GTA IV:
First Impressions

By Shamus
on May 14, 2008
Filed under:
Game Reviews

A friend brought over his PS3 last weekend and we clocked a few hours on GTA IV. It is exactly what I expected: A series of mostly uninteresting and highly contrived challenges wrapped within some of the most spectacular technology and extravagant production values I’ve ever seen.

People are saying this game is less DIAS than its predecessors. That’s nice, I guess. Sort of admirable. Like finding out a pedophile has cut way back on molesting kids.

I only saw a few missions, and my friends assured me they were an aberration: The game had been fun and cooperative until the moment I started watching. Perhaps I just have bad luck, but the fact that Rockstar feels the need to spike the game with punishing “do it again” gameplay is depressing.

GTA IV. Niko is a damn idiot.
I can’t comment on the plot. I missed a good portion of the start of the game and didn’t have a sense of who the characters were or what was going on. All I knew was that Niko (the main character) needed money and, like his predecessors, was willing to commit crime on a stunning scale in order to earn a little. The cutscenes were usually humorous, well-written, and well-acted. It plays like a series of Quentin Tarantino Vignettes: Over-the-top characters propose doing outrageous things as if they were talking about running out for a hamburger.

Even during the early stages of the game that I witnessed, Niko is asked to bring about incredible destruction for a pittance. I don’t know how much I’d charge to assault a building filled with heavily-armed gangsters, swipe their duffel bag of drugs, and then battle my way through the city police to freedom. While I don’t know what I’d expect to be paid, I do know that I would not expect to still be poor after the job was over. Perhaps the game is social commentary on the plight of underpaid illegal immigrants.

I spent a good hour just driving around, exploring the vast and highly detailed world. I’ve never been a fan of the four to six hundred dollar price tag of the PS3 and Xbox 360, but if I was going to fork over that sort of cash then this is the sort of technical wizardry I’d expect from such hardware. I’m not just talking about the graphics or the fancy shaders, I’m talking about the sheer breadth and depth of this immense gameworld, which is packed with details.

I can’t imagine how many man-hours would be required to make a city of this size, with this much detail. From a purely developmental standpoint, I’m not even sure how I’d organize the work. How can so many people work on a setting this vast without getting in each other’s way?

As I drove around the city I could spot little set pieces, undoubtedly placed for future missions. There is a rickety wooden pier that I expect gets driven off of at some point. There are empty buildings which no doubt will eventually serve as a locale for a shootout. A ramp near a major road blockage, which probably gets jumped over during a chase. Some of these missions will be fun and quasi-freeform. Others will have the player inhabiting the role of the clueless stuntman, as in this classic example.

You might find yourself standing in a brilliantly detailed little alleyway with litter and believable, movable objects strewn about. The walls of the buildings on either side look real – not just in their lighting, but in the richness of the surface, full of minor details, scuffs and scratches. Unlike earlier iterations, none of these buildings ever feel like “filler”. Yet you can glance out across the bay and see buildings in the distance. You can drive, swim, or fly over to those buildings and you’ll find them to be just as exhaustively detailed as the ones nearby, and you’ll never see a loading screen between here and there.

The spectacle becomes familiar quickly, at which point it becomes necessary to actually play the game if you want to gain access to those buildings in the distance. And here GTA IV bears a striking resemblance to its predecessors: A simple game of trial and error, practice and punish. I will never be a fan of this gameplay, and I will always marvel at the technology and fantasize about what else could be done with it besides providing a backdrop for recycled gameplay and epic churlishness.

It’s amazing how far the game has come without changing the underlying gameplay.

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20201252 comments. It's getting crowded in here.

From the Archives:

  1. Deoxy says:

    That’s because so many people LIKE the underlying game play!

    Of course, I think a significant portion of the draw (having only played the old 2d versions) is simply the ability to cut loose and go on a rampage through town. Nice to blow off steam once in a while.

    But I do have to agree with you on the potential – it would be nice if they would license the engine (complete with city, even).

    And masterful comic, as usual. Love it!

