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Grand Theft Auto IV!

The latest installment in the popular and highly accredited (not to mention mature) franchise has finally arrived after delays and hold-backs, but will it improved upon the series, or be the same ol' same ol'?

First Impressions: Whenever possible, we try to give our loyal website viewers the most video footage and most in depth unbiased reviews imaginable. Part of that development is our "initial impressions" where we offer up our first impressions of the title that we are playing.

This gives our website visitors more of clear understanding of what to first expect out of the game when they initially pop it into their consoles.

If you scroll to the bottom of the page in the Rent vs. Buy section of the review and do not see the "final impressions" assessment then it's safe to say that you are reading our initial impression of the game. Once the final impression is up, there will be no further video or review done to that particular title.

Final Impressions: The final impression is just that, our completed breakdown and overall thoughts on the game based off of our entire game playing time.

You can locate the final impressions assessment in the "Rent vs. Buy" section of the review (always located at the very end of all of our reviews). Here you will be able to read our final thoughts on the title and also see any potential grade changes that were made to the game as well (higher or lower). Should a grading change occur, it will be clearly noted with the previous grade, the new grade, and why the change occurred.

Although this approach is more time consuming and requires many more man hours, our entire goal has always been to provide the best and completely unbiased reviews possible and we feel that the inclusion of the Initial Impressions and Final Impressions sections will give you a better view of what to expect from a new game.

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Off The Boat: The latest in the GTA series places you in the shoes of immigrant Niko Bellic, brought to Liberty City under his cousin's word of endless women, money, and fame. The first thing you will notice about the game is the fact that this time around the story is the meat and potatoes.

The best part of Grand Theft Auto IV is the story-focused game. The plotline is filled with endless life or death decisions, twists, and key moments that have never before been seen in a GTA game. The storylines of the GTA series has always just been an excuse to kill or maim somebody, but not this time around.

Going, Going, Gone: Another new (and very welcomed) addition to GTA IV is the Euphoria Engine. The Euphoria Engine has never been used before, but this new animation engine is absolutely amazing.

The Euphoria Engine creates new animations each time you get hit, punched, knocked down, or anything else. Get hit by a taxi going fifty miles an hour at the legs, and you will crumple and deform appropriately. Crash into a poll going eighty miles an hour, and you'll fly out of the windshield and curl into the fetal position with pain.

Sometimes though, the positions you will be forced into look a little goofy and artificial. Most of the time the engine works, but sometime you look downright weird.

(Limited) Freedom! The GTA series has always been about open-world gameplay with no restrictions, but strangely you were never given the ability to open doors. Well, that oddity returns, but to a much lesser extent.

While you can't open every single door in the world, you can open doors to various nightclubs, restaurants, fast food joints, or even stripclubs (wink wink)

The amount of freedom in GTA IV is still restricted, but you can go into more places then ever before and the world is quite massive.

The Fuzz: One of the greatest additions to the game is massively improved A.I. Everybody in the now populated city streets will react to everything you do. Pull a gun in the middle of a crowd and everyone will run and scream, and some will even call the cops on you... and that's where it gets good.

The police A.I. is extraordinarily smart this time around, and if your caught yanking somebody out of their car, or seen starting a fight, they will tirelessly hunt you down. If you are seen kicking a bum on the street, you will be wanted with one star. At this one-stared stage, the police will only confront you with weapons drawn and attempt to apprehend you.

But, if you attempt to run away from the cops, or try the very gutsy approach of killing one of the cops, you will be shot at immediately with no mercy. If you happen to get away and hide in an alley, they will still look for you. If you watch the streets, you will see police patrol the streets searching for you, and cruisers driving up and down the block waiting for a hint of your location.

New Duds: Another long-awaited change in GTA IV is the phenomenal graphics. Grand Theft Auto has never been known for its graphics, and they have always been sub-par at best. But this time around, the graphics are absolutely amazing.

The amount of detail on the characters faces, body, and the clothes is stunning. Faces change emotions before your eyes, and jackets wrinkle and twist as you sprint. This amount of graphical prowess is easily comparable to powerhouses like Gears of War.

Power Steering: A great and welcome change to the series is the new handling of the cars. Each car handles in an individual and different way. Station Wagons will have a slow acceleration and wide turning, while look-a-like Corvettes handle with intense speed and tight turning.

This new type of handling will be strange at first, and many won't like it, but after a little while it's a very interesting aspect that adds a new level of realism to the game GTA has never seen.

Grand Theft Of War: The combat system has also gotten a huge overhaul in the cover system. GTA IV adds a new element of cover to combat, following in the footsteps of, obviously as the headline suggests Gears of War. Sadly though, the cover system is not as refined as GoW and often you will die of stupid mistakes by the system.

The cover system works to some degree, but it has alot of trouble prioritizing its targets. If you choose to use the auto aim lock-on feature, you will lock onto various targets all over the place, and even sometimes onto civilians, who are utterly harmless. And good luck if you have a target behind you, because it takes way too much effort to be brought out of cover and you'll often die from bullet to back syndrome.

Multi-Jacks: The multiplayer aspect of GTA IV is interesting, but not perfect. I like some of the mde such as Cops and Crooks, where the crooks have to escort their boss to a secret getaway vehicle, and Turf War, where everyone fights for control of certain areas of Liberty City. But the problem is that most of the other modes are decent at best, and there aren't very many people online because they are all focused on the single-player aspect.

I like the idea of having multiple criminals running around Liberty City, but in reality it doesn't work all that well. I still give the multiplayer a high score, because I like the modes that are popular, but the rest aren't populated enough to judge fully.

Rent vs. Buy: The Grand Theft Auto series has always been a game about killing and dicing anyone you see, with a thin story at best. But this game changes all of that with a great storyline that any one will covet to finish, and many new added aspects that heighten the experience of realism.

I and many others have been waiting for the game that will revive the original experience of the GTA series, and I'm happy to say that this is that franchise-reviving messiah.

While the game isn't perfect, and some flaws remain, I would completely recommend this to anyone with a sense of humor and love for violence. Grand Theft Auto refines the series' strengths and kills some of the lingering glitches that have plagued the series for a long time. I would say that this game is nearly perfect.

Report Card

Grand Theft Auto refines the series' strengths and kills some of the lingering glitches that have plagued the series for a long time. I would say that this game is nearly perfect. (Krakrabbit.com)


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