Saturday, November 11, 2017

Grand Theft Auto 4 (PC) Review

I know I am about 8 years late to the GTA 4 PC party. When I first saw this game announced for the PC, I was very happy. The game looked great in the trailers but I couldn’t buy it at launch because it was too expensive. I picked this up for $7.50 during a steam sale, therefore I am not terriblly unhappy for what I got, but if I paid $60 at launch, I would be very upset.

Where do I even begin describing the problems with this game. Let’s start with the awful GFWL.

GFWL is by far the worst DRM I’ve ever come across, and GTA 4 has fallen victim to it. To begin with, save games are tied to a GFWL profile - even if it's an offline profile. So if you ever need to take a backup of the save games, restoring them would not be possible without restoring the offline profile as well. If you forget this very important step, the game will not recognize the save files, and you are forced to start the game from the beginning. The only workaround is to use x live less patch.

However, using the x live less made some of the mods not work correctly, but that is a small trade off compared to starting the game all over again.

At this point, I want to remind people that games purchased from the Windows 10 Store might have the same issues...but that’s a different topic for another day.

GFWL is the worst. Shame on Microsoft for this anti-consumer garbage. Never forget.

In addition to GFWL issues, GTA 4 is a bad PC port. When I started the game for the first time, it defaulted to 640x480 because apparently my 980 isn't good enough for this 8 year old game. I had to use a workaround for the game to not lock my resolution to 640x480. Not a good start.

Graphics menu

The save system is really bad because there are no mission checkpoints. Failing a mission will mean starting over, but starting over means, all the armor and health are not restored, instead they will be at the same level as they were when the mission failed.

During long missions, you are constantly fighting the game’s weird design choices, bad controls, and one mistake could mean either restarting the mission or loading a previous save point. This is tedious to say the least.

Sadly, there are people who think this is not a joke, and that stock market really is a gamble...

The final mission is particularly awful. It is one of those drawn out missions which starts off with a car chase, followed by a shootout, then by a timed chase bike chase, followed by a chopper chase, followed by a foot chase. Make one mistake, and the enemy gets away, and you have to start ALL over again.

As if this isn’t bad enough, this mission has a game breaking bug. At point in the mission, there is a QTE (quick time event), where you have mash to the spacebar for the character to climb into a chopper, but this QTE will never work if your game is running at over 30FPS! I have failed this particular section four times before doing an online search, which revealed this problem. I had to use FRAPS, and start a recording which restricted my framerate to 30FPS, and then I was able to get past this section.

In conclusion, while the story is good, and characters are interesting, the PC port is a technical mess. I would recommend skipping this game entirely, but if you simply must play this game, try to get it for under $10. Anything more than that, is simply not worth it in my opinion.

Veridct - Wait for a deep discount

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing Review (PC)

The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing is a Diablo inspired action RPG developed by NeocoreGames. The game is set in Eastern Europe where magic and science fiction coexist. You get to play as the son of Van Helsing from the original Dracula novel.

In this game, you find yourself in Borgova, which is plagued by monsters and it is your job to hunt them down, and free the land. This quest will take you through several areas like swamp forests, mines, sewers and elaborate futuristic steampunk cities. There is a lot of variety in level settings.

You also get a ghost companion, Lady Katarina. There is some banter between the main character and the companion which can be funny at times, but most of the times, its just cliches. I felt that some of the abilities for the companion were either not very well developed or not well explained. For example, I have never seen the  companion use a melee weapon, yet you could equip the companion with one. I am not sure why...

That said, having a companion is very useful, not just during combat, but for doing tedious tasks such as selling items. Just like in Torchlight, it is possible to add items to the inventory of the companion and send her off to town to sell them.

Inventory of Van Helsing and Lady Katrina

The gameplay got very tedious towards the end of the game. In the beginning, there is a learning curve, and its fun experimenting with different abilities, but halfway through the game, it becomes very stale, because there is not much else to discover in terms of abilities, and the loot becomes pointless because I already have the best weapons. By the end of the game, I had over 700,000 gold, and there was nothing to spend it on. This would have been fine if the combat didn't get so repetitive.

Combat generally involves a large mob of enemies rushing your position. Not necessarily a bad thing, but more often than not, the mobs are very unfair. Often times I found myself overpowered, and no combination of abilities and weapons allowed me to defeat the mobs. It is possible that I could have made a mistake in points allocation, but I felt as if these sections are created to be unfair. In addition to this, the game has these narrow levels with tall obstacles (such as pillars) which obstruct the view and it can combat more frustrating in certain situations.

At times there are 20 enemies all firing at the same time, and there is no way to retaliate except pick off a couple of enemies, die, respawn and retry. This is not fun for me, and its not good design in my opinion.

The game does not seem to take the story very seriously, its laced with anachronistic references, intended to be humorous, I am sure, but it got old, and unlike Diablo, there are no memorable characters to be found here, except for the main character and the companion. This is a bit of shame because the game had a lot of potential, but just did not capitalize on it. I am sure the humorous take on the vampires and mad scientists might appeal to some, but I was hoping for something different.

Is that a Witcher reference?

I purchased this game as part of Humble Jumbo Bundle on August 20, 2014 for $1. I got this game along with others as a part of this bundle, and for that price, you can't really go wrong. Would I recommend this game? Well, if you can pick it for a $1, sure. Otherwise, not really. Its not a terrible game, but there is nothing original here, and there are better games out there worthy of time investment.

Verdict - There are better games out there.