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YMMV / Grand Theft Auto IV

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: See here.
  • Anticlimax Boss: Every major villain is killed rather easily.
  • Best Level Ever: "Three Leaf Clover," the bank heist mission based on Heat. The mission was so well received that Grand Theft Auto V was built around several heist missions.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In the opening scene, of all things. The very first scene in the game shows Niko attempting to speak to someone named Dave, except Dave is in the middle of being whipped by a Chinese dominatrix while shouting "Daddy's back, you bitches!" and doesn't respond. You never hear from Dave ever again.
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  • Broken Base: Some fans think that the Darker and Edgier feel of the game gives it a weight and maturity that the other GTA games just don't have. Other fans believe that this game is too dark and depressing even by GTA standards. This is partly why The Ballad of Gay Tony is far more Lighter and Softer.
  • Contested Sequel:
    • On one hand, 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.
    • On the other, there are many fans that think this game has the best story in the series in part due to the darker setting on top of having well crafted characters, antagonists and the tone in general. Not to mention at the time it had one of the most (if not the most) complex representation of a real-life city, with outstanding attention to detail. Also the downloadable expansions reintroduced a lot of the side activities (including gang wars) that were lost in the transition, alleviating this a little bit.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy:
    • The game runs the risk of provoking this reaction towards players and especially GTA fans by being a Deconstructor Fleet of the GTA series. The game is relentless about showing how unrealistic and flawed are concepts like Evil Pays Better, Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster! and the anti-heroic characterization of your usual GTA protagonist. The problem is that all this negativism and cynicism comes from a GTA game, a game known for its over-the-top portrait of the organized crime.
    • As for the storyline: Niko Bellic moves to the United States for a fresh start at life, but it goes down the toilet when his cousin, Roman, gets him roped up in his debt and antics. The entire story shows Niko doing nothing but trying to please his selfish cousin who always seems to get himself into trouble, while Niko always bitches about it as he continuously helps his cousin out. It eventually leads to Niko being hunted down by a mobster throughout the game, but it doesn't build up from there; Niko just continues doing side jobs for random people while still complaining about his cousin's gambling habits and debt. On top of this, nearly every person Niko meets is either a backstabber or suffers from attachment issues, making nearly everyone unlikable and leaves the player wondering why they should care about a bunch of crazy people.
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    • One of the selling points when the game was released was that you can make choices that will impact the story. The problem is, this isn't the case. Almost every choice you make does nothing to the plot, and the choices as to who to kill always have an obvious "right" answer (from a gameplay standpoint if nothing else). The only choice you make that actually changes anything is the Deal or Revenge choice that sets up your ending, and someone at Roman's wedding will still die either way.
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game: The story in IV is greatly improved from the other Grand Theft Auto games, due to it being more realistic and treated more seriously, with the wacky elements mostly subdue or left to the world building. On the other hand the gameplay suffered drastically because of that, with most missions being reduced to the "go there and kill that guy" formula.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Interestingly, while the friendship system is disliked, the actual friends tend to be these.
    • Brucie Kibbutz. He is a loud, egotistical, steroid abusing, violent, sexist jerk (and most likely a self-denying closet case to boot), but he's just so enthusiastic about everything.
    • 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.
  • Even Better Sequel: As with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the Hype Backlash for Grand Theft Auto V might have made some or half of the fandom preferring to see IV as a better sequel, story-wise. The fans also pointed out that IV's DLC content is (mostly) better than Online, due to the said DLCs only focusing on the Single player gameplay instead of having multiple players.
  • Evil Is Cool: Subverted with Niko Bellic. While he is a man who wants to get away from violence and crime, more than one NPC will be surprised by how effective he is as a Professional Killer.
  • Fountain of Memes: Both Bellic cousins. Roman for his "obsession" with bowling and big american titties, and Niko for his Large Ham combat lines. Most of the entries under Memetic Mutation below are from these two.
  • Funny Moments: See here.
  • 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.
      • On two different occasions, one result had Niko being whiplashed by the swingset, and another actually had him fly across half of the entire map.
    • 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.
