These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Anvilicious: While there's satire on both ends of the political spectrum, most of it is aimed at the right wing of American politics, with the animated show Republican Space Rangers, the right-wing "Family Values" mayoral candidate and closet case Bryce Dawkins, and the talk radio station WKTT, hosting loud-mouthed expies of Rush Limbaugh and (in the expansion packs) Alex Jones. The game did take several jabs at left-wingers (most notably with the NPR-esque radio station Public Liberty Radio, and its assorted hosts and guests), but they were relatively fewer in number. Rockstar also drops the anvil on Jack Thompson, along with just about every aspect of modern American culture in general.
Broken Base: The game split fans between those who enjoyed the Deconstruction of the series with the story and those who hated it. This is partly why The Ballad Of Gay Tony and GTA V are far more Lighter and Softer.
More of a meta example, but the question "Does Rockstar underpay their actors?" have become a source of great debate. This controversy started over the sour relationships between Rockstar and Ray Liotta and Burt Reynolds from Vice City and then died down. Then Michael Hollick came out and revealed how much he got paid versus how much the entire game grossed and the argument erupted again.
Contested Sequel: There are many longtime GTA fans who consider this game to be a disappointing follow up to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas due to the smaller game world, no airplanes, harder to control vehicles, the PC version's exorbitant hardware requirements and usage of Games for Windows Live; and the fact that it mostly abandons the zany, over-the-top nature of previous GTA games in favor of gritty realism.
Crowning Music of Awesome: Aside from the actual licensed tracks like the Viktor Tsoi hit "Blood Type," there's Niko's theme, "Soviet Connection", and the end credits songs (Grand Theft Auto IV main theme, "Inside the Cage" by Juliette and the Licks, "New York Groove" by Hello, "Get Innocuous" by LCD Soundsystem, and "Seryoga" by King Ring).
The music that plays over the pause menu. It's a very subdued and empty piece, and it sums up the tone of the story perfectly.
Crazy Awesome: Yusef. With the help of Luis, he steals subway trains, police tanks and helicopters. He gets everything he owns covered in gold, he lives in a lavish apartment where he listens to rap and wears no pants, from what we hear of his property developments he believes in very unique architecture and his Big Damn Heroes moment at the end is Made of Win.
Dwayne may also fall into this. Most players chose to kill Playboy X because they sympathized with Dwayne so much. Either that, or because of the reward (a subversion of Evil Pays Better), or because Playboy X is a hypocritical, backstabbing, Smug Snake asshole.
Little Jacob also has a huge fanbase amongst stoner fans of the series, because of a combination of the amusing way he talks, his Rasta wisdom sayings (can' be shakin' no hands wit' ya fist clenched), and because he smokes like a chimney. Also, because he's actually the closest thing Niko has to a real friend in Liberty City. It doesn't hurt that he's also your main source of weapons for much of the game.
As is Packie McReary, the Irish Mobster who also becomes Bash Brothers with Niko. He ended up becoming a fan favorite to the point that he ends up becoming a recruitable heist member in GTAV.
Bernie Crane (formally Florian Cravic) is somewhat this due to his personality and for some added humour and while many others felt sympathy for him since the mission where Niko finds the homophobic hater who threatened Bernie and kills the hater
Played straight with Packie McReary, especially in the missions in which you team up with him.
Fridge Brilliance: At the end of the game, protagonist Niko's cousin or girlfriend (depending on your choices) got shot, he's unemployed having left a life of crime behind him, in an unfamiliar place. All you can do is drive around aimlessly doing the odd little thing here and there, but after that there's nothing else. That's PRECISELY what Niko's life would be like in the same situation; empty, pointless.
Fridge Logic: The song "New York Groove" plays on the radio, even though Liberty City is an obvious Expy for New York. Said song also contains the lyrics "In the back of a Cadillac" even though this game introduced a Fictional Counterpart to the Cadillac brand called Albany.
Game Breaker: The game's single-player-only cheat codes. Note that if you are trying to earn achievements, using certain cheatsnote i.e. restore health and armor, get ammunition and weapons, remove wanted level, and spawn the Annihilator chopper will block some of the achievements from ever being unlocked for the rest of your save... if you haven't earned them yet. If you have all those achievements unlocked before entering any of those premium cheats, then it is possible to use those cheats to your heart's content to breeze through the single-player campaign and earn the remaining single-player achievements. This extends to The Lost and Damned as well, but not The Ballad of Gay Tony, as entering cheats during a mission in the latter episode will prevent you from earning a percentage rating.note There are a couple achievements for earning high percentage scores in all TBoGT missions.
