It has been a little over a decade since its release, but GTA 4 still continues to be a major topic of fascination and discussion with the video gaming community. The 2008 title was perhaps the biggest creative risk that Rockstar Games had taken on until that point since the launch of the GTA franchise in the early 2000s.
The game marked a massive left turn, both tonally and in terms of choices in game design as well. It was going to be a much more grounded and gritty take on the GTA formula and follow a much more serious storyline and protagonist.
While it did maintain a healthy sense of levity and the signature GTA charm and satire, the game was a departure from what had come before.
While it could have just as easily ended up being the black sheep of the franchise, the game is actually regarded as one of the best in the series, to the point where it still holds the highest average score on Metacritic in the entire series.
Here, we take a look at five distinct, stand-out features from the game that made it an exceptionally well-made title and among the best in the series.
Note: This article is subjective and solely reflects the opinion of the writer.
Top 5 features from GTA 4 that make it one of the best in the series
#1 - Vehicle destructibility
To this day, fans have been asking Rockstar to bring GTA 4's level of destructibility of vehicles back to the franchise. While it might not sound like much, seeing a car reduced to absolute rubble after a gnarly crash never seems to get any less impressive even after the 500th time it happens.
Cars take realistic damage, depending upon the area, angle, and intensity of the impact. It makes the game world far more believable, with visible consequences to the player's actions.
#2 - Throwable objects
Again, a case of this might not seem like much, but every little detail adds up to the overall excellent title, which is GTA 4. Players can pick up random objects they see in the game world and hurl it at the enemy or simply carry it around.
This adds a level of interactivity with an environment that was wholly unprecedented, and oddly, was missing from future GTA titles. This easily makes the character feel far more resourceful by essentially turning everything they see into a weapon.
#3 - Choice system in certain missions
GTA 4 was the first in the series to introduce decision-making to the level that it did, and since then, it has been the only one to use it to such an extent. While GTA 5 also had a similar choice towards the end, with smaller choices leading up to it, GTA 4's feel more organic.
The game makes the choice system feel far more grounded and real than simply a button on the phone. The ending of the game is a result of choices that the player makes and has far more impact as a result.
#4 - Multiplayer
Contrary to what players might assume, GTA Online wasn't introduced alongside GTA in 2013 but was a component of GTA 4. While not nearly as big and expansive as its 2013 counterpart, the multiplayer had a lot of great things to offer.
Including a rather chaotic freemode, players have fond memories of blowing stuff up and causing a major ruckus in Liberty City on a daily basis with friends and strangers.
#5 - The in-game phone
This is the first game in the series to use the in-game phone to a larger extent. The phone made for more than just a tool to receive phone calls. Players could use the phone to maintain relationships with allies, go on dates, and even switch to Multiplayer.
Players could also customize their experience by choosing ringtones and such and even enter cheat codes. This made for a thoroughly impressive feature, as something like this was not seen before in the GTA franchise.