Grand Theft Auto IV - Cheat Happens Game Review
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Grand Theft Auto IV
PC Games, XBox 360, Playstation 3

Reviewed on: PC

Developer:
Rockstar Toronto
Publisher: Rockstar
Rated: "M" for Mature



CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

   
   
   
Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
   
CHEATfactor: 6
   
     
Grand Theft Auto III changed everything.

Featuring a brave, bold and truly open three dimensional world where players could come and go as they please; and their actions had deeper consequences then a game-over screen, coupled with innovative graphics and an incredibly deep branching storyline, one thing was evident – the gaming industry was growing up.  Now, nearly a decade later, the series is rewriting everything we thought we knew.  From the massive size of Liberty City, to its strikingly gritty, yet gorgeous visuals – everything about GTA IV is truly an achievement.

Fresh off the boat from Eastern Europe, Niko Bellic, GTA IV’s protagonist, is looking for a fresh start and his shot at “the American Dream.” However, the visions of an endless supply of money, women and fame his cousin Roman promised quickly fade and reality sinks in as Niko finds himself in the middle of a gang-war that will grip Liberty City by its core. Of course you’ll be stealing, shooting and killing like in previous installments of the series, but GTA IV manages to make even these series standards seem new and exciting.

Sure, Niko is the game’s poster boy, but undoubtedly GTA IV’s main character is Liberty City itself.  Yes, you’ve been to Liberty City before, but not like this – not even close. More than ever, Liberty (clearly based off New York City), is alive. From the bums in the back alleys to the suits in the financial district, Rockstar has done a great job creating a  believably rich and populated environment that seems like it could go on even without you there. You’ll get stuck in traffic, watch construction jobs go from start to completion, even establish relationships with your fellow city folk, but remember – this is GTA, and most people you meet aren’t the type to bring home to mom and dad.

"GTA IV gives players the freedom to truly explore and enjoy the city around them."

 
   

Truly, GTA IV is the deepest title of the franchise, if not the entire industry has ever seen. Think of it as the love-child of The Godfather and The Sims. Like Vice City and San Andreas before it, GTA IV gives players the freedom to truly explore and enjoy the city around them. Feel like hitting up the local bowling alley, but don’t want to leave the house? GTA IV features its own fully functional bowling-alley complete with bowling mini-game and purchasable snacks. You can go out to nightclubs (and yes, that includes those nightclubs), restaurants, amusement parks and even famous landmarks like the Statue Of Happiness; Liberty’s version of the Statue of Liberty.

Even with all of its functionality, Liberty City looks amazing. In the game’s opening moments, we’re treated to a cinematic opening that rivals that of most major Hollywood productions, and things just keep getting better from there. The city and the characters (especially in the superbly acted cut scenes), the entire world that GTA IV pulls us into is covered in a brilliantly gritty art scheme that seems to combine real life with the seedy side of New York City we see in the movies. It’s hard not to marvel at certain moments in the game – watching the sunset over the river or standing in the middle of Times Squa...excuse me, I mean Star Junction... is nothing short of breathtaking. 

While the single player campaign rests on the gameplay foundations set forth by its predecessors, several small yet important tweaks and changes make GTA IV stand out. In previous installments, stealing cars meant merely stepping through the door and taking off (or, walking off is the door was locked), but in GTA IV – Niko doesn’t take no for an answer. If a car door is locked, players will need to smash through the windows with either their elbow, foot or gun and then proceed to hot-wire the car.  Not only does this add a sense of realism, but it also makes players be a little bit more selective (read: careful) with what vehicles they choose. Sure, that sports car parked in the middle of the ritzy neighborhood looks fun to drive, but if the do-gooders in the area see you smash through the window, you’re sure to have the police following you awfully quick, while doing the same in one of Liberty’s more run-down areas may help you stay away from the fuzz for a bit longer.