  2. mister k says:

    Yeah, it’s pretty much a GTA game. It looks and plays amazingly, but the missions are fairly familiar. The game is a little more forgiving, and I’m just part the point you saw, and the mission you mention is easily the hardest. There is now a mission replay button, but no real option to avoid journies other than calling a cab, which requires one to be nearby. I don’t mind redoing missions so much as having to spend ages getting to the actual challenging part.

    That mission wasn’t THAT DIAS, as it was more based on luck- the ability to escape the police is a tough one, and if you’re car gets too trashed, or you get to injured, you’re probably screwed. Still, as I say it’s the hardest mission so far, but theres no mission I’ve seen that hasn’t been in a previous game in some form.

    Actually there seems to be more of a focus on fire fights in this game, which, thanks to a fairly good cover system, feel more fair than they used to, but there is still the occasional bit where you turn round the corner and your limited third person perspective gets you shotgunned…

  3. MRL says:

    While I’m not too big a fan of DIAS, I have loved the GTA games for the opportunity to enter into complete and total mayhem; it’s great for blowing off some steam. And there have been quite a few missions (riding a motorcycle up the ramp of a cargo plane in the middle of takeoff? Gunning my way into a heavily-guarded secret facility in order to steal a top-secret jetpack? Hell, yes!) that I loved just on the basis of how over-the-top awesome they were.

    Anything that cuts down on the annoyance of doing stuff repeatedly when you want to get to the FUN is good, though. Have they gotten rid of unskippable cutscenes?

  4. Bruce says:

    Ah Shamus, I love your little comic strips. It’s good to see you have found another creative comic outlet since DM of the Rings and Chainmail Bikini. Are the copyright rules the same for game screenshots as it is for movie screen shots? A book of these would be cool.

    On to GTA. I still have San Andreas and the detail and scope are amazing, but the missions a pain in the butt. This is the type of game I will play for a while, get stuck and just get cheesed off. The restart at Hospital or Police Station, while sort of accurate gets really tiring really quickly. Driving to missions again and again is a pain. I should have traded this game in years ago, but knowing there is so much in it I haven’t seen yet keeps me holding on. Yet when I have any free time, I just can’t bring myself to play it again.

    Will I get the new one? I’m really tempted just to see what it’s like. Will it annoy the hell out of me when I try the missions? Yup. Will I finish it? Nope. Will it sit on my shelf teasing me for years to come? More than likely.

  5. henebry says:

    As someone who has to police plagiarism in my day job, I’m intrigued by how closely MRL’s comment echoes Deoxy’s. Logged just 3 minutes apart, chances are good that MRL didn’t read Deoxy, yet both make essentially the same claim for the game:

    Deoxy:

    the ability to cut loose and go on a rampage through town. Nice to blow off steam once in a while.

    MRL:

    the opportunity to enter into complete and total mayhem; it’s great for blowing off some steam.

    This coincidence suggests that the gaming community has settled on this formulation, in particular the phrase “blow off steam,” as a way of talking about the appeal of hyper-violent videogames. Notice how it characterizes such games as harmless, a form of psychological release? I wonder if the real aim of using this mantra is to defuse the criticism of non-players who find hyperviolent games disgusting and worry about their psychological impact?

    In this connection, I was intrigued to note recent coverage on CNet of a Harvard study which shows violent video games have no adverse psychological impact.

  6. hysterio says:

    I’ve been trudging through GTA IV for a while now. I’m looking forward to beating it and trading it in. While I’m not invested in the plot (which is pretty thin), I do want to see where the story ends. It seems like for every 40 pointless cut scenes I see, I get 1 real touching one (when Niko spills his guts to Roman early on or when he talks to the Russian gangster’s wife about God and purpose) that makes me want to keep pushing forward.

    Last night I realized I was only 40% of the way through the game and each mission is starting to feel more and more like a grind and the character you meet are starting to all feel the same. After racking up $300000, I’m kinda wondering why Niko still needs money so badly and why I can’t just breeze through the last 60% and skip a bunch of missions.

  7. Septyn says:

    I hate invisible walls and arbitrary restrictions in 3-d immersive games.

