The gaming community, for the better part of the past year and the first-half of 2021, had been waiting on pins and needles for Rockstar to announce practically anything that was remotely related to GTA. The most optimistic of the bunch were hoping for some kind of elusion to Grand Theft Auto VI, while the rest were holding out for a remasters of the PS2 trilogy, which was teased by the publisher earlier this year.
Now we’re a couple weeks away from the release of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition, which goes down as a W in the eyes of the fanbase. While it’s great that we get to relive the nostalgia of the trilogy once again, somewhere out in the distance, is another GTA game crying out for some kind of remaster or remake – Grand Theft Auto IV.
GTA IV – The boldest game in the series, and often the one least-talked about
It would be a mighty understatement to suggest GTA IV was a shock to the system, as the game pretty much subverted every expectation players had from the franchise at that point. Gone were the ridiculous, over-the-top missions and the casual romp-ish nature of the campaign, replaced by a grim, dark, yet self-aware journey through the criminal underworld in a modern metropolis.
While the game is still the highest-rated GTA game on Metacritic, it is often the one fanbase seems to talk less about. The game, despite being a bold, new direction for the franchise (which it abandoned right after), the game has continued to live in the shadow of its predecessors and the hilariously successful successor. But why is that?
GTA IV needs to be on more platforms
The game is right at the uncomfortable spot of being too big and expansive to be on mobile (like the PS2 trilogy) and not being modern and advanced enough to be ported over to new-gen or last-gen consoles (PS4 and Xbox One). Yet, despite this, Rockstar have previously ported the PS2 trilogy games (San Andreas, Vice City, and III) on the PS4 and Xbox One, but mysteriously – not GTA 4.
Which is absurd, to say the least, but on the flipside, it leaves room for Rockstar to capitalize on its absence on more platforms with a remaster/remake. If the last few years have shown anything, it is that remakes can often revitalize the franchise in a way that was previously not possible. One need only take a look at the Resident Evil franchise, as well as 2K’s Mafia: The Definitive Edition. GTA IV’s absence on last-gen consoles has been felt dearly, as the only available options to play the game remains through the weirdly unsuccessful PlayStation Now or on PC. Xbox still fares better in that regard due to the consoles’ impeccable backwards compatibility.
Can Grand Theft Auto IV be a success in the modern era of gaming?
Simply put, GTA IV was as divisive an entry as there ever has been in the history of the series. The response from the fans on launch was polarizing, at best, since many were not on-board with the direction the series was skewing towards. In the years since, many have warmed up to Grand Theft Auto IV and come to appreciate Rockstar’s refusal to be complacent, and the game’s ability to take risks.
Which is exactly the kind of energy Rockstar is in dire need of, since there is a perceived air of complacency around Rockstar at the moment, perhaps a bit unfairly, but such is the case. The game, in many aspects, represents Rockstar Games at the height of their creative powers – both in terms of writing and game design. Each aspect of Liberty City adds to the overall sense of dread and overwhelming nature of the situation Niko finds himself in, but despite all of the greyness in the surroundings – GTA IV is perhaps the funniest and cleverest game of the bunch.
While the writing is perhaps the strongest, the gameplay could do with a bit of polish as the driving, cover, and shooting mechanics haven’t aged all that well. Which is exactly the kind of problems a remaster can solve. While at the moment, news of another remaster/remake can’t go down well with the fanbase, Rockstar have a major goldmine of a title and a well that they can go back to should the need arise – as the gaming community can always do with some more GTA – especially when it’s as fantastic as Grand Theft Auto IV.
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