There’s absolutely little doubt whatsoever that Grand Theft Auto IV is one of the very best gaming experiences currently available. The tale of Niko Bellic, and his drop into the murky underworld of Liberty City, was enough all on it’s own to be an absolute must buy. But a wide open world and some fantastic online gaming helped urge us to award the game a full 10 score when we reviewed the original. In fact, head over to read our initial review to get caught up on the basics before carrying on.
This PC release of Rockstar’s latest epic only reminds of just why all these high scores and awards have been lavished on this multi-million selling title. But, it also gives the opportunity to revisit a game that unfortunately did suffer from a handful of flaws that could just prevent it from being fondly remembered in years to come.
Firstly, Niko’s story may be fairly lengthy, packed with detail, and an enjoyable ride. But, there’s little doubt that the freedom we’d all hoped for simply isn’t there. Missions are tightly structured, with anything more than minute deviation from the set path only helping in forcing you to fail this latest task. And the lack of mid-mission checkpoints is still horrifically frustrating.
Similarly, the land of Liberty City wasn’t fleshed out as fully as we’d craved. While a stunning backdrop to enjoy as you progress through the games huge storyline, or as you simply cause merry hell for the cities unfortunate inhabitants, there simply wasn’t enough to do. Instead of feeling as if you’re witnessing a huge city just waiting to be explored and tinkered with, GTA IV’s Liberty City is little more than a pretty backdrop.
Flaws to the title aside – all of which are still firmly included here as this isn’t much more than a port of the console originals – this is still the Grand Theft Auto IV that millions have loved and enjoyed. And now it’s available for PC owners to see just why all those console owners fell in love.
For PC owners, there’s the usual slight nudge upwards in terms of graphical splendour if you’re packing a particularly healthy gaming rig. Ignore the auto settings that the game detects for you as they will inevitably be way too optimistic and have a half hour tinker to get everything running smooth as silk. For us even the perfect settings still seemed to stutter when the action really starts to heat up. Irritating, but even so, Liberty City will still astound as it is such an incredibly beautiful game world.
The biggest addition for YouTube fans is the replay editor. Prod your F2 key and the last 30 seconds of GTA action will be stored on your hard drive, just waiting to be edited, set to some kind of horrific rawk soundtrack, and uploaded and pimped around gaming forums the world over. It certainly gives much more scope to the ability to go crazy wild in Liberty City when you can create some stunning clips to show off to your gaming chums.
That’s not all. You know that huge mass of music stored on your hard drive? Well you now have your own music station where you can play a selection of your favourites. It might not sound an astounding feature, particularly when the variety of stations, music and banter on offer in game is quite impressive, but it definitely helps the excitement levels when a classic tune drops as you’re cruising the highways.
The fantastic multiplayer is much the same as the console versions, with one very noticeable difference. Instead of up to 16 spots for online gamers, that number has now doubled to 32, allowing you the opportunity for much larger, more hectic, and overall far more exciting multiplayer experiences. A fantastic inclusion.
It’s the same old GTA IV, with a few additions tossed into the mix. With a patch now (almost) obliterating the early bugs that stopped a large number of users even initialising the game, this one is absolutely essential for PC gamers.
Time has helped show off a few flaws in proceedings – hence the drop to a score of 9 – but this is still worthy of all those awards and high scores it’s been showered with. To echo our original review, buy it, play it, experience it.