Why is GTA 4 so hard to play? Is it because most of the world got their GTA start on Playstation styled controllers? Is it because the maps are so detailed and you are having such sensory overload to the stuff going on that you loose all motor skills? It is because there is a high volume of traffic and it makes it easier to smash into things? Is it because there is no way to turn off the radio without going into the game settings and turning it down that way?
I found myself in the beginning of the game just overwhelmed, as I should expect to, but once the initial shock of, "my god I'm playing GTA 4," passed, the GTA slow burn went into effect. This is the part where they condition you on how the rest of the game play is going to go down. You are shown how to drive, shoot, fight, and all things in between. All of which has been done in series prior, however all of these things have changed slightly.
Speaking only now about the Xbox version, the controls for driving seem awkward at first. It is a different game, it is a different system. There are no real custom control configuration that can be done, it is either, "Standard," or "Classic." I opted for "Standard", for two reasons. I found it easier in Standard to readjust the camera while driving, and the, "there must a be Standard for a reason" logic. It is what it is.
So you do some real light weight mission steal cars, you have no gun, you drive around a little. This is the first 2 hours. Then I realize that stealing a car, smashing into 3 parked cars because I hit the gas so hard and spun into a hot dog truck which alerted the police is not really worth the time it would take to walk around the block to the next mission. This is a philosophy that one must subscribe to. Your character lives in a dense urban area, there will be traffic.
Then you start to drive drove around a bit and explore the map, try to get my wanted level up, had a lot of trouble finding any guns lying around in the game, general mayhem. Fun, totally fun, except for those pesky missions where they force me to drive responsibly and slow. But whatever, I live in a densely populated urban environment, right? Terrific, moving on.
Accessing the multiplayer games is incredibly easy, and inventive. You don't have to go to a
ny special online menu area, and you never have to leave the game to invite friends. It is all done with your in game cell phone. Almost too easy. I was trying out the online stuff with some friends, when through a misstep we ened up in what seemed to be a very established and very surreal Italian motorcycle race. Suddenly I couldn't hear myself think over the shouts and and animated talking of my fellow racers. For a second everything was much cooler and I wanted to know what they were saying. But that is neither hear nor there. It was nice not running into the usual friendly Xbox live chatter for once, though I am sure those Italians were making fun of my mom and telling me I was going to die of AIDS of the mouth just in another language.
The multiplayer Free Roam mode is fun. The driving seems easier, which is probably due to the fact that there is much less traffic, and you don't have to play in the crazy little neighborhood that you start out in. Playing the multiplayer made me realize something. Rockstar is expecting people to play the story mode, of course; by making the storyline game challenging in a driving and getting around aspect, more people are going to be playing online just for the shooting things, starting riots, and driving around aimlessly that they have known to come and love in GTA versions prior. So don't sweat it, you are not the only one having trouble driving in GTA4.