Have You Played… Grand Theft Auto IV?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

I’ve fallen for Grand Theft Auto IV a dozen times in a dozen different ways. Only the first period of time spent with it was concerned with making headway through the miserable singleplayer missions, and that ended with the bleakness and grind became too great. Every other re-visit since then has been far more fun and uplifting.

There were the weeks I spent mucking about in its freeform multiplayer which, when it could run the gauntlet of Games for Windows Live and Rockstar Social Club and find its way to actually working, provided ample opportunity for creative japes. Hey everyone – let’s race motorbikes! Hey everyone – let’s ride our motorbikes over this ramp! Hey everyone – let’s jump our motorbikes over the spinning blades of another friend’s hovering helicopter!

There were the weeks I spent endlessly tweaking angles and timings in the wonderful, PC-only replay editor, which let you cut together short films of your multiplayer or singleplayer chicanery. I enjoy the solipsism of watching my own behaviour back in slow motion, doubly so when it involves physics glitches, comedy pratfalls, and accidental but beautifully timed NPC barks.

There were the weeks – nay, months – I spent futzing with mods. Grand Theft Auto IV didn’t have any official mod support of course, but that doesn’t stop the community making it happen. Superman, Iron Man, the Hulk, all are represented with models and mechanics. Want a gravity gun? Sure. Want to increase the world’s population density, to make Liberty City’s take on New York feel more real? Go for it. Want to witness this all in first-person? You got it.

Eventually, with a few of those mods and a few graphics tweaks more, there were the long hours I spent simply wandering that city and taking screenshots – whether Will Selfing my way from end to airport, or simply trudging through shopping districts and hoping it rains. I’ve tried it with the Oculus Rift, but you don’t need it. Grand Theft Auto IV is a marvelous place to visit, even with GTA 5 only a month away for PC players.

69 Comments

Top comments

  1. poetfoxpaul says:

    This is going to get buried but I hope someone reads it.

    My most proud moment of video gaming happened a year ago within the world of GTA4. you know how you are supposed to unlock islands before you explore them? I had created a little game for myself that challenged that particular structure of the game.

    My game went as this: Start a new file. Progress to the point you can save a vehicle but no further, then save. There was an unmarked motorcycle dealership on the third island (alderney? not sure) that housed the fasted motorcycle in the game, the NRG900. That was my target. Make my way across multiple roadblocks from that first apartment to this dealership, steal a motorbike, then ride back and park it in my spot. This was absurdly hard, because once I crossed the bridge I wasn't supposed to I gained an instant 5-star wanted level. I played this over and over again for days, unable to progress. But -

    I learned how to get past the first island via a walkway that was inaccessible to cops. I slowly learned how to juke the suicidal police and swat vans while crossing that second island, careening around corners, ditching destroyed vehicles for new ones. I struck a barrier, however - unlike the second island the third island had no easy route of access. Either take an underground tunnel impassable to cars or a long, sloping bridge guarded by swat vans. I attacked those roadblocks hundreds of times in nearly every kind of vehicle, before realizing just how to get past. Once I made it to the second island I drove around until I found a moped. Stealing that (and becoming extremely vulnerable to almost everything in the process) I would speed between the cruisers and hop onto the pedestrian walkway, often dodging multiple swat vans / crashing helicopters. The walkway itself was barely wider than my bike but I learned how to stay on the throttle the whole way through - it was the only way to get past the end of the bridge.

    One time I got there, to the high-end motorcycle dealership, only to run into another conundrum: how was I to transfer myself onto one of the bikes while avoiding death-by-hundreds of chasing cops? I would crash through the windows (every time felt like a movie), grab a bike, then be immediately shot by the various officers who had been tailing me closely. I wasn't fast enough, but I learned to bait the cops to other neighborhoods before speedily stealing one of the bikes.

    Once I escaped, I faced yet another issue: how to get back. I had two bridges and three islands filled with angry cops in between me and the safety of that street-side parking. Note, also, that at this point in this challenge I had spent ten minutes perfectly executing the previous steps. This was a trial of patience at it's heart.

    My final trick was the best: I would gun it to the underground tunnel and avoid the entrance blockade. Just before the exit (which was blocked by heavy cement freeway dividers preventing me from flashing past the cruisers) I had to ramp off a miniscule ledge and over the blockade. All this was done on the extremely powerful but tough to maneuver NRG900. Once past this tunnel I could easily cross back the first island via that pedestrian walkway, assuming I wasn't killed by the various speeding cruisers or by my own hand via death-by-sudden-wall.