    I watched a friend play GTA4 for a while, and I tried to get him to push the boundaries of what’s allowed. At the start, you can’t get off the main island, but you *can* go swimming between them. From what my friend said, later in the game you can hijack boats, but you weren’t allowed to right then. You can swim in the water, hit the hijack button as a boat goes by, take off like Flipper on speed to catch up to it, but then you fall back in the water because the open-topped, no-door speedboat is “locked”. Feh.

    So a journey to Neighboring Island was requested. He swam our virtual thug to some climbable docks, got out of the water, took three steps, and then all hell broke loose. Six bright white stars of police hate augmented with flashing lights, sirens, and enough helicopters to airlift an embassy showed up *instantly*. The border patrol wishes they had it so good. It’s just run-of-the-mill railroading in “Liberty” city. Feh.

    At least in World of Warcraft you have an attempt at illusionary freedom. Impassible mountains are the norm, and invisible walls the rare exception. For all the problems the game has, and the cartoony appearance in a fantasy setting, I think WoW has more verisimilitude (to use a 50-cent word) than GTA4. Plastic bags floating on the breeze in an alleyway be damned–if you’re going to present a realistic city setting, make it behave like a realistic city setting and drop the programmatic, arbitrary restrictions.

  8. Khoram says:

    You’re playing the wrong mode. There’s an entire freeform sandbox mode that lets you go anywhere and do anything in the whole city. If you do it in the single player campaign mode, yeah you have to unlock certain areas and break into cars/boats, etc. But in sandbox mode, you can do anything. Personally, I like just firing up sandbox mode and running around the city for a couple hours doing whatever I want with helicopters, cars, boats, etc. It’s a great way to blow off some steam.

  9. Daktylo says:

    On your suggestion I went out and picked up Bully for the PS2 for cheap (I know they just re-released it for more systems). I agree with your analysis on that game being so much better. Now if only they would come out with another Bully type game for these consoles, I bet they could do a lot more!

  10. JFargo says:

    No big comment on the overall article, but I wanted to say I thought the mini-comic was hilarious.

  11. Zerotime says:

    I always find it amusing when PC gamers complain about the price of consoles, while apparently forgetting how much cash they dropped making their own whirring game boxes.

  12. Matt` says:

    But our whirring game boxes also do other things. I would have a PC anyway, and the cost of making and keeping it a little above average in order to play games (without being silly about it – the super-high-end of PC parts is a total gouge) is less than buying a new console every few years

  13. henebry says:

    Plastic bags floating on the breeze in an alleyway be damned

    Is this an in-game reference to American Beauty?

  14. Rawling says:

    Much as I appreciate that not everyone enjoys the GTA series, I find it ironic to go over a GTA game and be disappointed in it for being a GTA game.

    I didn’t word that very well, but I was just trying to link to Penny Arcade, who responded to similar accusations about a JRPG.
    The comic.
    From the news post:

    If you told me that you weren’t fond of turf or kicking, I would hope that you’d have the wisdom to avoid soccer.

    Also, Zerotime has a very good point. A 360 (pro) in the UK costs less than half of an entry-level PC – or a high-end graphics card! – and a PS3 only a little more than that. My PC has not been gamed on for many a moon.

  15. Matt P says:

    I’m ambivalent over the game. It’s wild fun going on a killing spree. Racing is fun. There are nice little touches that make you feel like you’re in a real city. Many missions aren’t at all DIASed. In one mission I was expected to kill a drug dealer on a second floor balcony by going through his thugs on the two lower levels. Instead I found a nice quite spot with the perfect view to the target. BAM, and the dirt is gone. A friend of mine did the same thing with a grenade instead. In another mission in which you have to steal drugs from a burned down hospital (I think this is the hard level referenced in the strip) my friend and I placed cars all arond the exit. We didn’t try placing one ON the exit as I suspect that would have been DIASed away. Still, these cars provided cover from the police outside and a handy ride. Beating the game in this way is so much more satisfying than beating it with hundreds of bullets.
    But then the game breaks down. Those touches repeat (people can apparently mysteriously teleport to where they began a mobile phone conversation JUST to have it again). DIAS strikes again. For example, Niko is asked to steal a motorbike. Next to the motorbike is a man being patted down by two policemen. No problem, methinks. I’ll wait it out. Well, the fuzz are quite enjoying touching this man all over and they don’t seem interested in stopping. Ok, methinks. Perhaps I can call them away. 911, police please. Suddenly a new cop car comes around the corner to respond to my call. It’s quite clear what I have to do. I have to steal the bike from right in front of these cops and enter a daring, exciting race with them. Only it wasn’t daring or exciting as it’s insanely easy and boring to outrace a 1 star wanted rating. So instead of feeling like I’d achieved something by outsmarting the challenge I had simply held down the accelerator until my bike had escaped the police’s patrol radius. Well THAT was an interesting level Rockstar> I can see exactly why you guys thought your idea was much better than mine.
    It’s a game that takes turns at being great and terrible so I take turns at loving and loathing it.

