GTA IV Special Edition: A Preview

Just bought GTAIV (Second last set from Guerilla Games @ Serene Centre). It is really a beautiful piece of kit, with some really sweet swag. Top among them, a selection of songs from the GTAIV game. Next up, a WORKING safe deposit box, KEY and all, and a Duffel bag with the Rockstar Logo emblazoned upon it. An Art book rounds off this list of swag along with the game itself.

I am busy slapping my head right now as this afternoon, after seeing some news reports on the various games blogs on GTA’s release, I immediately picked up the phone and called to place a pick-up on the game. Cut to 9ish and I was the proud owner, courtesy of the Mom Sponsorship, of GTAIV.

When I popped back home, what should happen but I check my email and receive notice that someone was offering me a copy of GTAIV for review! *not that I wasn’t going to anyway, and my first impressions will be noted below* But hot DANG! I felt like I missed a train. But I am also an honest man. So. Yeah. Hem. Gimme something else instead? *COUGH Rock COUGH B… COUGH*

Upon inserting this video game into your console, you’re greeted with a typically Rockstar style montage of pictures and immediately after, you are thrown into the game. There is no “select new game, options etc’ screen at the start (though that could be because I button mashed alittle) and you’re thrown into an opening scene on a boat, and are introduced to Niko Ballic, an Eastern European fellow on his way to Liberty City to chase the big dream and eat sweet sweet American Pie. I must state at this point the credits are shown and you’re made to look at it like this is a movie’s Cold Open or something to that effect. It is stylistically quite marvelous and though done before, still hasn’t gotten old for me.

The visual style can be charecterised as slightly cartoonish, but with the gritty, almost painfully detailed style that has been the signature GTA look. And the graphics are simply stunning. A true LEAP from GTA’s previous iteration of San Andreas. Though one can tell that the Xbox 360 has certain slowdown issues even at the very beginning because I could see some stuttering frames as the camera panned across the beautiful vista of Liberty City’s skyline and waterfront. I am not sure the PS3 will have similar issues.

I played about 15 minutes of the game and I was hooked. The two charecters you meet are real pieces of work, with Nico and his cousin bantering and swearing at each other. You learn some basic moves and are immediately made to drive the cousin back to his home. The vehicle mechanics are still very GTA-y and are given to that floaty, physics- optional style that one either loves to mess around with or hates when he ends up in the water yet again. And the only problem I had at this very early stage with trying to get Nico to fight. I was taken out 10 minutes into the game, and well, that’s just me trying to jack some hudlums’ car. I didn’t fight back coz I hadn’t been taught yet how to defend myself. And sorta had to play by ear to figure it out. Which I did, much to the chagrin and eventual death of some poor little Russian lady sitting at the hospital.

All in all, a GREAT 15 minutes and this is going to be my last post before I fly off to Seoul. I cannot wait. Pics of Special Edition and swag included.

P.S. Those of you looking to pick up GTAIV yourselves but don’t have an Xbox are in for a treat. Microsoft is lowering the RRP of their Xbox 360 consoles. Elite will go for S$699, Pro for S$499 and Arcade for S$399. (Disclaimer: I was sent the press release for this price drop from MSFT.)