Wow! GTA4 is an awesome game! The amount of content in it is mind-blowing. It seems whatever gta4 lacks in gameplay departments it makes up for by sheer quantity and quality of content. It was pretty sad when I spent 20 minutes in gta4 watching TV. Watching TV inside a video game…wtf…that’s a new low for me. As if being a couch potato or an eccentric gamer wasn’t ‘bad’ enough. It just goes to show the brilliance of gta4’s design. It’s like watching a very bad reality TV show on MTV. You know it’s bad, but you just can’t look away.
I’ve never played a GTA game before this so it’s all new to me. The whole ‘sand box’ idea didn’t appeal to me initially. Not having goals in a game bores me rather quickly if the core mechanic isn’t fun. Truth be told, if GTA4 didn’t have a compelling main storyline I would be bored already. The driving is ok, the mini-games are alright, the combat is so-so imo. All of these things have been done better in other more specialized games, but I guess the ability to do them anytime and anywhere appeals to a certain audience. The narrative is what drives me to continue. I keep wanting to see what happens next. And the culmination of all those mechanics to bring you a compelling narrative and gameplay experience is what makes GTA4 so great for me.
On the other end of the spectrum for me in terms of ‘sand box’ games is Skate. It’s still probably one of my favorite games on the 360. While GTA4 has the story, Skate has the gameplay. I can aimlessly wander the city in Skate for hours not giving a crap about the story. Why? Because moving around the city in Skate is fun. It’s the core mechanic of the entire game. Constantly challenging yourself is inherent to the gameplay of Skate…well because that’s what skateboarding is about. In GTA4 I tend to cut loose every now and then and just wreak havoc on the citizens, but not often. I’ve actually started whoring taxis to get from one place to another quickly because walking/driving around Liberty City isn’t that exciting to me. I’m more interested in the next mission to progress the story.
I’m not too far into GTA4, but far enough to see where this is going. The 10 out of 10’s GTA4 has been getting left and right doesn’t make too much sense to me. By all means it’s a great game. Quiet possibly the best game this year. But it has it’s flaws. Mind you, very minor ones but flaws nonetheless. A perfect 10 implies the game is flawless…so wtf? For one, the controls in the tighter areas (ladder climbing for instance) tend to become clunky. I find myself constantly adjusting the camera when driving to look at where I’m heading. In this day and age the camera should be smarter than that. They probably made the camera ‘lock’ like it does to reduce disorientation from the constant swaying of the vehicle, but it’d be nice for it to look at where your going instead of where you’ve been. Anyway, those were two that just recently stood out. Maybe if the gaming media didn’t rate games on a 7-10 scale we’d actually see a more ‘accurate’ judgement of the game’s quality. Or if they re-defined what the ’10’ means then I’d be more willing to accept it. Best game this year? possibly. Best game of this year and last? possibly. One of the best games in its genre? Probably. One of the best games ever? I doubt it. Reviewers’ scales are pretty vague on the meaning of ’10s’.
In other news, should have something of interest for Blitzmax users soon (this week if all goes well). Also going to try to update some of my samples for XNA to 2.0. Particularly, the 2D camera example. It’s still written for XNA 1.0 beta last I checked!!! So bear with me on that.
Just wanted to make sure that others are aware that I haven’t dived into GTA4’s multiplayer offerings yet, and this was just my initial impression of the game. Maybe MP more than makes up for the issues that I came across in single player :).