Grand Theft Almost

I’ve logged quite a few hours into Grand Theft Auto IV on the 360. I’ve gotten the third Safe House on Manhattan, er, Algonquin, started dating my second woman (Kate), killed scores of thugs and innocents alike, stolen more than my share of cars; I think it is fair to say that I have formed some solid impressions. In the gaming press GTA IV has been hailed as the second coming of video games, given 10’s  and 5-stars almost unanimously. I would contend the critics got it awfully close. The graphics are fantastic, the scale is amazing, the game is super fun – whether you are just messing around or playing the story mode full on, it is a beautiful, cinematic experience, possibly unparalleled, in gaming history. I have one, single niggle that would drop it half a point, though – the complete lack of an in-mission save system (checkpoints) just sucks. Often somebody will send you on a mission which will require you to drive all the way across the city (which can take several minutes) and you will start some elaborate mission, which often has several distinct parts (checkpoints). If, then, the camera system messes you up or you make a mistake and die, you have to start all the way from the beginning again, with the drive across the city. Sure, doing this once or twice is no big deal but when you are faced with doing the whole thing again after 8 or 9 attempts it just gets old and frustrating. Happily, there is almost always something else that can be done instead, so I generally just go do something else and come back to the harder mission at a later time.

But, even in spite of the save system, I can’t say enough other good things abou the game. It is absolutely a game that must to be part of any gamers collection. Even with the lack of in-mission checkpoints, the save system works better than previous GTA games as it automatically saves after every mission – in previous games you had to manually find your way back to your safe house to save. If you forgot to do this, you could easily put yourself in a very difficult situation.

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