    I only did it once (well twice but the first time I died before I could shake off the cops on the first island ;_;) and that was essentially when I stopped playing GTA4. Nothing else could pull me in to that game anymore, not after that.
  1. Haborym says:

    Gta4 was a pretty fun game, shame Rockstar sucks balls at pc ports though. Hopefully gta5 will be better. I found the mp for gta4 a bit lackluster too. The mp for gta5 seems a lot better though.

    • BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

      If I recall, the people who handled the Max Payne 3 port are handling the GTA V one so it should hopefully be okay this time around. Here’s hoping we’re not bombarded with a million ‘Make an account on this site pls’ screens before we can play the bloody thing, though.

      • kwyjibo says:

        The problem with GTA IV was the sheer amount of crapware tethered to it. GFWL, Securom and Rockstar Social Club. And then there’s Steam on top of that if that’s where you’re buying from.

        • LionsPhil says:

          No kidding.

        • Jason Moyer says:

          Being ugly and still running like garbage on any hardware you threw at it was probably a bigger problem than having to auto-sign-in to a couple accounts.

          • orcane says:

            The crapware did have an influence though. On my computer it jumped from unplayable framerates despite turned down details (ie. looking really ugly) to looking decent and running fine simply by using a DLL that removed the GfWL hook.

      • Haborym says:

        It was a bit of nuisance wasn’t it? I didn’t let it bother me too much though.

  2. Faxanadu says:

    “Hey everyone – let’s race motorbikes! Hey everyone – let’s ride our motorbikes over this ramp! Hey everyone – let’s jump our motorbikes over the spinning blades of another friend’s hovering helicopter! ”

    Pfft. Try “Hey everyone – lets tether a passenger plane into a tank and ride our motorbikes on the passenger plane while the tank is shooting at us.” -Just Cause 2

    Real Life Server in JC2 convinced me that a GTA multiplayer -like with player control over economics (earn money to purchase guns and vehicles) factions (you command a faction and select who is in your faction) and progression (since you control the faction, you control who is promoted and as such progresses in the game) will be the greatest, if slightly terrifying, thing ever. It just needs to be done right.

    And JC3 isn’t even going to try. Nitwits! Roar! ._.

    • Haborym says:

      “Hey everyone – lets tether a passenger plane into a tank and ride our motorbikes on the passenger plane while the tank is shooting at us.”
      That sounds amazing 8D

      • shaydeeadi says:

        From my experience with the JC2 Multi it probably wasn’t anywhere near as impressive as it sounds.

  3. Heliocentric says:

    I’m still plodding through The Ballad of Gay Tony roughly a mission a month.

    • P.Funk says:

      For me that story better captured my favourite qualities of GTA than all of GTAIV’s main story. The whacky crazy vulgar farce that was Vice City and San Andreas could be found readily in the Meat Quarter (gay pun ftw) and your pill popping nerve wreck of a boss/friend did a fantastic spin on the classic Tommy Vercetti/Ken Rosenberg duo with Ken Rosenberg being the one in charge instead (Gay Tony is a bit less of a mess than Ken, alright).

      It hit all the marks for me and whats more it was short and sweet. Every GTA before, including GTA IV itself, was too damned long and for some reason the last island is always a disappointment. Las Venturas, the Vice City Downtown area, and Alderney all did almost nothing for me and I spent little time there. GTA IV’s best island is easily Algonquin and it serves as the anchor, the pivot, and the haunt for this tightly honed cadre of misfits.

      Gay Tony got everything right, even refining GTA’a new cell phone to being the ultimate convenience with your thug friends able to steal you a car of a particular type on demand in case you should find yourself whip-less, and the side missions where you go robbing with them were interesting enough to help punctuate the times between story missions.

      This Ballad, and it truly deserves this title, builds to an appropriate climax and unlike any other GTA story before it you don’t get tired of it before it gets there. There’s no endless string of missions that diverge so far that you forget the entire motivation for your character. If a GTA game’s story is like a novel then The Ballad of Gay Tony is a short story, a concentrated dose of what I most love about GTA, refined into a very playable single player time sink that for a change leaves you wanting more rather than languishing with a game 2/3 of the way through the story and Steam telling you its been 9 months since you last started the game.

