Last month I beat GTA 4 for the first time ever.
In the past (around 2009-2010) I probably played a few hundred hours of GTA 4 with my old Intel Q6600 + ATI Radeon 4550 (Or maybe I had my Nvidia Geforce 8800 GTS at that point) but never completed it. I mostly focused on playing multiplayer with friends, and cheating in singleplayer using a trainer - with my favorite activity being to hop onto a motorcycle and use the trainer I used to push me forward, allowing me to fly pretty freely.
So, basically, the same backstory that I had for GTA:SA and GTA 5 (the latter of which I'm playing right now and will, of course, blog about once I've beaten it...)
All that said, let's get into it.
GTA 4 puts you in the shoes of Niko Bellic, a
goofy bastard serbian guy with a penchant for killing people.
Where San Andreas was a story about betrayal, GTA 4 is a story about protecting family, revenge, and chasing freedom. There's many points in the story where things start looking up, until they take a sharp downturn.
You can find a plot synopsis on wikipedia.
The shooting is much improved over San Andreas, but the driving is a little too loose for my taste. Cars spin out far too easily, and trying to accelerate out of those spins is near-impossible because the car will come to a complete stop first before revving up. Shooting is super responsive and satisfying, but the auto-aim is hyper-aggressive still.
Interesting note on shooting: when playing with mouse and keyboard, your gunshots have 0 recoil and are perfectly accurate.
Dying no longer makes you lose all your weapons, which is a welcome change given how annoying it was to lose weapons in the early parts of San Andreas. Not sure about being arrested, because I never let myself get arrested in GTA 4.
You can fly out of cars now if you hit an obstacle hard enough.
There's a lesser focus on restaurants and a larger focus on health pickups and hot dog stands to restore health.
Unlike San Andreas, there's 0 car customization. A real shame, because there are some nice cars in the game.
The game is, by my estimate, somewhere around twice as long as San Andreas if you do minimal side content. I spent the last third of GTA 4 just grinding out missions, something I didn't do in San Andreas so much. A ton of the missions in the second half of the game feel like pure filler because you barely even get plot advancement in some of them.
The game runs relatively terribly on modern hardware, considering it's a 14-ish-year-old game. I'm not sure what exactly is the hold-up, but it was only able to get around 100fps on a Ryzen 7 5700G with a GTX 1660ti @ 1080p, and minimal difference @ 4k, which I think comes down to it not pushing graphics cards nearly as hard as future games do.
Allegedly a big bottleneck is the use of DirectX 9, and you can dump dxvk on it to reduce stutters. I didn't try this because it ran stutter-free at a locked 60fps, so I can't comment on it.
I rate this game 7 fallen bowling pins out of 10. Big detractors are the relatively shoddy performance, the vast amount of missions that feel like filler, the lack of car customization, and the super slide-y driving that most cars have.
Looking forward to beating GTA 5!