    • There exists a bug that if you try to his someone with a rocket launcher directly, the rocket will bounce off and hit something else, or bounce off the ground depending on the angle. With great timing and luck, you can hit a soldier sitting on the side of the Annihilator helicopter, bounce the rocket off him, and take out the other chopper that appears when you have more than two stars. Difficult to do, but hilarious and awesome if done right.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Early in the game Niko, an Eastern European immigrant, triggers a six star wanted level if he leaves Broker or Bohan 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 Fox News Channel Expy, Weazel News features a commercial that touts their diversity by introducing an Asian news anchor with an oriental gong sound. In October 2016, The O'Reilly Factor correspondent, Jesse Watters, filmed a segment in New York's Chinatown that many people saw as extremely racist. Here is a rebuttal from The Daily Show.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: See here.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Niko. Sure, he is a career criminal, but we cannot forget that he is the GTA protagonist with the darkest, most horrific backstory. He witnessed several war crimes and horrors when he fought in the Yugoslav Wars such as child murder, mass murder and rape. After the war, he lived in extreme poverty, decided to contact a Russian mobster and things just got worse for him, he was blamed for the sinking of a ship and was chased by the Russian mafia all over Europe. In Liberty City, he committed crimes because of the circumstances and ends up losing a loved one.
    • Dwayne, mainly because he's The Atoner. He clearly hates the criminal life he had and only caused him paranoia and psychological problems. That, and having grown up with an abusive father who brutally beat his mother.
    • Roman. Since Niko's arrival, he'd been stabbed, kidnapped, shot, tied up and beaten by ruthless mobsters, had his apartment and taxi company (that also contained the ring he was going to propose to Mallorie with) burnt down and had his computer broken but never, ever lost faith in his cousin.
    • Patrick McReary. He is an extremely self-destructive guy, and if you pay attention to his dialogues when he is drunk, he will mention that he is depressed (to the point of thinking about suicide), hates his lifestyle, and his father was horribly abusive to him.
  • Love to Hate: Dimitri Rascalov. Sure, he was a massive Hate Sink and a total ass, but you can't deny that he was a very efficient antagonist for the storyline.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Misaimed "Realism":
    • The game aimed to have more realistic vehicle physics than San Andreas, with bodyroll, lift-off oversteer and a plethora of other features. In practice, almost all of these features are massively overstated, with cars bodyrolling through corners like a meandering land ark from The '60s, and tires having appallingly low levels of grip. The more responsive camera certainly doesn't help, as the extra motion aggravates the sensations.
    • In addition to the game's over the top vehicle physics it also strictly enforces the Mafia's two-car length following distance to remain undetected in shadowing missions, even if it means you staying back the required distance when the car you're following is at a stoplight, often leaving a very suspicious amount of empty space between your car and the target's.
  • Moral Event Horizon: See here.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The menu sounds.
    • The little riff that plays while the game is auto-saving after a successful mission. There are even several versions of it to fit the mood of each situation.
  • Narm:
    • "I'm here for Roman!"
    • The aforementioned "I'm leaving here with Roman!"
    • Most of the girlfriends' lines during sex. Kiki's stands out in particular. "Ohhh, Niko, you can prosecute me any time".
    • Also, refer to Karmic Death on the main page. "I am not in the mood for this right now!!"
    • Niko will often yell random obscenities at enemies during missions. The level of rage and profanity is just hilariously at odds with his normally cool and collected personality during cutscenes.
    (after killing two random gangsters) AAAAAAAARRGH, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!
    • Jim Fitzgerald's lines in "No Way on the Subway" have become infamous for their poor delivery. This can be partly explained since Jim was originally just a bit character appearing in that one mission, instead of the fully-fledged character we got to see in "The Lost and Damned".
    • Also from "The Lost and Damned" DLC is the cutscene if the player fails the mission "Shifting Weight." Malc comments that he knew De Sean "since diapers." It ruins the tragic factor of the cutscene and turns it into something unintentionally humorous.
  • 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.
    • A less personal example occurs when a dying cop will sometimes say "Tell my wife I love her." It serves as a jarring reminder that the cops you're killing are more than just mooks.
  • 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, three instances of DRM note  attached to the game, and a multitude of Game Breaking Bugs if your system configuration is cursed. It also runs like molasses even on all but the highest end P Cs of its time (and even then the frame rate is still a little iffy), until technology finally caught up in 2017. Luckily, patching has fixed many of these problems; and a healthy modding community has aided its reputation further.
  • The Scrappy:
    • 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!
    • 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 doesn't show up again. Until V that is...
    • Kate McReary. Some fans found her romance with Niko to be uncompelling and forced (given that Niko can still date other women whilst courting her). This goes especially since her potential death is positioned by the game to rival Roman's in emotional impact, despite Roman having a far more developed relationship with Niko.
      • By the most hated McReary family member amongst fans though is Francis, he's an incredibly obnoxious and self-righteous hypocrite who's convinced himself that he's better then his criminal brothers with his cushy law-enforcement position yet isn't above getting you to do dirty jobs for him to cover his own ass. Needless to say most fans chose to [[:spoiler kill him over Derrick]] when given the choice despite Francis giving you money(Which you can increase with a phone call to him before starting the mission) and an ability(you can call him up to three times to remove a wanted level) compared to Derrick giving you nothing(plus the fact that one of the women Niko can date later on-Kiki has a superior version of the very same ability due to hers being unlimited as opposed to Francis's makes the choice even easier)
  • 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! Its 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.
