Niko hits the PC in this great game, yet flawed conversion
What does the American Dream mean today? For Niko Bellic, fresh off the boat from Europe, it is the hope he can escape his past. For his cousin, Roman, it is the vision that together they can find fortune in Grand Theft Auto IV’s Liberty City, gateway to the land of opportunity.
As they slip into debt and are dragged into a criminal underworld by Grand Theft Auto IV’s series of shysters, thieves and sociopaths, they discover that the reality is very different from the dream in a city that worships money and status, and is heaven for those who have them and a living nightmare for those who don’t.
GTA IV came out earlier in the year, gaining some great review scores from 9’s to 10’s. It’s a top contender for Game of the Year but how does the PC version fair up?
Well it’s not nearly as polished as I’d hoped. The game is exactly the same as the console versions, but it’s a bitch to run even on my PC which can handle a game like Crysis very well. Even with low settings, the game can freeze up for a second or so during driving, textures don’t always load properly and the load times are painfully long. Of course, that’s just my experience…your PC may handle entirely different. I’m using a GTX 280 and it doesn’t support SLI yet for those who have two cards.
Rockstar recently pushed out a patch for the game that stopped some of the problems, making it a bit more bearable overall but it’s embarrassing when the consoles are outperforming it. You can use the Xbox 360 controller on the PC version or stick to keyboard and mouse, some things work better for others like driving is better with the controller but shooting and aiming is better with the keyboard and mouse. Luckily you can switch between them without any fancy menu options.
The PC version also has achievements, so there’s some incentive for achievement whores to go and gain the same 360 achievements again for the PC. Apart from that though, there’s little point in picking this up if you have already played the console version to death. Multiplayer has been expanded to a whopping 32 players, which is very impressive and perhaps the PC’s greatest feature alongside the lovely video editor.
You can also play your own music by playing your MP3’s in the right directory and choosing the right radio station in the game, which isn’t new but it’s still a nice touch. I’m personally looking forward to seeing what the mod community can do with GTA IV. Custom vehicles are a must, but it would be nice if someone made a mod that labelled every flying rat and jump so you don’t have to hunt them all down with a guide and since those kinds of mods were available with Vice City and GTA III, it’s not difficult to imagine that it will happen.
GTA IV comes with the Rockstar Social Club application as mandatory. It does give good updates on patches and drivers for your graphic cards, while uploading your stats to it…but it seems a little pointless overall. Games for Windows Live support is supported so you can invite your friends to matches and so on, which is the saving grace for the version for me. The improved visuals are great, but only if the PC can handle them and maintain a steady framerate. Apparently it comes down more to your CPU than your GPU, which is far too technical for even the likes of me. Just make sure you fit the system requirements or you’ll have a hard time with it overall.
Audio quality is superb and definitely the overall best aspect of presentation that this version of GTA IV has to offer. Sure, the missions are great…the story is great, the characters are great and so on…but if the audio sucked then it would just be a disaster. The script for GTA IV is astonishing, some moments hilarious and others gut-wrenching as you make choices or see one of the alternate moments of the game. It’s a game of so many riches held back only by its performance.
GTA IV for PC is a great game, it’s just held back by some annoying technical issues at the time of the review, that hopefully will be fixed with upcoming patches and fixes…if not, it looks like many of us will have to upgrade our PC’s just to run it properly.