      A doff of the cap to my main man Yusuf.

      • whydidyoumakemeregister says:

        It’s also the first time GTA allowed your character to make smart choices. You aren’t a pawn; you’re gaming the system.

  4. foszae says:

    Good game, but find it crashes so regularly on Windows 8 that it’s become unplayable.

  5. Jabberslops says:

    Even with all the problems GTA IV had on PC when it first came out I really enjoyed it. It’s hard to enjoy now though since I upgraded to a GTX 780. For some reason the game runs like it’s super sped up, exactly how Saints Row 2 runs on PC without the CPU GHZ limiter patch thing. I was also getting 100+fps, but even limiting the fps and setting v-sync on and limiting refresh to 60Hz didn’t help. There doesn’t seem to be a fix for these problems, so I gave up. Doesn’t really matter anyway with GTA V coming in January.

  6. shaydeeadi says:

    I’ve pondered re-buying this on PC too many times but I’m just holding on for V now. The Lost and Damned was probably my favorite story of the 3, the multi kept me and my friends occupied for months, chasing a supercar in a heli with M16s hanging out the window is hilarious and exhilarating all at once.

    Rockstar do such a great job of making a semi believable world to roam around in, and the silly caricatured citizens keep surprising you after hundreds of hours. Roll on the end of January.

    • fish99 says:

      ***spoilers***

      Did you not find the Lost and Damned story a bit predictable? 30 seconds into the opening cinematic they set up the dispute between Johnny and Billy and the rest was just waiting for the inevitable betrayal, while doing missions that mostly involve killing the rival gang, blowing up the rival gang, or stealing the bikes of the rival gang. I did like Johnny as a character though.

      BoGT had a much more varied narrative IMO, and even Niko’s story had some changes of tone and pace.

      • Stevostin says:

        Predictable isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s the travel, not the destination. I remember Lonesome Road to be the best part, story wise, of Fallout New Vegas despite being the only “full corridor” bit.

        • fish99 says:

          ***more spoilers****

          There was a certain intrigue in Lonesome Road though, since the antagonist knew you and your part in shaping that landscape, but you the player knew nothing of that, so you were uncovering the Couriers past. Lost and the Damned though, it was just the same argument between Johnny and Billy over and over, and they telegraphed the betrayal before you even started playing it. There were some good missions, but they were for other contacts, not the main plot ones. There’s a reason TBoGT received much higher reviews, it was much more ambitious, more fun, more humourous, it had better characters, and it had memorable missions. Heck it started with a golf buggy chase!

          I dunno, maybe you have to be into metal, drugs and bikes to really dig TLatD.

  7. Gordon Shock says:

    To this day I am amazed at GTA4 monumental success. For me it was not a game but a life simulator, 15-20 hours in I only had 30K$, was spending most of my time running errands for my stupid cousin, had to endure his company as well as playing minigames with him. In order to advance in the game I had to date, create an account and check my email….needless to say I wasn’t having any fun AT ALL.

    The straw that broke my back was when I entered an office to meet a certain characters. His secretary told me that I had to come back during business hours. When I saw that I paused, put the controller down, exited the game, uninstalled it and never went back.

    Ok I will admit that prior to playing this game I had clocked in +/- 100 hours into Just Cause 2….enough said I guess

    • fish99 says:

      You have to visit the internet cafe probably twice in the whole game, and there’s probably 3 missions out of about 50 that have to be started at a particular time of day. Also you can completely ignore all the friend activities and it doesn’t impact the game in any meaningful way.

    • P.Funk says:

      “The straw that broke my back was when I entered an office to meet a certain characters. His secretary told me that I had to come back during business hours. When I saw that I paused, put the controller down, exited the game, uninstalled it and never went back.”

      That’s been in more than one GTA. In San Andreas you’d go to mission locations and if you walked into the icon it would tell you to come back between a given time period. So you either go do a different mission or you save the game, move forward six hours, do the damned mission.

      • Gordon Shock says:

        Yes and that is a reason why San Andreas was the beginning of the downhill between me and GTA’s.

        How’s 5 by the way, even more life simulator like SA or IV or more fun like VC and III?

