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GTA: constructive criticism


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Now, if you bought GTA4 chances are you'll have liked something about the GTA series to buy it. But no doubt there are also some ways it could be improved. Not just 4 but the series as a whole. That said, if you disagree and consider some of these necessary for the game to remain unique (such as the lack of sidestep in Resident Evil), or think I'm being petty, please feel free to comment.

You need to be able to restart missions quickly, and from the exciting part which killed you. There are a couple of ways this could be achieved, checkpoints, tighter missions, quicksave, but the fustration arises from spending your time doing something simplistic in order to do something fun/challenging. Far too many times you have to drive somewhere before the mission starts- why not start from that point? This feels like artificial lengthening, and I don't have the time. They've moved slightly, but nowhere near enough on this.

The game shouldn't dump you from a cutscene into a fight/race. In fact, fewer cutscenes altogether. It's impossible to sneak up on somebody because you'll get to the door and Nico will decide to have a cutscene where he shouts for some reason. Or threatens somebody. I understand it's not a stealth game but there ought to be a degree of freedom or room for creative thinking.

Missions should allow for more freedom and room for creativity. As above really. Make the failure requirements less arbitrary and allow me to experiment. Don't wait until a cutscene to spawn the bad guys, or make their vehicles invunerable until certain points. Don't show me a cutscene of people arriving- allow me to do something as they arrive. The engine is built, have faith in it to produce fun moments without the need for scripted set pieces.

Missions should have more variety. An obvious one, but I've done identical missions now which happen to take place in different places. I'd try to be more constructive but I can't right now.

The city/cities need to be varied, extra detail shouldn't mean less interaction but in hi-def. OK, so this is aimed at 4 after SA, but I thought (perhaps my own misguided fault) that they would be removing the expansive and varied gameworld of SA in order to concentrate on a detailed fully realised interactive world of Liberty City. But there is less to do in LC then there is in SA. Most of the shopfronts are still painted on, doors don't open, and there's nothing to do in the buildings anyway. Personally I don't mind this, I spend my time in a GTA outdoors, but I do mind that the outdoors has been reduced to a rich city, a medium city and a poor city. I want my mountain back, my sand dunes, my valley, my lakes, my farms my rural villages.

There will probably more when you and I can remember, but lets try to keep that other thread joyous eh? And this one constructive!

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Loving the game despite whatever flaws it might have, but I wish there were a proper multiplayer lobby area, rather than the game dropping you back into Niko's apartment should you drop out of a game. The phone's a great device and all, but if I'm in multiplayer, let me stay there until I confirm that I want to go back to single player, rather than forcing me to use the moblle to get back in again..

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I see the points you're making, man. I think we're going get that 'countryside/bigger than an city/crazy jetpacks etc...' vibe in the next GTA. I think it was enough for them to concentrate on getting a city right this time. And as you say they still missed out on a lot of stuff in that. Allegedly $100 million spent and god knows how many working on it, it might be hell of a lot harder to make the game you're dreaming of than you think.

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I'm wondering if it is trying to do too much? (I've not played every similar game, so don't know for sure what other games do or don't do.)

On the one hand it is a really, really impressive sandbox, dynamic, living world, with all sorts of natural reactions happening, interesting AI, player generated experiences etc. This is a fascinating direction in which video games can and will develop further, and GTA4 is one of the leaders in this area.

On the other hand it's a really well scripted, acted and directed story (by video game standards at least). Personally this side of things interests me less, but you can see with a game like this how far the interactive movie concept has progressed, and it can really work. Again, this is a fascinating direction that video games can and will develop in, and GTA4 is one of the leaders in this area.

But, I think the two directions - the sandbox, dynamic, free, endless world with AI and emergent gameplay, and the scripted, choreographed, cut-scene heavy story experience with a beginning middle and end - are kind of incompatible with each other. They're both trying to do mutually incompatible things and some of the little niggles in GTA4 are due to the tug of war between a tight script and a free environment.

It's a real shame that possibly the best examples of both types of game are combined in the same product.

Probably not appropriate for the GTA series, but I think I'd rather see new games expanding and developing the kind of free, open world we have in GTA, but dumping the scripted story, or cut scene based story, and instead look at ways of either telling stories more naturally within the environment, or not bothering to tell pre-written stories at all but better allow player-created stories to happen.

At the same time, why not have brilliantly scripted and acted interactive movie type games too? They just don't need to be cutting edge dynamic sandbox worlds at the same time. Maybe that way the script writers will have less limitations on the way they can tell their stories, and their carefully planned scripts won't be getting in the way of the programming teams making more dynamic worlds.

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So, it looks like my 50 hours spent on this game (just under 60% in) have been broken by a monumental bug.

After doing the 'I'll Take Her' kidnapping mission, Packie has not phoned and asked me to get a picture. There's nothing else to do now, so it looks like my only option would be to restart. Which I won't do, of course, I'll simply sell the game.

