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"Grand Theft Auto IV"


I recently finished 50.5% of the latest "Grand Theft Auto" game; that cost me more than 38 hours of my life.  When I realized that there's almost no shot I finish the whole game, I decided that now would be a good time to say--this is one hell of a great adventure.

However, if you played "GTA: San Andreas", I think you played the best game of the series.  "GTA IV", set in Liberty City--a vaguely northeast major city that bears a striking resemblance to New York--is solid throughout, with incredible voice acting, a story that is just as sharp as the story told in "San Andreas", great action sequences, improved graphics, sound and controls, and plenty to keep you busy outside of the missions that drive the single-player experience.  Adding multiplayer is a good idea, but the multiplayer won't give "Call of Duty 4" a run for its money any time soon, if you catch my drift.

"GTA IV" is so massive I'll never be able to highlight all of it here; suffice it to say, between the side missions (including small-time crime, stealing exotic cars, dating women you meet around town, spending time on the InterWeb, the in-game Internet, playing dart/pool/bowling with your friends, completing cop Vigilante missions, taking helicopter and boating tours, and shopping for new clothes), the 20 radio stations, nearly a hundred main-game missions and finding Easter eggs all over town in the form of "flying rats", it is a deeper experience than "San Andreas", but for some reason, the game doesn't resonate with me as much as that previous effort.

That's because "San Andreas" ripped off not one, but three cities (LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas); the time period, the early 90s, made the music selections ride up my alley quite nicely with its heavy hip-hop influence; and the game relied heavily on the asset system, similar to "Vice City", where you earned money in order to buy businesses...something that is not here in the newest "GTA" game, which was a major disappointment to me.  I really like the exercise system that was built into the last game, too; little things like that are not in the newest game.  (And, the exclusion of the Pimp Missions?  Criminal.)

The last three "GTA" games are all priceless in their own way, but this newest game is just a tad less...good than "San Andreas."

Rating:  Opening Weekend


Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09