Archive for April, 2008

GTA IV Early Impressions

Yesterday saw the release of arguably the biggest name to hit this gen to date: Grand Theft Auto IV. Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t go to any midnight launches to guarantee I got a copy ASAP, although it had crossed my mind. Instead, I ordered it from Amazon.co.uk which was selling it for £34.99. To make sure that I got it yesterday, I went with First Class post.

As more and more people on my friends list came online and started playing GTA IV, the wait became excruciating. The post doesn’t normally come until around 12pm – 1pm so I was constantly checking the time and looking outside to see if the postman was out early.

Then the magical moment happened at exactly 12pm! I heard a parcel drop through the letter box!!! I raced downstairs and saw the Amazon parcel lying there then a big grin crossed my face as I literally ripped it open and saw the GTA IV box art. :D

I slid the disc in and waited the 7mins while the install did it’s thing until finally it began. The first thing I did when I got to the apartment was turn on the TV and I was greeted with one of the greatest and definitely funniest moments I’ve ever experienced in any videogame.

A spoof TV show called Just For Men came on and one of the hosts was Bas Rutten! Bas is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and former Pride FC commentator (amongst many other things). The guy is a legend.

Bas’ performance on the show was an incredible example of over the top self parody of epic proportions. I’ve never laughed so hard for a long time. There were even tears in my eyes by the end. If you haven’t seen it then you must take the time to watch it.

It probably means a bit more to me as I’m heavily into martial arts and I know who Bas is but it is still incredibly funny. It was such a shock to see him in the game and I’m definitely glad I avoided reading too much of the game as the surprise would’ve been spoilt.

That moment will go down in gaming history for me. If R* can better it at any point during GTA IV then I will be amazed.

That was my first wow moment in GTA IV but I’ve also been very impressed with the physics and graphical level of the game. I went for a dive off a pier at night and the water looked amazing with the reflection of the moon breaking up amongst the waves.

I’ve seen no loading screens or pop up so far, there has been some minor pop in like bushes appearing but nothing on the same scale of previous GTA games. I’ve played for around 6hrs and completed a few of the main missions so far. The sound is also very impressive. Everything sounds so clear and vibrant and the game world is buzzing with activity.

GTA IV is less cartoony than previous GTA games and this is reflected in the handling of the vehicles which are less arcadey in feel, if you get my meaning. They also look fantastic.

The characters also add a lot of charm to the game. The dialogue and interaction is superb and the animations for the most part, are excellent.

I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve played and seen so far. I’d even go as far as saying it’s the best game I’ve played so far this gen for the overall wow factor and what it’s achieved. I haven’t tried online yet but I’ve heard both the PS3 and 360 versions are having problems in that department.

How has your GTA IV experience been so far? What has impressed you or disappointed you so far? Please try not to include any spoilers of the main story if possible. :)

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GTA4: Ladies of the Night

With all the controversy surrounding previous GTA games along with Bully and Manhunt, I was expecting the devs to cool it this time and keep a low profile. I was wrong.

This video is not safe for work at all. Higher res version here.

I have to admit, this game looks like a ton of fun.

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Exclusive Reviews?

Recently we pointed to IGN’s perfect 10 review of GTA4. I couldn’t be more excited about the game, however, some critics have a point: Isn’t the concept of exclusive reviews suspicious? Obviously, such an early exclusive review drives web traffic for the news site and creates influential early impressions among consumers.

Do exclusive reviews represent a clear conflict of interest?

A few points:

  • Any pre-release review released with exclusive publishing rights, while other media outlets are under embargo restrictions, is obviously pre-screened. Even if all reviews were genuine and pure, the publisher is going to cherry pick among them and only grant exclusive-coverage deals to the more positive ones.
  • Since game scores and media coverage is so influential, especially among the “inner circle” of influential media outlets, some corruption should be expected. There’s a clear conflict of interests. Publishers pour time/money into shifting media converage to a favorable light, and why wouldn’t they?
  • IGN’s scores are widely respected for a good reason. They have earned a strong reputation among many over years of review scores. (Clearly, many disagree, but in general, they have earned high credibility). I still haven’t played GTA4, but I lean to believe that the review is justified. I’m sure that plenty of reviewers engage in corrupt coverage practices, however I’d suspect IGN is less guilty of this given their record.

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SOCOM – First Good Use of SIXAXIS?

Any SOCOM fans out there? Here’s a video interview with some actual gameplay footage in there. Once I get a job I might pick this one up – downloaded, even.

Of interest to me were the comments right near the end where they said that you can use the SIXAXIS motion controls to lean your character, among other things. I wonder if this will end up being the first really useful SIXAXIS feature?

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