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Grand Theft Auto IV

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Grand Theft Auto IV
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"So, this is what the dream feels like, this is the victory we longed for."
Niko Bellic
Protagonist(s): Niko Bellic (main game)
Johnny Klebitz (TLaD)
Luis Fernando Lopez (TBoGT)
Genre(s): Action-adventure
Platform(s): PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Microsoft Windows
Release:
Main game
PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
WW: April 29, 2008
Microsoft Windows
NA: December 2, 2008
PAL: December 3, 2008
The Lost and Damned
Xbox 360
WW: February 17, 2009
Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
NA: April 13, 2010
PAL: April 16, 2010
The Ballad of Gay Tony
Xbox 360
WW: October 29, 2009
Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
NA: April 13, 2010
PAL: April 16, 2010
Engine: RAGE
Developer(s): Rockstar North
Rockstar Toronto (PC)
Rockstar New England (PC; main game)
Publisher(s): Rockstar Games
Country: United Kingdom
Canada
United States
Series: Grand Theft Auto
Predecessor: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories
Successor: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars


Grand Theft Auto IV is an action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. The game is the eleventh title in the series and is notable for being the first "HD Universe" game, that is, the game where GTA started to become more realistic.

GTA IV saw two episodic expansion packs, the first one being called The Lost and Damned, which came out on February 17th, 2009, and the second being The Ballad of Gay Tony, which came out on October 29th, 2009, and both were bundled in a standalone game titled Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City. Originally, the two episodes were exclusive to the Xbox 360 until they were released on PC and PlayStation 3 in April 2010.

Plot

Niko Bellic was born in a Serbian town. When he was young, he, along with his brother and mother, were frequently beaten up by his alcoholic father. He became a soldier in an attempt to avoid his father's wrath. However, when he was fighting in the Bosnian War, around 1996, his fifteen-man squad was ambushed and only three men survived: Niko himself, the traitor who sold the squad out and another man. Although he couldn't find the traitor, he found out that the latter went to America.

After the war, Niko couldn't find a job, so he began doing human trafficking for a Russian man named Ray Bulgarin. In one of the jobs, a boat was attacked and sunk, thus forcing Niko to escape. Bulgarin did not accept this failure and began hunting Niko down, causing him to flee to Liberty City where he can hide out until Bulgarin gives up.

Niko's cousin, Roman, lives there, and supposedly is living the American dream: he has a mansion, sports cars, women and money. Niko arrives to Liberty City in 2008, He discovers that Roman was lying, and he actually lives in a low-end apartment and has debts with his boss, Vlad, at the taxi company where he works.

Later, Niko meets many other employers in the city, becoming more known as the game progresses.

