This patch is for Grand Theft Auto IV, which is the fourth instalment of Rockstar's controversial games series.
The Grand Theft Auto series has garnered criticism for portraying the seedier side of life and celebrating villainy and crime, with the forces of law and order seen as the 'bad guys', but the game has also won many awards for its innovative gameplay, realistic settings and detailed characterisation. Grand Theft Auto IV in particular was proclaimed Game of the Year by many publications.
The game was released in 2008, initially to Xbox and PlayStation consoles, but later on for Windows, enabling PC players to get in on the action. The patch was released three years after the game's release date, after the games developers had had time to receive feedback, find out why issues were occurring and work out a serviceable fix for these issues where possible.
The game is played from a third person point of view (with the option of going first person when in a vehicle) and takes place mainly on foot or in a vehicle. Initially the game map is limited to one or two areas and the successful completion of missions or quests in each area opens up other areas to the player. To keep interest in the game, it is possible to have several missions ongoing simultaneously, especially when some of the objectives require the player to wait for a certain set of circumstances to arise, or for a certain amount of time to pass. While waiting, the player can set about his or her other missions, rather than stop playing. The third person persona for single-player mode is one Niko Bellic and the game offers an add-on to allow up to 32 people to play at the same time.
During the missions, the player uses firearms, explosives and even the vehicles themselves as weapons to defeat enemies or obstacles to achieve the pre-set goals of the mission. There are taxis available to help transport the player from one area to another, and body armour helps to stave off enemy attacks – although each shot taken depletes the body armour until it is completely used up. Should the player run out of life/ health, gameplay stops and the player respawns in a nearby hospital.
Activities like bowling, speed-racing and more are playable within the game, depending on the level that the player is on. Various morality choices occur periodically throughout the game that can and do alter, sometimes dramatically, the course of the game (much like real life!) and there are mini-games and other in-game features to keep the whole experience fresh and interesting.
Grand Theft Auto IV is set in the fictional city Liberty City, based fairly accurately on New York City. Play to the out-lying islands is blocked at first 'due to a terrorist threat', but these barricades are lowered during play, as the player gains enough experience and completes enough missions.
The background story is a powerful one, sure to enthral the players as they work to avoid their enemies, seek revenge for the wrongs perpetrated upon Niko and solve all the mission briefings of the game. Niko comes across as a likeable and believable character and it is easy to be drawn into his world. The background and characterisation is detailed and realistic, and it is for these reasons that Grand Theft Auto IV has won so many awards, despite the controversy of the very mature and often amoralistic storyline.
However, some players on the Windows platform complained that gameplay was sometimes slow and glitchy. Mirror images and shadows were clunky and poorly fashioned and the replay effects left a certain something to be desired. The patch, a relatively small one at a mere 32 GB, resolved these issues, resulting in a smoother flow in the game and much happier players all round.