by Mike Shea on 15 May 2008
Grand Theft Auto IV is full of buggy, twitch gameplay where the total skill involved comes from managing to control whatever terrible twitchy-ass vehicle they want you to drive in their on-the-rails chase scene. All the joy of playing in an open world is lost the minute you see someone running away, shoot him five times in the head with a sniper rifle, and he doesn't die because the mission wants him to go on and get in a speedboat.
If I had known how annoying the final mission in this piece of shit game was, I never would have bought it. 45 minutes of the mission leads you to jumping a bike off of a ramp. Nine times out of ten you will either slide in the sand or miss the ramp or not time it right and the bike goes in the drink - restart the mission and spend another 45 minutes up to that point. If you DO somehow manage the jump, they stick you in a twitchy, shitty-controlling helicopter, and expect you to dodge rockets. If a rocket hits you, you're back 45 minutes earlier hoping you can jump that shitty twitch ass bike up that goddamn ramp.
Awful. This "perfect" game has the worst last mission I ever recall playing on any game. I haven't been this mad at a game in ten years. I wish I had never purchased it. I wish I hadn't wasted the last two weeks playing it. I feel like Nico does after he realizes his life is meaningless. I should have stayed on that goddamn boat.
There is no excuse, given the amount Rock Star put into this game, for the gameplay to suck as bad as it does. Every car spins out of control on nearly every turn. The bikes are nearly uncontrollable. The "improved" targeting system sucks. The missions are annoying and repetitive. I found myself wishing each mission was just a simple assassination mission so I could just finish it and move on. I didn't feel joy when I completed a mission, I felt relief that I didn't have to do the stupid thing again.
God I hate this game.
Ok, so I woke up and finished the game after three tries. I still hate that mission and there are still a lot of flaws that make GTA4 far from a perfect game, but it's not bad. I like having an open-ended game where I can go work on a whole pile of missions once I've completed the entire game.
If I had to narrow GTA4's problems, this is what they'd be:
The vehicle control sucks which is pretty bad for a game with as much time behind the wheel as this one has. Cars seem to weigh about 40 pounds, sliding all the time and rolling when you touch just about any object. Even after nearly 30 hours of play, I still slid my vehicles all the time. The bike in the final mission took the cake, hit any bottle or any person and the mission is over.
For an open-world game, the designers sure stick you on the rails. A Chinese gangster rolls away in a big truck full of heroin. I can't shoot him with my sniper rifle, bullets seem to have no effect. I can't shoot out the tires of the truck. I can't hit it with a grenade. The dialog box says something about chasing it and I see a big yellow arrow on the back of the truck. So I spend about ten minutes chasing a very slow truck on foot until I reach the arrow and then realize that I'm supposed to ride the truck. Why? Why can't I just shoot the tires? The Indiana Jones truck surfing scene sucked anyway, I'd rather have the open ended game I had with GTA Vice City where they gave me the mission and I decided how to accomplish it. GTA IV is a lot more on the rails with the standard missions and that sucks for an open ended game.
Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @mshea on Twitter. If you enjoyed this article, please bookmark and use this link to Amazon.com for your next online purchase.