What I’m going to talk about here today has nothing to do with EA attempting to buy out Take Two. With that said lets get into the meat and potatoes of today’s topic. Why is Grand Theft Auto IV the make or break game of the series?
I’ll start by stating it may suffer from the Halo 2 problem. The Halo 2 problem is when the IP does not meet the fan expectation for the game, or the competition raised the bar higher than anticipated. With more and more developers entering the ever-expanding sandbox genre, more quality titles are being released each year. Games like Crackdown changed the way we want to play these games, by adding free roaming co-op. Prototype, the upcoming Free Radical title gives you the powers from Crackdown with the atmosphere of GTA 3. The point being the bar has been set higher than ever before, and is still climbing.
Marketing cannot purchase the hearts and minds of the gaming community. Halo 3 suffered from the negative perception left by Halo 2. The weak story combined with better shooters (i.e. Call of Duty 4) is what pulled Halo 3 from the top spot on Xbox Live. The last 3 console releases of GTA were all based on the GTA 3 engine. While the improvements were seen from game to game, they always suffered from the same problems. Pop in, aiming, etc. For GTA IV to truly excel it has to exceed all expectations, it has to innovate gameplay and change how we play. I’m afraid if GTA IV does not revolutionize the genre, then the Grand Theft Auto name, Rockstar, and Take Two will be left broken and unemployed.
As gamers we expect the best no matter when “your” game was first conceived. We always want the shiniest feature in all games at all times. Halo 3 has its faults but we can agree saved films are needed in all multiplayer games now. A feature that would take months to create and implement must be used to the fullest potential on a game releasing the very next week. GTA IV needs to see the implementation of multiplayer built into the single player campaign. It needs to fix the faults of the previous games, and it must absolutely keep sacred what made the games so addictive to begin with.
If it feels rushed, or a rehash of GTA 3; it will mark the beginning of the end. While it will take 1-2 more games to put the final nail in the coffin, we “hard-core” players will leave it on the shelf next to our copies of Sonic, Mortal Kombat, and the newest addition, Tony Hawk.