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Grand Theft Auto IV 7-Years Later Review



GTA IV quite literally starts with you, Niko Bellic, getting off the boat in Liberty City, soon to be welcomed by your cousin Roman. Roman has been in America for years now and has been telling you stories through his letters that he is living the American Dream, with a penthouse, sports cars, and a number of models. The truth is he runs a taxi service, has a shabby apartment, but you could 'sports' in the grime on his car, if that were a feature of the game.

Roman is still a good guy and the source of much of your knowledge and new friendships. Sure, he may have lied prior to the events of the game, but once you are there, there is nothing he will not do for you. He also helps you out a fair amount by allowing you to call him up for a free taxi ride, if a driver is available. I am not certain what the cycle is for when the car service becomes available again, but if you are desperate, you can hail a normal cab and pay the fare. (The cost quickly becomes irrelevant.)










It takes a while, but eventually Niko answers Roman's questions about why he came to Liberty City. Back in the old country, Niko fought in a war and saw many terrible things. The group he was in, which was filled with friends from his village, was betrayed and for the next decade, he has been searching for the other two survivors, as one of them must have been the betrayer. He learned one of them is in Liberty City, so he has come for him.

Along the way to that revenge, Niko, who had hoped to escape the death and crime of his past, only finds himself surrounded by it as he deals with various threats, always for some profit. This is one aspect of Niko that makes the character a little hard to read, for me at least. At times he definitely does appear to be a relatively deep character with emotions, but then he also has almost no issue with killing people, so long as he is paid for it. He also seems willing to form alliances with whomever pays him. In fact, if you access the police computer in a cop car, you can even hunt down criminals and be paid for doing so. This is despite the fact that a lot of the time, the bullets being shot at you are coming from police. (And they were probably shooting at you when you took the police car.)



You will, of course, have plenty of run-ins with organized crime, as they become a primary source of jobs for you. Sometimes they want you to kill someone (most of the time) and other times they just want you to help guard something or someone, or help steal something. There are also plenty of friends you will make who are not on the level of crime bosses, but ask you to do similar jobs at times. One thing consistent for all of these characters is that they are all characters. You have got to give it to Rockstar that they did a very good job giving each character an identity, and reasons for you to hate or like them. On the few missions when you get to choose between killing one character or another, you will not just be picking a target, but which person you want to keep around.


Something else that Rockstar has done here that I am very happy to see has to do with the voice work. In many (most) other games I have played, the dialogue will pause briefly when switching speakers, even if the switch is supposed to be from one character interrupting the other. (Playing with subtitles on only makes this more evident.) In GTA IV, however, these pauses are not present at all. It is actually like these are real conversations being had, and it really makes a difference.

One thing about the story that I respect, but still find a little odd, has to do with how it is told. Now it makes sense to be like this, but I am just so used to other games. GTA IV features a nonlinear story and it also seems flat to me at times, but it makes sense. What I mean by flat is that no one mission really seems to mean too much, with the exception of those missions that are obviously story missions. Some are not obvious, and just seem like other missions. This is actually something to respect about the game, because it hides the significance of many events and actions, like life does. We are not talking Butterfly Effect here, but it can be hard to predict how one mission may impact the entire game when you are going through it. That is actually pretty cool and not very common, which is probably why it seemed odd to me at times.


The story itself is not really impressive, as the various betrayals and motivations are nothing special, but the telling is. Characters, even minor ones, have more to them than a face and a voice. There are details in the narrative that make GTA IV seem to be a real series of events almost, with real people, who you come to like and dislike because of who they are. Some of them will come off as stereotypical occasionally, but as you work with them, you get to know them better and see additional depth to them. Really, it is a story told very well and in a real way.


  1. Grand Theft Auto IV Review - Introduction
  2. Grand Theft Auto IV Review - Graphics
  3. Grand Theft Auto IV Review - Story
  4. Grand Theft Auto IV Review - Gameplay
  5. Grand Theft Auto IV Review - Additional Gameplay Media
  6. Grand Theft Auto IV Review - Conclusion
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