June 26, 2013

Grand Theft Auto 4 Areas of Concern

It's time to settle the score. Is Grand Theft Auto 4 really as bad as it's made out to be?

Parental Guidance Advised for the following review.

Reviewed by: Kyle van Rensburg

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC

Genre: Open World/Third Person Shooter

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Developer: Rockstar North.


Players take on the role of Niko Bellic, a man deceived into believing that the American dream is waiting for him with open arms on the other side of the ocean.

Roman, his cousin, had been spinning him a story of grandeur, only for Niko to discover that Roman is far worse off than his bogus stories made him out to be.

He ends up involved in the crime syndicates in the process of taking down a mob boss in an attempt to protect his family, after Roman had gotten into trouble with him.

Now, Niko is an errand boy for anyone who pays enough, and whoever doesn't betray him in the process....

Maybe he has found the American dream after all.

Or had he?

Areas of Concern:


Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

General Violence:

Lots of bloody violence towards innocents and criminals.

--Fist-fights and brawls are depicted: Punching, kicking, and stomping is shown, with cries of pain and blood spraying. Knives are also used to slash and stab, with resulting blood.

--People are gunned down: We see blood spurting out realistically, staining the environment, and cries of pain are heard. Blood is also depicted splattering on the screen.

--You can drive vehicles, killing people by running them over, sending them flying. Blood splatters all over the car and the environment.

--Falling to death can kill people. (Yes, it's a fact.) We see them hit the ground, blood spraying out, and they let out a final cry of pain.

--People can get blown with explosives and projectiles: They are sent flying, and blood splatters on the environment. They can be set on fire, and stumble around whilst screaming.

-Vehicles can also get blown up, with the explosion shown and wreckage is strewn across the environment.

Storyline Violence: 

--A man is shot through the eye, a stream of blood spraying out, staining his shirt, and he collapses dead. We see this from the side.

--A man is shot through the knee, and through the chest, with arterial sprays of blood. He then tumbles off of a roof and hits the ground.

--A man is shot several times through the torso, with blood spurting out, and he jerks around. This goes on for quite some time, before he eventually dies.

--A man is shot in the head, with bloody chunks spewing out.

--A man has a seizure, flailing around, and after a while, he collapses dead.


Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Offensive

Please note: That is NOT a gymnastics club.

--The very first scene in the game is a man getting whipped by a woman, obviously a sadomasochistic act.

--Your character can visit strip clubs: We see woman dancing suggestively around poles, wearing only g-strings and pasties. You can request a lap-dance, which is shown in detail.

One strip club is called the "Triangle Club", with the triangle being the rough outline of the female organ.

-We see a lot of posters of woman in various stages of undress, never any nudity, but still very suggestive. One character sends you a pic of barely clothed posterior of a woman.

--A lot of graphic references, uttered by many characters throughout the game. There are far too many to list here, but here are the standouts:

-The character of Roman delivers non-stop utterances of vulgarity: he speaks about another man having "t**ty" on his breath, references "silicon filled t**ties!", and basically most of he says are slang terms for female anatomy. 

-A man references a woman liking "sticky finishes", a joke about a man's dad "liking it up the [expletive]", a man says he kept a guy around because he "[expletive]" his sister, a man makes a joke about "B***ing a cancer patient", and one rather graphic piece of dialogue where a man sarcastically talks about a man "[expletive] off in his wife's face."

There's also a mention of a pill giving men the "Hard-ons", and that wives and mistresses everywhere in the city will be thankful when the pill hits the streets.

-One comedy routine is of a woman, dressed in very short, ahem, shorts partially exposing herself, who cracks a lot of suggestive jokes referring to oral sex, adultery, and female anatomy.

-A sign talks about "Safe Sex" and it has two hands making a certain gesture.

-One mission involves you going to an adult store: You walk into the back room, where a few men are watching a porn film, making crude remarks and one man grabs himself.

--(This is entirely optional) You can pick up prostitutes and use their services in a car: You see some sexual movements and hear noises, but no nudity is shown. Your character makes self-loathing remarks after hiring them, like criticising himself for sinking to such lows, saying he feels very empty, etc. 

The prostitutes also graphically reference the acts, although we won't list those here.

-You can also have sexual encounters with your in-game girlfriends: You only hear some suggestive sounds coming from the apartment, but nothing is shown. Likewise, this is also optional.

