Sunday, 29 April 2018

Editorial | Looking back at Grand Theft Auto IV 10 years later.

By Sam Coles:

There are certain games that you won’t believe that are 10 years old and feel as if they came yesterday, Grand Theft Auto IV is one of those games. 29th of April 2018 marks 10 years since the initial release of the game and I’m stunned that the game is that old, I want to talk about my feelings about this game when it first came out as I was a young gamer upon its release and probably shouldn’t have been playing it.

The year was 2007 and I was 14 years old studying at Monks Park (Orchard School now) and I was sitting there in ICT, I got a tap on my shoulder from a fellow classmate, who said to me “Have you seen the trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV”? I thought there is a new GTA game, because at the time I didn’t really use the internet and Youtube was in its infancy so viewing trailers wasn’t that simple. He pulled up the trailer and I was flawed by the graphics and how realistic they look, and yes it is laughable to look back at them today but in 2007 it was a big deal and innovation with visual fidelity. I couldn’t wait for it to come out, however in typical Rockstar Games fashion the game was delayed and delayed until it finally landed on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on the 29th of April 2008.

At the time I did not own an Xbox 360 or PS3 as I made the somewhat poor choice by getting a Wii for my 15th birthday, but fortunately I was able to experience the game with my friend who got a 360 with the game. When I first booted the game up, I was conflicted because it wasn’t colourful or goofy like the titles prior but when I got through the intro I found myself falling in love with the protagonist Niko Bellic. He is the most grounded in the series, it’s not that he is always serious as he as a great sense of humour, but he has a very dry wit when it comes to delivering quips and jokes. He is a refreshing character in the series because he was trying to escape his violent past, but ends up being trapped in this violent circle as he is trying to protect those who he loves.

The reason Grand Theft Auto IV still sticks in mind 10 years later is because of the world itself, it felt alive with dense traffic and a huge population of pedestrians that was not possible on the PlayStation 2. People reacted in a dynamic way from nudging them when you walk past as they shout profanity to shooting them in certain parts of their body. Yes, pedestrians would react in different ways if you shot them in certain places, shot them in the leg they will limp away, shot them in the hand if they’re armed they will drop their weapon as they are unable to operate the gun anymore with that hand. It was this level of detail that was not seen before; Grand Theft Auto V doesn’t even replicate this detail.

Car physics took a more realistic approach which split fans, some loved it as it gave the vehicles weight and impact and others hated it because they felt it was like controlling an old age pensioner pushing a trolley. I loved the driving in this game because it had more of an impact when you decided to repurpose your car as a bulldozer, as the damage physics has a lot of detail with bent bumpers, shatter windows and sparks flying everywhere.

The graphics have aged in some departments, the character models like chimpanzees but, the world and cars still look wonderful with detail buildings and water that still looks great as you glide across it with a speed boat. Explosions look amazing as you obliterate traffic with an RPG as you replicate a twisted version of Chinese New Year with high impact explosives.  

Grand Theft Auto IV was a stepping stone for the gaming industry, as it showcased that a series could grow up and tell a more mature and dark story with a grounded but fun setting of Liberty City. This is a game I will remember for another 10 years, Rockstar Games have continued to craft beautiful worlds, with great characters and gameplay and still do to this day, if you haven’t give this game a go and you may fall in love it like I did 10 years ago.

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