  16. Ferrous Buller says:

    If you have a chance, try out Crackdown (X360): the plot is paper-thin and the missions are mostly of the “go here and kill everybody” variety; but the world is completely open from the word “go;” your cybernetic supercop improves in skill & power over time like an RPG (e.g., you go from kicking over people to kicking over CARS); and the enemy gangs are fixed in difficulty, with some more powerful than others, giving you incentive to level up and find better weapons. In the later sections of the game, you’ll be powerful enough to leap 50 feet in the air and hurl Buicks – good times!

  17. Mark says:

    It’s true, that mission (“Snow Storm”) really is quite shockingly difficult compared to the missions before and after it.

    The general charge of missions being linear is pretty sound, though.

  18. This is moving way off topic, but about the use of “blowing off steam”. Now that henebry mentions it, it strikes me that it says something interesting about language that people say that at all. Do most people who use it even know what it refers to? When was the last time any of them saw a steam engine? It’s a totally dated phrase, but it seems if anything to have just gotten more popular.

  19. Deoxy says:

    “blowing off steam” and “venting” are both still quite current, actually – see “nuclear reactors”.

    And I see people use that for violent video games, but also for many other activities. Anything that some people view negatively, but many people use as a form of tension/frustration release gets referred to in that fashion.

    Just out of curiosity, what else would you call it? What should I say instead of “blowing off steam”?

  20. Nick says:

    Shamus, I wanted to thank you for saving me $60.

    Several years ago, I played GTA III for about 40 hours before I decided I never wanted to do another one of those idiotic DIAS missions again, and that no amount of open-world, free-form goodness could make up for the lack of good core gameplay.

    The reviewers, who seem to have exhaused all of the superlatives in the OED in their rush to contribute their “10 of 10” to its Metacritic average, had almost convinced me to give GTA IV a shot. Hearing from you, whose viewpoint on the GTA series is closer to my own than it is to a typical game reviewer, that the DIAS gameplay is even partially intact was enough to let me take GTA IV off my wishlist with no regrets.

    Sometimes, when presented with a gorgeous, shiny, next-gen soccer ball, one needs to be reminded that one does not care at all for turf or kicking.

  21. Clint says:

    Speaking of GTA4, Yahtzee reviewed it here this week.

    He pointed out several issues, but actually seemed not to dislike it too much (!)

    Clint

  22. Gary says:

    http://www.hackszine.com/blog/archive/2008/03/shredz64_guitar_hero_for_c64.html
    Thought this would make you happy, Shamus. Although, now that I think about it, I’ve never seen you reference any of the GH games… Still, you ought to get a kick out of it.

  23. Jeff says:

    I always find it amusing when PC gamers complain about the price of consoles, while apparently forgetting how much cash they dropped making their own whirring game boxes.

    My whirring game box allows me to surf the internet, check my e-mail, and use IM. Regular life stuff. It also allows me to do work, as well as have copies of my resume on hand. It also allows me to play with Photoshop – applications.
    You can live without a console, but you’ll have a hard time functioning in North American society without a computer.

    The Playstations were released in ’95, ’00, and ’06. Roughly every 5 years. They’re backward compatable, which means owning a PS3 makes your PS2 obsolete.
    The PS3 was around 500 bucks, the PS2 about 300, the PS at around 150.
    If you bought all 3, you would have spent 950 for a pure gaming platform, with the PS2 and PS1 being utterly obsolete (give it away?).

