GTA IV Reviews: An Exercise In Hyperbolism

Time for a Frankenreviewreview. Let me explain. Mark has his Frankenreview feature running like a well-oiled machine. Mike's GTA IV write-up is the only review of the game this site's ever going to need to write. So this isn't an exercise in reviewing GTA IV. Or in comparing the reviews of GTA IV. It's an exercise in reviewing the reviews of GTA IV. Or, to be more precise, the hyperbole. Because when a game gets 10/10, 100/100 and five stars across the board, you've gotta do something to break up the monotony, right?

Most major sites are accounted for: IGN, 1UP, Eurogamer...even CVG and Game Informer and have their takes on the game up and published (only GameSpot are missing...maybe their allocated reviewer quit?). All have scored the game between 95-100%. All are hyped about the game. But which is most hyped? Their scores cannot separate them, so let's take a look at their words.

Their Score: 10/10
Notes: The first review, and at seven pages, the most tedious.
Moment Of Climax: "A "10" is not a score we give out very often. In fact, the last time we gave a 10 to a console game was Soul Calibur in 1999. A 10 doesn't mean a game is perfect — it means a game is pushing boundaries, expanding a genre, and doing many things to a level so far above and beyond its competitors that they overshadows any flaws. Certainly, GTA IV has some issues, the most noticeable being the occasional flaw in the cover system, but there are many more pieces of GTA IV that are better than anything I've seen from a game in the past decade. We don't give 10s often — just to games that merit the score."
My Score: Four knickers twisted out of a possible five. Banging on for seven pages would normally get you a perfect 5, but a costly cop-out at the end, with ass-covering justifications for their scoring system, cost them a knicker.

Their Score: A+
Notes: Nice, tight review. Covers all the bases.
Moment of Climax: "Fresh off the boat, [Niko's]an illegal immigrant pursuing the dual American dreams of quick money and mass multimedia consumption in the most vibrant, dynamic, and entertainment-packed playground in console videogame history: Liberty City."
My Score: Two twisted knickers out of five. That pasted line above aside, Crispin Boyer's review is - tragically for these purposes - fair and objective, calling out several of the game's flaws, and even closing off with [gasp]a suggestion to Rockstar on how they could improve the thing.

Their Score: 10/10
Notes: Exhibits the usual Eurogamer restraint, but I can't remember the last time a Eurogamer review ran to four pages.
Moment of Climax: "Almost everything you do in Liberty City would be good enough to drive its own game, and the best parts would be good enough to outrun the competition, but the reason it works so well is that Rockstar has made a game that requires no patience to play. This, as much as its usual coherency and the best script in the series, is what makes GTA IV the best openworld game yet, and why it will take something miraculous to rob it of game of the year status."
My Score: 3 twisted knickers. As I said, it's Eurogamer, so OMG BEST GAME EVAR!!!! was never going to be on the cards. Would have scored it a 2, but hedging bets on GOTY in April earned them an extra pair of entangled lady's drawers.

Their Score: 9.5/10
Notes: An imperfect score? Something's wrong here...
Moment of Climax: "Should we judge the biggest game of the year as just that, a videogame, and pick holes in its evolution-not-revolution systems which don't exactly re-write the rules? Or should we look at GTA IV as a pure experience, where it wipes the floor with anything else on Xbox 360 and PS3?"
My Score: 2 knickers twisted out of a possible 5. They lose two just for giving it an imperfect score (the cheek of them!) Excitement takes a back seat to caution, as the CVG reviewer flirts between gushing over the experience and picking holes with the gameplay.

Their (well...our) Score: N/A
Notes: Mike plays GTA IV. Mike reviews GTA IV.
Moment of Climax: "Sandbox-style, ultra-violent games like Grand Theft Auto aren't typically my thing, but GTA IV has made me a fan. A fanboy. Rockstar North has addressed virtually every single one of my personal hang ups about the series, crafting one of the most memorable experiences in gaming. We hate to gush, but it's just that good. Flawless? No. But it's about as close to a game can come to being perfect."
My Score: 3.5/5. Misses out on a higher score because we don't do scores. And because flaws are clearly identified. And that I know he's telling the truth when he says that previously, he wasn't a fanboy.

Their Score: 5/5
Notes: Before reading this, I thought Rockstar to be but men. Now I see they are Gods.
Moment of Climax: "GTA IV isn't just a game. It's a testament to the immense talent and take-no-prisoners mentality that has made Rockstar the company that it is today."
My Score: 4/5. A 1.5 page-long love letter to Rockstar is the highlight. The fact all game faults are condensed to half a paragraph on the fifth page also contributes to a great score.

Their Score: 5/5
Notes: Odd. I could have sworn some of the most poorly-written sections of IGN's original review (the one up now reads a little differently to the one first posted) have found themselves cut-n-pasted into this one...
Moment of Climax: "It's not a stretch to say that, were this a film, some of the "performances" would be Oscar-worthy. Yes, we're aware that the characters aren't real people, but they are still better actors than many of the people in the yearly crop of summer blockbusters."
My Score: 4/5 twisted knickers. And they're all just for that comment.

Game Informer
Their Score: 10/10
Notes: Probably the best of the lot. And by "best" I mean MOST EXCITED.
Moment of Climax: "Grand Theft Auto IV doesn't just raise the bar for the storied franchise; it completely changes the landscape of gaming. Once you play it, you won't look at video games the same way again."
My Score: 5/5. No, 6/5. It opens with "I now know how film critics felt after screening The Godfather". A perfect storm of hype, excitement and pants-wetting. Best review of the lot. No, best review ever.


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