It's atrocious. No game with such an atrocious bug can possibly be worth more than a 3 or 4 out of 10. Awful, awful coding from Rockstar North, who should be ashamed of themselves for being so exceedingly shoddy.

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So, it looks like my 50 hours spent on this game (just under 60% in) have been broken by a monumental bug.

After doing the 'I'll Take Her' kidnapping mission, Packie has not phoned and asked me to get a picture. There's nothing else to do now, so it looks like my only option would be to restart. Which I won't do, of course, I'll simply sell the game.

It's atrocious. No game with such an atrocious bug can possibly be worth more than a 3 or 4 out of 10. Awful, awful coding from Rockstar North, who should be ashamed of themselves for being so exceedingly shoddy.

Are there any other missions available? There's a purposeful delay before he asks you, and the time it takes is quite random. Do whatever other missions you have free. If there are none, go to sleep a few times and leave Niko outside for a whil. The text/call should come.

I take it you've looked at a walkthrough? The problem with them is that a lot of the timing of events is random. Some people will get certain missions before others.

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Are there any other missions available? There's a purposeful delay before he asks you, and the time it takes is quite random. Do whatever other missions you have free. If there are none, go to sleep a few times and leave Niko outside for a whil. The text/call should come.

I take it you've looked at a walkthrough? The problem with them is that a lot of the timing of events is random. Some people will get certain missions before others.

Yeah, had a look after the missions disappeared.

Shall give it a shot. I'm very worried though, because I've already done a few missions for other people, I've also met up with Packie. Worse of all, a bit of Google searching has led me to believe that I'm not alone with this problem:

http://uk.gamespot.com/ps3/action/grandthe...&pid=933036

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It's a real shame that possibly the best examples of both types of game are combined in the same product.

I agree completely that it veers off in two directions, and whilst I say it does (pr the series does) open worlds brilliantly, I must admit to always being at best confused and at worst turned off by their stories. The motivations of the characters never match their actions, and whilst they can be entertaining I do find myself wincing inside when people refer to them as some of the best stories in gaming.

The controls are an absolute disaster. There's such a conflict between the buttons, I end up dying in the panic.

Yes, I forgot:

Analogue running please. I shouldn't have to tap a button to run, this isn't track and field and it just makes jumping hard. Not that jumping isn't hard anyway, Niko takes a run when you push the jump button, unaligning things, the animation has come before the controls. I should be able to turn my body without walking, but Nico's turning circle can make on foot control cumbersome. A solution should be the option, even if not the default setting, to have analogue control and Nico to turn with the camera. Like most other third person games.

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Loving the game despite whatever flaws it might have, but I wish there were a proper multiplayer lobby area, rather than the game dropping you back into Niko's apartment should you drop out of a game. The phone's a great device and all, but if I'm in multiplayer, let me stay there until I confirm that I want to go back to single player, rather than forcing me to use the moblle to get back in again..

That's you being "ejected" from the session rather than the end of a session - you should stay in the multiplayer section of the game till you choose to quit but there seems to be a few matchmaking issues at present which aren't properly exception-handled.

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I'd agree it needs either a mid-mission checkpoint or a better retry system. So furstrating to get halfway through a mission and then to do something daft or be shot, then have to drive to the location and everything again.

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For a game that clearly has trouble mapping all the controls onto one control pad, it does seem silly to waste a whole button on running. I can't see a single benefit in it myself. If you like just walking around rather than running because it's more immersive then the analogue stick alone allows you to do that, I did it all the time in Hitman for example. I would rather that extra button it would free up be used to switch weapons or something because I find reaching down to the D-Pad awkward, especially if I'm running away from someone at the same time.

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Probably not appropriate for the GTA series, but I think I'd rather see new games expanding and developing the kind of free, open world we have in GTA, but dumping the scripted story, or cut scene based story, and instead look at ways of either telling stories more naturally within the environment, or not bothering to tell pre-written stories at all but better allow player-created stories to happen
.

Whilst that works for games like Elite (which is a sandbox game without a continuous story), its much harder to implement on the ground because a city is that much smaller, amongst other things.

Crackdown went a fair way to progressing what your saying though.

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I totally agree Ste.

the sandbox, dynamic, free, endless world with AI and emergent gameplay

I think Crackdown has shown us there is an alternative approach where you focus on certain things, crackdown had a lot less going on but you never questioned it, it was like 'here's the system, go play' where with GTA4 you're constantly 'why can't I do that?' 'why can't I go in that shop' etc.

