Can’t be refused

Having played a few more hours of Grand Theft Auto IV, I’m starting to warm up to it a little more. Why the change of heart? Well, let’s just say Rockstar can be rather… persuasive:

Nah, actually it’s because I’ve moved into the meat of the game and the cutscenes have become less pointless. Also, it seems that once you max out your relationship with NPCs they stop harassing you on the phone quite so often. And, finally, I’ve begun stealing a better class of vehicle, which makes driving considerably more entertaining. The low-end cars are less fun than ever to drive, but I find myself doing preposterously awesome things in some of the sports coupes. So that’s nice.

Weirdly, though, I’ve found my favorite thing to do in the game is take cab rides. There’s something incredibly relaxing about sitting in the back seat of a cab as you ride through traffic, obeying all traffic laws and listening to the cabbie complain. Watching as the city moves by from a street-level view, the scenery framed by a cab door, is probably the single closest thing I’ve ever experienced to real-life verisimilitude in a game. This version of Liberty City is much brighter and less oppressive than its previous incarnations — it’s more like a place where people live than a bleak mechanical shell. Squint as you’re cabbing it home and at the right time of day it almost looks real. (As long as you ignore the people.)

I’m sure once I’ve played more the gimmicks and repetition will become more obvious, but I’m enjoying the random little details: The ability to give money to bums, the way people carry around coffee cups in the morning, photographers snapping pictures of interesting scenery, etc.

Of course, the actual missions waver between lame and annoying, but ain’t that the way it always is? Anyway, it’s starting to feel a bit more like what I expect to see from a GTA. Now if only the camera weren’t so swimmy, I could play for more than 90 minutes without getting a headache….

14 thoughts on “Can’t be refused

  1. How far are you, exactly? Not to spoil anything; but fter you meet a certain character you’re given directions to a new clothing store and a car dealership is across the street with all manner of sportscars. You’ll never have to drive a crappy car again. And some of the later missions really require you to have a good, fast car to complete them.

  2. I don’t really bother driving myself to missions; I’ve been taking cab rides everywhere, which is much quicker than my crappy driving.

  3. You’re certainly right about the level of detail in the game – it’s one of the game’s best feature. Now if only someone could combine that kind of effort with the gameplay of Crackdown…

  4. The only real problem I have with the missions is that when you fail, you have to start all over again, which includes getting yourself back to the mission start point from the hospital or jail or wherever. This was particularly galling on a specific story mission you’ll encounter later which involves having to pick people up in a certain size car and then drive to the mission location. While the banter between crew members is interesting the first time, by the fourth or fifth run-through, it’s gotten awfully tedious.

  5. No you don’t… that’s what the “replay” feature is for. It’s one of the few things that marks a definite improvement over the previous games.

  6. I think I must have played that mission and listened to the same conversation too many times and done some damage to my brain…you’re totally right on the “replay” thing, of course. In that specific case, though, while it takes you to the “pickup” point, you still have to snag an appropriate car and make the drive to the mission (stopping along the way to replenish any armor, etc., if you need it). And then do the actual mission, which is relatively long and involved and offers ample chance for failure.

    Maybe I’d appreciate some of the game’s little details/improvements more if I’d played any of the earlier games.

  7. Just read that review of Pokemon Mystery Dungeon… as a fan of the RPG genre, but never having extensively tried the roguelike… would you at least say that PMD is an adequate entry for roguelike beginners such as myself?

    (I totally could have worded that better)

  8. a-ha! I knew you’d come around. It definitely feels seperate from the other GTAs, but not in a bad way. The game has a massive arc, and it takes a while for things to get rolling, but once they do… it just doesn’t let up.

    And by the way, getting calls is great when you gain access to different ringtones. I have the World’s Top Hooker theme ringtone, and I just let it ring because it’s so awesome.

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