        • drewski says:

          I can’t really comment on the “life simulator” bit as that’s about as far from any GTA game I’ve played as Diablo is, but they do automatically fast forward time to the correct time of day for the mission if you show up at the wrong time.

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          It’s not quite as zany as Vice City, but they have made a bunch of little tweaks that make it a bit more enjoyable. As drewski says time gets forwarded to the correct time for a mission, but I also want to call out whoever placed the checkpoints for missions because I don’t remember a single one where the checkpoint was too far back from the annoying bit where I kept dying, whilst still providing some incentive to not fail. Great positioning basically.

    • green frog says:

      But some people enjoy “life simulation”. In my opinion, this is why game developers too often give us lifeless, unbelievable worlds that clearly exist only to serve the player. It’s because any attempts at realism or immersion are decried by the instant-gratification set as just boring drudgery that gets in the way of their explosions.

      GTA IV wasn’t perfect of course, but overall I welcome Rockstar’s efforts towards verisimilitude. If you want a game that’s all about nonstop wacky hijinks and doesn’t bother with all the worldbuilding, I suggest you stick with Saints Row or Just Cause instead.

  8. Toadsmash says:

    Complaining about the story missions to open this article is an interesting viewpoint to me, as my take on the game was the total opposite — after the hyperbolic, over the top opening to the game, I thought the storytelling was brilliant. Virtually every minigame/side activity bored me to tears, though, and I never did figure out the wild, soaring popularity that had so many friends of mine putting literally hundreds of hours into it.

    Then again, the only open world game that really nailed unstructured emergent gameplay for me was Shadow of Mordor.

    • green frog says:

      RPS has always had a preference for sandbox, emergent gameplay and somewhat of a distaste for authored, linear gameplay, as well as particular tastes regarding the narrative. So when they put down the story missions in an open world game I always keep that in mind.

      Personally I prefer a mix of both styles – enough freedom to feel like I have agency and enough structure to provide direction and character. So I don’t generally get on well with Call of Duty or Minecraft but Grand Theft Auto usually hits the sweet spot.

      • drewski says:

        Mmm. I generally don’t get on at all with “emergent gameplay”, as I find try everything I can think of within about an hour, and am then bored.

        Linear or even linear-within-open-world I can play for hours, though.

  9. Arglebargle says:

    Couldn’t get through the early gauntlet of GFWL, poor PC Port, bad single player stuff. After a certain amount of wading through shit, I don’t care how good the game may be in that mythical perfect place.

    • airmikee says:

      ^^What they said, though I managed to wade through the GFWL shit, I then encountered the second roadblock to playing the game, the stupid and equally dreadful ‘Rockstar Social Club.’ That was the last game I purchased from Rockstar, and I have no plans to play or purchase any of their shit in the future.

      • P.Funk says:

        I don’t get it. Aside from having another account to log into on start up I never had any problems with it. The only exception is sometimes it doesn’t connect the first try (which takes it half a second to tell you) so you just click the button quickly two or three times and it launches… its pretty much a non issue.

        • drewski says:

          It amuses me that so many PC gamers whinge about games being “dumbed down for consoles”, but then can’t handle clicking a Skip button when booting a game, to the point that they scorched earth that entire developers past and future catalogue.

          • Arglebargle says:

            Nice extrapolation of your experience to all. Or not.

            Took me four days to get GFWL to work on GTA. The first time I logged into the idiot social club, GFWL promptly hosed my set up and refused to work. This was par for the course for me with this game. One other experience with GFWL was enough for me to swear it off and any game infected with it. Now this was early in the days of GTA. I understand it got somewhat better….years later.

            To me, this shows a profound lack of consideration for your customers. I returned their favor with a profound lack of buying their products.

          • airmikee says:

            It amuses me how many people just assume they know what a problem is based off a few generalized sentences that lacked any real description of the problem, I hope you work in an IT related field, your masterful ability to diagnose problems off of vague symptoms is absolutely astounding, you could really clean up and fix the entire world with your amazing diagnostic skills. It never got to the point of giving me a Skip button as it did in LA Noire, and after multiple reboots, restarts, and a couple hours of searching online for a solution, I finally just gave up because I have more than enough games that work properly that don’t require special tweaking in order to run properly. Now please, oh grand wizard and master of technology and video games, forgive me for not playing your favorite game or stroking the ego of your favorite developer. Have a nice day, kid. :)

          • P.Funk says:

            We’re talking about Rockstar Social Club. GFWL gave me so much headache that I never even bothered to consider socialclub to be anything of an obstacle. It always just worked and worked well enough to get past it and straight into the face of GFWL.

