I think IV was just a struggle for Rockstar. They were depressed after the Hot Coffee scandal. They were battling with new hardware, technology and couldn't make a huge map like before
Not to mention rumors of EA buying R* but on the other hand this is one of the reasons I admired IV. They managed to deliver what (for me) was an absolutely top quality game in nearly every department despite their struggles.
It was more serious than other GTA's. Serious, doesn't mean more realistic. Other GTAs like Vice City and San Andreas had a perfect balance of seriousness and light-heartedness for me. IV seemed just to be serious, all the way. I think that's why people thought it was more "realistic."
I'm not exactly sure why people use the word "serious" for GTA IV. I don't think it's the correct term at all. I feel "matured" is more appropriate. Like you said VC and SA had light hearted fun while IV did have fun, just in a more mature way.
However good IV is, people were just baffled by the lack of rewards which is a driving force for gamers. It's play and reward. This was taken away. So many things that people associated with the evolution of GTA, thus making it GTA in itself were taken away. It didn't feel like a GTA for them. Doesn't mean the game was bad.
I think the rewards in the game are decent. Such as Dwayne's backup which is fun as hell for gang shootouts. But yes they certainly aren't as good as the III Era but I can live with it.
From GTA to 2 to III to Vice City to San Andreas... the game got bigger, got more features, more weapons, more missions more cities more terrain and then IV was like going all the way back to III. It was kind of more like a HD remake of III with fancy graphics and physics than a standalone GTA game.
I disagree and I disagree wholeheartedly.
For me "progression" does not mean "more features" I'd rather look at the quality of features. You can make a game with a billion of features and say that it has progressed more than the previous one but in reality the quality is much less than the previous. It's like a book, the first one is short but it's great, the 2nd one is longer but it lacks the quality the first one possessed.
This is something that I tend to be rather critical of SA. It was amazing for it's time (and still is) but i can't help but feel that Rockstar threw some features into it for the sake of content. Not all the features in the game were terrible but some of them felt so... incomplete. Like the courier missions. Valet missions were fun for that one mission but got boring quick. I honestly never even used many of the features that much. Still love the game though. One of the best games of all time for sure! (Still prefer VC and IV though)
Also, the idea of fun doesn't mean bloody jetpacks.
For this I applaud you sir. But for some people it does mean bloody jetpacks, atleast you can appreciate a game for something other than planes/jetpacks.
People always confuse this. For me driving in the countryside or driving from city to city was fun. Dressing my character in to different roles was fun...that freedom.
This is something that I loved about IV. I enjoyed roleplaying as an ordinary citizen taking Niko out in a great car with the awesome handling and soaking in the atmosphere. Sure it didn't have a countryside but IV still offers me the same amount of freedom as the 3 Era games.
Freedom = fun. Many of the fun side things were optional in VC and SA. In IV, it's not an option. You see what I mean? That's the whole crux of it. If you don't like to do something, don't do it. But don't force us not to do it. Ya dig?
I'm not sure what you mean by this, unless you are referring to the friend calls from Roman and others. They are still optional. You can decline and I actually checked the stats and the like of the friend, say Roman, doesn't go down much really. It's quite easy to bring it back up too.
For some people, linear games like FPS's like CoD, Battlefield etc, is perfect for them. My brother is kind of like that. I think he likes the structure. He's be more academic in sense and I'm more creative. I think GTA IV was more "linear" in it's constrictions.
For one I'd prefer a non-linear game over a linear game anyday. I rarely play linear games anymore. I don't see how IV was linear. Messing around with the new ragdoll physics was always fun. To me it's just as fun as any other GTA. I guess it just requires your imagination a bit more.
I guess IV appealed more to people who like attention to detail. Same goes for Mafia II. Brilliant city, great attention to detail yet so many people hated it while I loved it for what it was.
IV was great, just didn't seem like a natural evolution of GTA. Id like another game like IV. Just not called GTA. If Rockstar made an new IP, I'd love them to do something similar to IV. It's a different experience but for me not the quintessential, definitiive GTA experience.
In my honest opinion, GTA IV does indeed feel like a GTA. Liberty City felt like how a GTA should be. It was dark, gritty and centered around crime, the whole point of GTA. To me every GTA feels like a GTA, even SA though it had some slightly over the top stuff. (I'm looking at you Green Goo) It combined an amazing story with an amazing city and excellent gameplay.
Sorry for the long post.
No problem. Your post was excellent and had some good points in it. You certainly are a decent SA fan which is kinda rare. I rather enjoyed reading and countering your post.