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Is GTA 4 Overrated? |

GTA 4 is getting perfect reviews everywhere. This is probably the most highly reviewed game ever made. This game is being hailed as the best game in the last 10 years and a break through in new story telling devices.

Is this level of praise excessive? Does this game really warrant this level of praise?


I say the praise is warranted, because:

It really is good

Subjectively speaking, it really is good. I rank GTA as the best series that I’ve played in the past ten years, and GTA 4 as the best iteration of that series. Technically, it’s excellent and narrative-wise, it delivers a very smart sarcasm and wit, which is very rare among games.

The appreciation for this game is widespread, and not just among critics

Some other games have a small but highly vocal community that establishes the illusion of a general consensus of excellence. For those games, I’d say the widespread praise isn’t warranted. GTA is definitely not in that category. It is loved by a genuinely wide audience that includes critics, heavy gamers, and lots of people who don’t normally play games at all. I know many people in real life who don’t normally play any games, including Wii or the so-called casual games, but love GTA. The enjoyment and appreciation is very widespread so correspondingly widespread praise is warranted.


Plenty of people don’t like GTA, and have completely valid reasons as to why. But obviously, that goes for any game. Halo is probably the only other game that generates nearly this level of hype and attention, and that is notorious for having swarms of detractors.

It’s innovative

Again, subjectively speaking, it’s unusually innovative and original. Nothing is completely original. Everything including GTA has numerous influences, but GTA is far more innovative than most other games of recent years. GTA has practically spawned its own genre and a swarm of imitators.


  • Mike

    GTA isn’t the problem – it’s mediocre games being given good review scores. When most sites make giving out a score of less than 7.0 to an over hyped game a rare occasion, you have to give the games that are actually great a 10 just to differentiate them from the decent. GTA4 is a great game, it has some notable flaws, but when stuff like Assassins Creed can average an 8/10 in reviews there is really no other option but to give this a 10. They need to start using the whole review scale and not give lousy games decent scores, that way they can give the great, but not somewhat flawed games a 9.5 and not have it seem like it is only slightly better than a game that it trounces.

    The journalists created this problem though – all scrambling for first previews and first reviews has played in to publisher’s hands. This is why I got a lot of respect for Crispin Boyer at EGM calling it like it is on AC – he didn’t care if it led to diminished coverage of buggy, boring, and stale sequels for his magazine.

  • I like how you start by making the title be very controversial and then follow up by saying absolutely nothing about it in your post 🙂

    I think however, that when talking about game ratings, one can’t really judge it on saying, how good is it compared to other games directly, which I unfortunately think reviewers have been doing lately. Instead of looking at the revolution the game creates, take just take a glance at other games and “well, this one is certainly as good.”

    However, I think the rating of a score should not only be the necessary perfection of it, but the revolution that it creates. That’s why I think Uncharted getting a score of around 8.5 is pretty fair (if not overrated), it didn’t do anything new, but it did everything really well, but!

    GTA 4 is obviously better technically than GTA 3 and the latter games, but is it better in the sense of the revolution? Vice City and San Andreas where considered “expansions” of the GTA 3 experience, where as GTA 4 is a new game in the series. To consider it overrated or not, i think you have to look at the revolution it creates and compare that to the previous scores.

    Is it overrated? Is it a bigger revolution than GTA 3 was at the time? (I can’t tell because it’s sold out…. and I’m broke…dammit…)

  • west coast ps3

    I rented GTA4 this weekend and spent a good 8 hrs with it.

    Perhaps the biggest shock was the quality of the graphics. It really is more like a well done PS2 game than a PS3 game. Extremely pixelated, probably looks great on a standard def TV. On a 1080P screen it looks like crap compared to GT5 or other current games.

    On the positive there is little load time when going to different areas. I imagine the PS3 can load PS2 style image data pretty fast from the bluray.

    I enjoyed the GTA TV. That alone made the rental worthwhile.

    There is a lot of swearing, which I thought was a bit much after a while. The surround effects were OK but nothing to write home about.