            That swine stole my save games, confounded my login, and generally did nothing to improve my experience one iotia, meanwhile at least R*SC offered me SOMETHING even if I never used it.

            To put Social club and GFWL in the same category is silly. To use it as an excuse to just compain about GFWL is not the point here.

          • drewski says:

            airmikee – If I worked in tech support and someone called up telling me their computer didn’t work, when they hadn’t yet turned it on, I’m going to go ahead and assume I’d be OK diagnosing that one without a great deal more information.

            I don’t know what more information you could possibly think I need to know to discern that a skippable login is and was skippable.

        • airmikee says:

          Your ‘non-issue’ prevented me from playing the game. I’d suggest you look up the definition of empathy, but I know you wouldn’t care. :)

          • P.Funk says:

            Hey thats nice! Personal insults because I disagreed with someone’s loaded interpretation of a login service barrier to the game! Clearly because I don’ t believe that Rockstar Social Club was anything remotely similar to GFWL in terms of being an obstacle to play means I’m an inhuman monster who has no feelings or empathy. Obviously if I am incorrect I am a beast that deserves to be annihilated with terse language.

            Or you know.. maybe you dip shits could surprise me about the internet and not make a disagreement about something into a shit throwing contest. K?

            I never heard of ANYONE being prevented from playing GTA because of Rockstar Social Club. It even has a nice little play offline button for when the servers won’t connect. Hence I thought it was largely a non issue compared to GFWL which did all kinds of crap to ruin my experience.

        • jrodman says:

          I think it’s safe to say that experiences vary with DRM.

          • Arglebargle says:

            All DRM is not equal. GFWL earned its woeful status the old fashioned way.

            Rock Star Social Club just gave it another chance to mess things up for me.

  10. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    I played The Ballad of Gay Tony trying not to steal any cars. (So yeah, I tried to play Grand Theft Auto without committing any grand theft auto.) It became a hyperviolent metro riding simulator. Highly recommended. (The only flaws is that sometimes the conversations that trigger when you’re driving won’t trigger when you’re riding the metro, but sometimes they do. Video games!)

  11. N'Al says:

    “The story and gameplay don’t match up!” Wah, wah, wah, whatever.

    I still enjoyed my time with GTA IV (and its episodes) IMMENSELY, thought it was an excellent game. Granted, not as good as San Andreas (or Vice City, even), but even so, Rockstar did manage to create an amazing believable world. Plus, after a few attempts the driving turned out to be sublime.

  12. Shardz says:

    Yup, tried to play it, but it wanted to steer me through the game with missions, which completely messed things up for me as I like to play the game like a Rogue-like. Either sandbox or bust I say!

  13. AlexC says:

    I ran this game as a *screensaver* for hours and weeks on one of my machines, watching people on the streets, watching traffic patterns…

    Just like making GTA V run on a PS3, GTA IV was a technical miracle, full of bold decisions … no bugs can hide that.

  14. Laurentius says:

    I am still playing it, driving through LC is so cool, chilling. I set up Multiplayer Free Mode type of play, turn off police, set up some music and just drive, or walk the stree or look at the sunset… unparalled technical marvel thsi game and car handling is my favourite car handling of all driving games i have ever played.

  15. MartinWisse says:

    Eh, I tried a few weeks back but after Saints Row and the freedom to choose your own character to play with, any GTA is a letdown.

    • Vinraith says:

      The beauty of Saints Row is that it knows exactly what it is, and revels in it. GTA’s principle sin is taking itself seriously. Well, that and the moment-to-moment gameplay being pure drudgery.

      • Nasarius says:

        For me, Vice City was the sweet spot: filled with parody, but not the over-the-top goofiness of GTA 1+2 and Saints Row.

        I would be really interested in a gritty quasi-realistic crime game, but GTA4 is so poorly done. And SR3, well…it’s a bit too much. Neither can maintain my interest for more than a couple hours.

    • ulix says:

      I have to say that after playing GTA IV (and the Episodes, as well as RDR and GTA V later) I couldn’t enjoy the entirely lifeless cities without any charm in Saint’s Row. GTA IV just crafts one of the most believable, life-like, authentic (whatever you want to call it), and most detailled worlds in gaming history. It’s a monumental achievement, only topped by GTA V.

