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Respawn: Grand Theft Auto 4 vs 5 and Iteration

Posted Mon, Jan 06, 2014 by Xerin

Respawn

Today, we’re going to compare GTA4 to GTA5 and show how the gaming industry, and MMOs, can take note about how well iteration can work and how it can’t work. I did not like GTA4. GTA4 was a terrible game, in my opinion, because of a lot of reasons, but GTA5 fixed the majority of those issues.

Let’s start with what was wrong with GTA4. In GTA4 the car physics were terrible. It tried to pull off hyper realistic (if you notice, each wheel has its own unique suspension) but the trade off was that driving was literally like walking through hell itself. Cars would flip over, turning the junkers that you get at the start of the game were like trying to turn a lug-nut on a car with your bare hands after it had be melted to the hubcap. Most of GTA4 was played with the vehicle upside down.

GTA4 also had a huge issue with the cops. There were just too many. Way too many cops to deal with. The idea that it’s Liberty City / New York and there is a cop on every street corner is true, but at the same time do you know how frustrating it is to need to jack a car to go somewhere and then have to outrun the cops almost every single time. I’m sure for some the immersion of being on the lookout for cops before you jack a car is important, but at the same time it is insanely frustrating when the game can take 20 to 40 hours to complete and cars are super important. They try to get around this with the taxi system, but that’s frustrating waiting on a taxi in of itself.

GTA5

In GTA5, these two major gripes were handled fantastically. Car physics in GTA5 return to more arcade style the car drives like a video game car should, drifting and not flipping at so much sneezing at it. Additionally, cops play a much smaller role. You can freely jack cars as much as you want, the streets are much wider, and there are way fewer cops.

This is an example of iteration. It’s where they take a formula and keep working at it until it improves. MMOs are notorious for taking an idea and working on that idea over and over and over again. Some MMOs base the entire foundation of their game on iteration (ala Guild Wars 2). It’s important, nevertheless, for all of us to understand that for games to be interesting and fun, we must work tirelessly and endlessly toward taking mechanics and reworking them to improve them. Not just co-oping something that works for something else and calling it done, but to make it our own and keep working at it.

This is going to be an issue with voxel based games moving forward - they are going to just add voxels and call it a day and no one will enjoy the game. It has to have something new and exciting. It has to take the idea of block building to a new level with each iteration. Without it, it will stagnate. If GTA5 had the same car physics as GTA4, I would have thrown my controller through my television in absolute rage.

To that extent, it’s important to always encourage developers to go in a different path. To try new things. To take old concepts and keep working on them, making them better, and making their games more appealing.

See you guys Wednesday!

In the meantime, enjoy this reuse of Duke Nukem (p.s. I still don't have a PS4 like still.).

Duke Nukem

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