    The missions are fun. I would imagine it would take at least a month to play though everything.

    I think this is one of the best GTA games, however I would not say it is one of the best games overall, and I can’t see how it got a “10” from IGN (at least knock some points off for last-gen graphics!)

  • I’m playing GTA IV on a 40″ 1080p TV and it looks great to me. Yeah it has some jaggies and pop up but compared to previous games it’s a big step up.

    I would uncheck 720p and 1080i in your PS3 settings to have the game fully running in 1080p and see if you notice any difference.

    My biggest gripe is that it can be too dark but you can adjust the brightness and contrast in the in-game settings to solve this issue.

  • Darrin

    Mike, I don’t think it’s simple score inflation, reviewers often make flat out bad judgement calls. Assassin’s Creed is a great example. That game was garbage yet it got several perfect 10s and rave reviews! I’m not just being hyperopinionated, even the people who raved about it on release will look back and admit it really was a crappy game.

    Pungyeon, the title completely matches the contents of this post. Care to elaborate?

  • Dingo

    Of course, it is overrated.

    Graphics are sub-par for a PS3 game: Low-polygon count character models, low-resolution textures, last-generation lighting effects, clipping issues, blocky cinematic (ant it’s not even rendered at 720p, so letting your PS3 upscale it to 1080p simply adds a lot of blur to each frame, thereby reducing the level of detail and decreasing aliasing)

    Physics: Ridiculous. Many objects in the game world are weightless and do not react as they should. Example: The table is the kitchen, you can nudge it upside down just by walking up to it. Car handling is even less realistic than what you get with a bad arcade racing game.

    AI: Enemies rarely take cover. They just stand there waiting for you to dispatch them.

    The myth of the “sandbox”: You can do what you want, when you want. Example: You have to scare the laundromat owner by smashing the window of his store. You drive your big SUV into it. NO damage whatsoever. In fact, the game wants you to locate a brick, because a brick will smash glass much better than a 1-ton SUV, you know. So much for open gameplay.
    You would also think Niko would have the opportunity to stash weapons somewhere, but no…you have to lose them all every time you get arrested.

    I could go on and on…but what would be the point?
    That series has reached cult status and there is nothing I could say that would stop reviewers from seeing it for what it is.

    As for innovation, where is it?

  • Trieloth

    This game ISNT the best game to come out in ten years and dont deserve a 10 out of 10. Its sooooo blurry it feels like Iam going blind and the driving physics SUCK..period. It almost seems like its GTA3 engine but with a few extras. The online is fun but tends to be lagtastic at times. There rest of the game is cool though. I give it a 8 out of 10.

  • Darrin

    Dingo + Trieloth, clearly you guys know what you are talking about, but those criticisms sound like regular disagreement over quality.

    I thought Call of Duty 4 was boring. Does that mean it was overrated or that the praise was unwarranted? Well, I would give it a lower personal review score, but I believe that other people genuinely love and appreciate it, so I think the praise and reviews that it recieved were valid.

    Assassin’s Creed is the opposite. I think reviewers got swept up into hype and fantasies about what it could be based on preview footage, but in hindsight, almost everyone would admit that it just wasn’t any good.

  • Dingo

    Darrin, if the technical and gameplay flaws I listed are enough to discredit other games, why is GTA IV immune to them?
    Because GTA IV has reached cult status. The Wii, the iPod, the iPhone are also in that advantageous situation. Once you get there, nothing can decrease your appeal.

    Obviously, millions spent in advertising and marketing help too. Gee, Microsoft spent as much money promoting that game as they did promoting Halo 3, even though they did not develop it or publish it.
    Millions spent in advertising and marketing also made Assassin’s Creed a commercial success.

    Finally, for ad-funded professional review sites, it would be crazy to go against the flow and tell Rockstar, THQ (and EA, their suitor), Microsoft and fans of the game what they truly think.
    So, it ends up being a love fest where everybody gets high on imaginary qualities. Ad-funded professional review sites know they must say what those guys expect to hear in order to stay cool and approachable.