    The computer I’d use for most of High School was purchased in ’97, for roughly 2200, including a monitor. It played all the latest games, as well as the social networking I mentioned, and it was essential for work.
    In ’02 I got a new computer, for roughly 1800, keeping the monitor. ’03 an LCD monitor.
    In the time between ’03 and 08 (now), I purchased a video card for it (350 or so) and installed the older one in the ’97 computer.
    Ignoring the monitors, roughly 4000 have been spent.
    The older computer is being used by my parents for work (not just e-mail, but stuff like CorelDraw and Photoshop and such). I’m still obviously using mine.
    In otherwords, none of the money spent have actually become obsolete.

    Four times as much spent. Are computers four times more useful than consoles? You bet. Not to mention that of the thousand on the consoles, half of it is no longer used.

    Of course, the comparison isn’t exactly valid, either. It’s like someone complaining about the price of a hotel room, and you saying that they’ve ignored the price of their rent. Both provide similiar things (shelter), but at the same time are vastly different.

  24. Penn says:

    I tend to play each game until I’ve opened up the whole map, and then just play. I drive around, play minigames, blow things up, whatever catches my fancy. I might even occasionally do a mission or two, but only as a break from the actual fun parts of the game.

  25. Deoxy says:

    I might even occasionally do a mission or two, but only as a break from the actual fun parts of the game.

    Heh, now THAT’s a serious endorsement! “Come play the our game to help you get away from fun!”

    Yes, I recognize that the fun you are referring to is the incidental part of the same game, but it’s still funny.

    Edit: I mostly agree with Jeff, but to play devil’s advocate…

    If you allow your computer to fall away from the “cutting edge”, you can pretty easily make up that extra $1000 (and probably more) and still get your game-playing in fairly well, as long as you like single-player games and not MMOs. Unless you need a massive computer for work or somesuch (in which case the “gaming” portion basically comes free), you can do everything you need to do (websurfing, email, word-processing, etc) on MUCH less than a $400 graphics card (for one easy example).

    Of course, I don’t get the consoles AND I let my computer fall away from the cutting edge, so I save even more money than that, and just play games a few years after they come out. I’m not a big “eye candy” type, so that’s no big deal to me, generally speaking.

  26. Gahaz says:

    Jeff:

    Hey, my ps3 runs Linux…It IMs, surfs the net, saves whatever documents I like and since the PS3 can use a flash drive, i can transport things to be printed to my printer ;)

  27. Drew says:

    If you want to talk about the “high cost of a computer” vs a console, consider the HDTV you’re going to buy to use with your PS3. And if you don’t think that cost should be included since you were “going to have one anyway”, consider that that reasoning applies directly to a PC as well.

  28. Mark says:

    Seconding the recommendation of Crackdown if you like urban sandboxes. The “go on a rampage” part of GTA never appealed to me – why would I go on a killing spree as a puny, frail mortal, in a place where I need to grind plot missions to get to the rest of the city, when I could do it all over the town as an invincible supercop who can run at ninety miles an hour and drive cars up sheer cliffs?

  29. Freykin says:

    In my case, my HDTV is my monitor. Not the biggest HDTV, but I do my console gaming and my PC usage on the same desk, so it was a great solution to that problem.

    My usual way of deciding whether to get a console or not is to wait until the number of games I’d want to play on it would cost me more than the console itself. Sure, it took a couple years for the 360 to reach that point, but now that it has, I have a huge gaming library to go through.

    My computer is way overpowered for what I tend to play on it, which is kind of funny. All it runs is Diablo II, Warcraft III, and Dominions III.

    As for GTA IV, from watching a friend play it it looks just like a very pretty version of the past games. He constantly mentions how great it is, except when he’s playing it, where he’s cursing at the game whenever he’s doing missions, or when Nico inexplicably decides to hijack the cab instead of getting a ride in it. It doesn’t look all that interesting to me, unless the multiplayer ends up being good, which I haven’t seen yet.

  30. Harley says:

    They’re backward compatable, which means owning a PS3 makes your PS2 obsolete.

