It was inevitable. There’s no use fighting it anymore. I have to write about Grand Theft Auto 4. However, GTA4 is huge, so I will just write about my favourite part.
My favourite part is the police missions.
When you get into a cop car (and you should, as often as possible, because not only do they steer very reliably and drive very fast, their sirens will make other traffic stop and pull over to give you the road and being in a cop car allows you to pass over bridges without paying toll), you can press the right shoulder button while holding still to access the police computer. This gives you a range of choices, the most entertaining of which is the Most Wanted list. Here is a list of the most dangeous criminals in the city listed by their crimes, ready for you to locate and eliminate. Here is your chance to atone for (some of) the murder and theft you do in the rest of the game.
And have tons of fun while you’re at it.
See, the combat system in GTA4 is really good. I mean really good. In the GTA3 games, combat was all about Ye Olde Spray and Pray™, at least for me. I couldn’t hit jack. GTA4 has implemented a cover system to rival Gears of War, as well as extremely reliable auto-aim. This changes the feel of combat from chaotic street skirmishes to cold, calculating elimination. Since Niko is a very cold and professional Serbian mafia hitman rather than some street mobster punk (I’m looking at you, CJ – wait, why the crap does this guy have his own damn Wikipedia page!? He wasn’t that good a protagonist!), this fits the character excellently. You’re no longer running around like a loon, spraying bullets every which way, you’re moving between cover, popping out to peg an enemy in the head with a single shot, and quickly taking cover again before anybody has time to react. It’s the difference between a drive-by shooting and Eastern Promises. It’s beautiful.
When I realized how much more efficient it is to fight on foot than to sit in your car and open fire in the general direction of your enemies, I managed to clean out Liberty City’s Most Wanted list for the first two islands in one go. Once I’ve taken care of all the most wanted criminals on the third island as well, I’ll still have the random crime generator to satisfy my vigilante urges. It’s just a damn shame they didn’t implement those random crimes in co-op – in its current form, the free-form co-op mode is kinda empty and without much in the way of actual stuff to do. It’s the only real weakness of the game.
And speaking of Eastern Promises, I strongly recommend you watch it right before you start playing GTA4. Puts you in exactly the right mood.