It totally negated the need to go to and from missions as all the bosses are just in the city all the time and you can just go and get them, it was all sandbox but it was cold and the city wasn't living breathing, it was a climbing frame with a racetrack in it. It worked well and everything was clear.

scripted, choreographed, cut-scene heavy story experience with a beginning middle and end

I think that's the way GTA is headed and where this game's heart and strengths lie, I really enjoy spending time with the characters but I am torn as I'm not progressing the game any further, ultimately where do those relationships get you? I think Michelle is really boring and I ignore all her calls and requests and there's no consequence of that.

It is amazing when you're flying over the city in a helicopter, but where does that freedom get you? You can't swoop in and interact, you have to pre-arrange everything with mission markers at fixed point A or B.

Ultimately it's just you on this journey.

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Yep, mid-mission check points should be a given in any future iterations, especially as the game worlds get bigger and missions get longer.

Also stuff like A.I shouldn't be put by the wayside just because they want to build this huge immersive world. Nothing shatters that illusion worse than taxi drivers who can't negotiate a corner without hitting lamp posts, or who collect me at my safe house and then decide that they should head the wrong way down the one way section and get completely stuck. Or Packie running around like a headless chicken as bad guys pepper him with holes.

They have created something astounding, but that can look awfully silly and amateurish at times.

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It is amazing when you're flying over the city in a helicopter, but where does that freedom get you? You can't swoop in and interact, you have to pre-arrange everything with mission markers at fixed point A or B.

Ultimately it's just you on this journey.

Its a fair point that. I think Sam Houser has also indicated he wants to take the series into a more filmic direction.

They have created something astounding, but that can look awfully silly and amateurish at times.

Theres a lot to be said about "if you can't do it properly....."

but it has to be said, sandbox on a scale like this is still in its infancy and another problem is that online games that do a similar thing do it properly because theres no AI and with this that obviously has to be programmed in.

I must say, i REALLY hate that filter now. Its problem is its far to close to you. On far buildings its fine as a city can be blurred like that if environmental conditions are correct (you could atribute it to heat haze), but not within 40ft or so.

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Yep, mid-mission check points should be a given in any future iterations, especially as the game worlds get bigger and missions get longer.

Also stuff like A.I shouldn't be put by the wayside just because they want to build this huge immersive world. Nothing shatters that illusion worse than taxi drivers who can't negotiate a corner without hitting lamp posts, or who collect me at my safe house and then decide that they should head the wrong way down the one way section and get completely stuck. Or Packie running around like a headless chicken as bad guys pepper him with holes.

They have created something astounding, but that can look awfully silly and amateurish at times.

I agree, but I haven't seen a game of this type which doesn't have these AI hiccups. The funniest moment I've had with the game was in the lawyer mission, where all the employees were running backwards and forwards in an endless loop like headless chickens. Then one of the female employees stopped next to me and remarked how she wanted to hook up with me and then ran off screaming in her never ending loop again :D

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Yep, mid-mission check points should be a given in any future iterations, especially as the game worlds get bigger and missions get longer.

Also stuff like A.I shouldn't be put by the wayside just because they want to build this huge immersive world. Nothing shatters that illusion worse than taxi drivers who can't negotiate a corner without hitting lamp posts, or who collect me at my safe house and then decide that they should head the wrong way down the one way section and get completely stuck. Or Packie running around like a headless chicken as bad guys pepper him with holes.

They have created something astounding, but that can look awfully silly and amateurish at times.

Definately. Normally I wouldn't be too fussed about the appearance of NPCs or their actions, but in a cinematic game they need to be as good as they can get. One thing which would be nice would be to not make people fall down stairs because Nico walked behind them. Even at slow walking speed people will fall down stairs if you brush past them. They need some weight, euphoria makes folks eager to fall down it would appear (the same when Nico crosses the road and touches a car.)

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I couldn't agree more about the waste of a button for sprinting - especially galling when you realise they aligned "RB" and "A" to handbrake - i assume to facilitate driving & being on / answering the phone at the same time

No matter what though, I'm fully confident that going on the previous GTA output model last gen we'll see giant leaps from here on out whether that's the DLC or the next iteration (which surely can't be VC2 as some seem to think/wish)

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I think it's pretty obvious that the controls in this game are a bit shit. Intuitive titles let you have the system down within a couple of games, but here I'm always re-learning. Controlling Nico is awkward. Maybe I'm just crap at it but the combat feels laboured and vague, it's fun because of its context rather than its mechanic. Escaping the police in a car is boring after doing it a couple of times. The invulnerable frames issue is cheap and shouldn't be in a game this celebrated. The re-starts insisting that you drive back to the action have led to a few presses of the 'off' button.

But somehow this hooks me in. There's real brilliance here, much of it in the small things. Playing pool with dancehall on the juke box is inspired. I love working for Little Jacob. Car jacking is somehow always funny. Nico's character is spot on.

You get so much that's not offered by other games. There aren't any others that allow you to run over police whilst listening to DJ Premiere playing Special Ed.

