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How GTA 4 redefined the series with ragdoll physics

Niko flying a great distance across Liberty City after being hit by a car (Image via Sportskeeda)
Niko flying a great distance across Liberty City after being hit by a car (Image via Sportskeeda)
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Danny Sahbegovic

GTA 4 forever changed the series with its revolutionary execution of ragdoll physics.

After the success of the classic GTA titles, Rockstar went with a different approach. GTA 4 used ragdoll physics for all NPC characters, a stark contrast to previous games that used pre-set animations. When hit with enough force, NPCs reacted with dynamic movements.

Rockstar achieved the game-changing ragdoll physics with new engines. It no longer used the old Renderware found in classic 3D games, and instead went for Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE), along with Euphoria Physics. This completely changed the way players enjoyed GTA 4.


How GTA 4's improved ragdoll physics changed the entire experience for players worldwide

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GTA 4 made good use of modern technology, at least for its time. Ragdoll physics was just one of the more defining features of this game. Players, till today, spend hours falling down stairs or pushing down pedestrians.

Here's how Ragdoll Physics enhanced the GTA 4 player experience.


The mechanics are fun to play around with

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GTA 4 prides itself on a more realistic experience, which is made better by ragdoll physics. Players may crash their vehicles and fly off through the windshield.

In previous games, the player would fall flat on the ground like a pancake. GTA 4 makes it more interesting by having the player bounce around a bit. Thanks to the reworked dynamics, every brutal moment is done very differently.

This is just one of many examples that can be found in GTA 4. Players can push random pedestrians down a staircase. Gun fights are more realistic when enemies limp downwards, and players will spin around before they hit the ground.

All of this is achieved with the new ragdoll physics.


GTA 4 is far more dynamic than previous games

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Take a look at the above video, where CJ manages to fall off the mountainside. It can be funny to watch him flail his arms right before he lands. However, everything is done in a very static manner. The Renderware engine lacked the ability to use in-depth ragdoll physics.

As a result, GTA 4 stands out in comparison to older games. Imagine if it was Niko in the above video instead of CJ. He would bounce around multiple times, not unlike a basketball, and each fall would look quite different from the last. To the full credit of GTA 4, the improved upon physics makes it truly dynamic.


GTA 4 allows player to get creative

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It's not just the ragdoll physics that alters the gameplay experience. In-game physics can also lead to very memorable moments.

There is an infamous feature in GTA 4 known as the Swing Glitch. Players can drive near the swing with any vehicle of choice, and they will immediately fly into the air through sheer force. It's quite the sight to see, which is why there are so many compilation videos out there.

Players can also exit the vehicle, but doing this will cause them to plummet to their untimely demise. This is where ragdoll physics comes into play. It's mindless entertainment, but that's what makes GTA 4 very fun to play around with.

The physics of the game is unlike any other in the series. It rewards the player for being creative and figuring out different ways to make Niko, and other pedestrians, suffer.


Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.


For comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, check out SK GTA Wiki

Edited by Abu Amjad Khan
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