    • It gets slightly less annoying when you realize that you can cancel the outing immediately afterwards with no penalty to your friendship rating. Naturally, the game makes no mention of this whatsoever.
    • 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 whole 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 Permanently Missable.
    • The boat-like driving has been a common gripe fans have had about this game, though this borders on Broken Base, since there are a section of players who are okay with the driving controls.
    • The bike controls is almost universally considered to be one of the game's weakest points, even for experienced players. Thankfully Rockstar fixed this for the biker-themed The Lost and Damned DLC.
    • Entering a taxi as a passenger can be frustrating to players because entry is only possible if the player holds the button which is the same as enter/exit vehicle. This can cause unintended carjackings if the player mess up. This got fixed in GTAV switching the functions.
  • Signature Scene: The mission "That Special Someone", where Niko finally confronts the man who killed his squad, and results in him realizing Vengeange Feels Empty.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Interestingly, both subverted and played straight.
    • Michelle displays no interest in Niko, until Mallorie points out they are both single and adults. Michelle's very next line is among the lines of "I'd like to know you better Niko, we should meet someday". This makes sense since she's there to keep an eye on Niko; a relationship makes doing so much easier.
    • Kate McReary is intented to be as important to Niko as Roman is. This is even if the player never meets her outside the few story cutscenes she appears in.
  • 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.
  • That One Level:
    • 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", despite its reputation, 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • In The Ballad of Gay Tony, there's Brucie Kibbutz' brother, Mori, who could've easily been introduced to Niko through Brucie and could've given Niko a more understanding and sympathetic of a view towards Brucie.
    • Kate McReary could have been an interesting love interest for Niko as she is the embodiment of a normal life, something Niko wants to have.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • 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. Considering how Badman shows up at Roman's wedding at the end regardless of the route taken, however, it's possible that Jacob managed to talk him down at some point.
    • 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. Considering how Phil showed himself to be far more trustworthy than Ray, it would've been obvious which one most players would pick, but then again, the Playboy X/Dwayne dilemma played out in a similar way.
    • 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.
  • True Art Is Angsty: Widely (though not universally) considered to have the best story in the series, thanks in part to the darker tone, its attempt to deconstruct the series in general, and its sympathetic (yet screwed up) cast of characters.
  • Uncanny Valley: The Statue of Happiness' face is a bit... disturbing. That smile...
    • Not to mention what's inside the statue...
    • Darko's resemblance to Niko is very jarring. It almost makes him appear like a twisted reflection of Niko.
    • 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.
  • Vindicated by History: After the backlash of Grand Theft Auto V, particularly with the lack of single player content in exchange for a focus on multiplayer, many fans have looked back on GTA IV at a more appreciate light. The story has been praised for showing realism while at the same time, rewards those that just want to have fun committing crimes and the actual activities with friends being good time wasters despite the Scrappy Mechanic of them randomly calling you. In particular, Dimitri Rascolov is still today praised for being one of Rockstar’s best antagonists for uniquely being someone who’s not the most powerful person yet has the biggest animosity towards Niko and both The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony being downloadable contents done right. Some even say that the game being ahead of its time the reason it had a Hype Backlash.
  • The Woobie:
    • Ilyena Faustin — The cutscenes for Mikhail's missions sometimes start off with her arguing with Mikhail, only to storm off crying. During "Final Destination", she lets Niko in for tea, reminiscing when her husband cared for her, only to change as a result of his drug addiction. Mikhail then comes in, throws away the samovar for making them look "barbaric", and tells her off. When Niko meets her later at Firefly Island, her husband's death causes her to lose her husband's luxurious house and is forced to move in with a small apartment with her daughter, who is having an affair with a "slimeball", worried that he will turn her daughter into a hooker "or worse". During the encounter, you have a choice of beating up the slimeball (resulting in Ilyena thanking Crypto for saving her daughter), killing the stalker (resulting in Ilyena getting angry at Niko for killing a man, calling him Not So Different to Mikhail), or letting him run away (resulting in Ilyena lamenting that her daughter has run away and she is now alone). It really shows how affected she is by Mikhail's death.
    • Kate McReary. Just like Ilyena, she is not a criminal and has spent her entire childhood with a toxic family environment that has stressed her for years. His death only makes everything more tragic.


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