Many of GTA IV’s changes are meant to move the franchise in a dramatically more realistic direction. Niko can now be thrown from his car in serious accidents, scale fences, and yes – can finally take cover behind objects much like the “duck and cover” system found in Gears of War.  Even the police seem more realistic as they don’t send the entire force after you for bumping another car in traffic. While you still do have your “wanted” meter (measured by 1-6 stars), your in game GPS will now feature a flashing red and blue circle that grows as your police opposition does. Get out of the circle without alerting any nearby squads (also shown on your GPS) and you’re in the clear.

"Several times you’ll be given the option to kill someone or save them..."

One of the biggest changes in GTA IV is the ability to make choices during select missions that directly affect the game’s story. Several times you’ll be given the option to kill someone or save them, or to assist someone in criminal activity or take the high road

and opt out. While GTA is always a long game, I found myself eager to play through the campaign a second time to see what changes if I made other choices. This gameplay mechanic was introduced to gamers in a much more limited sense in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and it’s good to see the developers taking the next step. It’s clear GTA IV borrows heavily from its most recent predecessor, but one can’t help but think it missed some of what made that game so incredible – the deep RPG like character customization. Sure, you can change Niko’s clothing and jewelry, but San Andreas was much deeper, you could change your haircut, sculpt your body via trips to the gym – even improve on key skills like driving and shooting through in game tutorials. If you didn’t play San Andreas, you won’t know it’s missing, but it’s a shame that such a deep game is missing such a key element.

 
   

Sure, GTA IV is more realistic than any game in the franchise before it, but at what cost? Maybe it was that it was on the previous console generation, but the earlier games always seemed to have a sense of cartoon like fun to them. Come on, can you really take a game seriously when you’re running around a country club in a sweater vest, chasing down terrified golfers while wielding a flame thrower? Half the game is merely exploring the city and seeing just what you can do, stringing together impossible series of car chases, violence and stunts, and while this is still a major part of the game, due to some of the new realistic changes, it’s sometimes harder to string these chases out. For instance, say you want to lead the cops on a chase through downtown Liberty City, if you’re not careful you could out-run your wanted level circle, unless you start off by committing a major crime. New to the PC version, players can now record and edit these events, a great way to get bragging rights for their in game feats.

For the first time on a home console, the GTA series goes online, and yes it’s as addicting as it sounds. Up to 16 players (32 on PC) can take part in over a dozen different multiplayer modes. Though some are mere variations of others – you’re unlikely to become bored with GTA IV’s multiplayer suite. The brilliance of this portion of the game is that literally everything is customizable – want to play in downtown Liberty with cops? Done. What about in the art district with no traffic, or cops but bazookas? You got it. Like the single player, each time you play, the game will be different and it’s hard to break away and turn the system off with such a fun experience.

In an industry where many franchises merely rely on the success of previous titles to sell new installments, it’s refreshing that Rockstar not only chose to challenge players and the industry by changing aspects of their mega-blockbuster dramatically. What results is not just a new high for the Grand Theft Auto series, but for the industry itself.  GTA IV isn’t perfect but its damn close.

 

CHEATfactor

CHEATS USED: Infinite ammo, Spawn vehicles, All weapons, Raise wanted level, Lower wanted level, Restore health, ammo, armor.

The Grand Theft Auto series is and always has been the perfect example of a game made better by cheats. Entering in the cheats (by means of your new in game cell phone), let’s players interested in causing random trouble throughout Liberty customize their experience, and gives players a bit of an edge is some of the game’s tougher missions.

I highly recommend using the cheat to spawn an annihilator helicopter as soon as possible. Once you have it, fly as high as the game will let you – then breathe in the beauty. This, is truly the only way to clearly experience and appreciate the scale of Liberty City.

With these codes, you can change your weapons, your cars, even your wanted level, and while it’s fun to explore the city and find some of these items on your own, an afternoon running around Liberty with infinite ammo and an incredibly fast car is an experience not to be missed.


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