Why It Rocks

Overall

  1. Radically changed the series, becoming more realistic and discarding unrealistic details.
  2. Fantastic Hollywoodian plot. Unlike previous games in the series were they were either inspired by movies or real life events, this game has a completely original story with minor things being inspired by movies such as Niko's default outfit.
  3. Niko Bellic is considered the one of the best protagonists if not, the best protagonist in the GTA franchise.
  4. Memorable supporting characters like Kate McReary, Lil Jacob, Brucie Kibbutz, Roman Bellic, Packie McReary and Bernie Crane.
  5. Amazing graphic engine (RAGE - Rockstar's Advanced Game Engine), which would be later re-used for Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3. It also outstands the graphics of GTA V.
  6. Creates an entirely different Liberty City: differently from the one seen in III and Liberty City Stories, being a closer approximation of New York City. Plus, despite being smaller than the map in San Andreas, each street has a name and the map is still huge!
  7. The hilarious swing set glitch in the Firefly Project Park and Plumber's Sky Industrial Park that was never patched where it flings you and your car really far! The results are random every time you back your car into the swing set. Either nothing will happen, or the car will fly really far, sometimes into the ocean.
  8. Introduces random characters, which are people (some of which are seen in the storyline) you will find in the streets asking for a favor, the favor being in the form of a small mission.
  9. Tons of replay value.
  10. Also introduces cellphones, which can be used for entering cheats, call people, receive messages and enter multiplayer, alongside computers that can be used to browse the internet, see your emails and download ringtones and backgrounds for your phone.
  11. A minor, but original mechanic, in which the player can actually watch TV, with 40 minutes worth of content from in-game programs.
  12. Completely reworked combat mechanics, as you now have a cover system in which you take cover from enemy fire without having to stand in the open getting riddled by enemy bullets and to give advantage to the accuracy of your shots. The new cover system also allows for blind fire from cover in which you sacrifice accuracy but protect your body from suppressive fire. Another improvement is that now you are able to aim your gun at more directions while driving than in the previous entries which let you only fire from sideways and also gives the ability to throw grenades while driving.
  13. Another significant improvement from previous titles is the ability to actually ride and hail taxis to be dropped anywhere! It is very useful for skipping long distances without having to drive all the way making driving to destinations less repetitive. You can do this even in missions (provided the mission doesn't let you drive a specified car) which helps a ton. Previous games only let you ride taxis if you died on missions and would only drive you back to the mission start.
  14. Along with girlfriends, you can also hang out with friends and increase a special 'Like' meter, which once it reaches at least 75%, will unlock a Favor from them, like buying discounted weapons from Little Jacob, or Roman sending you Mohammed, a hilarious, hot headed taxi driver who can drive you to any location for free.
  15. Great theme and soundtrack, which plays whenever you pause the game.
  16. The difference between cars is much bigger, both in appearance as in gameplay. They also have manufacturers as well like Declasse (Chevrolet) and Vapid (Ford).
  17. The physics in GTA are finally corrected, possessing ragdoll physics and realistic car deformation and damage physics.
  18. Awesome and realistic character movements and pedestrian behavior. The number of pedestrian models are very diverse meaning that you won't see the same pedestrian model occasionally.
  19. Many missions have you making choices, which are to either kill an enemy or not or choose one of two characters to kill. Some missions can also have multiple solutions to the problems you are presented with which in itself contrasts other entries in the franchise, which are criticized for having "Point A to point B" design.
  20. It has many different fanfares for beating missions, which is very unique compared to the previous games in the series only having one.
  21. Has two endings, both with their own consequences.
  22. The Police AI has received a huge overhaul in this universe in which they behave more realistically, they can respond to crimes and arrest criminals instead of killing them and can even be seen putting them into their vehicle! The wanted system also has been improved as well with realistic changes, police now create a zone around the player which grows bigger depending on the wanted level while the law search for the player inside encouraging the player to get out of the police's sight. This gameplay now gives more opportunities to escape the cops as compared to the previous entries, wanted levels higher than 2 can only be removed by going to a spray shop to recolor your vehicle or collecting police bribes scattered across and that police just magically go to the player's position regardless of vehicle they driven. And regarding that, the police here also rely on the vehicle you've last seen driven meaning that it can be possible to fool the police by driving different vehicles (provided you aren't too close or seen stealing)!
  23. The Journey radio is a nostalgic radio station that has Classical ambient songs.
  24. Beautiful sunlight effect apart from the ugly yellow filter (this is typical from a game from that era).
  25. Weapons are now all kept upon being Wasted.
  26. You can heal yourself by eating at restaurants. Just like GTA SA.
    • Sadly, unlike in GTA SA, you can't select any food you want in restaurants.
  27. Some OST songs are emotional. Such as the piano cover of the theme song that plays if you choose the Deal ending and Roman is killed.
  28. An interesting commentary on things like immigration and the American dream.
  29. If you contact ZIT, Lazlow will text you the song name and the artist. If you do this on the Ice Cream Truck, you activate a health cheat (only on Soviet Connection jingle).
  30. There are a number of memorable lines:
    • Where is Barbara with big titties and Stephanie who sucks like a vacuum?
    • Niko, it's Roman! Let's go bowling.
    • War is when the young and stupid get tricked by the old and bitter into killing each other.
    • We can pick the game Niko Bellic, but we cannot change the rules.

The Lost and Damned

  1. Because it takes place during IV's events, some missions cross over at some points.
  2. There are more vehicles to ride (mostly motorcycles)
  3. New activities, like Hi-Lo cards, Arm Wrestling, Gang Wars, paying tributes to your lost ones, Melee Races, and Air Hockey.
  4. Introduces new weapons, such as the Sawn-Off shotgun, Pipe bombs, or the Grenade Launcher, which has been mentioned in previous games' Ammu-Nation commercials.
  5. The Lost MC Clubhouse has a very diverse interior.
  6. Just like the base game, it has various fanfares for completing missions.
  7. Johnny is a badass and likable character. Unfortunately, he dies in the next game.
  8. Seagulls make a return, and there are only 50 this time around.
  9. The entire map of Liberty City is unlocked right from the start.
  10. New music tracks are added to a few of the radio stations from IV, like Liberty Rock Radio, LCHC, Radio Broker and the Beat 102.7.

