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Late GTA 4 Impressions

This post is extremely late, but GTA 4 is easily one of the most influential games of this generation and is worth a look back. I’m looking forward to a discussion in the comments 🙂



  • Huge Range and Depth of Detail Obviously the physics and graphics have received major overhauls. But beyond that, absolutely everything has been expanded. The NPCs have more elaborate behaviors and reactions, the environments are more detailed and there are more ways to interact with everything. For great coverage of these little touches read here and here.
  • Writing, Humor, and Narrative The wit, humor, and hilarious sarcasm of the series have always been a key part of the experience. That hasn’t diminished; the writing is as fresh and sharp as ever. This felt like a satisfying evolution to GTA fiction rather than merely more of the same. The main themes of the central story are slightly different. For example, the main story line moves away from the rags to riches arc of previous titles.
  • Gunplay The physics, impact, cover system, aiming controls, explosions are all improved. Also, shooting out of and into vehicles works much better than before.
  • Driving The car physics and damage is much more elaborate. Cars spin out and fish tail very easily which gives this game a steeper learning curve.
  • Wow Moments The game’s “wow” moments are more frequent and more spectacular than ever before. This is largely a result of more elaborate car chases, shootouts, gun fights, and explosions.
  • Full Multiplayer Multiplayer modes are surprisingly fun. Great voice chat and friend invitations.
  • Graphics Sure, all the polygon counters and pixel geeks scoff at this title and can name dozens of games with higher specs. But this game is absolutely beautiful to look at: the explosions, the car crashes, the jumps, the falls, and mostly, the overall rendition of the city. For maximum effect, fly through Times Square in a helicopter at night: it’s absolutely stunning.



  • Extended Tutorial The first 30-40 story missions all felt like part of a huge tutorial sequence. They were still fun to play through, but ideally the player wouldn’t feel like they are playing a tutorial for so long.
  • Soundtrack Where is my massive GTA 4 soundtrack boxset? Amazon lists a mere three online albums.
  • Core Game is aging I played GTA 1 when it came out on PC, and that was only OK, but GTA 3 blew me away when it came out. The whole game felt completely magical and completely unlike anything else I had ever played. GTA 4 is probably the biggest and best evolution of a series into the new generation of hardware, however, after playing through the last five GTA games (3, VC, SA, LC:S, VC:S), the core game experience is no longer new to me. Despite the game doing everything better than ever before, I no longer feel that raw sense of wonder just aimlessly exploring the fictional city.



There was a lot of controversy about the outrageously high praise that this game received at launch. Every highly rated game has legions of detractors and this game is no different. In an ideal world, GTA 3 would be rated more highly, since that was such a massive genre defining experience, but that’s probably a once in a lifetime sort of thing. No game can appeal to everyone, but this game deserves its unusually high marks for delivering ridiculously high polish and for the sheer quantity of detail and content, the great writing, the frequency of in-game wow moments, and great multiplayer.

Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear it.