      I’d rather do hijinks and fuck around in a world that feels like a world, instead of a lifeless husk.

      • Laurentius says:

        So much this ! I mean i tried SR3 and even a bit of SR4 but Steelport is so drab, boring, video game decorations kind of city in comparison to LC in GTA IV that I just couldn’t stand that.

  16. pasports31 says:

    I tried this game a few years ago and was unbelievably bored. Thought the driving was frustrating, the shooting mechanics average at best, and the environment one which wasn’t very interesting (granted, cities have never really been my preferred gameplay environment…this was a negative for Sleeping Dogs for me, as well). I forced myself through about 10 hours or so before quitting. It’s just not for me, I guess.

  17. JustAchaP says:

    The one thing that made me enjoy the game was the Euphoria engine.

  18. drewski says:

    The second best GTA game after Vice City, if only because one of the safehouses is around the corner from the Turismo shop. Man I love that car.

    I guess I understand the criticisms of the story missions, but I never mind them. The core gameplay is satisfying enough that I enjoy it even with all of the horrible writing.

  19. flashlight_eyes says:

    Am I the only one who really enjoyed what this game had to offer story-wise? Thought the tone was great, it was very interesting to have a more gritty GTA that often demonized violence and had an interesting conflicted main character, instead of someone who is not really critical of their choices of violence. Also, I loved that unlike GTA5 which I felt got extremely over the top, GTA4 was willing to stay more tone downed in order to make the game more immersive. The detail put into the soundtrack/city really showed

  20. Asurmen says:

    Driving in this game seemed to be Marmite. Personally I enjoyed it.

  21. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    Stupidly bought it twice, and never liked it. The characters were kind of funny, but I cannot stand more misogynistic psychopathic stuff in games in the storyline and side missions, and I cannot stand the extremely boring repetition in the gameplay. Yeah, some friends told me “play the ballad of gay tony”, but really, no, thanks. I find this kind of sandbox games really stupid and dumb, all shock value. I don’t understand the “life simulator” remarks when it is obviously an inmature kid kind of view of life which is very uninteresting, and GTA always threw all kind of satire out of the window.

    Yes, I kind of hate it. Not for being like it is, but for mistaking sandboxing with reiteration and satire with teen humor. And now that I am ranting, two random remarks: Just Cause 2 also bores me to death after 8 hours (I’ve tried, really, I’ve tried), and I found funny other games blamed for their childish humor as Unepic, because CONTEXT. GTAs are just old and wrong.

    • edwardh says:

      Amen, right down to Unepic.
      Except that I fortunately never bought this piece of crap (GTA IV that is, obviously). Looking at our culture, I can see why many enjoy it though. And that saddens me…

      • P.Funk says:

        Oh good, I was afraid that this article would slip by without an “our culture is a rotting corpse of juvenile fascination” comment.

  22. poetfoxpaul says:

    This is going to get buried but I hope someone reads it.

    My most proud moment of video gaming happened a year ago within the world of GTA4. you know how you are supposed to unlock islands before you explore them? I had created a little game for myself that challenged that particular structure of the game.

    My game went as this: Start a new file. Progress to the point you can save a vehicle but no further, then save. There was an unmarked motorcycle dealership on the third island (alderney? not sure) that housed the fasted motorcycle in the game, the NRG900. That was my target. Make my way across multiple roadblocks from that first apartment to this dealership, steal a motorbike, then ride back and park it in my spot. This was absurdly hard, because once I crossed the bridge I wasn’t supposed to I gained an instant 5-star wanted level. I played this over and over again for days, unable to progress. But –

    I learned how to get past the first island via a walkway that was inaccessible to cops. I slowly learned how to juke the suicidal police and swat vans while crossing that second island, careening around corners, ditching destroyed vehicles for new ones. I struck a barrier, however – unlike the second island the third island had no easy route of access. Either take an underground tunnel impassable to cars or a long, sloping bridge guarded by swat vans. I attacked those roadblocks hundreds of times in nearly every kind of vehicle, before realizing just how to get past. Once I made it to the second island I drove around until I found a moped. Stealing that (and becoming extremely vulnerable to almost everything in the process) I would speed between the cruisers and hop onto the pedestrian walkway, often dodging multiple swat vans / crashing helicopters. The walkway itself was barely wider than my bike but I learned how to stay on the throttle the whole way through – it was the only way to get past the end of the bridge.

