Sailors understand the phrase, “liberty call.” It means you are finally touching land and you have a few hours, a few days to spend all your money on souvenirs, salads and antiquing … at least that’s what it says on the official Navy website.
The Grand Theft Auto IV game is completely different. You get to be the you you want to be if you had no inhibitions or deal with that stupid law & order thing they keeping talking about … Unfortunately, I am stuck in Club Penguin and wonder if the grass is indeed …um, the kind of greener grass you mow …
So, JackDaddy spent just a few hours/days playing the game to let us know. Fortunately, he doesn’t have to worry about alloting time to find CARS in any retail stores (inside joke) so he can devote all his time to properly being a gangsta gangster in Liberty City … take it away JackDaddy … (a perfect character name by the way).
LIBERTY CITY – HAVE YOU BEEN THERE YET?
For those who don’t know and for those who think they don’t/shouldn’t care, April 29th was a big, big day for home entertainment.
At 1 minute past zero in the morning, retailers and onlinepurchasing systems around the planet went into overdrive.
After 2 years of hype, advertising and some text bookmarketing stops and starts, Rockstar North realised a life time ambition.
(MET: I realized the UK still hates the letter Z … “realized.” :-) )
I am of course referring to Grand Theft Auto 4 – Liberty City.
So what’s the big deal?
Grand Theft Auto 4 – Liberty City (GTA4) is estimated to have cost $100 million to produce, market and release, a fact alone worth taking notice of! Incredibly it is now officially the fastest and biggest selling home entertainment retail item of all time!
GTA4 sold approximately 3.6 million units on its opening day with a retail value of approximately $310 million globally.
It sold 6 million units globally with an estimated retail value of more than $500 million in the first week.
No VINYL, AUDIO CASSETTE, VIDEO CASSETTE, DVD, CD or GAME has ever sold anything like that before!
That’s the Beatles, Star Wars, Super Mario, and others, smashed off the charts!
The figures are still rising, with most retailers reporting that strong sales are continuing and some even running out of product!
Sony refuse to admit it, but retailers are also saying thatthey have sold more Playstation 3’s in this quarter than they did in the PS3 launch month quarter and if sales continue, possibly more than they did for Christmas! This would more than confirm the belief that most gamers have delayed their PS3purchase until the release of GTA4! Only Nintendo and Mario have sold a console like this before, but the figures were peanuts compared to this.
But that surely could just be a result of hype and clever advertising?
Is it really that special?
The simple answer is – ABSO ’BLOODY’ LUTELY!
I have essentially spent a whole week in Liberty City, so before I tell you all why, let me tell you what is wrong with it. I assure you all I will not give too much away.
Despite the release of Vice City stories on XBOX & PS2 afew years ago, GTA4 has essentially had to follow up what many describe as the greatest video game of all time, Grand Theft Auto – San Andreas. This was a revolutionary game and arguably was the main player game wise that helped to bridge the gap between geeks/teenagers and the adult market with free time at home. For those who played it, you will know what made it great. I have caned the life out of both GTA San Andreas and GTA4 in my spare time, but am somehow left fonder of GTA San Andreas in many ways.
(MET: I have no idea what the last sentence meant in American English but I believe he likes virtual macking, jacking and hoin’ … :-) of course, hey, who doesn’t?)
It is hard to say why, but I suppose it is probably has to be a combination of factors. GTA San Andreas was so innovative and groundbreaking at the time, every turn had a new never before in a video game surprise. The sheer exploratory side of the game was incredible. The humour was at times genius and missions (overall) were a joy. Playing it was like eating a slice of deprived 90s urban America, and getting the runs as a result, with references to all our favourite black gangsta movies, rappers and personalities from recent times. It was naughty, nostalgic and a massive virtual playing field where you could just do whatever you wanted without consequence. Customisation of your character and Car also made your copy of the game unique.
(MET: In Club Penguin, I planted a tulip on my ice floe).
GTA San Andreas was warm, a friend even!
So GTA4 isn’t then?
It’s an entirely different game, part of a new era!
The down side of this? In GTA4, you can’t………………
1 – Fly a plane.
2 – Gang fight like in San Andreas
(You could literally fill up a van with your homeys and go round to you enemies and take them out.)
3 – Parachute jump
4 – Jet pack around
5 – Play as many in game games like the casino/with characters/danceoffs
6 – Make money as easily
7 – Get a hair cut/tattoo
8 – Buy as many clothes
9 – Customise your Car
10 – Buy property
11 – Go into a nightclub
(even though one of the radio DJs is house music legend François K)
Due to the above, its ground breaking innovation and the fact that GTA San Andreas has such a brilliant story and setting, I will always be very fond of it, maybe more so than GTA4. GTA San Andreas had many, many flaws/glitches and bad points, having me throwing my controller across the room! Remember the ‘learn to fly Carl’ missions anyone? Oh my god!
Fondness is fondness, I am fond of ex girlfriends, but they are not better than others!
GTA4 is a darker, grittier experience. You can tell that the franchise has grown up a lot, and is taking its self much more seriously as mainstream medium. The silliness is gone, the next gen engines have been explored and it reeks of real life. It’s a virtual realm, but a believable one!
Rockstar are clearly saying – “hello adults, don’t watch that DVD, play this!”
So is GTA4 over rated then? NO!
If anything, recent reviews and exposure leave it looking somewhat under rated. This is probably deliberate; maybe because Rockstar know what they have got and are letting their consumers do the talking for them (look what I am doing?)
