As far as the PC goes, Grand Theft
Auto has always been a franchise to show up fashionably late to the party. Often
arriving several months to a year after the console launch, PC releases of the
series have been a given from the first entries to the franchise, offering some
graphical improvements and new features each time. Now, the most recent entry to
the series is making its appearance on the PC.
Unless you’ve been living under a
rock for the past few years, chances are you’ve heard something about Grand
Theft Auto IV. The first entry to franchise to be featured on current-gen
consoles, the game released on 360 and PS3 with deafening fanfare back in April
and is now arriving on the PC.
Grand Theft Auto IV on the PC offers
the same great single-player campaign as the wildly successful console versions,
while offering graphical enhancements and higher resolutions and a host of new
features and upgrades to the multiplayer and community elements in the game.
You’ll now have the ability to import your own music tracks to a custom radio
station, as well as record your own videos and edit clips together through the
game’s new video editor and share them with other players via Rockstar’s Social
Club community element. While the game has some problems here and there with
stability, the core game is a fantastic addition to the series and one that no
GTA fan will want to miss.
The storyline in Grand Theft Auto IV
follows Nico Bellic, a Russian immigrant who comes to Liberty City at the behest
of his cousin Roman. He quickly becomes enveloped in the world of organized
crime, working his way up the ranks within Liberty City, making friends and a
whole lot of enemies along the way.
The game’s single-player gameplay
has been largely unchanged from the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game (check
out our reviews for those here). The multiplayer element is also pretty solid,
offering up the same great multiplayer mode while upping the player count from
16 to 32 while still performing quite admirably with little lag.
The PC version’s video editor is
definitely one of its bigger additions. After creating an account and logging
onto Rockstar’s Social Club, you’ll be able to capture videos of your gameplay
in order to export them into the game’s video editor utility. Capturing videos
of your gameplay is a snap, simply press the F2 after you do something awesome
and the last thirty seconds or so of gameplay are recorded and stored into the
video editor. After you’ve gotten some cool footage, you can open your cell
phone and enter the video editor.
From the video editor, you can edit
your clips however you see fit, adding in filters, splicing different videos
together, adding in music and so on. Once you’ve edited the clip to your liking,
you can then post it onto the Social Club for other members of the community to
check out and rate, Youtube-style. This is a great touch for the game, as the
open world has always allowed for some crazy stuff to go down, and you’ll
definitely be able to catch some great videos on the Social Club.
There are some intrinsic benefits to
playing the game on the PC when it comes to controls, namely with aiming and
shooting. Using a gun is a lot more intuitive on the PC since you have the
keyboard-mouse configuration to work with. For driving, a gamepad usually feels
the most comfortable. Fortunately, GTA IV lets you use each control option on
the fly, switching between the two without requiring you go through the options
menu at all.
While the game offers some pretty
impressive new features that PC gamers and fans of GTA will undoubtedly want to
check out, there are some pretty serious technical issues with the game that
have been making their rounds in the public and on various tech forums. The game
has some pretty severe stability issues, performing poorly on machines that meet
or exceed the system requirements and even locking up and shutting down when
some features, like the Social Club, are turned on. While Rockstar has stated
that they are currently working on a patch for the game that will hopefully
address these issues, gamers should be aware that the game does have some pretty
serious stability problems as it currently stands.
Graphically, the game is a
noticeable improvement over the console versions, benefiting from super-high
resolutions and improved character models. The whole city looks fantastic and
filled with details, and that’s only with a few of the graphical settings set
higher; on future machines, this game will drop jaws. Still, the technical
issues are tough to overlook and many gamers, regardless of how top of the line
their PCs are, will need to scale down the settings a lot in order to get it to
The sound department is largely
unchanged from the console versions, which is a good thing, as it sports some
excellent voice acting, great sound effects, and a huge and robust soundtrack.
One thing that the PC version has over the consoles is “Independent FM”, a
special radio station that allows you to import your own MP3s to a special
folder and listen to them within the game. Like an actual radio station, you can
opt for DJ banter or simply listen to your music.
Grand Theft Auto IV is a solid port
of the beloved title, albeit one with some technical issues that will be
rectified with a patch soon. Still, if you’re a PC-only gamer waiting for the
chance to take this plunge into Liberty City, the new features will definitely
The single-player campaign and storyline has been unchanged from the console
versions, which is a good thing. The mouse and keyboard controls are also very
intuitive when it comes to handling guns, and the new video editor feature is a
Graphically, the game looks great, with some nice improvements over the
console games. The character models sport some nice detail improvements and the
environments come alive in great ways. However, the game requires a lot of
tweaking and downscaling in order to run properly, even on high-end systems.
The new Independent FM feature is a great touch, allowing you to put your
own spin on the game’s already impressive soundtrack.
The new features are nice additions, but the PC version’s stability issues
are too major to overlook.
Same modes as the console versions, but the PC game increases the player
count from 16 to 32, which is a nice touch.
Grand Theft Auto IV is a solid port, adding in some compelling features to
reward PC gamers for their patience. However, they’re going to want to sit tight
and wait for Rockstar to issue a patch to fix the game’s stability problems.