    One time I got there, to the high-end motorcycle dealership, only to run into another conundrum: how was I to transfer myself onto one of the bikes while avoiding death-by-hundreds of chasing cops? I would crash through the windows (every time felt like a movie), grab a bike, then be immediately shot by the various officers who had been tailing me closely. I wasn’t fast enough, but I learned to bait the cops to other neighborhoods before speedily stealing one of the bikes.

    Once I escaped, I faced yet another issue: how to get back. I had two bridges and three islands filled with angry cops in between me and the safety of that street-side parking. Note, also, that at this point in this challenge I had spent ten minutes perfectly executing the previous steps. This was a trial of patience at it’s heart.

    My final trick was the best: I would gun it to the underground tunnel and avoid the entrance blockade. Just before the exit (which was blocked by heavy cement freeway dividers preventing me from flashing past the cruisers) I had to ramp off a miniscule ledge and over the blockade. All this was done on the extremely powerful but tough to maneuver NRG900. Once past this tunnel I could easily cross back the first island via that pedestrian walkway, assuming I wasn’t killed by the various speeding cruisers or by my own hand via death-by-sudden-wall.

    I only did it once (well twice but the first time I died before I could shake off the cops on the first island ;_;) and that was essentially when I stopped playing GTA4. Nothing else could pull me in to that game anymore, not after that.

  23. Stevostin says:

    “the miserable singleplayer missions”

    Man, I wish all “story based games” had missions as good as those ones. Not sure I can name one from this year, but I didn’t play eveything. A yes, Wolfenstein, pretty good writing. Not “superior” though in my book. Niko Bellic still is my favourite video game hero, although Wolfenstein may have the scariest bad guy (and Borderlands 2 the funniest).

  24. fish99 says:

    I enjoyed the story myself, and the missions. I know everyone likes to exaggerate on the web but to call the writing terrible – compared to what – The Godfather, Goodfellas? (i.e. two of the best mob films ever made). It’s a video game, and the story and writing are well above average for video games. The characters are stereotypes but they’re decently written and the dialogue is entertaining. The narrative is always going to be limited by the fact that Niko has to be a hitman, because that’s all the gameplay allows him to be, but that applies to so many other games too. By the end of Skyrim you’ve murdered 95% of the provinces inhabitants.

    I also respect the game for not making you the ruler of the world by the end. Niko is still a nobody and a pawn by the end, which is really all he could ever be.

    • flashlight_eyes says:

      This
      I hate when people hate on the writing in this game. I find it far more nuanced than most games, and having instances where Niko is screaming Romans name while battling through an empty warehouse in the industrial district of new york really pulled on my heart strings more than 99% of action games. I’d be hard pressed to name a triple A game besides metal gear that has writing on par with GTA4 that is also relevant and realistic

  25. cunnington says:

    Let me disagree with this one. It’s a miserable game and it made my life worse for the 30 minutes I ran it. Screw the driving, the shooting, the protagonist, his bloody accent, the cousin, Michelle, the awful pc port, GFWL and “rockstar games social club”.

    Two middle fingers to GTA IV.

  26. lordfrikk says:

    I finally got around to playing it but after 30+ hours the single player missions finally started to grate on me to the point where I don’t feel like playing anymore. There’s some good stuff in the game but it’s buried under a pile of shit.

  27. Kerr Avon says:

    So we’re getting GTAV on PC soon… nice, but wait… so what happened to the PC port of Red Dead Redemption?? Wasn’t it a little more urgent to finally do a PC version of that first? *sigh* Oh well, I guess it’s never happening then. After playing through RDR single player three times now on PS3 (and the Undead Nightmare DLC) I don’t really fancy doing it again, but I *would* do it one more time on PC, just to experience higher resolutions, better textures, smoother gameplay and fast loading screens in general. And then of course the mods we could make for it. Anyone else thinking this, or just me? As for GTAIV… while it wasn’t my favourite GTA gameplay-wise, the Ricky Gervais appearance and the crazed acting (especially Brucie) made it more than bearable. Rockstar humour at its finest, coming close to the greatness (almost) as the superb acting in GTA V.