The first game this gen that I ever bought was GTA IV. Really it was this game, or Final Fantasy XIII that I was waiting for to buy one of this gen’s consoles. I went a head and bought a PS3 a bit after this game came out and this game the same day thinking I really didn’t need anything else.
At the time I did not like it much. I thought it looked pretty decent, although I couldn’t get the settings right on a 1080i HDTV where it wasn’t jaggy as hell. No big deal. Then playing the game it became quite obvious that this wasn’t the GTA of the past.
First thing that probably popped out to most people was the driving mechanics. They were revamped a bit and felt much more difficult to get used to. At the time I hated it. I expected to jump right in and be able to drive like a beast.
Then we have the new wanted system where you have to “outrun” the cops instead of just going and standing in a alley for a few seconds. Besides that it seemed that the cops were much more of a nuisance in GTA IV than they had been before. This game was starting to be way too realistic.
Those two things alone I think put me off the game for quite a while. I didn’t really feel like I was having “fun” playing it. Never could you really just go off and just kill everyone around for 30 minutes and live through it. Then having cops pop up at the edge of the wanted circle it just got to a point where i was having little fun.
So…a few days with my new PS3 and this game I am somewhat disappointed and ready to throw this game into the composter. I go out and buy Fallout 3 and find it to be incredible. First impressions compared to GTA IV were off the charts. Nevermind that after 70 hours or so it became a glitchfest and chugging piece of crap. It was more free than GTA was it seemed and I didn’t have to spend 50% of my time running away from cops.
Fast forward about 2 years, nothing of interest available in the new game market for a couple months, and a 1080p HDTV this time. I decided to give GTA IV a try once more. This of course is after playing Red Dead Redemption several times already so I am much more familiar with the controls obviously. Easily picked it up and was good to go.
Something changed between when I first played GTA IV and now. A lot of the controls were actually closer to things that everything else this gen had incorporated. Things that are definitely different from the XBox and PS2 days.
This time I was in awe of the game. I didn’t think the game was bad the first time, but I wasn’t particularly impressed at all. After a couple years of playing everything from Bioshock to Just Cause 2 to Dead Space, I realized this game was a masterpiece.
I couldn’t believe I disliked this game before. Now I’m actually upset that I missed the prime when the multiplayer was jumping. The city in this game is by far the best in any game I have ever played. It may not have the best graphics of any city, but the “feeling” of the city is so perfect that I can’t honestly say there are many games I have played where I felt as immersed. Just take a cab ride and not skip it. The way everything on the streets look from the people to the lighting is outstanding.
Maybe this gen changed the way I look at games. Maybe the games like Fallout, Dragon Age, etc. gave me a new appreciation for how weak storytelling generally is. Maybe it just took getting used to the controls for this gen. Maybe it just took me to mature a little. I don’t know, but I have a new found respect for this game going back to it. It may be the only game that has ever changed my view so much with a replay years later. It is definitely not outdated either. It could come out today and still be a top game.
Originally I would ahve given this game probably an 8/10. Showing that I knew it was technically a good game, and well designed. Just wasn’t fun. Now? I’d probably say this is a 10/10 game. At worst a 9.5/10 since I almost never consider any game a 10/10.
So…if you were wanting the next GTA: San Andreas and didn’t really give this game the chance it deserved the first time try it out again with a couple years experience of this gen. It really is an amazing game.