Grand Theft Shenmue

Grand Theft Auto 4 has created quite a bunch of hype, and I suppose that's relatively justified, as it is indeed a thoroughly entertaining game. However, contrary to it being a GTA thing, I'm thinking it's more of a Shenmue thing.

Like Shenmue, there's a great deal of focus on detail to simulate the environment, bringing about a "living city" feel. This is evident in GTA4 much more than the previous GTAs.

The main character, sort of a endearing Russian vagrant, is a necessary part of this. Without that interplay between flawed-but-likable main character and the individual elements of the city, this wouldn't have felt half as real.

It's the realism - not "arbitrary inclusion of ballistics test data" realism but rather "great feeling interactive story" realism - that is causing reviewers to give this game a 9.5 - 10. It has to be: the game mechanics themselves haven't improved that much. Sure, you can use cover, the physics are better, and there's online multiplayer - but these are just features.

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