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Old 04-29-2010, 10:17 PM   #1
coyls3
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Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

Escaped the police, but got a little banged up along the way.

HIGH The first few hours of story

LOW The driving

WTF Driving into a barrier on an overpass, being thrown through the windshield, falling six or so stories, and still walking away.

I was never a huge fan of the Grand Theft Auto series. The only one I sort of enjoyed being San Andreas, and I had mixed feeling about that one. However, due to an overwhelming critical response, and the return of the annual spring-summer gaming drought, I decided to give Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA4) a chance. After finally completing it, my feelings toward GTA4 are a mixed bag.

First off, the atmosphere was astonishing. I was amazed by all the little things Rockstar did to bring their created world to life. Things like actually having shows to watch on TV instead of just a picture and sound; being able to choose from a plethora of different radio stations while driving, each with their own variety of music and talk shows; and the way everyone pulls over and moves out-of-the-way when I am driving a police car with the siren on. Rockstar also provided many options in places to go; such as playing pool, throwing darts, and even comedy clubs featuring real life comedians. The player may even date and hang out with friends. In fact, doing so is significant to the gameplay, since friends will offer special services when they like you enough. All these elements combined made me feel as though I was actually living the life of the main character, which is rare for the action adventure genre.

Unfortunately, this is where my compliments end. Everything else about the game became flat and annoying by the time I reached one-fourth completion. Take the story for instance. It started out well enough; with main character Niko Bellic stepping off a boat from Russia and entering Liberty City, where he wanted to live the "American Dream" with his cousin Roman. Well not only did Niko quickly discover that his cousin was not living the dream life, but that he was in debt to the wrong kind of people as well. Follow that up with about ten hours of Soprano's style mob drama, and some dialog about trying to escape the past, and you have the first part of GTA4's story in a nutshell. Unfortunately, everything went to hell when the game hit the quarter mark. At that point the story, once focused and well written, dissolved into an unfocused collection of subplots. The game did try to continue the same storyline, but those plot points were often more than four hours apart from one another.

Filling the gaps were many mission strands in which people hired Niko to be their personal hit man and watch over drug deals. While I did like the stories and characters associated with these missions, they had almost nothing to do with the original plot line and the game did a poor job in tying the different strands together; resulting in them feeling more like mandatory side quests and not part of a cohesive story. Further more, the only motivation Niko seemed to have for taking these jobs was needing money, but the game never said why he needed it. He was not trying to earn start-up money for a business, attempting to build a drug empire, or anything. There was not even a single bill that needed paying. Because of this, I never felt like I was achieving anything. I was just plugging away with no goals, only doing things because the game asked me to.

Not helping matters much, the controls could have used some serious tweaking. You would think that a game with "auto" in the name would have decent driving controls, but apparently Rockstar's focus was elsewhere. It seemed like every vehicle Niko tried to operate was without power steering as simply making a turn without hitting something was near impossible, without almost completely stopping the vehicle that is. Besides that, the vehicle would start sliding and skid off the road any time I applied the brakes; not all the time, but about 40 percent of it. Considering that one of the main gameplay elements of the Grand Theft Auto series is police chases, buggy driving controls are just unacceptable (don't even get me started on the check points).

Even so, I cannot shake the feeling that Grand Theft Auto IV should have been great. The atmosphere of Liberty City is something that Rockstar North should be praised for, and I really liked where the beginning of the story was headed. It is just too bad that the buggy controls and the story's lack of focus kept the game from reaching its full potential.


6/10

Disclosures: This game was obtained via retail store] and reviewed on the [PlayStation 3]. Approximately 40 hours of play was devoted to single-player modes (completed 1 times) and 3 hours of play to multiplayer modes.

Parents: The game is rated “M” for mature by the ESRB for: blood, intense violence, partial nudity, strong language, strong sexual content, use of drugs and alcohol.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing: The game has subtitles.

Last edited by coyls3; 08-25-2010 at 07:25 PM.
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Old 05-01-2010, 01:34 AM   #2
Brad Gallaway
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

Coyls, my man… Good to see you back.

You know, I actually like this review quite a bit. You have a good angle on it, and you follow it all the way through from start to finish. I also like the casual tone which isn't too casual.

This is a really good start, but it needs some polishing up. You’ve got a ton of typos and there are a few things that kind of caught my eye. For example, in the first paragraph, you say that you truly enjoyed San Andreas, but at the end of that paragraph you say that it was a mixed bag. Which was it?