The Ballad of Gay Tony

  1. Because it also takes place during IV's events, some missions also cross over at some points. In fact, in this case, the opening for the DLC takes place during the heist mission of the main game, "Three Leaf Clover".
  2. Luiz Fernando Lopez is a really awesome and cool protagonist.
  3. There are more cars to drive, like the returning Buffalo and Bullet from San Andreas, the latter being under the name "Bullet GT", along with the police version of Stinger (multiplayer only), in addition to two helicopters, one of which is the Buzzard, an attack chopper that comes with missiles and miniguns, as a homage to the Hunter from previous GTA games. The game also features the APC, a NOOSE tank reminiscent of the Rhino.
  4. New activities, like a new version of Triathlon, Golf, Underground Cage Fighting, Club Management, Champagne Chugging, and Drug Wars.
  5. Some elements from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas make a return, like the parachute and dancing in nightclubs.
  6. Funky and catchy theme song called "I Keep on Walking." It even plays in the pause menu, with deconstructions of the instruments and synthesizers, just like with the main game's theme, "Soviet Connection".
  7. The game goes back to the roots of the PS2 games with a more lighthearted, but still serious story.
  8. The nightclubs are interesting and diverse.
  9. Just like the base game and Lost and Damned, it includes many variating fanfares for mission completions.
  10. A more pleasant blue filter compared to the yellow filter of IV and The Lost and Damned. This also comes with a more colorful palette.
  11. Once again, there are only 50 seagulls to find around Liberty City.
  12. For the first time ever in the series, the player is ranked at the end of every story mission with either bronze, silver or gold medals, depending on their performance (Something that Grand Theft Auto V would do later on too). After completing the story, there's an option to replay any of the previous missions to try and earn a gold medal.
  13. New music tracks are added to a few of the radio stations from IV, like Electro-Choc, K109 The Studio, Vladivostok FM and San Juan Sounds.
  14. Once again it introduces new weapons such as the Gold Uzi, Sticky Bombs, Super Sniper rifle and an Explosive Shotgun.
  15. You can now replay missions by selecting them on your phone.