    If you have the right version. The 20GB, 60GB, and 80GB PS3s have backwards compatibility, but the 40GB versions have no PS2 backwards compatibility, only PS1. The 80GB version is also software emulated, making it worse (less working games) than the 20GB and 60GB ones, which are hardware emulated.

    And a 60GB PS3 at launch was $600, and currently, the cheapest I can find a 60GB PS3 is for $430, and that’s “used”.

    On topic, I’ve played quite a bit through GTA 4 (almost 50%), and I have seen some missions where it is DIAS if you try anything special. Most of them (all I can recall, actually) require you to chase someone in a vehicle until they wreck, then gun them down on foot instead of, say, chasing them firing a submachine gun to make them explode or fire through their rear window and kill them like that.

    It’s agitating, I agree, since I’d like to take them out in their car. But the rest of the game is awesome, and the stories are really good (like the other GTA games).

  31. Nilus says:

    Honestly I thin GTA IV really shines in multiplayer. The fact that all the matches take place in the full city. A deathmatch where players can race across the giant city in cars trying to run each other of the road is really kinda cool.

    As far as PC vs Console RE Cost. I think you can spin the numbers in a lot of ways to say one costs more then the other. Honestly I favor consoles for gaming because I don’t need to full around with drivers or installing or anything to play a game. I know that the game I buy for my 360 will work in my 360 without any need for upgrade, driver reinstalls or any other tweaking. I still like PC games but for casual playing I stick to my consoles.

  32. Nilus says:

    RE the post above. I meant fool around. Long day at work and a sub-par public school education strikes again :)

  33. Eric Meyer says:

    Thirding the Crackdown recommendations for those on an XBox 360 who like urban sandboxes. As Ferrous said, the plot is laughable, as are the enemies themselves. But they’re almost not the point. Climbing all the way to the top of The Citadel and jumping off in an attempt to land in a small pool of water near the base– that’s the point.

    Also, there’s a great spot on the freeway where you can trigger Blues Brothers-style pileups. I can sit there for half an hour, watching cars slam into each other and laughing myself sick. I once saw a truck ramp itself off a wrecked sedan and fly so far it exited the draw distance before it touched down. Good times.

    As a bonus, it’s probably way cheap now, given that it came out a while ago and was not hugely popular.

  34. Gahaz says:

    Also, yeah an entry level PC costs less than a console as it stands, But a PC that runs new releases with every setting turned all the way up, with full resolution is not cheaper.

    When I put a game into my PS3 I know its being played exactly the way they wanted and designed it to look. Not to mention the fact that DRM is not the beast it is on the PC new release market.

  35. Dihydrogen says:

    I will also vouch for Crackdown. I played it at a friends house and it was pretty fun being a super hero while still being nice and sandboxy.

    On the whole PC vs Console cost subject. You can get a computer than can run Crysis on high no problem for under $1000 and considering when most people buy a PC for generic use they spend $600-$800 its not much more. The popular and extremely fast 8800GT’s go for under $150, 2 gigs of fast ram goes for $40, 3.0ghz dual core CPU’s go for $200, and a good motherboard goes for $100. So, you could use your existing case, power supply, and DVD-drive and get a high end gaming rig for $490. And since you are dismantling an old PC you don’t have to pay for a copy of Windows or you could run Vista which is essentially free as it doesn’t require a key to be inserted on install and lets you extend the activation period indefinitely.

    Then price wise PC games cost $10 bucks less, so assuming you buy ten games a year that saves you $100 and you don’t have to pay for something like XBox Live saving you an additional 50 bucks a year. and if you subtract that 150 you get $340 which is around the same cost as an Xbox 360, and this PC will last for around the amount of time as a console due to most games being cross platform.

  36. Jeff says:

    It’s worth noting that my prices are actually in CAN$, not US$, and a few years back, so roughly a 0.85 exchange rate too.

    And yeah, it’s fairly cutting edge, if I were to build one now it’d be much cheaper.

    And If your PS3 has a keyboard and mouse anyways…
    I don’t think we can emulate PS2s, but everything prior to that, GameCube N64 and the like are all runnable on emulators (with actual game CD/DVDs as well), which kind of covers an entire generation of consoles.