For me GTA4 is almost-saved by context: vivid personalities, piss-yourself missions, well observed humour, a ridiculous soundtrack and the best script writing of any game I've played.

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Are there any other missions available? There's a purposeful delay before he asks you, and the time it takes is quite random. Do whatever other missions you have free. If there are none, go to sleep a few times and leave Niko outside for a whil. The text/call should come.

I take it you've looked at a walkthrough? The problem with them is that a lot of the timing of events is random. Some people will get certain missions before others.

Just got the call after doing more and more missions. To be honest, I panicked a bit after briefly having no missions to go to and then reading of the person who spent five hours with nothing to do and still no phone call. It's a rare game indeed that keeps me enthralled in single-player for two weeks without completion and over 50 hours at that...the prospect of that being thrown away by a bug was almost enough to send me around the bend once and for all....! But yeah, it just seems to be random timing, which will clearly work in a more frustrating way for some than others. It's been okay for me in the end because after a brief spell without there's been plenty else to be getting on with.

Phew. Rockstar North exonerated, GTA love restored.

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Only one thing has annoyed me so far.... the police response. It's either non-existent at times or stupidly good. I was on top of a skyscraper sniping people miles away, yet the police knew exactly where I was almost straight away. I did have fantastic fun sniping the pilot of the police chopper over and over again and watching it crash to the ground though, the two gunners still firing away madly.

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As Ste Pickford suggested, I'd like to have more player-created storylines in a GTA world - if that's possible. The freedom the game world provides the player has all sorts of fantastic potential.

1. I'd like to be able to become a bank robber, Point Break or Heat style, and have the cops and FBI mount a special task force to hunt me down, staking out the banks once they realise I'm a serial robber. Setting up safe-houses, planning getaways, taking down the bank and making it out alive. Think of the rush...

2. Being able to freely interact with the full populous of the city, so I can become a Batman-style character, taking on the criminal underworld in an ever-escalating war where I gradually gain the attentions of the police and crimial fraternity. Having lower level street hoods run away once my rep is established, and being able to take down crime-lords in whatever way I see fit.

The basic building blocks for this seem present in GTA IV, so I'd like to see Rockstar investigate this route in future titles.

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I also experienced the "not being phoned and not being able to progress" thing, but at a different point in the story (it was the second "who to kill" decision). Thankfully, it wasn't my main path through the story. I had already made the big decision, and played the exciting conclusion to it. Now I was simply reloading my last save, to make the other decision and see how different the

funeral

would be. But the phonecall never came, after many game days. I even tried again, and the phonecall still didn't come.

Perhaps turning off the game and reloading would have worked. (That's good tech support advice in any situation...)

There was a strange bug that was only solved by turning the game off and on again. Somehow, a car horn sound effect got switched on in a very specific spot in Alderney, and wouldn't switch off. You know the continuous car horn effect when a driver dies at the wheel? That sound effect was emanating from an invisible spot in an alleyway. It could be heard for miles around, and got louder as I got close to it. I drove to the other side of the city and came back... it was still there. I loaded an old save... it was still there. It only disappeared after a reboot.

Anyway, I had more frustrating missions. I failed one mission 3 times... each one started with a drive from the northern-most point of Alderney to the southern-most point. *sigh*. At least in these situations, the dialogue is different the second time, and the passenger simply wants to listen to the radio the third time. But it shouldn't be this way.

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I miss the gambling from the last one. I'm in tune with why they didn't have it in this one (reloading save state and such) but I still would've liked it. Also: not being able to buy sweet new pads for saving it.

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My only real complaint is that most of the missions are essentially the same, with only slight variations. The next GTA really needs to look at new directions in gameplay more than anything else. They've pretty much nailed the city simulation aspect.

I'd also like them to bring back more character customization.

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Yep, mid-mission check points should be a given in any future iterations, especially as the game worlds get bigger and missions get longer.

Also stuff like A.I shouldn't be put by the wayside just because they want to build this huge immersive world. Nothing shatters that illusion worse than taxi drivers who can't negotiate a corner without hitting lamp posts, or who collect me at my safe house and then decide that they should head the wrong way down the one way section and get completely stuck. Or Packie running around like a headless chicken as bad guys pepper him with holes.

They have created something astounding, but that can look awfully silly and amateurish at times.

The taxi AI is embarrassing. Last night two of the taxis I hailed failed to move me more than a few feet. One attempted a three point turn down an alley and got the taxi completely trapped between the walls, it was like

Second taxi also tried a turn in the road but mounted the kerb so violently the taxi bounced up and one of its rear wheels got stuck on a wall. The driver just kept revving the engine but it wouldn't move an inch. I got out and executed him for wasting my time.

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I had a brilliant death just outside my Bohan safehouse the other day - I stepped out ever so slightly into the road only for a taxi to barrel into me. As I was standing back up a police car sent me careening to ER.

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