    Even though the game is much better than GTA III (a PS2 game), it is still average by any measure.

    But, again, if I wanted to make friends instead of enemies, I would need to say it’s the best thing ever…because that’s what everyone wants to hear.

  • Darrin

    Dingo, you think the game is average, while I think it’s great. There’s no right or wrong there, that’s just differing opinion.

    However, you are saying that the excitement and praise is all generated by disingenuous journalists that have been programmed by marketing + PR teams, and I disagree with this.

    Sure, the marketing + PR budgets for this were huge, and those things do influence media and reviews and sales which is exactly why companies pour money into them, but beyond the ads and the buzz, there really are lots of people that genuinely like the GTA series. Even back when GTA 3 came out, there was fairly little marketing + PR effort, yet the game was very well loved. That wasn’t PR and politics, that was a legitimate hit game.

  • west coast ps3

    Gary, I have set my PS3 to ignore the non 1080P resolutions, and while playing GTA4 the set was in 1080P mode, but it sure was not getting 1080P sized textures or polygons. I’ve been spoiled by GT5 and other games.

    There is also the matter of the “freeze while loading” too. When I first installed the game it didn’t work at all, and I had to delete it from the PS3 and re-install it….the thing just said “Creating New Game” forever and there was no hard drive activity. Fortunately the second time around it worked fine.

    Regardless, the game is back at rogers as I’ve got better things to do with my time than test buggy software (after a while it just feels like work!). I think its worth checking out the game, so you can see what Rockstar has been doing, but I think the best has yet to come.

  • SteveO

    OK firstly i am a huge fan of the series and i will say it straight out, major overrated. 10 out of 10 please, 8.5 max (8 if you are not a GTA fanatic).

    I wanted to like this so much and i do think it is a good game but not a great one.

    The graphics are weak, they can look nice at times but that is mostly next gen graphics hardware at work, the engine just looks like an upgrade of the previous one.

    The controls are terrible for both walking and driving, the camera when driving is plain awful and combined with the fantastically programmed but awkward physics make it even more hard work.

    The story seems to be missing something and is still yet to get me hooked after many hours and just feels like another expansion on the series rather than something different and if San Andreas and Vice City were not fit to be called GTA4 then this doesn’t as there is virtually nothing new or original in the gameplay or story department, just enhancements.

    All these cannot be seen as minor problems so i cannot see how anybody can give this a prefect score.

  • Lars

    Yeah, maybe true, but think of the fact this is the fourth part of the game, and still they manage to give people a great experience. I’m also missing some things, but just try to enjoy and don’t look at the reviews too much. It still is your personal experience and the graphics… graphics graphics….. I agree it’s a bit blurry (I’m used to play the pc version) but so what, the game made me laugh, not many games can do that. I’m not waiting for a game with next gen graphics, just give me some cars, weapons and people to kill and I’m satisfied. The multiplayer is fun, first time me and my cousin were driving in a cop car and shooting the shit out of the other players :D.



  • The morg

    So the question is….is this game worth going out and buying a 360 for???

  • SteveO

    I would say yes, it is actually starting to grow on me the more i play it and it is a good game just not as good as everyone is making it out to be.

  • Lars

    I would say yes, but don’t buy a 360 for this game only. But it’s a good moment when you planned to buy the 360 anyway.

  • Cutebabybuya

    GTA IV is for suburban rich kids who want to be gangsters. I don’t understand how this game is that fun. It gets pretty repetitive. I don’t think it deserves a perfect 10.

  • Semperfi

    I too think this game is majorly overated probably due to the massive hype surrounding it making people have huge expectations. no doubt this is a great game i have been enjoying but i much more prefered san andreas when that came out i thought it was a much funner environment to be in for starters and it had many more “side” game options (buy new house, go to gym etc, gang wars etc.) that just added to the experience. With liberty city theres not a whole deal more to the game other than a new storyline and environment (not in the ghetto anymore).

