I don’t like this game much. We could never see eye to eye. I struggled to the end of the story much to my nerves disagreement and then we went out separate ways. Until recently. I thought I should give our relationship one last chance and sadly, the game was a bitch and I dumped it’s ass. The problem was to do with the things that made this game so good – the freedom and realism…

Don’t get me wrong though, I loved being able to go to a gun store at any time of day and then high-jack some random guys car and do a drive-by on an old woman because she criticised my driving. However, the gun store was sometimes too far away which means efforts, the car was usually very difficult to drive without mass frustration, and the police sometimes chased me all over Liberty City because the old biddy couldn’t hold her bullets. This led me too crash into every fixed object on the pavement, every car and every wall – not the kind of thing you want when being chased.

However, lets try to be positive  and build up the games confidence which will lead to ego, then bully* it until it goes crying to its mama about the mean kids who point out all its flaws. *I do not condone bullying, especially not against the fatties (why do they never win?)*

So, positives … well, it’s pretty for a start. I think this must be the first game I played that was in a modern open-world setting where you

could do almost anything. I loved being able to dress up my little Russian man Niko Bellic, buy him guns and see him go from a poor, unfortunate, quite boring guy, to a rich gangster type who rolled around in a suit – black jacket, shoes and trousers, white shirt, and a red tie. Remind you of anyone? – and was generally the sickest person in Liberty City.

I liked the story. I’m a slightly mysterious Russian fellow who travels to America to live with my cousin Roman but gets caught up into basically killing people and getting a shit load of money. I have a variety of people I can work for, some more distasteful than others, but I can also date, and stuff. On the whole if you don’t like the story, there isn’t really much you can do.

I like the variety of people. Roman, Michelle, Mallorie, Dimitri, Little Jacob, Packie (not racist in any way, his name is Patrick and Packie is just a shortened version), Brucie (probably my favourite), Dwayne, Playboy X, Elizabeta, Manny, Vlad, Derrick, Francis, Faustin, Ray, Gerry and Jimmy. Along with a few others but there’s quite a few there so you get the picture. The voice acting on the whole is very good – Roman is jolly and distressed when the cut scene calls for it, Little Jacob has a thick Jamaican accent that even with subtitles doesn’t make much sense but still brings in the love and Brucie with his random outbursts of noise and how he is the greatest.

I also like the realism of the game – if you kick up a big enough shit storm, the police will come after you bring the FBI in along with a 6 star rating, if you were the same clothes for a long time people on the street will notice and make comments, some criticise your dress sense. In fact, I was on a date with Michelle once and she said she liked my dirty trainers, track pants and puffy brown jacket but next time  we went out I’d got all dressed up in a suit and tie, real fancy shoes and she said it was hideous! “Did you get dressed in the dark before you came out? Where did you get those shoes, the 1850s? Did you bring that jacket with you from Russia?” No Michelle, I went to Perseus and spent $3000! What a ho.

Enough of this kindness! It’s time for bullying*, yay! *I still don’t condone bullying*

One thing I have learned about a huge city is that you will always be driving around, whether it be to missions, taking someone out for a leisure activity, buying guns/clothes. Regardless, your carbon-footprint will be huge. I usually like driving around but sometimes the cars were just to difficult to handle – the hand brake hardly helped when it came to turning because you would slightly slow down but not turn properly and the normal brake sent you spinning out of control so you ended up facing the way you came. At no point did I power slide (and I love to power slide). This was a huge problem when you’d be on a mission with a time limit and you’d want to go quick because of the timer but if you went too quick the car would fail you and so anger ensued. The anger rose to rage when you were on a time limit and you had to keep the car in good condition. Rage rose to head-exploding and controller-breaking when you were on a time limit, had to keep the car healthy, and were chasing someone. If it had got the point when I had to do all the previous as well as having my car rammed by the police I would have died. My heart would have exploded and my cause of death would have been “GTA 4″. Sad times…

Another grumble I have was the lack of other things to do when taking a time out from the story, there’s only so many women I can date at any one time and you have to leave it a few in-game hours before they want to see your face again, there’s only so much ammo I can carry and only so many clothes I am willing to buy. It’s good that there are a lot of people that need my help but it’s always illegal in some way. Why can’t I be a nice boy that doesn’t shoot people or facilitate drug dealers? It would be a boring game, that’s why.

I mentioned the police earlier and that is something I don’t like. I get them chasing me for a few minutes when I accidentally nudge their car a little when reversing but there is no sign of the flashing lights when I run over 20 people, or when I actually want them so I can steal their car. Talk about keeping the people safe…

You can call me sexist (don’t and I’m not sexist FYI) but I like to play as a woman in games when I can. I like the customization and sometimes I will complete the game all over again as the opposite gender to see how the game differs based on your sex. I’m sure you’ve already figured out that this is a grumble but I just don’t like the fact that I’m forced to be a man with a set voice, set face, set hair style and colour and with limited clothing options. I love creating crazy outfits on a man that are meant for a woman and vice versa, but I also love dressing them up to look like the sexiest damn thing that has ever walked the streets of the made up cities in which the game is set.

I briefly talked about dating further up and I love that about this game. Obviously a hot-shot gangster like Nico is going to want and attract certain lady friends and I love being able to take them out when and where I want. However, this is the grumble/bully section so here are the problems: (this goes for the friends too) they always call when I’m busy during a mission, right at the worst possible time. For example, a girl will ring me when I’m pinned down with limited ammo and health, surrounded by 20 or so guys, asking me if I want to go bowling. I politely decline and ring her back when I’m finished, only to be refused. I also don’t like that you can’t really take it any further than a date, apart from going back to her place and looking at a view of the city while she slightly moans about me being great or something. That’s all fine and dandy but it gets tiresome and unenjoyable when I take the same girl out to the same place and she says the same things. It just saps the fun outta dating.

Health. Health is key to any game and the way it is done in this game is pretty poor. You have a little bar at the bottom of the screen which is so easily missed. The only way to get back to full health is by sleeping or buying food from a stand on the street. This would be a good idea except the hot dog/burger guy IS NEVER THERE! And there doesn’t seem to be any when you need them. Sleeping makes sense but how am I supposed to sleep when my apartment is all the way on the other side of the map? It’s ridiculous that you can’t carry food with you (like you can on Saints Row 1 and 2).

I think I’m all outta grumbles for now so I’ll summarise: it is a good game on the whole – good story, vast amounts of freedom and good voice acting, with (be it limited) customization, but there are major drawbacks – poor car controls, nothing really to do other than story, not much development in certain areas, and stupid health arrangements. I would recommend this game but it takes a lot of time and patience so if you’re hot-headed, it ain’t the game for you.

Seriously, I haven’t rage quited this much before in my life.