  37. Gahaz says:

    Dihydrogen:

    “Huge explanation of price gouging, buying diff equipment and hoping generic parts work well, essentially pirateing an OS and assembly”

    Or $600 later im at my house with a console playing games after the 15 minutes of hooking it all up.

    The console vs PC thing is as old as gaming. It can be spun anyway you like, it all comes to what hassles you are willing to deal with. And the way the PC market is moving I would rather have the miniscule hassles of purchaseing equipment and software that will work from day one.

    This entire discussion can be boiled down to “Apples have a sweeter taste!” “But oranges have a better texture!” They both are good, it comes down to if you want to peel or chew directly :)

  38. Gahaz says:

    I’m sorry, I have been lurking here off and on all day.

    I would just like to say one last thing and I will be done, honestly.

    Dihydrogen said what alot of hardcore PC gamers say, that each piece if you build a PC is very cheap. This is and isn’t true.

    It is true that you can find these PC parts close to the price he named (except the proc…the cheapest namebrand 3.0 dual core proc I could find was like 400 bucks) but you are not buying the equipment they want you to use and you then get bogged down in compatibility issues. Aside from the fact of WHY you would want to play Crysis (I found it extremely disappointing) the game squeezes your computer till the eagle screams. My brand new XPS 720 can chug at times with a quad proc, dual 512 8800 cards and 4 gigs of RAM.

    Yeah, you might be able to make a cheaper PC that will run it “per-se” but not in a preferable manner. You also have to factor in the assembly factor, most people that might be “on the fence” about if they should upgrade the PC or get a console don’t have the know how to do so or do not want to monkey around and screw up. And if you do screw up assembling your own there is no customer support to call. Nor is there a warranty on the PC. Yeah, on the pieces, but if you call nVidia to ask why your computer wont turn on, they will ask you how everything is hooked up, card-wise, and after that tell you sorry.

    I have been building on my own for years now but decided the old PC components needed a complete overhaul and decided to replace the whole thing, and ordering a new PC was an easy option, but it cost me almost 3 grand. Thats extreme I know but w/e.

    A thought to look into also is, with the console there is no work involved, no compatibility issues, no assembly, no drm, no fiddling with finnicky OS, no unexplained strangness (crashes and whatnot, and not all of us out there can read code to figure them out), and all around a much less problematic process to play freaking GAMES on.

    Remember, we are discussing playing games, and with a console you buy the game, get home and play the game. No drivers, no patch hunting, no compatibility problems to work with, no tweaking to make it look right on your machine. You in your chair grinning (hopefully) as you blast/shoot/jump your way to a good time.

    The PC market is a strange and changing landscape that has gone from fun to quality. If your wanting to play the newest titles and enjoy them its a proverbial minefield. And the games now seem to focus 70% of its development in pushing the graphics to the breaking point and that is requiring a heftier and heftier investment.

    This all boils down to why i bought my console in the first place. My PC will probably never be upgraded again, it plays the MMOs I want to play and the applications I need. Its a little “future-proof”. Atleast for a few more months (Ha ha, its sad and true) and will keep me on the web for years.

    But it still comes down to taste. Are you tired of being treated like a crook by publishers? Sick of buying hardware to only find its being outmoded in a few months? Sick of getting bad ports from consoles to PCs (Ha ha)? Perhaps its time for you to enjoy games again, to stop wondering about them and hoping it works well for you. Just look at how much fun console people have while PC people argue and moan over wht they are dealing with, while shunning console gamers.

    Just take a peek, you know you want to…

  39. Dihydrogen says:

    Gahaz:

    Yeah, I see your point. Although it is not pirating to use your legal copy of windows, as you are upgrading your computer (in fact since you are using your old hard-drive you wouldn’t even have to install it). The vista thing is pretty much pirating though and only works because Microsoft wants more people to use vista and can be stopped by them at any time.

  40. Face says:

    I was reading this article, and the comments when I started wondering, WTF does DIAS mean? Then it dawned on me…..most games seem to have some element of that. I’d say the absolute worst offender was the old Dragon’s Lair game.

  41. Craig says:

    I found this GTAIV to be much easier to play than previous iterations. I couldn’t get into the previous games because of the DIAS, but they have changed it a fair bit in GTAIV.

