I’ve been a little out of it this week, since pretty much all I’ve been doing is going to work and playing GTA4, with short naps in between. That by itself should tell you that GTA4 is pretty good, but to add some weight to that, but I did not own an Xbox 360 until last week. I bought a $350 console just for this game, and to top it off, I actually had to walk from DUMBO to Atlantic Center - a bit over a mile - before I found a store that was open, and had both the game and the console in stock (RadioShack, by the way, had 360s but no GTA for it, and no PS3s but the GTA for it).
I have no problem whatsoever with this, either. GTA4 is just that good.
As in previous installments, the game takes place in fake New York, only this time around, it’s actually recognizable as New York. No, the translation isn’t perfect - Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Bay Ridge are reduced to a narrow slum above Coney Island, Times Square is about a block from Central Park, and, rather delightfully, Staten Island is missing entirely - but neighborhoods feel like their real-life counterparts, and the attention to detail is staggering.
The cop cars look like NYPD cars. The farecard machines in the subway look like the real ones, down to the graphics on the screen. Sometimes I find my way around by thinking of how I’d get there in real life, and I wonder how much of this people who don’t live in New York really grasp. It’s insane.
Beyond the setting, there’s a lot to like here. They took out that RPG bullshit that was in San Andreas, where you had to eat food and go to the gym and grind stats before you could run around with a shotgun blasting holes in things. The driving has been made a bit more realistic, which is to say that you can still drift all over the road and flip cars over, but pulling the handbrake and jerking the wheel is no longer the best way to turn, and, to my great amusement, crashing head-first into a wall will throw your guy out through the windshield. I’ve died more doing that than in gunfights.
This is getting long, so the rest is going after the jump. No major spoilers this time.