Another thing, at the end… it's like, you spend most of the review chipping away at the game and pointing out its flaws, but right before you close it out, you say ‘but it's still a good game’ which undercuts everything you just spent the entire review building up. If it's really a good game, then you spent too much time pointing out flaws. On the other hand, if you are sincere about this flaws, don't be afraid to say that the game sucks or that it's not nearly as good as it could have been… it feels a little bit like you're chickening out at the end. Be bold!

Put it through the wringer a few more times and resubmit, but you are on the right track. = )
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Old 05-01-2010, 05:39 AM   #3
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

[quote] in the first paragraph, you say that you truly enjoyed San Andreas, but at the end of that paragraph you say that it was a mixed bag. Which was it?[/QUOTE}

The point I was trying to make was that San Andreas was the only one of GTA4's predecessors that actually had a couple of things I liked, but my felling toward it were still mixed. I can see how my using "truly" makes it seem like I enjoyed it more than I did.

I replaced "truly enjoyed" with "kind of enjoyed"

Quote:
Another thing, at the end… it's like, you spend most of the review chipping away at the game and pointing out its flaws, but right before you close it out, you say ‘but it's still a good game’ which undercuts everything you just spent the entire review building up.
The point I was trying to make there was that GTA4 isn't terrible. It had some stuff going for it that gave it the potential to be great, but the controls and lack of focus kept it from being so.

I have edited that part as well.

I have also went through and combed out some grammar issues I missed. Let me know what ya think.
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Old 05-03-2010, 04:57 AM   #4
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

did some more editing
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:57 PM   #5
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

Hey Coyls.

I like the changes you did, nice job. On the downside, there's still some rough sentences and a bunch of typos yet. still, the core of it works for me.

i'd like to hear some feedback from other folks to see what they think... Any opinions from other readers?
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Old 05-06-2010, 12:41 AM   #6
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Gallaway View Post
i'd like to hear some feedback from other folks to see what they think... Any opinions from other readers?
Sure, I’ll chip in my $0.02.

Along with being a bit on the short side (especially for a game as vast as GTAIV), the review is indeed rough around the edges. I picked up on a few simple mistakes (mistaking do and due, mistaking there and their, etc.) and the writing on the whole felt a tad stilted. This isn’t to say that the review is bad. “Unrefined” and “lacking polish” are phrases I’d use to describe it.

I also felt that the train of thought was unfocused. In the second paragraph when the reviewer describes that atmosphere, I felt that the inclusion of a brief gameplay comment was unnecessary. The end of the fourth paragraph also fell to pieces for me with the line, “… the game never really gave any reason for doing them [certain missions] other than advancing the game.” I interpreted this as “I [the reviewer] take issue with the fact that the game is finding alternate means to advance itself.” I also didn’t care for the snarky undercurrent that permeated the remainder of the review after “(oh look, I had another compliment after all).” It gives the impression that the reviewer already had their mind made up before playing the game. As a result, the opinion is more difficult to take seriously with biases apparent.

Finally, I don’t feel that your numerical evaluation of the game as a whole is an appropriate reflection of the review that game before it. The score is generous while the I felt that the review was largely critical.

Again, not a bad review. It’s a tad on the short side, slightly crooked, and in need of refinement. Nothing that can’t be fixed by adding a bit more meat to the arguments and smoothing the rough edges as much as possible.

Last edited by Duke; 05-06-2010 at 12:43 AM.
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Old 05-06-2010, 12:56 AM   #7
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

Hey coyls, nice work.

In the 3rd to-last paragraph you talk about some missions that it felt strange for Niko to be doing, could you maybe describe one and how you felt it clashed with Niko's character?

Also, you're digressing with parantheses a lot, which is something you should try to avoid. I'm not saying never do it, but it gets kind of awkward when it happens five times, especially when you do it more than once per paragraph. I do that a lot myself.

Address the above and what Brad mentioned and I'll happily greenlight it.
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Old 05-06-2010, 07:31 AM   #8
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

@ Brad:

I cleaned it up some more, rearranged some things, and broken up some of the longer sentences.

@ Richard:

I removed all the parts with parentheses except for one at the end.

About the character issue, I wasn't trying to say that some missions felt strange for Niko to be doing. I was trying to point out that the game never provided a reason for doing them plot-wise. When someone asked Niko to do something, all he would say is "as long as you pay" or "I need money." However, the game never said why he needed the money so bad.

