Admittedly a discussion of the bloatware and DRM measures that come bundled with Grand Theft Auto IV
PC is an odd way to start a review, but it’s also probably the most important one we think. Much easier than discussing the story and gameplay of the game anyway, which is pretty similar to the console version of the game.
In fact, when we say ‘pretty similar’ what we really mean is ‘totally identical’. Same story, same characters, same free-roaming gameplay and everything.
Just like the original game on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Grand Theft Auto IV
casts players as Niko Bellic, an ex-army man who has been lured to 1990’s America by his cousins promises of coin and cleavage. When he gets there though all isn’t quite as he imagined and he quickly finds himself embroiled in a life of crime.
Slowly but surely though, Niko starts to gain the wealth and lifestyle he dreamt of even though his gains are all ill-gotten and he sets out on his own mission; to settle a vendetta.
Oh, and along the way he’ll steal roughly 50 billion cars, gun down countless civilians and be almost constantly on the run from the police. Ignoring the mostly bleak and clichéd storyline, which is engaging when it needs to be but still feels a little bit depressing and dull, it’s the car chases and sheer openness of the gameplay that keeps GTA IV
Well, fun to a degree anyway because it really is remarkable how a little bit of time can mellow your excitement and un-tint your glasses. All those missions where you have to run out and get your cousin or girlfriend and spend time with them at the stripclub or fairground had a sense of novelty and fun on the console version, but it’s become somewhat dulled by now for those of us who’ve seen the original game already.
More likely however is that if you’re buying GTA IV
for the PC then it’s because you’ve waited for this version specifically. If that’s the case then we reckon you’ll go through the same cycle as we have in the last few months.
You’ll start by loving these social side-missions and the sense of emergence and personality by the game. That fascination will last until roughly the tenth time you’ve had to take Cousin Roman to a stripclub or your girlfriend to the pool hall. At that point you’ll tire of the constant need to support these virtual friends and you’ll start resenting the game for pressuring you into them. In that way too the PC version of the game is identical to the console version.
Where the game isn’t identical though is in the multiplayer side, where the number of allowed players has been boosted up from 16 to 32. Good news for sure, but it’s not exactly enough to blow our minds if we’re honest. While the multiplayer and co-op available in Grand Theft Auto IV
is OK, it isn’t excellent and doesn’t feel like it’s making the most of the PC platform – especially as it is tied directly to Games for Windows.
Other new features are mercifully better executed, such as the new Independence Radio Station. The chance to upload your own music into Grand Theft Auto
has always been one of the highlights of PC versions of the game, but GTA IV
raises the bar even further by featuring commentary and adverts on the radio that will poke fun at your music collection and pointedly ask about the legality of your MP3 library.
There is however one more area where the PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV
can out-do the console release of course and that’s the graphics...