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GTA 4: Let's Not Get Carried Away

We're living in a high definition world. Everything has to be bigger and better. It has to look sharper and sound clearer. The video games industry for one is certainly sticking by these standards with next generation consoles and video games, but should we be getting carried away with our hopes for Grand Theft Auto IV?

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Rockstar Games biggest GTA game so far, pushed the boundaries of what was possible on the Playstation 2. So much so, in fact, that the game regularly ran into technical problems. Anything could happen, ranging from textures taking too long to load as you speed down a built up area, to models not loading altogether as you fly a fighter jet into an invisible tree. For the most part the game ran well, but when too much action was on screen, poor frame rates seemed to put the game in slow motion... The next generation, however, should mean this will no longer be an issue.

Rockstar Games proved to be very ambitious with the size of San Andreas. The map was amazingly big, but it was also drastically empty. The countryside featured nothing of special interest, neither did the huge desert section and this is arguably the reason Rockstar have decided to make GTA 4's Liberty City smaller, but much more detailed.

Liberty City: Not as big as San Andreas, but much more detailed

I won't get into the specific details of Grand Theft Auto IV too much though, that's what this website is for in general, but I will attempt to discuss whether we should really be expecting the game to not only run perfectly, but to look perfect too.

When you saw the first GTA4 trailer, can you honestly say that you weren't very impressed with the graphics? The lighting effects? The realistic looking city? But why was this? Did the graphics shown in the teaser video really make you think you were looking at a real city, or was it because in comparison with previous GTA games, the graphics have been massively revamped?

Personally I think once you've thought about it logically, you'll lean towards the latter. Sure, the graphics are going to be a huge improvement on previous games, but I personally don't expect they'll be up there with the best of the next gen graphics. GTA has never tried to look photo-realistic, and in the past, Rockstar Games seem to prefer gameplay over graphics, which can only be a good thing. With the PS3 and Xbox 360 however, they should have the freedom to do both amazing graphics with revolutionary gameplay.

Without having played the game, or even seen it in action it's hard to say if they've met this objective. Perhaps the reason for the delay was so they could polish up the engine a bit more. There's no doubting that the game is going to look stunning, but there will be small parts of it, be it slowdown in busy intersections, or poor draw distance resulting in low quality textures which will just remind us that the game is not perfect.

The background buildings don't look much different to GTA San Andreas

Having said that, character textures look immense. Niko is by far the best looking character in a GTA game so far, and you just have to look to his incredibly realistic hands, fingernails included, to see what a good job Rockstar Games are doing with what's available to them. This is without even getting onto the fantastic looking Euphoria engine, making repetitive animations a thing of the past, and actually turning computer game models into computer game people.

Niko Bellic: The 'Handy' Man

I haven't seen the game in action, so it's difficult to comment on how well the frame rate runs, or how quick the textures load. This article is based on what we have available; screenshots and screencaps from the trailers. The aim of the article is not to pick faults with the game, how can someone pick faults with something they've never played? And what would be the point in running a fan site about a game you didn't look forward to? The main aim though is just to ensure that GTA 4 is not over hyped the way GTA San Andreas was. Yes, it was still a good game, but with all of the information that was released before hand, some gamers, myself included, felt the game was a slight disappointment. Let's hope GTA 4 lives up to all expectations. Knowing Rockstar Games, it will surpass them.

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Last Updated: 06th Sep 2007
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