One Year On: Defending GTA 4

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gta4One of the examples I gave in my article about hype a few weeks back was the huge backlash that GTA 4 got after the game finally came out with nearly a year of hype behind it as well as having the challenge of living up to the critically acclaimed GTA: San Andreas. It seems that after all of the build up, people were reasonably disappointed for various reasons. Fast Forward to April 2009 it’s already been a year since the game was released into the wild. Now that any hype is gone it’s time to see if GTA 4 really deserving is of this backlash. So I have decided to investigate the 5 biggest arguments made against GTA 4 and see whether the game really did failed to live up to the hype. Will I be able to give the arguments against the game a rebuttal or will I have no choice but to see that the game really was a disappointment?

Argument N0.1 – The Game Is Too Realistic

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At first I thought that this argument was hypocritical (which I’ll get back to) but then I realised that when talking about realism, the arguers are comparing it to GTA: San Andreas and if you do that, then their argument is pretty valid. After all in said game you could use a jet pack, dress up like Austin Powers, kill people with flowers and pilot airplanes amongst other things. None of these are possible in GTA 4. That being said the argument is hypocritical as there were also a lot of realistic things in GTA: San Andreas that never made it to GTA 4 either. Let’s take the fitness mechanic for example. If you didn’t work out in the various gyms in the state of San Andreas then you would become a fat slob and end up not being able to run as far or climb certain places if I remember right, which is relativity realistic. After all if you don’t work out once in a while then you do turn into a fat slob or just have no muscle. Personally I thought this was a pain in the ass as every now and again you’d have to take time out of your fun adventures to do some mini game for a few minutes just so that you could keep running for long distances. This annoying mechanic also went hand in hand with the annoying food mechanic. Now I have no problem with food being available in a GTA game as it’s a way of getting some health back after a lengthy struggle with the police for example. However forcing me to eat food just so that my health doesn’t start going down due to starvation is not cool. If I wanted to do that I’d go play The Sims or something. So when these slightly realistic features didn’t return in GTA 4 I was happy. So yes GTA 4 did lose some of the fun unrealstic things like jet packs but it also lost some of the annoying things that bug us in real life like having to stay healthy and at the end of the day, are a few missing things really going to ruin your experience with the game? There are plenty of other ways to have fun.

2 – I Didn’t Care For The Story

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I don’t know about this because in my opinion while it wasn’t an epic masterpiece, I still thought the story was good enough to keep me interested. I mean while Niko wasn’t as interesting character wise as say, Tommy Vercetti or Carl Johnson,  I still enjoyed him as the main character. I felt sympathetic for him because of everyone wanting to kill him. I could see the torment he had gone and was going through and how he wasn’t neccessarily going to have a happy ending. As for Dimitri, I’d say he was the close to being GTA’s best villian, if not because he wasn’t a bent cop or voiced by Samuel Jackson. The guy was such a prick throughout the game and when it finally got to the end of the game, I knew what choice I was going to make. At the end of the day, it’s just as good as the other main games’ stories, no better and no worse.

3 – There was nothing to do after the game was over

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Now I might have agreed here if it weren’t for one vital addition that we’d been waiting over 10 years for, multiplayer. True, if you go online alone you’re probably not going to have a fun time with the wannabe gangsters and generally online pricks that plaguarize games like this but if you find a few friends to play with, it extends the lifespan of the game so much. I can vouch for this myself as I still play GTA 4 regularly with a group of friends from Destructoid as part of their Friday Night Fights feature and the fun we have is endless. Yes, the game was lacking after single player is done but as long as you can play online and have some friends to play with, you should be just fine.

4- Saints Row 2 was better

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Now to be honest I can’t comment on Saints Row 2 as I don’t own the game but I like to think that in a perfect world, both games can live together in harmony.  On the one hand you have GTA 4 if you want a more serious realistic game that’s still fun at the same time and on the other hand you have Saints Row 2 if you just want a completely unrealistic  and zany but balls to the wall fun time. True, I do miss the craziness from the older GTA games but if the Saints Row series is the spiritual successor of that type of game then so be it. With both series, I can enjoy the best of both worlds, literally.

5 – Friends Calling Me For Bowling Was Annoying

Okay you got me there.

In conclusion, I don’t really think the game was a disappointment. Yes it wasn’t everything that it promised it would be but it was still a fun ride and a fine addition to the GTA series. Will some disagree? Yes they would but I just thought that I’d put my points forward for defending GTA 4 after the big backlash it got.

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