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Wednesday | October 17, 2018
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Grand Theft Auto 4 (PC)

Grand Theft Auto 4 (PC)

Grand Theft Auto was a big seller on the consoles earlier this year and deservedly so … It told the story of immigrant Niko Bellic’s adventures through the crime infested  Liberty City. The PC version is upon us now and there are some new additions, including support for 32 multiplayer matches and an editor for making and recording clips from your in game sessions.

Rockstar have been making a lot of money from the Grand Theft Auto franchise over the years and from GTA3 onwards the style changed from a top down action game to full immersive 3d … creating a new genre in the process and setting the foundation for a plethora of clones, such as Saint’s Row.

When Niko first lands in Liberty City he meets up with his cousin Roman, a small time crook with a tendency for hefty embellishment and exaggeration. The game breaks from the Vice City and San Andreas rulebook by presenting Niko as a somewhat deeper character, not obsessed with ruling everything, but more interested in finding his own emotional peace of mind. Don’t fret, violence is still the order of the day but this time around you don’t feel like you are controlling a two dimensional cartoon character like Duke Nukem. He is the first character in the franchise to actually have a moral code, even if at times he is kicking the hell out of someone to achieve it.

Thankfully the mechanics have changed with IV in that if you fail a mission or die you get the immediate option to retry without losing your weapons cache. You can travel to waypoints faster by calling a taxi or you can assault or kill someone and steal their car.

Many of the missions break into an initial travel phase followed by a heightened state of alert then the conflict and an escape. If you didn’t read our console review of the game earlier this year then you will be pleased to hear that Rockstar implemented a new cover system which made the game more approachable. This time around of course many of the controls are handled by a mouse and keyboard combination. When Niko is behind cover it is possible to blind fire or pop out quickly to let go of a few well timed body shots. Additionally it is possible to move between cover sections by quick button presses …. not quite to the same smooth flowing style of Gears Of Wars mind you. Rockstar have also offered support for a gamepad which makes the control of vehicles more intuitive on the PC version, although quickly changing between mouse/keyboard and gamepad (depending on your current task) is rather awkward.

Just like before, the storyline and character development is first class with the detailed character and world environments adding massively to the experience and now, thanks to the PC platform you are able to save key moments with the replay feature. Pressing F2 will save 30 seconds of game time to your hard drive and make it accessible by the new, built in replay editor. These tools allow you to drop in filters, add text and music and splice sections together as well as adjusting the camera angles. This is a wonderful addition and should lead to a massive plethora of weird and wacky Youtube clips over the Christmas period.

Editor mode is accessed very smoothly via Niko’s in game cell phone which acts as a virtual hub for a wide range of options and activities. In fact, the cell phone is a really clever device: NPC players can call Niko when they need or want something and he can arrange his dates with women over it also. The phone also opens up a wide array of things you can attend with colleagues, such as playing pool, going to comedy clubs or heading to restaurants or bars for a night out. All with the purpose of increasing the feeling of social interaction in this virtual world, granted they do become rather tedious at times, but overall it is a welcome feature.

Liberty City is a stunning virtual city based on New York and has plenty of unruly characters, shoddy buildings and realistic environmental touches you would expect in the real world. There are even nightclubs, internet cafes and a wealth of shops that increase your experience in charge of Niko.

The vehicle radio system is still in place and when you combine it with the internet and cell phone activities it would be fair to say that when it was released it was pretty much a class leading combination. I don’t think any game released to date still has managed to create such an immersive and interactive environment. This time on the PC platform we are allowed access to Independence FM which lets the end user load music files to a game directory that play when you select the station in-game.

Online play is very well catered for with the PC version with larger 32 person support. You access this via Niko’s phone and there are options to race or play deathmatches as well as a number of team based games with specific rules. The 32 player support is very impressive in free mode across the whole area and structured content is also available for gamers who want a more organised online experience. Unfortunately there are no extra cooperative modes when compared with the console versions but multiplayer is still a big part of this game and it is improved upon with the latest PC release. A strong selling point on its own merits.

Graphically, the game is improved upon the console versions although by today’s standards it certainly isn’t cutting edge. The character models are decent but it is the environment and draw distance which deserves the most acclaim. Rockstar really have produced one of the most gritty, authentic environments ever seen in a game to date. I tested the game on several computers and with a Quad core 2.4ghz, 2GB ram, Vista 64bit and Nvidia 8800GTX it struggled to maintain perfect frame rates at high resolution. Moving to a Quad Core at 3ghz with 4GB of ram and a 260 GTX improved the experience dramatically as I was able to max everything at 1920×1200 without a hitch. It is safe to say that if you want to play GTA IV at high resolution with everything maxed you are going to need a high end modern gaming PC.

The audio is just as impressive as before with top grade voice acting from the cast as well as a huge variety of ambient sound effects and chatter. The game oozes personality and attention to detail and it is only after many hours of game play do you start to notice slight repetition.

If you never played Grand Theft Auto 4 on the 360 or PS3 then you are in for a treat because the PC version is stunning, with one caveat … you will need a powerful gaming PC to get the most from it. With all the new additions such as improved graphics, enhanced online play and more in game options the chance to enjoy yourself while murdering people in Liberty City have been stepped up a notch. If you already have the console version however you may want to skip this and put your money elsewhere.



Great variety of missions and the wonderful immersive environment adds to the fun.

Beautiful vistas and cityscapes, just make sure you aren’t still using that old P3.
Great dialogue and scripting backed up by wonderful ambient effects and music. Now you can add your own
Fantastic long term playability and value for money. If you like multiplayer then very highly recommended.
(not an average)

Only scores a little less than the console version because it is 6 months later, but still a fantastic game.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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