I have rearranged that paragraph a little to try and make my thoughts clearer.

@ Duke:

I see your point regarding a couple of the things you brought up and have addressed them.

As for the length:

1) they ask for reviews to be under 1000 words.

2) this is a second opinion and they are usually on the shorter side. (actually, I think this is like the 3rd or 4th opinion)

3) I'm not one of those people who feel that a review of a big release must be lengthy. I would much rather read a review that is concise and straight to the point than one that is overly drawn out due to preconceptions about length requirements.

Also, I have a question for you. Specifically about your comment stating that my review is crooked.

AT WHAT POINT IN THE REVIEW AM I BEING DISHONEST?
(you may not have meant dishonest, if not than disregard, but that is what I take the meaning as when referring to someones writing or speech.)

Last edited by coyls3; 05-06-2010 at 09:07 AM.
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Old 05-06-2010, 12:06 PM   #9
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by coyls3 View Post
@ Duke:
AT WHAT POINT IN THE REVIEW AM I BEING DISHONEST?
(you may not have meant dishonest, if not than disregard, but that is what I take the meaning as when referring to someones writing or speech.)
I meant "crooked" in the sense that you appear to have predilections about what you intend to think of the game before going into it. I simply meant that from the point in your review where you dropped the "(oh look, I found another compliment after all)" line, I felt that you had made up your mind about the game long before, and thus you weren't really giving it a fair chance.

For me, "crooked" means "biased." Sorry about that. I suppose I could've chosen a better word for what I meant.
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:23 PM   #10
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke View Post
I meant "crooked" in the sense that you appear to have predilections about what you intend to think of the game before going into it. I simply meant that from the point in your review where you dropped the "(oh look, I found another compliment after all)" line, I felt that you had made up your mind about the game long before, and thus you weren't really giving it a fair chance.

For me, "crooked" means "biased." Sorry about that. I suppose I could've chosen a better word for what I meant.
no biggie.

but for the record, my mind wasn't made up before going into the game. The reason I originally put the compliment remark in the piece, was to try and add a little something extra to it.
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Old 05-08-2010, 11:28 PM   #11
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

Hey Coyls,

Good work on the tightening up. However, I still found a few little things that need to be fixed. For example:

“I had mixed feeling about that one” should be “mixed feelings”

“their own verity of music” should be “variety”

“one-forth” should be “one-fourth”

There are other examples, but I think you see what I'm getting at. Your general approach is good, I liked the way you thought this one through, but the devil is in the details and these kind of mistakes need to be ironed out a lot earlier in the process.

I know that sometimes these are just simple typos, but you had quite a few in the first draft and there are still plenty even after the cleanup. In the future, I would say definitely use your spellcheck a couple times, and then hand your review off to someone to manually eyeball it if it's hard for you to pick them out yourself.

Seeing these kind of simple mistakes is a BIG red flag for a lot of editors (myself included) but I know how hard you work at doing these reviews, and I definitely respect your commitment and perseverance. Keep at it.

At this point, I'll give you a green light once these bits are fixed, but I'm going to be a lot more strict about it in the future. Gotta iron out those bugs, man.

; )
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Old 05-09-2010, 10:33 AM   #12
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

Fixed the errors you pointed out, fixed a couple additional ones I spotted, and ran it though a few online online spellcheckers.

Here's hoping I caught everything.
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Old 07-09-2010, 02:30 PM   #13
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

Two months to the day and still no additional feed back?
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:18 AM   #14
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

An enjoyable review.

Let's see, my thoughts on it would be:

Score: This cought me off somewhat, for a review that appears to be mostly negative it still scored a 7.5. Well above average.
For that score I feel the review needed a bit more balance.

It's good that you didn't buy into the hype. Your review felt fair throughout.
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Old 08-24-2010, 04:28 AM   #15
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Re: Please Rate This Review: Grand Theft Auto 4

I agree that 7.5 seems a little high given your comments in the review. Apart from the score, though, you generally do a pretty good job of communicating how you felt about the game, what you specifically did and didn't like about it, and why. From the comments above, it looks like you've cleaned up the article significantly since it was first posted, so good job and keep at it!

By the way, I totally agree about the car controls. I almost wonder whether the developers made them that way deliberately to encourage criminal behavior from the player. It's tough being a responsible, law-abiding driver when every vehicle you get into handles like a drunken cow.
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