In retrospect, it's an excruciatingly tedious game
My main gripe is that GTA4 is soooooooo slooooooooow! For a game that sells itself on speed and thrills there's very little high horsepower to it. The missions are dull and repetitive, and go on and on for an eternity. In order to explain how joyless the missions are I'll go into a step-by-step detail for the average mission.
Go to some dude (usually miles away).
To avoid spending the next 15 minutes of your life driving to this destination you will need to find a taxi.
There will be no taxis nearby (although there are lots when you don't need them) meaning that you will have to go hunting for one.
At the destination the person you meet tells you that you are both going to a new destination and that you need some wheels (cue, if necessary, the only instance in the game where the title is actually relevant).
Another 5-10 minutes are now spent driving to this new destination while your buddy dishes out boring exposition.
At the new destination a deal will go sour or a target will run away.
An awkward car case in which your target will get away thanks to poor controls and difficult camera.
You start again. ALL THE WAY BACK AT THE BEGINNING! There are no mid-mission checkpoints.
Through sheer chance you manage to complete the mission.
Your buddy actually has the audacity to say "take me home" before the game saves and progresses.
This is not Grand Theft Auto, this is Taxi: The Liberty City Experience.
Have you ever wanted to feel the bore and monotony of just driving, and driving, and driving, and driving, and driving, and driving, etc, etc, etc, etc? If so then this game is for you.
Nothing in this game is easy. Be it driving a car, a bike, a boat, a chopper, or even just walking around. It's all too difficult. When Niko is running about the streets (usually hunting for a taxi) there is a weird inertia which seems to pull him in all directions. You will often find yourself caught on corners, even when there is nothing to be caught on.
For a game that goes on and on and on I reckon some RPG elements would have made the grind somewhat bearable, but there none. Even your weapons are very basic with no variation. You have one hand gun, one machine gun, one automatic rifle, one sniper rifle, one rocket launcher. Even the ability to upgrade just the weapons would have kept things interesting. When using these weapons the targeting system is a joke and will often lock-on to people you don't want to aim at. Meanwhile 3 or 4 bad guys are blasting away at you. I hope you wanted to restart that mission all the way back at the start.
The main problem is that the premise just does not fit the open-world gameplay. The original GTA, with its cute, chunky, top-down graphics, worked just fine with car-jacking and reckless driving. But in an open-world game it just doesn't fit.
I actually found Sleeping Dogs, a game often accused of ripping-off GTA, to be far superior in terms of graphics and gameplay. Nothing in GTA feels refined. It debuted less than 2 years after the release of the PS3 and I do fully believe that it is too rushed and rough. Had it been delayed a year, or even just a few months, to polish away the many faults then it might have deserved the absolute mad praise that it got.
It doesn't. Plain and simple. Many were distracted by the bloody carnage and savage humor but this does not make up for everything else.
There are a total of 66 trophies, but many of them are online-based, and after 5+ years there's no way you can win them now, so don't bargain on getting that Platinum. Some of the other trophies are so torturous too. There's one that requires you to snipe about 250 pigeons hidden all over Liberty City. Erm...no. Anyone who dedicates the necessary amount of time for such a thankless, pathetic task should be required by law to get outside. Over 50 of the trophies are bronzes too. Believe me, this game is very stingy with rewarding the player for slogging through the breathtaking, patience-breaking tedium. I maxed-out at 54% before vowing to never, ever play GTA4 again.
Lasting Appeal D