Good Bad Bugs: The "Swingset of Doom" is a child's playground in Broker that has some wonky physics. Many YouTube videos show players slowly driving cars into it, only for them to instantly explode or be flung half the length of the city. Another one, probably the funniest in the game, occurs when you take a friend or girl out for a date. When you return, park in the lit up area so that the passenger door is blocked. Your friend will politely thank you for taking them bowling, then punch Niko in the jaw and climb out the driver's door over his prone body.
If your car is damaged to the point that it stalls out, dialing any number on your cell phone will get it started up again. The car will still eventually catch fire and explode if you keep taking damage, however.
Harsher in Hindsight: Early in the game Niko, an Eastern European immigrant, triggers a six star wanted level if he leaves Broker due to a terrorism scare mentioned on the in-game GTA Radio. In April 2013, the cities of Boston and Watertown were locked down hunting for an actual Eastern European immigrant terrorist. As the Boston police response expanded to include helicopters and armored vehicles, internet commenters took it upon themselves to declare Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's "wanted level."
The game's satire of various political issues (the Jingoism Act, the LCPD slogan "We see it all, we know it all") becomes a lot more cutting after the revelation of NSA surveillance and other such programs.
The I'm RichShow Within a Show, features a guy named Tony Mctony, who is a 5 foot, rich African American male who brags about wasting his money on sports cars and pimping out his mansion. He even has an official logo, TMT. Anyone who follows boxing, knows that TMT is the label for superstar boxer Floyd Mayweather's Jr. business, The Money Team, which came about years after the game was released and before Floyd changed his nickname from 'Pretty Boy' to 'Money'. Floyd is even known for buying a lot of sports cars and pimping out his mansion in Vegas, which he shows off to the fans through online pics and videos. He is also 5 foot tall.
Hype Backlash: Lots of critics gave it perfect scores (including the infamous 10/10 from IGN, whose last perfect score was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time). Months later when the hype died down, some fans began criticizing the game for among other things, being too much of a departure from the previous games in the series
Playboy X ordering Niko to kill Dwayne, his friend and mentor.
Dimitri Rascalov.. For most players, it will come when he sells Niko out to Bulgarin, when he kidnaps Roman, or when he kills Roman in the Deal ending. By the end of the game, he's definitely on the far side.
Player Punch: Used in very interesting ways. Not only is there the Downer Ending in the original game where either Roman or Kate dies, but The Lost and Damned add-on pack intertwines the stories such that many of the player punch moments in one become missions in the other.
The first would have to be Dimitri's betrayal, which hits rather hard considering how decent he seems at first (especially next to Mikhail).
Unfortunately, Kate appears later in the game and can be one of four women Niko can juggle by that point. Because many players didn't get particularly attached to Kate (no gameplay benefits for dating her, when the optional girlfriends can restore your health, get rid of a three-star or lower wanted level, or give you a discount on clothes, and unlike the other four women there is no Optional Sexual Encounter with Kate, no matter how high her fondness level is), her death was not as meaningful as it could have been for them. Rockstar should have allowed you to choose your date.
Porting Disaster: The PC version of the game does a poor job of translating the controls to a keyboard and mouse configuration, has a horrible software protection scheme that requires the installation of near-useless bloatware in order to use multiplayer, has very demanding system requirements out of line with similar titles, and a multitude of Game Breaking Bugs if your system configuration is cursed. Luckily, patching has fixed many of these problems.
For some fans, any of your "friends" who constantly whine about wanting to go bowling or drinking all the time.
Manny Escuela is The Scrappy to Niko, to the point where the normally stoic Niko later makes several jokes about Manny to Elizabeta and Little Jacob, who share his sentiments:
Elizabeta: I think it'll be a bit more taxing than hanging with Manny on "the streets".
Niko: Not so. For one, I won't have to listen to him talk.
Elizabeta: [laughing] True!
Mohammed, the taxi driver under Roman's employ if you unlock Roman's get-a-cab-anywhere ability. He quickly annoys Niko, calling him out on his freeloading and rambling on about his skirt-chasing adventures at Francis International Airport while still being married. He doesn't even cheer up when Roman starts doing better and gets him a slick SUV for his cab.
Vlad Glebov, as mentioned in the Small Name, Big Ego entry, has made a lot of enemies among the named cast and everyone hates him.
Michelle. It's justified when she's working for the government all along and Niko doesn't punish her. Well, the bright side is after introducing to her boss, she dosen't show up again.
FrancisFUCKINGMcReary. Many people killed him instead of Derrick in his last mission despite the fact that he offers money and the ability to remove wanted levels over Derrick rewarding you with nothing at all. Though it's not a great loss considering you can also get a better version of the same ability from Kiki (one of the women Niko can meet online and date) as you get unlimited use of it (unlike with Francis, whose ability can only be used three times).
