You guys are misunderstanding what I mean in my comparisons of GTA IV to The Getaway. I wasn't talking about mission structure or the very linear structure of The Getaway. IV still retains at least some of the previous GTA's sanbox elements. I was referring to the constricting, restrictive physics they both share very much in common. Yes, IV had a lot more side missions as well as collectibles to do, which clearly Getaway lacked. The Getaway was very much a completely linear path through both the criminal and the cop's storylines, both occurring simultaneously in the narrative, each comprising half the game.
Where GTA IV feels like The Getaway is in the physics, both of character movement and driving, as well as how limited the "devices" or tools the player has at his or her disposal. In both games, the protagonists move like slow, plodding, clumsy elephant men. Car handling is meant to try and simulate the limitations of what real gate of a real person would have in real life. Both games try to make cars handle a lot more clumsy and finicky than 3D Era GTA games. Both games limit the core gameplay mechanics, though, as you say, IV does have more side stuff to do. I am not saying the games are exactly the same, only that there is a commonality of how the game plays when the player has a controller in his hand. Both games are meant to strip the kinds of wild freedom from the player, and presume that people want that. In IV's case, I guess some people do, which is probably why we have all the arguments in this forum.
But THANK GOD Rockstar went away from that paradigm that both The Getaway and IV share in common, and they lifted so many restrictions to put a lot of fun back into GTA that went missing in IV for me and so many others. IV may be what you might call "A good Crime Sim," but V is a fantastic game, that is much more balanced toward fun AND well rounded. For me, IV (and The Episodes) simply can never get out of their own way. And more importantly, out of my way. As a player, soldiering through the Episodes, and thankfully, I am almost done, that is the thing that strikes me as most obvious. The pomposity of the game, probably due to Rage/Euphoria, and the feeling that the game simply won't get out of my way and let me have some fun.
Yes, I can drive in the game(s). I can out-drive the AI every time, whether racing in a Triathalon with Luis, getting away from the cops in both games, one of the 12 bike races with Johnny, out-maneuvering AI in Drug Wars or Gang Wars, or whatever. But it isn't any fun. There is NO PERCEPTION of breakneck speed. The cars, like the protagonists, need to be babied and cajoled to do what I want them to do. Trying to run with these characters as they bop up and down and "jog" rather than actually run is infuriating. IV is like a very high maintenance girlfriend trying to have a stranglehold on me, trying to restrict my freedom, limit my fun, and is constantly trying to tell me what I can and cannot do, rather than just being a fun date. lol
In IV and the Episodes, everything happens so slow and plodding, and it all feels so clumsy and agonizingly limiting.
And you cannot keep denying that IV was Rockstar's attempt at realism. You guys are completely taking me out of context regarding realism. NO GAME in the history of videogames has ever been realistic. If it was, you would have to wake your character up, shave, shower, brush his teeth, sit down for 20 minutes for breakfast, retrieve and the morning paper, and it would be an hour before you took your protagonist out of his or her house to walk to the car. But there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Houser wanted IV to be as realistic as he and his team could make the game. I mean, LMAO that's all he talked about in all the interviews, how "realistic" IV was compared to other games and other GTA games. Why weren't there bicycles, jet packs, and a ton of other cool stuff from San Andreas? When asked about that, his answer was that it wouldn't be believable for Niko, a new immigrant to have all of that. Believable being yet another way of saying "realism." I have said this SO MANY times I am amazed I have to repeat it. IV tries to be realistic. It tries to be a "Crime Sim" or a "movie game," two terms that Houser also used a lot way back in 2008. Houser felt, and I patently disagree, that most players wanted to feel like they were playing a realistic movie. At least as realistic as a videogame could ever be. He thought that what people really wanted was NOT the unbridled fun of San Andreas, but instead, what I would call oppressive limitations on what the player can and cannot do in a story-driven narrative of a game.
Look all I can say is THANK GOD Rockstar learned from their mistakes! Or what I consider mistakes. V may not bring back physics that are as much fun as, say San Andreas, but I can see that the game does at least succeed in compromising. Yes, I still don't like the way the characters move, compared to Tommy, CJ, Fido, Tony, and Victor, BUT they can at least run now, and the compromise gives them a lot more fluidity in their motion than Niko, Johnny, and Luis.
Also the cover system in IV and the Episodes is an abomination. It s a real struggle to get Luis and Johnny to work effectively in cover, the way that Michael, Trevor, and Franklin now can. So V also improved this immeasurably.
I also find the gunplay in IV and the episodes to be more like "gun-work" than gunplay. It is slow, methodical, boring, and lacks any sense of Adrenalin and excitement, the way that I get from V. When I am in a firefight in V, I am laughing, smiling, on the edge of my seat, and really feeling the blood pumping. To give one of many examples:
I just finished the mission In the Crosshairs for Bulgarin. The first time I tried it, I forgot for a moment what game I was playing, thinking it was going to be exciting with all the roof snipers and enemies. So that first time, I failed it because I was trying to, ya know, have some fun! lol Silly me. So I rebooted the save (not wanting to have a mission failed in my stats) and did it again, only this time, played it the way the overbearing game wanted me to. I have to tell you that what could have been an insanely fun, Adrenalin-packed, wild ride (even I could see the potential in missions like that in IV/Episodes) was nothing but a pompous, slow, boring-ass, methodical crawl through the snipers (the easy part) and taking baby steps from one roof to the other while I dispatched hoards of obnoxiously buffed enemies firing ridiculous amounts of bullets and lobbing grenades at me. Was I able to do it and was I more than a match for the AI? Yes and yes. But that's not the point.
I mean, this mission could have been SO MUCH F*CKING FUN! But, and I apologize for the Snore reference, I could barely summon the will to stay awake through it. I actually almost failed it out of sheer, bored, impatience. Because I just wanted it to be freaking over already!
This is my problem with IV and the Episodes. They feel pretentious, snobby, and preachy to me, like Rockstar decided to condescend to tell GTA fans, "Well, little children. You must eat your supper before you can have desert! You must do your homework and your chores before you can get your little snacks and go out and play!" You know what? F*ck that! The videogame is supposed to BE my desert, and my snack, and my fun. I did all my work while I was, ya know, working. I play videogames because they ARE supposed to be the fun part of my day. When a game slows me down, and forces me to crawl through the most boring chores to get at the chewy, flavorful center, I have a real problem with that.