Bad Qualities

Overall

  1. Removed many staple features in the series such as Rhino tanks and some odd jobs (Paramedic, Firefighter) and Rampages, although this was only done so the game could be realistic.
  2. As it is the beginning of a new universe in GTA, all characters from previous games (with the exception of some characters like Lazlow or Fernando Martinez) have been discarded and will never be seen again. But some of them are mentioned on billboards and remembrance graffiti.
  3. While it's possible to instantly restart missions in this game unlike in the previous GTA games, you still lose money from hospital treatment, and there are zero checkpoints in any mission but the last one, meaning you have to restart at the very beginning of the majority, which is really frustrating when you're doing particularly hard missions.
  4. Every port of the game has something wrong with it. The Xbox 360 version has a bad framerate and frequent stuttering, the PS3 version has blurry graphics due to a downgraded resolution and an even worse framerate, and last but not least the PC version has bad framerate and crashing issues due to poor compatibility with modern PCs and using a maximum 2 GB of RAM, though this can be fixed by editing the game files or using performance mods.
  5. Sometimes, friends can call too often to arrange hangouts, particularly Roman; "Niko, it's Roman. Let's go bowling." became a meme because of this. However, the player can silence the phone if they don't wish to go into friend activities. Unfortunately, however, if calling contacts or emergency, this removes the silence feature.
    • In TLaD and TBoGT, the frequency of friends calling has been greatly lessened and will only call on rare occasions.
  6. Saving is still mostly limited to safe houses, although an auto-save feature was introduced.
    • Sadly though, even with auto-save enabled, you're dealt with an annoying popup asking you to overwrite your save.
  7. In April 2018, some songs were cut on some radio stations due to license expiring, with Vladivostok FM being hit the hardest and The Journey being hit the smallest (though, the physical copies of the console versions are unaffected).
  8. The camera phone is basically useless outside of missions, making this feature utterly worthless.
  9. Terrible vehicle handling model, as it tries way too hard to be realistic, meaning that the cars handle like boats and bikes suffer from fishtailing. Not only that, the speed of the cars was significantly lowered than other cars in previous GTA entries (thankfully there are multiple mods that can fix this).
  10. For players who care about it, car customization is gone in this game (this feature can be brought back on PC with the Liberty City Customs mod).
  11. The only thing you get for completing the game 100% is an achievement or trophy and the weapon ammo limit being removed. In fact, the ammo limit resets every time you load your game, making it the most worthless and pointless 100% reward in the entire franchise, even more of a downgrade in comparison to the ones given in GTA V.
  12. The weapons have low ammo limits compared to previous games, it's so low that you need to buy ammo frequently.
  13. In the main game, the weapon variety can be pretty lacking compared to previous entries but thankfully in the expansions it has been increased.
  14. Due to the removal of GFWL, the multiplayer mode no longer works on the PC version (RGL and Steam versions only).
  15. Character customization is rather limited compared to San Andreas.
  16. Although GTA IV does offer online car dealerships, they're absolutely worthless and are only useful in the mission I'll Take Her, where you have to buy Grace's pink Feltzer. Otherwise, there's basically no way in buying vehicles online at all.
  17. Saving cars is only possible by parking on driveways next to safehouses instead of garages. This can be problematic, especially in storing rare, mission-only vehicles, as if they're somehow bumped into by traffic, they'll be permanently removed. Worse, and if unlucky enough, if they're caught in an explosion, they're gone for good unless you reload a save.
  18. On the PC version, when playing the game with keyboard and mouse, there's no gun recoil and bullet spread, meaning the accuracy is 100% accurate, even when blind firing (this can be fixed with the FusionFix mod).
  19. Just like every GTA game, it is home to extremely hard missions such as "Out of Commission/A Revenger's Tragedy", "The Snow Storm" and the infamous "Three Leaf Clover".
  20. The Auf Wiedersehen Petrovic is considered one of the hardest achievements/trophies in the game.
  21. Even when GFWL was removed, the PC port still requires an internet connection to access save files, and with the inclusion of the Rockstar Games Launcher as a replacement, this only caused more harm than good.
  22. Stealth kills are no longer possible, as trying to silently kill enemies will almost always guarantee a wanted level.
  23. Car damage physics are great, but the bumpers (both front and rear) never seem to fall off at all, no matter how heavily damaged it is.
  24. Character customization is horrendously limited in online multiplayer. All of the outfits and character presets are pre-made and cannot be manually customized in any way.
  25. There are no flyable airplanes in the game unlike in previous games due to the map size. Helicopters can still be flown however.

The Lost and Damned

  1. The main story can be completed in a day or less, though this is likely due to the game being an expansion pack for IV.
  2. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of The Lost and Damned along with The Ballad of Gay Tony were extremely unoptimized, as the FPS would drop as low between the low 20s to as low as the middle 10s during shootouts and with many cars and pedestrians, making the gameplay very hard and frustrating.
  3. Some missions are very difficult for beginners (a good example being Bad Cop Drop).
  4. There are only two safehouses available, both on the west side of the map.
  5. After the final mission "Get Lost", you lose access to the Lost MC Clubhouse (but you can get back in by using a glitch).
  6. Bowling is partially programmed here, you can hear Johnny's unused lines for getting a strike, spare, or gutter, but bowling itself is broken. Everything is invisible, and the scoreboard doesn't work. This was fixed in the next DLC.
  7. The Regina and Tampa don't appear in the streets, as they only appear in some of the missions (you can make them spawn by editing the cargrp.dat file on the PC version). The Regina, however, can be obtained in the mission Heavy Toll.
  8. The expansion pack introduces various continuity holes and inconsistencies, some examples include (but not limited to):
    • Some of the characters got new appearance (like Jim being Caucasian in IV while being Hispanic in TLAD), making characters' appearances rather inconsistent between games.
    • There's no explanation as to what happened to Ray's money after Johnny gave it to Jim.
  9. Sadly, clothing shops are permanently inaccessible, meaning you cannot change Johnny's smelly biker outfit.
    • There is also no way to change his outfit in safehouses.

