I've made a post earlier on this sub about how I could never fully get into San Andreas and how I've been trying to complete it for more than 10 years now: https://www.reddit.com/r/patientgamers/comments/o9xgks/i_keep_restarting_gta_sa_for_years_and_i_dont/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3
I actually haven't touched it since then. I just stopped playing at that FIB guy's flying school mission because I lost interest. It definitely has serious pacing issues imo. I'm also not a fan of the many "absurd" missions the game forces on you but that's just my personal opinion. Some examples are flying toy airplanes, toy choppers, forklift missions, lowrider QTEs. Some of these also apply to Vice City but I like that a bit more. It's not as "overdone" as San Andreas at least. As for GTA V, I haven't touched the singleplayer since 2013 when it first came out on PS3 so I have vague memories. I have it on PC as well but I just played the online for a bit. I remember not being too much into the characters and the story. Rockstar's worldbuilding was on point as always but it didn't really have a lasting impact on me.
As for GTA IV, it's almost perfect for me. I never got around to playing it until recently but I kept hearing very good things from my friends whom I think have a good taste in games. I got the Complete Edition off Steam and while I'm only 20ish hours into it, I wanted to share my thoughts. I didn't touch Episodes From Liberty City yet.
First off, the world is more immersive than any other GTA game. Some people weren't into the more "realistic" tone of the story and the "gray-looking" city as I've heard but I absolutely love it. It kinda feels like playing in the same "filthy New York" Max Payne setting, especially when having gunfights in tight areas like apartments. But the classic Rockstar humor is still there, it's just more subtle.
I also like being able to hang out with the side characters, go on dates and it doesn't feel shallow because you get to hear cool new dialogue depending on who you're hanging with and where you take them. For the first time in a GTA game, I didn't feel like going straight from a mission to the next because I was so immersed in the Liberty City atmosphere.
Other than that, I like the story and the missions. They're mostly "grounded" and don't kill the immersion. Niko is easier to relate to as a Non-American & Eastern European person myself. I like how he reacts to the so-called American Dream. It's been a common theme on other GTA titles as well but still. It's a more unique perspective imo. The physics and the gunplay are smooth. I might be wrong but GTA V's physics felt a bit goofier IIRC. The cars don't feel like Hot Wheels like GTA V, VC, SA and all others.
All in all, I love GTA IV. The only reason I haven't touched it for so long was that it's an unoptimized mess on PC and I was lazy to fix it. I decided to work on it and it's beautiful. But I honestly had lower expectations for it and it's blown my mind thus far. Looking forward to playing more.
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