roman and his free taxi-rides, as well as the friend who could get up to three-stars off you when wanted. In The Lost and Damned, Johnny is never alone when he needs help. Lose/destroy your motorcycle? Need some ammo or a specific weapon delivered? In a tough spot and need some biker friends to get your back in combat? No problem, the solutions to all these problems are just a phone call away. This idea that you are the leader of a motorcycle club and not alone is also present in the new “formation” feature in which the game encourages you to ride in a bike formation with your club, which will initiate dialogue as well as heal you and your bike. This idea is also present in the addition of “toughness” levels of your club members in which their “toughness” level improves when they survive missions with you.
In the second DLC, The Ballad of Gay Tony, you play as Luis Fernando Lopez, assistant of legendary nightclub owner Anthony “Gay Tony” Prince. While The Ballad of Gay Tony doesn’t affect your emotions as much as The Lost and Damned, it still has an impressive story and cast that is beyond that of the Grand Theft Auto IV base game. While Luis is the character you play as, I feel as though the actual “main character” is Gay Tony, and you are simply witnessing his story via Luis’ perspective. It’s also unique that while you started as pretty much a nobody in the base game and former DLC, in The Ballad of Gay Tony, you play as an already successful person from the beginning.
The Ballad of Gay Tony adds twelve new cars and trucks to the game, including some very nice luxury-style vehicles like the Super Diamond. Some of the added cars in The Ballad of Gay Tony are actually from Grand Theft Auto III, like the Caddy and the Tampa, which is something I welcome very much as I love to see old vehicles make returns. The Ballad of Gay Tony also adds two new motocycles and a modified variant of a pre-existing one, three new boats, and three new aircraft, including my favorite helicopters in the game, the Buzzard and the Skylift.
The Ballad of Gay Tony introduces seven new weapons, all of which are military-grade, and most of which are my favorite weapons in the entire game. The first weapon added, and my favorite explosive weapon in the game, is the sticky bomb (C4,) which will attach to vehicles or buildings and will detonate when you press a specific key, shoot it, or after 90 seconds. The pistol .44 is introduced as well, which is a high velocity handgun for quick and accurate kills. The Ballad of Gay Tony also adds two new submachine guns, the first being my favorite, the assault SMG (FN p90,) which is a light and extremely accurate silenced SMG. The second SMG added is the Gold SMG (IMI Uzi,) which is simply a gold version of the SMG from the base game. The DLC also adds my favorite shotgun, the automatic/explosive shotgun (Atchisson AA-12,) which is a low recoil automatic shotgun. My favorite machine gun, the advanced MG (M249 SAW,) which is a powerful gun that fires 750 rounds per minute, and my favorite sniper, the advanced sniper (DSR-1,) which is a sniper with an increased range, rate of fire, and sniper zoom, are all added by The Ballad of Gay Tony. The final item (not a weapon) that is added by this DLC, is the parachute, which comes in handy quite a bit.
Like The Lost and Damned, The Ballad of Gay Tony also adds a few side-missions, though once again, they lack enjoyment. The side-missions added via this DLC include club management, base jumping, underground fighting, drug wars, triathlon, and of course, 50 more freakin’ seagulls (come on, Rockstar!) The small additions made by The Ballad of Gay Tony include very limited nitro (only available in triathlons and online multiplayer races,) access to three clubs, dancing and drinking minigames, golf, a pink/purple HUD, more time to exit a burning vehicle before exploding, my favorite clothes in the game, the ability to replay missions, and mission scoring.
The Ballad of Gay Tony doesn’t have the features I praised The Lost and Damned for having, sadly. While playing The Ballad of Gay Tony, I once again feel alone in the world due to the fact I don’t have a “crew” or a follower-type system like The Lost and Damned. That being said, The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and Damned are both amazing DLC that greatly enhance the game in nearly every aspect. I would highly recommend getting both DLC. While not necessarily part of the review, I would also like to state that the Grand Theft Auto IV modding community is huge, dedicated, and extremely active even today – making the PC version of the game far superior to the console variants.
Share This Post