Scrappy Mechanic: The friendship system. On paper, it was a good idea to help immerse the player into the game by allowing the player to hang out with the characters outside of missions, kind of like how they would in real life. In practice, it is best described with the following words: "HEY NIKO, IT'S ROMAN! LET'S GO BOWLING!" Having friends call you every few hours and interrupt your gameplay to hang out proved to be more annoying than immersive, especially later on as your list of friends started to build up to as high as six (and that's not counting the optional girlfriends). Rockstar North must have realized how annoying this system was too, downplaying it in Episodes from Liberty City. Friends still call to arrange activities, but not as often. Also, perks (access to a gun van and vehicle delivery) are unlocked from the start in EFLC instead of earned through repeated outings to raise the friend's like statistic.
The system might have worked if you didn't lose friendship rating for turning down appointments or turning up a bit late. Or if they could have found their own way across town, especially if one person was in Alderney and the other in eastern half of Liberty City, and met you instead of forcing you to pick them up and drop them off each time.
Another thing the game fails to mention is that if you use a friend's ability often they will not call you for activities. It is very possible to go through the whoel game constantly using things like Jacob's arms dealing and Roman's taxi service for cheap guns and fast travel as often as possible and not get a single call from them for a day out unless you haven't called them in a while.
Sometime during the development of IV, Rockstar felt that flying helicopters was too fun, and decided to make the game's few air vehicles absolute nightmares to control properly. Either that, or the game's physics engine ultimately made helicopter piloting too realistic. The game fails to tell you that you can stabilize and hover the copter by letting go of the controls for a bit.
After completing a mission, Niko usually calls the quest-giver to inform them. Normally, this is not an issue. Some missions, however, end with an active wanted level. With cops shooting at you. While Niko is on the phone and can't shoot back or even run. Naturally, if the player dies during this point or hangs up, any story developments raised in the phone call are Lost Forever.
Suspiciously Similar Song: Intentional. The game has an in-universe parody of CSI called "The Science of Crime", whose theme song (which you can download to your cell phone) sounds very similar to "Won't Get Fooled Again" (which is, in turn, the theme of CSI: Miami). Well, the "yeahhh!" and some of the keyboard bars at least.
Several levels have the potential to be this depending upon the player's skill with gunfighting or driving certain vehicles. The mission "No Way on the Subway" is spectacularly difficult as it requires riding a poorly handling motorbike while trying to shoot down two guys riding motorbikes, all while avoiding traffic (and, later, subway trains). Oh, and if you don't take out the bad guys fast enough you have to jump your bike off bridges, and if you don't know how to handle a bike in the air, sayonara.
Three Leaf Clover mission could be this due to not only multiple officers shooting you and the brothers, but the most of the NOOSE officers can kill you very easy with their rifles if you're not careful. To top it all off, after exiting the subway underground, you still must escape the 3-star police pursuit using a 4-door car and you must be quick to escape.
The finale mission definitely qualifies, not because it's difficult (as you'd expect it to be) but because regardless with option you take, the mission is extremely long, with no opportunity to save and no checkpoints. Both versions involve a very long car chase, then an intense gun battle, then a chase in the water or in the air, and then finally a footchase. Not to mention, during your first time of this finale, it's easy so mess up during the chase if you don't know the scripted sequences or signs of them.
"Catch The Wave" is extremely frustrating, first off you have to make a long drive to your destination that you cannot skip, then you end up in a garage with very limited cover with enemies around every corner, and to top it off it's an Escort Mission, and your escort Phil is prone to occasional bouts of stupidity like running directly into enemy gunfire. If you take your time too much you risk Phil getting killed, if you're too reckless you'll get killed in no time, the most reliable way to do the mission is to park the truck a certain way so that Phil gets stuck, giving you time to clear out the building without having to worry about him getting killed.
At one point, Jacob says relations are getting strained with pot-paranoid Badman, and Niko utters the oh-so-Chekhovian line (especially alongside choices like Playboy/Dwayne and Francis/Derrick) "I'd hate to see what would happen if you two got in a fight!" Neeeever happens.
It also seemed like hints were being dropped that the McRearys would try to bust Gerry out of prison, but if so that was another cruel tease.
It's possible that the finale mission of The Lost and the Damned was intended to bust Gerry out of prison, but they re-wrote the plot later.
It's extremely obvious the player was originally supposed to be able to choose to kill either Phil Bell or Ray Boccino.
Early in the game, the story seems to be foreshadowing a confrontation between between Niko and his old boss, Ray Bulgarin, whom he, at first, has far more of a personal connection with than he does with Dmitri Rascalov. Instead Dmitri serves as the Big Bad of Niko's story while Bulgarin disappears until the DLC, The Ballad of Gay Tony where he oddly becomes the nemesis to Luis instead.
The opening cutscene to Blow Your Cover is a party at Elizabeta's place. Every guest other than Niko, Elizabeta, Johnny, and Playboy has their face locked into an expressionless, unblinking stare. This wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the fact that the cutscene brings at least two of them into very clear focus.