I have now completed it twice as a story and have nearly went through all the mini missions within the game. For those who do not know, that’s a hell of a lot of game play, basically everyday for long periods of time during the last two weeks
In total, the games main story mode contains 87 missions, some very brief, a few very long with most others around the 5 – 10 minutemark. In addition, the game also contains –
9 x Assassin missions
10 x drug run missions
40 x car steal missions
9 x races
50 x police car missions
36 x other random missions involving characters
200 pigeons to shoot (replacing the ridiculous clams from San Andreas)*
50 stunt jumps to perform.
(MET: *Yes, clams is correct – not a typo).
Its retail price? £44.99 or $29.99!
(MET: If you were paid in £’s and then flew to the US but here in the US, it’s $59.99 … and of course, ours is the NTSC version).
This is undoubtedly the bargain of gaming history. GTA4 contains the equivalent of at least 4 – 6 games if you consider the length andcontent of games already released and available for PS3 and XBOX360.
In fact, in my opinion, you would be getting value for money if you bought a PS3 and a copy of GTA4, just to be able to play GTA4. You would get a blue ray DVD player for free and an online compatible gaming console too?!
The game is just wild!
Rockstar have made the playing field more condensed, but San Andreas did have huge waste lands of space with nothing to do.
Liberty City doesn’t.
For those who don’t know, it’s based on New York.
You play an illegal immigrant and experience his struggles as he arrives off the boat from Eastern Europe and moves in with his cousin in Brooker.
(MET: Location: Liberty City, broken up into five areas: Brooklyn is Broker; Manhattan is Algonquin; Queens is Dukes; The Bronx is Bohan & New Jersey is Alderney)
The story mode prompts you from there and 87 missions later reaches conclusion.
There is an alternative ending scenario, but is not much different.
The graphics, architecture and physics are exciting, dazzling and true media innovation.
Detail has obviously figured to be paramount in planning and it is staggering just how much there is.
Simply driving around is breath taking, with every Car having different handling, acceleration, braking and cornering features. All the vehicles are beautiful, with well over 400 to drive/ride/fly/steer.
When Rockstar released the less popular but mildly superior videogame version of the 1970s classic gangland movie ‘The Warriors’ not long after GTA San Andreas a few years ago, it left players begging the question, “why can’t GTA be like this?” Rockstar seemed to have learnt from that and have almost injected the GTA franchise with the Warriors strengths, most noticeable when your character is running, jumping, fighting and climbing.
One of the focal points of GTA4 is its new cover and targeting system, this is essentially up there with the best of games now, where as San Andreas had terrible targeting and weapons accuracy, it was a poor part of the game and looked as though they had to do it rather than wanted to. GTA4 pulls this off perfectly, with all objects in game becoming usable ascover which you can duck up and down from or blind fire from while avoiding incoming bullets. The weapons are slightly limited, but are all awesome. Enemies are much more intelligent, they too will duck and cover and try to kill you more assertively, whereas in previous GTA instalments, they stood still and were easily avoided.
There is just so much you can do in this game, with shootouts, chases, races, and missions to make your eyes pop out in astonishment.
My favourite level in story mode was the Bank Robbery. Without giving too much away, this is very much like the bank robbery scene from the film Heat with De Niro and Pacino. It took me 40 minutes to get through this level.
The Assassin missions were another joy. Merely answering the phone and then going to take people out was almost like a game all to itself.** There are hundreds of similar things to do like this, like vigilante mode or most wanted mode in a cop car. You can also just go for a drive and cause mayhem with whomever you choose. My Brother particularly finds joy in causing endless road blocks which he then explodes. I had fun while on top of abuilding merely phoning the cops and shooting them.
**(MET: remind me never to call JackDaddy ;-) )
YES, YOU CAN PHONE PEOPLE!
The biggest change from San Andreas is the Multimedia capability in GTA4.
You can use the in-game internet and your mobile phone, which becomes part of your progress success. You can also access the Police computers from any police vehicle and use their information to your gain.
While online, you can read blogs, email certain people, arrange dates and even send a job application! Virtual reality with a sick sense of humour!
Your phone is equipped with a camera; you can send/receive text messages and can phone certain characters. You can also phone random numbers dotted around the game, some of which are very amusing!
You can go out with friends/dates an do a variety of activities, like bowling, pool, darts, food etc.
The Music is excellent, with loads of different radio stations to listen to, some hosted by very some very famous people indeed.
The humour is there but it’s not as slapstick as San Andreas, which is a little sad, and there are lots of liberal agenda antiestablishment skits and references. GTA4 gives you a panoramic look at the not so different world of our own in your living room. It’s ironic, sarcastic, brutally honest and always down right vicious!
(MET: Welcome to Brooklyn!)
There isn’t a two player option which is a little disappointing, but there is a 16 player online mode you can play via the network. My Brother and I happily exchanged the controller throughout missions and mini games though.
In closing, I would say that the franchise is gearing up for Expansion packs, maybe like the Sims, where every 6 – 12 months they release something new to accompany the game. This would be welcomed in Liberty City, where many of the buildings look empty and dormant, almost demanding to become involved. More clothing and activity outlets/venues would have been better; you can’t really customise your character that well or do a lot with in game characters. My Brother and I are salivating at the prospect of playing GTA San Andreas revisited!
One thing we all know or will know is that Rockstar Games have changed history as we know it with Grand Theft Auto 4 Liberty City.
If you haven’t already – BUY IT!
BTW, there are five non-violent things you can do in GTA4 ;-)