    First off if you fail a mission, your cell rings, you read the text, and hit a button and it reloads the mission for you right from your last save (start of the mission I believe/your safehouse).

    Being able to swim, and climb over fences, etc makes it much easier to not die when you wind up off-road in a mangled and possibly exploding vehicle.

    I found the new combat controls (lock on, free-aim, flick between opponents, cover system) to really help with my mission success rate too (I really sucked on earlier versions). Being able to easily and effectively control where you are shooting prevents a lot of my mission failures.

    I seem to be in the minority here, but I am really enjoying this version, whereas I didn’t even come close to finishing earlier releases due to frustration.

  42. Cybron says:

    Honestly, while I can’t say I like it from a design perspective, I really don’t mind DIAS all that much. Then again, I also like to play I Wanna Be The Guy, so my opinion may be invalid.

    However, I’ve not played GTA4, so I suppose I can’t really say how that applies to this game.

  43. Dihydrogen says:

    Gahaz:

    here is a intel e8400 (a high end CPu for $200)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115037
    here is a 8800gt from a name brand
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150278
    memory from a semi-name brand
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220255
    name brand motherboard
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128059

    and all the equipment I was pricing was name brand except for the memory as they price fix.

    Jeff:
    Gamecube emulation is actually quite poor, I believe that ps2 is actually better.

  44. J1nxter says:

    Have i missed or post, or haven’t there been an explanation from Shamus about Chainmail Bikini?

    /OOC

  45. Simplex says:

    Hello Shamus,

    I feel kinda stupid begging you to allow me to access your site, but here I go again…
    Would it be possible to whitelist one IP address from the blocked range (mine). This would allow me to access this wonderful site from my home computer. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

    Kind regards,
    Simplex

  46. BlackBloc says:

    My whirring game box allows me to surf the internet, check my e-mail, and use IM. Regular life stuff.

    Things you can do on a 350$ laptop, like the one I just bought. The difference between that price and the price of a pimped out gaming machine is way higher than the price of a PS3…

  47. Dirty Dan says:

    To J1nxter:

    I’m not sure how sudden his colleague’s decision was, but whenever it was made, Shamus has had since then to write up an entire plot summary for the remainder of the comic. Assuming he keeps most of his ideas either in his brain or in cryptic note form, that would be no small task. I reckon he’s waiting to get that done before he posts anything about it, since there’s probably not much else he can add to Shawn’s post.

    Looking forward to it whenever it comes, Shamus.

  48. God_of_Awesome says:

    I remember GTA:VC. I often cheated to get the best weapons and armor and started killing everyone.

    Rampage woo!

  49. Eric says:

    I Been avid console gamer since I was a wee lad, and a reasonably new computer gamer thanks in part to shamus. In my opinion the way consoles are going they are just becoming the new computers. Every game I’ve played on the ps3, you have to “install”. This depending on the game can take up to 15 min.. They are also putting up patches to download, which means they are just going to put out a bunch of unfinished games and fix them later. Now I honestly don’t believe that piracy is the main reason for the downfall of pc gaming(not to say that it helps)the real reason is as afore mentioned is that consoles are just becoming practically alienware’s(of a lesser standard). Oh and GTAIV was fun in the beginning I thought at first they got rid of the whole DIAS crap, but later in the game they proved me wrong. This is why I didn’t like any of them after GTAIII. I only play through the game so I can unlock the other islands, other than that @$#% the missions, I just like exploring and doing whatever retardedness comes into my head.

  50. Eric says:

    I also thought this time around they actually paid you pretty decently for missions. In the previous games it felt like” kill the president, and we will give you five food stamps.”

  51. MRL says:

    Just read the newest “How To Play”, and it seems apropos for this topic.

  52. Pidmon says:

    I seem to have lost my comment – basically, what I did in the game Thursday was drove a motorbike down the highgway, yelling ‘SAFE DRIVING’ due to something my friend told me… I hit a building after coming off a little riser in the pavement, and Niko went flying vertically. Took more damage from the impact than the fall.
    And my point of this was ‘I enjoy abusing Niko for physics fun more than missions’.

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