E. Keogh delves back into the broad, open world of Grand Theft Auto IV
I used all my pocket money and had my Dad buy it for me after what felt like hours of begging. Leaving Gamestop with GTA IV in hand felt like a dream come true.
When I finally got a PlayStation, the first game I bought for it was Grand Theft Auto IV. GTA: San Andreas was such a massive part of my childhood, so when I found GTA IV on sale for 20 pounds, I knew I had to have it. I used all my pocket money and had my Dad buy it for me after what felt like hours of begging. Leaving Gamestop with GTA IV in hand felt like a dream come true.
I turned on the PlayStation as soon as I got back to the flat, and popped the disc in straight away. The loading screen with all its colour and the music with its hypnotic beat still makes me feel as though all my troubles are melting away.
I grew tired of the game’s loading times fairly quickly, but it was worth it, and I kept coming back for more. The story follows Niko as he travels to the US in search of becoming rich and wealthy, living the American Dream. One key point of interest is Niko’s desire to escape his past and find the person who sold out his unit during the war. Liberty City is yours to explore as Niko, and through progressing the story the city slowly becomes more and more real to the player.
Playing as Niko, you progress up the ladder of crime in the city, killing several characters in the game, finding love, being betrayed, and finally being given the choice to kill the man who sold out his unit. The game itself was amazing for the time, but by today’s standards it’s quite jarring; the graphics now don’t really hold up, and the cars handled so badly. But GTA IV’s incredible story stands the test of time, and further expansion packs like The Ballad of Gay Tony only added more in-depth exploration of characters that made the story mode so appealing. GTA IV also had an online mode, allowing the player to free-roam with other players and join together for modes like deathmatch, racing, and many more. Unfortunately, the GTA IV PS3 servers shut down in early 2020.
After school, me and my friends would go back to my house and we’d play until one of us died, or completed a full mission. Then the controller would get passed on.
Playing the game wasn’t just about the story. After school, my friends and I would go back to my house and we’d play until one of us died, or completed a full mission. Then the controller would get passed on. We’d all try and get the highest possible level by firing a rocket launcher using cheat codes to create a chopper and go on rampages around Liberty City.
It was just really fun to play; you could hop on story mode and chill, you could go online and challenge others. The game was also great for exploring. Finding glitches in the game was part of the fun, and I remember the days when my friends and I would sit there for hours and blow up the money truck near the strip club and get hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or when we’d steal a car and go in search of the playground to try out the swing glitch. We’d try and see who got thrown the fastest, and if you died or blew up, you’d be eliminated from the competition. We’d be cackling away at the prospect of a car flying as high as it did for ages.
Cheat codes were a massive part of the game and made it so much fun. Spawning a boat that falls on top of people as a 12-year-old sent me and my friends into fits of laughter. It only got better as we took to the skies - flying around in the Annihilator while shooting at buildings mindlessly provided a lot of entertainment. As was regular with GTA games, GTA IV has loads of challenges around the map on single player. You could try and get high scores on ramps, start gunfights with cops, or just shove pedestrians around. If all else fails, why not go bowling with your cousin Roman? Getting drunk and trying not to hit anyone with mates is so funny. Maybe go to an internet cafe and do some browsing, or see a comedy show with a genuine Ricky Gervais cameo as the main act.
If I could forget the story and play it again, I would without a doubt. But I’m glad I played it with friends when I did because I can look back at it now and think of all the fun I had.
Sure, playing GTA IV might be fulfilling “the male fantasy” or whatever, but with mates, by yourself, online or just driving around when you feel sad, it’s so nostalgic. It’s a game that you could just put on and have a laugh at. The memories of coming home and rushing through my homework so I could hop on and mindlessly play are ones I remember fondly. The story was funny, and it featured dramatic twists and turns that still hold up. If I could forget the story and play it again, I would without a doubt. But I’m glad I played it with friends when I did because I can look back at it now and think of all the fun I had.