Grand Theft Auto IV: The Week After

Despite a 99/100 rating on metacritic.com, 60 hours in Liberty City has left us with a few bones to pick with the perfect game.
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Despite a 99/100 rating on metacritic.com, 60 hours in Liberty City has left us with a few bones to pick with the perfect game.
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Graphics
"Third-party character models—most disappointingly, the girls you wind up hooking up with—look like crap."—Gerry
The opening cut scenes depicting Niko's arrival to America and subsequent hoodwink into becoming his cousin's personal chauffeur were absolutely stunning. But after 15 or 20 missions, you'll begin noticing that some secondary characters, like your girlfriends Michelle and Kate, have jagged faces lacking any definition.
Deal breaker? We can deal. After three dates, you'll have bedded every one of them. Also, the girls with cute MySpace-y photos on the Internet at Tw@ turn out to be ugly chicks with a hankering for hookering. Just like real life!

Game Play
"The walking is waaaayyy too slow. I feel like it's worse than trekking 20,000 miles in World of Warcraft."—Stan
We know, the game's not called Grand Theft Footjoy. But we would love to have been given the option to run without tapping the stupid A button the whole time. Most of the hassle comes from running up and down stairs—Niko seems to have flatfeet and feels the need to hit EVERY STUPID STEP.
Deal breaker? Potentially, especially if you prefer shooting up stuff near water, where there aren't any cars around and boats are scarce.

"Driving is a hassle. I can't go a block without swerving all over the place."—Gene and Jon
Perhaps aiming for too realistic game play, Rockstar made left turns an exercise in anger management. Veterans of the Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo franchises may not have much issue with the game's driving physics, but Burnout fanatics may throw their controllers through the television. (Unlike Wii owners, who routinely throw their controllers at their TV by accident.)
Deal breaker? Yes. Nothing's more annoying than being close to eluding a four-star wanted rating, hitting a turn, and then sliding into a mailbox. Well, unless it has Valpak coupons in it.

"I'm 10 percent through the game and nothing meaningful has happened yet. I feel like I spend all my time driving assholes around."—Jordan
It's awesome on a number of corporately strategic levels that you can flag songs you hear on the radio for purchase on Amazon and all, but sometimes you just want to play a frigging game. And veterans of the series might miss some of the charm and novelty endemic of previous story lines.
Deal breaker? Possibly. Beneath all of the rocket launcher rampages and bystander beatings has always been the hooker-slayer game with a heart of gold. If you're not on board with GTA IV's colder characterizations, you might have immersion issues.

"Roman doesn't stop calling, that annoying sack of shit! He's worse than a girlfriend."—Alex
Don't be surprised if your high-stakes bank job is interrupted by your roly-poly cousin looking to schedule a man-date. Of course, if you refuse, the game penalizes you by lowering your "like" and "respect" percentages.
Deal breaker? Not really. If you're on a mission, it can be irritating. But serenade your friends enough and they'll unlock useful abilities, like on-demand car service and discounts on weapons. When we take our friends out, all we get is the bill.

Music
"You should be able to pick one radio station and make it the default in all cars. I hate having to change it, and I hate all but one station."—Stan
You just stole that sweet-looking Lambo look-alike and are being chased by cops. Too bad the guy you jacked the car from likes Kraftwerk. Now your sausage fingers are too busy with the driving controls to make the two-inch journey west to the left and right directional pad in order to change the station.
Deal breaker? No. You can always whip out your pistol and shoot the idiot owner in the head for thinking Q. Lazzarus' "Goodbye Horses" was a good idea.

Multiplayer
"I keep getting respawned 20 blocks away from the action and spend way too much time getting back to the fray. By the time I do, I'm so relieved/stunned to see another human that I'm often unprepared and get killed immediately...then have to start the trek all over again."—Gene
You'll need at least 12 to 16 people in each game of Deathmatch to enjoy it. Anything less and you'll be dropped miles from the action, sometimes with no cars or guns within a block's radius.
Deal breaker? Replay value could take a real hit here. If you die a lot, stick with the other team-based modes or free roam. Or go play against the 8-year-olds in Halo 3.

"Online players are especially annoying, even by Xbox Live standards."—Gene
This goes for most games online, but huge game releases crossing cultural boundaries bring out the weirdos. Every time we've played a game online, chat was dominated by two or three loud voices discussing how big their AK-47s were. We get the whole "oozing machismo" thing, but why are you telling a roomful of dudes?
Deal breaker? Maybe, if the game hadn't sold so well. You should be able to find three or four friends online at any given time, allowing you to play the more manageable team modes. If not, maybe it's better if you turn off your console and refamiliarize yourself with the world outside your subterranean bunker.

What's all this bitching mean? That if the Mona Lisa had a comments section, tubby Renaissance-era nitpickers would probably have dumped on its aliasing. Still, handing out perfect scores leaves zero room for improvement, and despite GTA IV's many triumphs, that's not something you can say about the game.