  • Mark

    This game is overrtaed indeed. It’s either all these game website reviewers are GTA fanboys or Rockstar paid them off. By no means is this game a 10/10. 8.5 or 9 maybe but no 10. It has graphics issues (ign gave them a lots of pop ups occur, poor character models ect. The controls are not that great, especially when walking and using that terrible target system. Fun game..yes Best game in the past decade..hell no.

  • richie

    PERHAPS THE MAIN PROBLEM – the soundtrack to gta IV is quite frankly… shite. Where’s that oh so necessary atmosphere – god i have tried to get into the feel of the city but its not happening cuz i cant stand the audio – thank god for LRR. VC had an iconic appropriate audio – Emotion, Flash and Wave, as did San Andreas with K-DST and Radio X. Moreover in Gta 4, Liberty is so god damn dead and devoid of style or trademark… can anyone seriously say that they have become attached to the islands? theres little story related character in any of them. The story is great though dont get me wrong and theres lots to do but iv almost got 100% without any effort. Anybody remember how ****in challengin SA was to complete?

  • Robbo

    This game is overated. I bought it because the previous games were awsome. Theres no way this game deserves a 10. (aussie IGN gave a 9.8, so go us :)). But its now a cult title, and with that comes imunity to scrutiny over glitches, and praise for things that have already been done better by other games.

    And I agree the soundtrack sucks. I only like listening to integrity with lazlo. The main thing that annoyed me was instead of adding to the game, they scaled back a lot of the in-game options that made the previous games so good. All to make way for (what some reviews have called) “innovations” some of which I’ve seen done already, and better in other games. And in the storyline Nicko keeps saying he needs money, but other than weapons and clothes theres not really much to spend your money on. I’ve never been short on money in the game so far.

    score: 8.5, coz its gta. Its not perfect, but gta scaled back with great graphics and improved phisics is still a good game.

    And for people without HDTV’s

    I don’t have a HDTV and im on an xbox 360, so i won’t gripe about the graphics, but i wouldn’t mind knowing why the the minimap and even the enlarged map aren’t colourcoded. I’m guessing its much better on a high definition TV, but without one, with all the fine text you have to read; like on the net, and txt msgs and such, its sometimes unreadable.

  • Jamie

    This game is HORRIBLY overrated. I’ve played every other GTA, and this one is no different, except the controls suck even more. And the whole “I’m a criminal so I’m ****in cool” image is getting old and LAME. I guess it’s an outlet for the sheep criminals. And everyone I know that pre-ordered this joke of a game, played it for a month tops, just like every other GTA, and when I asked them how this game is, they said “GTA?. Over rated? Hell Yes. And saints row 2 is taking an attempt at sucking A SECOND TIME? **** me.

  • wiiboy101

    JAMIE SAYS;;This game is HORRIBLY overrated. I’ve played every other GTA, and this one is no different, except the controls suck even more. And the whole “I’m a criminal so I’m ****in cool” image is getting old and LAME. I guess it’s an outlet for the sheep criminals. And everyone I know that pre-ordered this joke of a game, played it for a month tops, just like every other GTA, and when I asked them how this game is, they said “GTA?. Over rated? Hell Yes. And saints row 2 is taking an attempt at sucking A SECOND TIME? **** me.

    can i live with you JAMIE BE LIKE BROS ALL THAT great to se honesty on the net

  • angel

    i for one have to disagree with u sir.. thug-ish theme.. compelling to everyone u say?? really?? after that.. ok.. soo i can get past the theme or story as long as its fun to play ryt? the game is called grand theft auto.. soo its should be about boosting cars.. but the driving mechanics are one of the worst as far as car/racing games go.. after that.. u have fistfights that take forever tryin to pummel someone… and of course u have the MEDIOCRE gun fights.. the fact that all those features are in a single game is GOOD.. but not great.. drivin around doesnt give u any thrill like any other racing/driving game would.. u get more satisfaction punching someone in a game like ufc or something.. and gunfights arent nearly as good as in games like cod4 or even socom for that matter..

    BAD driving game + BORING fistfights + MEDIOCRE gunfights + GOOD story

    does that really sound like a great game? i think not