GTA IV The Complete Edition is a fitting way send off the action adventure of 2008 in it's sunday best

User Rating: 9 | Grand Theft Auto IV: The Complete Edition PS3
GTA IV: The Complete Edition could have been called the GTA "How it stood the test of time" Edition because it is one of the few compilation packages of this generation that has bewildered me by it's contents. The set includes Grand Theft Auto 4 itself, easily the greatest game of 2008, alongside its subsequent expansions of The Lost and the Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony.

The story of the main attraction stars a Balkan immigrant known as Niko Bellic, who after being tempted the good life of America by his cousin, Roman, is brought over to Liberty City – the worst place in America. But with Niko on shore it turns out this isn't the case. Roman's exaggerated existence is merely that as a bottom feeder Cab manager, living in a grimy apartment and under debt to mobsters. Despite this setback, Niko has his own agenda. Throughout the story, we'll play as this anti-hero quarreling with the very underbosses and gang leaders of the city. Drug trades, assassinations, car jackings and arson are a regular trade in order to make money in GTA IV.

The expansions, dubbed episodes, are little more than extra mission packs. But they do atleast add extra cinematic scope to an already AAA Hollywood quality product. It explains why the episodes were combined and released as a stand-alone game when put on disc much later. But much of their success comes from the infamy of being dubbed "Xbox Exclusive" for a while. As to how the game does stand the test of time I will admit that in 2010 there still hasn't been many games capable of matching the level of depth offered by Liberty City as in GTA IV.

It truly represents the better part of New York that it is based on and has the many functioning features of a town including shops, cafes, bars and restaurants that all can be visited at leisure. Infact I would say ironically that GTA IV is as accurate as a life sim as any Maxis developed game with that speciality in mind. It is even possible to call your in-game buddies up and ask them out. There are numerous potential nights in the town with performances at comedy clubs and theatres run in full especially for the situation. They're obviously done to comedic effect and not to be taken seriously, but it works better in Grand Theft Auto's favour. I could go on endlessly about the numerous city exquisite features to GTA IV and I spent a good number of paragraphs doing so in my previous full review of it.

Despite such distractions though GTA IV is still the very same gritty action-adventure we've come to understand at this point. It has intense character and plot development which will have you gripped and every twist will have you on the edge of your seat as it comes about. But the actual car theft and fighting the game has to offer is still very much in it's prime even so with a thoroughly developed combat system to serve alongside the base of things. In particular I'm referring to the cover mechanics.

Rockstar Games have taken a page from Epic's Gears of War template by complimenting their own duck 'n' shoot mechanics to the firefights and an accomplishment on its own. The driving itself, while initially a intimidating complex due to the pressure built on realistic steering and acceleration makes a change certainly as the "feel right" response gradually sets in your brain as GTA IV plays. GTA IV does lack a lot of refinement in this area although and it lacks the responsive controls to clout quick responses in a gunfight.

The way you move around and access menus is all confusing and if you've only recently been initiated from GTA III to GTA IV you're going to be caught in shock. Perhaps one of the bigger travesties is the auto-aim which has a poor lock on feature that is difficult to snap back off promptly or the annoying phone mechanisms that have you access the multiplayer or input commands – such as cheats to use during gameplay.The phone is instantly lowered whenever you get impacted and while this is realistic, it isn't preferred.

My biggest gripe ultimately with GTA IV though, aside from the now redundant problem of repetitive missions, lies in the atrocious physics engine which has the belief that rag-dolls exist in everything. Had GTA IV been released in 2002 or 2003, the poor physics would have very much been forgiven as the technology was in it's infancy to say the least. Yet now it only seems pestersome and a deterrent from the gradual conclusion, and that is a shame. GTA IV clocks in at around thirty hours long singleplayer, without taking into account that the subsequent expansions add an additional ten to twenty hours on top of this.

The online play could also do with a major polish too because matchmaking is simply abysmal on GTA IV and it can be difficult finding games due to the separation of ranked and player based lobbies. On the flipside, free mode makes an afternoon of wrecking havoc on the city with a buddy one to remember but this sandbox gameplay is a required taste and will grow dull in due time for some.

So concluding, GTA IV the Complete Edition is a fitting way to give those who still haven't experienced the game yet to it's very fullest. This has the signs of being the last sign post before Rockstar moves on to bigger and better alliterations for the series. But take into mind that it will be a very difficult job for Rockstar Games because their existing GTA is already jam packed to the brim with content. It already covers several discs on the DVD based PC and 360 and that isn't very surprising with the amount of sights to see and missions to complete. I really can't recommend anymore this package if you still don't own the episodes or GTA IV itself. As for everyone else, this might be a re-acquaintance worth making even so.