--One character is flamboyantly gay, and he has a few suggestive pictures of topless men in his apartment, one is a drawing of two men in their underwear. He mentions his lover, who he affectionately speaks to over the phone.

(NOTE: His whole persona and homosexuality are very exaggerated.) 

-One mission has your character pretending to be a homosexual in order to get to another homosexual, who other characters refer to as a "c**khound".


Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

Uses of the C-word, F-bomb, S**t, and various anatomical terms referring to both male and female anatomy in a crude way.

-Graphic sexual terms are used by several characters.

--God and Jesus' names are used in vain. 

Racial Slurs: Several racial slurs, referring to African-Americans, Mexicans, Asians, and others.

Spiritual Content: 

Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy

--A woman says something about God and her husband remarks: "Your God doesn't care about you, or anybody else!"

-In a comedy routine, a woman mentions the "Holy Ghost" being with them in a spaceship. It's hardly blasphemous, as she was being random.

--We see the All-Seeing-Eye symbol on a conspiracy theorist's wallpaper.

--There are in-game entertainment options, one of which is a stage magician's show. He makes a joke about magicians being accused of witchcraft and burned for it. 

--A man humourously mentions Jesus as doing "crazy s**t" like killing people, and executing John the Baptist. Another man points out that he is incorrect.


Mild Moderate Heavy Very Heavy Extreme Ban-worthy 

--We see several people snorting cocaine during the game, getting high off of it. Lots of references to drug addiction too. like a woman mentioning meth and a construction company humourously being called "LSD."

--You can drink and get drunk: Your character stumbles around, falling into objects and against people.

--We see a man smoking marijuana, and he makes references to it. (Eg: Ganja, Herb, Kali....)

--Quite a few people are seen smoking cigarettes. 

Gross Stuff/Crude Humour:

--A few "coke-heads" insult each other, saying they were inbred and make several jokes about inbreeding. 

--A man grabs his crotch whilst high.

--The bowling club's logo is of a bowling pin and two bowling balls, arranged in such a way to look like a phallus, a site's name is BAWSAQ (Don't say it aloud), a man on steroids is constantly teased as having "funny b**ls", and so on.


Abysmal Bad So-so Okay Good Very Good

Not very good, as the name implies. You are a criminal who is willing to kill anybody for the right price. Whilst Niko does care for his family, he is without a question a lowlife almost past the point of redemption.

What makes the game avoid an Abysmal rating is the fact that a life of crime is appropriately portrayed as destroying one's life, and that "checking out" is near impossible.

Thoughts & Impressions:

Right off the bat, the story structure in this game was a little
The game had a definitive beginning and an ending, but the second act gets a little lost in them mix, most of the game being comprised of doing missions for several different scumbags and mob bosses.
Speaking of which, Grand Theft Auto continues to have very unique and humourous (if irreverent) characters, which are all brought to life by excellent voice acting.
The characters help buoy the dark tone of this game, even making it seem downright cartoonish in some scenes.
Thankfully, the sharply written dialogue elevates the jarring transitions between light and dark tones.

But is this enough to justify the moral content? Eh.....

Look, when it comes to the morality and the violence, I'll say that the game really is not as bad as it seems. I can think of several movies and TV shows which are worse in that regard.

But then there's the language, and the sexual content and references which pervade the entire game. That's where the game unfortunately crosses the line.

"Kyle! The game is a satire! It mocks violence and sex in pop culture!" You might say.

I'm fully aware of that, and it should be commended for actually doing so. That's why this game won't get a full on ban from me, even though it may technically deserve it.

In fact, music videos of today are worse in some regards compared to this game. I spent most of this day (Tuesday) trying to find good quality music and music videos, and it astonishes me how many songs contain lyrics referencing promiscuity, sexual debauchery, the occult, suicide, depression, you name it.

At the end of the day, I think it's wiser to avoid this game. There's way too much "filth" in it for me to allow it in a good conscience.

(Yep, I knew you'd skip ahead....)


I'm going to take this oppurtunity to tease me and my dad's new blog, an expose site on Pop Culture, detailing symbolism and hidden themes.

The site will go public as soon as we have an analysis or two up. The structure will be similar to this blog, except that it will primarily centre on movies and music videos.

The site has been running for some time, but we never got around to posting stuff, due to a lack of time and we don't really want to analyse works with obviously devious meanings. (Like Ke$ha's Die Young music video, which I would strongly advise you don't watch.)

I'll see you guys next week, possibly with a review by ZIG. This Friday, I'll see what I can cook up.

God bless!

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