May 3, 2008 · 3 minutes read

I’ve loved every version of GTA from the first I played on the original Playstation (A game where the object is to steal cars and commit crime? No way!)

I’ve said for years that I would buy a PS3 or Xbox360 based on which played GTA:IV best. I went PS3 in a close heat (I already have a PSP, so I figured any coolness from pairing them would be icing on the cake… and I’ve always liked the Playstation controller form factor.)

So I’m sitting here trying to load my save for my second session of playtime ever… and it’s sitting there “LOADING – JAMAICAN HEAT”. No HD access, just sitting there. If I quit, it crashes the PS3. Loading again gets me to the same place. Tried nuking my most recent save data. No joy. I guess the next step is to whack all the rest of my GTA data.

This is the second bug I’ve run into. This is worse, as the first time, I just couldn’t get a lapdance from a stripper who all of a sudden froze and went totally catatonic. Weird.

So far, not impressed, Rockstar.

Oh yeah, and no skippable intros on loading? Fuck you, Rockstar. [Edit – this is not the case. The intro screens do seem to be mandatory, bit it’s loading up the game while they show – I can now see HD activity. Previously running into the hang bug, there was no HD activity, so I assumed it was an unskippable intro instead of a loading screen]

Next Day:

Once I deleted all save game data, I was back…. however, when I loaded again, it fails again. The fix, I found too late, it to unplug ethernet. It seems this is a mutiplayer issue – probably the GTA servers are overloaded. Grr.

They took out side/rear look with the trigger buttons. Now you have to use L3 to look behind, and the right analog stick in general to look around. You can hit O to go into “cinema mode” and then when you release it, the view is centered forward. Being able to quickly center the view is important, but really L3 for rear look is a big annoyance. You have to either take your thumb off the wheel, or the brake/gas, in order to look behind. Grr.

It doesn’t look that great on my old school standard def rear projector TV, as well… so until I get HDTV (not bloody likely any time soon), the graphics really aren’t that much better than I recall in San Andreas.

So far, is it good? Yes. Still wonderful to have a world of GTA in front of me. It is much more realistic than any before.

I realized how different it was the first time I ran headlong into a guard rail at top speed. The car crunched to a stop as my body sailed clear through the windshield. Fucking cool.

After a Weekend:

All complaining aside, it’s really, really good.

GPS is nice – click a waypoint on the map and you’re directed there via a route on your minimap. If you’re in a high-end car, you’re like to hear “Turn left in… 100 yards… BING”.

They did a good job modeling the strippers in action at the club.

The weapons system is improved. Hit L2 to duck into cover, then you can target enemies and pop out to shoot when they’re exposed.

The realism of the cars is much improved.

It’s quite clearly the best GTA ever made. The few flaws are more than made up for by the overwhelming goodness.