The Ballad of Gay Tony

  1. Like The Lost and Damned, the main story can be completed in a day or less.
  2. Some missions can be difficult to get the gold medal in, like "Party's Over" and "Going Deep".
  3. Luis only has one safe house for the entire game, though you can still use the safehouses' parking lots from GTA IV, just like The Lost and Damned. However, the safe house serves no purpose to the plot at all through the entirety of the game.
  4. Like The Lost and Damned, it introduces inconsistencies to GTA IV's storyline. For example, Jerry Kapowitz (the homeless man seen in the final cutscene) found the lost diamonds in one of the rubbishes in Meadows Park, while in GTA IV, he found the diamonds in Liberty City Dump.
    • Another example is that in GTA IV, Packie's Vincent is dark green, while in TBOGT, it is black.
    • Like The Lost and Damned, many of the characters got new appearances (Like Tony looking way younger in TBOGT while on IV and TLAD he looks way older), making them very inconsistent between IV and TLAD.
  5. While most of the weapons introduced in this expansion pack is good, a few of them are not that good. For example, the silencer from Assault SMG is completely useless (and it basically doesn't serve any purpose) and you cannot shoot on car with the Assault SMG and Advanced MG have very pathetic damage. It's so pathetic that even an SMG can surpass its damage rate.
  6. The mission "Sexy Time" is extremely hard in the PC version due to how difficult is to hit the boat and the arm dealers with the keyboard.
  7. Other cars are only found in multiplayer only, and sadly, you can't store them.
  8. Luis has a handful of outfits to choose from in his safehouse, but like in TLAD, clothing shops remain permanently inaccessible.

Reception

Grand Theft Auto IV sold over 6 million units in its first week. In this week, GTA IV also became the most played game on Xbox Live. More than 2.3 millions of people played the game in that week, and had unlocked more than 12 million achievements worth 100 million gamerscore.

A majority of the reviews, including IGN and GameSpot, gave the game a 10/10 rating. The game is also acknowledged as one of the best by Wikipedia.

However, Grand Theft Auto IV is the third most polarizing game in the franchise due to at launch. In fact, Scott The Woz considered it his least favorite in the series, despite it ranking #3 in his "Best Games of All Time" video.

Trivia

Overall

  • This game features the only instance in the entire GTA series where the N word is used in a racist manner, as opposed to being used in the same way as "dude" or "guy". The line in question is said by Gerald McReary, in the mission "Actions Speak Louder than Words": "All we've ever been is bitches. Working for guineas, working for niggers, any asshole with a buck. The whole lot spent in the proper manner, oh yeah, wine and women, as quick as possible, and remain a slave forever."
  • The game was temporarily removed from Steam until February 12, 2020, due to Games for Windows Live unable to work anymore.
  • Niko Bellic's quote "YELLOW CAR!!", his screams, Roman's "Let's go bowling" quote, ''Here is the nasty garbage you ordered'' and everything that Mohammed the Taxi driver says became memes.
  • It's one of the most modded GTA games, along with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V.
  • While the game is set on another universe than the other GTA games, There are some easter eggs that proves otherwise such as Lazlow mentioning his time on Chatterbox FM, CJ appears in an Advertisement poster and a graffiti that implies that every protagonist from the 3D era is dead (though Rockstar admitted that this graffiti was a joke)
  • Ruslana, the DJ of Vladivostok FM, is actually the singer and the winner of the 2004 Eurovision contest of her song, Wild Dances.
    • The song was featured in Vladivostok FM, but like the other songs, it got cut due to expired license.
  • If you go inside of the Statue of Happiness you can find a a beating heart.
  • Features such as the bowling minigame and functional TVs was used by Volition to mock GTA in one of Saints Row 2's trailers.

The Lost and Damned

  • It's the only GTA release that features full-frontal male nudity - In the mission, "Politics", Thomas Stubbs shows his penis during a cutscene.
  • Johnny Klebitz is extremely similar to John Marston (The protagonist from Red Dead Redemption) as both can play Hi-Lo cards and Arm Wrestling, both can understand Spanish but don't know how to talk, both are betrayed by their gang leader, both have worked with Politicians despite having different political beliefs, both speak in a rough voice, both have an antagonist named Billy, both were involved in kidnapping at least once, both they are canonically killed and their bodies were cradled by the women they loved and both are blind in one eye.

The Ballad of Gay Tony

  • Vladivostok FM playing house music rather than Eastern European music is a reference to a radio station named WNYZ-LP, which transitioned from Russian Top 40 music to a dance radio station named "Pulse 87".
  • A car named the "Brickade" is shown in the BradyGames guide, but not seen in game. Likewise, a second generation Schafter exists but remains unused. Both are fully coded and can be spawned with external devices.

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