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Realism and GTA IV

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IV This forum topic is about GTA IV and appears in the GTA IV Portal.

Everywhere I go, but especially in the gripes section on this site, I see constant back and forth exchanges that go something like this.

Gripe Rebut GTAIV doesn't have [insert San Andreas feature here]

Rebut That's because GTAIV is all about realism
Gripe

Rebut But GTAIV has [insert some unrealistic feature that GTAIV does have here] (or, alternatively) GTA was never meant to be realistic


I think that both groups;
A: Those who complain about GTA IV's excluding the more outrageous features of the earlier games, like base jumping, the dozens of insane specialty vehicles and weapons (that are mostly just unnecessary novelty items with limited function) unlimited ammo capacity, and so on...
and
B: Those who refute those gripes by claiming GTA IV is striving to be realistic as possible...

Well, they're both missing the point. No game is perfectly realistic, few games are even mostly realistic. The general rule of semi-realistic games (in other words, the majority of non-arcade games in a real-life setting with no major fantasy or sci-fi element) is that things are realistic unless there's a good reason they shouldn't be. A semi-realistic game should be authentic in the ways that count (cars should handle like they weigh more than a paper cup, firearms should not be so powerful that a single shot to the foot is an instant kill, and so on), but not so realistic that it extinguishes the fun.

For example, it's not realistic that Niko routinely survives in excess of a dozen 9mm bullets to the torso even without armor, but it is that way because the game would be impossible to play unless it was built from the ground up with a tactical shooter's gameplay in mind. This is an acceptable compromise in an action game.

There's also a fine line between something being unrealistic and something being totally ridiculous and unbelievable. The fact that Niko can fly through the windscreen of a car and hit a solid object at speed with a sickening crack, yet suffer no broken bones or internal injuries, is unrealistic; but nowhere near as unrealistic as having the ability to leap off of a 50 storey building and only lose 15 points of armor when you land (Yes, Tommy Vercetti, I mean you.).

So obviously, while GTA IV does strive to come across as immersive, believable and somewhat realistic, it's still an action game and it's gameplay is designed with this in mind. It's not a tactical shooter, it's not a simulation. GTA IV wasn't designed to be as realistic as possible, but to be realistic unless there's a good reason not to be. One of GTA IV's main selling points is its gritty and immersive atmosphere, and a lot of the conventions of the older games really do contradict that. Chainsaw rampages, smacking people in the face with dildos, tanks churning up city streets going after a lone criminal, and so on.

To me, GTA San Andreas felt like two different games awkwardly moulded together, because on the one hand it went down the gritty and depressing 'life-in-the-ghetto' road, but before you know it you're busting drug rings, doing black ops for a government agent, running a casino, raiding secret government facilities and stealing jetpacks, leaping between planes at high altitudes, flying across the country to do a mob hit, partaking in all manner of sports... the list goes on. San Andreas was one hell of a playground, but I think its attempt at a serious storyline suffered as a result of all the crazy fun stuff they crammed in with it. Similarily, I think GTA IV would've been worse off, all things considered, if it had kept on trying to do both extremes.

So, realism isn't the 'be all, end all' concept of GTA IV, but the game is obviously quite a bit more serious in tone and that's the reason some of the more outrageous stuff was left out, now why don't we all cut the crap and try to enjoy it for what it is, 'kay? --MattyDienhoff 13:54, 12 December 2008 (UTC)

I agree with pretty much all of that. GTA IV is *more* realistic then other previous GTA games (from what I've seen of them and the little I've played of SA). On the other hand, true realism in a game would be extremely dull. We play games to escape real life. Features were removed for realism. If people miss them or want to gripe about them they can, though, that's what gripes are for. Dylnuge 22:46, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

The way I see it, GTA4 isn't trying to be real-world realistic so much as action-movie realistic. Cars explode dramatically, catch fire at the drop of a hat (I've rear-ended or T-boned people and they've caught fire without me even driving a large vehicle), drift with smoke everywhere and black streaks, and people die cleanly without huge pools or spurting arcs of blood. The whole city reflects light whenever it's not generating it, and even the dirt is shiny and clean. It's Hollywood, not reality. Skorpychan 02:46, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

I literally made an account JUST to respond to this, I agree entirely, R* made some big mistakes by working the game up as a groundbreaking work of ultra-realistic art as well as giving players way too much freedom with customisation in San Andreas, both of these things are great but what they've done is heightened the player's expectations to things that are either difficult to do or completely impossible. They've caused players to expect this game to fulfill all their dreams, and when it doesn't, people get angry and start demanding the ability to use a flamethrower while wearing a chicken astro-boy shirt while drinking coffee with the guys, attending holy mass and bleeding out when shot. Trumeder 21:22, 06 September 2009 (GMT)

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