Bully was one of the last sixth-generation games by Rockstar. The move to the current generation of video game systems began in 2005, but it wasn’t until 2008 that Rockstar released its newest must-have game: Grand Theft Auto IV.
With the new RAGE system, everything about the previous GTA games was going to change. Although Rockstar was returning to Liberty City for the newest GTA game, this was not the same Liberty City that was in GTA III. Dan Houser, the co-founder for Rockstar Games, confirmed that the previous three GTA games (collectively known as the 3-D Universe) would be completely different from the newest GTA games (collectively known as the HD Universe).
By essentially rebooting the series, this meant a complete overhaul of everything. Liberty City now comprised of 5 separate islands while the 3-D Liberty City had just 3. No longer would you drive cars using the X and square buttons, but you now used the shoulder buttons, which were pressure sensitive, to drive and brake. At least for me it took a lot of getting used to, but once I adapted to the new driving scheme, I was happy with the changes.
Also for the first time a cover system was introduced in shooting scenarios. Niko didn’t have to simply stay out in the open as enemies shot at him. You could now crouch behind walls, cars or anything else that provided cover. The caveat was your enemies could do the same. They would often duck under cover while reloading, meaning if you wanted to take them out, you had to be opportunistic about your decisions.
But all of this would be for nothing if the game wasn’t interesting. Set in modern NYC amidst terrorist threats and general xenophobia, it’s the perfect backdrop to introduce the Niko Bellic, an Eastern European (hinted that he’s Serbian but never confirmed) who has just arrived in Liberty City to start a new life. His cousin Roman already has a small cab service in Liberty City, but otherwise, Niko is all on his own.
Like all other GTA games, the beauty of the game is not the story itself, but the level of freedom you are given. With a brand new level of processing power, that’s just what GTA IV did. Niko now has a cell phone that he uses to start all of his missions but it’s also where Niko can start many of the mini-games throughout the city.
It’s an extensive list and listing all of them would take too long. The highlights include going to comedy shows (hosted by real-life comedian Katt Williams), bowling and even using the Internet to set up dates. Various missions allowed Niko options to decide the outcome of that storyline. You could be a ruthless killer who executes everybody or you could let someone live and later in the game they might drop in to help you. While none of the choices (except for one of the last missions) make a serious difference in the story, it was interesting to replay those missions to see how your different choices may affect the storyline.
The story itself wasn’t that great, but all the freedom the game gave you made up for any shortcomings in the storytelling department. Knowing what was in store for the seventh-generation console games just made the experience that much better.