Grand Theft Auto IV Tips
Liberty City is a tough place for the uninitiated. Missions can end in hilarious failure, which will definitely get you and your buddies laughing, but it's still failure. Take these tips with you to help make your experience more enjoyable and explosive!
A taxi cab can be your best friend. You can use the Left Bumper (L1 on the PS3) to hail a cab in the street, and while already-occupied cabs won't stop for you, you can still catch up with them at a light, hold the Y (Triangle) button longer, and pull the current passengers out of it and get in yourself. The nice part is that this doesn't count as a crime, either.
Use taxis as a quick way to get around town. Spend the extra money to skip the trip, and you can ensure that when you want to do missions, most of your time is spent actually doing them rather than driving around between points. A nice side effect is that there are fewer opportunities for Little Jacob and such to call you and demand to hang out with you, so you don't have to get off-task or turn people down nearly as much.
If you befriend Roman by hanging out with him enough, you will be able to call for a private car at any time. This is a nice perk since many missions and situations will leave you sitting out in the middle of nowhere with no decent cars around. Oh, and one more thing - Little Jacob eventually starts giving you jobs to ferry around drugs with time limits to boot. Not only do you not have to use the hoopties that LJ leaves the drugs in, but you can get in a cab, set the destination, and skip the trip to finish these missions very quickly and easily. It may not be the most fun way of doing it, but it works.
The best way to "lose" in GTAIV is by death rather than by getting arrested. You see, you lose a percentage of your money going to the hospital, but lose all of your weapons if you go to jail. Just pay attention to the warning signs - if you're on foot and a cop gets close, Niko will put his hands up and is about to get busted. Mash the A (X on PS3) button to run away, and even if you immediately die, it's still better than getting busted. Unfortunately, there's no way to avoid an arrest if a cop opens the door of your stationary car and points his gun at you there, so that's a good time to load your game - or just avoid getting arrested that way altogether.
The biggest issue with having a big stockpile of cash is that you lose more dollars for going to the hospital. For this reason, I recommend you stay stocked up on ammo and weapons so that deaths don't cost you as much overall, and believe me, you'll start to use all that gear if you've got it. Just keep in mind that there is an Achievement on the 360 for getting together half a million dollars, so if you're going for gamerpoints you might want to play really conservatively with your cash. Personally, though, I was able to beat make the half million mark after finishing the game's final mission - and that was with another half million already spent on trips to the hospital.
I know this one sounds pretty obvious, but the firefights in GTAIV expect you to use cover almost constantly and will put the hurt on you if you're exposed for too long. Using the lock-on is a good idea in my opinion, so what you do is get behind cover with right bumper (R1 on PS3), hold the left trigger (L2) all the way down, then find someone to kill. Click the right thumbstick once to use any zoom your weapon may have - even pistols get a little zoom - and use the right stick to find the spot that your enemy has exposed or will expose once he emerges from cover to shoot at you. Just wait for it, and as soon as it's open, pop off a few shots with your gun. Headshots make a huge difference here, too, so get those if you can. Also, flick the right stick to switch targets, or just let go of the left trigger, aim in the general vicinity of the guy you do want to target, and pull it again.
Grenades are valuable tools that may cost a lot at the gun shop, but are well worth the price. Any mission where you're sent to kill someone that's in a car and doesn't know you're coming can be easily ended with a quick grenade toss. There aren't many, but if you are able to drive up on someone without alerting them, don't get out of your car and don't pull out a submachine gun. Just drop a grenade in front of their car at a stop light and drive off. Easy mission win!
But they're useful in firefights, too. Niko can toss a grenade pretty accurately without even looking, and most enemies that are focused on shooting you won't run when they know it's coming. This is even more useful when there are explosive things around, especially cars. Use them if you're low on health or can get several at once, but they're not worth using just for one enemy.
Of course, enemies themselves don't have grenades or rockets to send at you, so using a car as cover is great when there isn't any around. You can use these in impromptu shootouts with the cops, or even make good use of them in quite a few missions where you're chasing someone and they finally get to their location and get out. Of course, if you plan on using the car again, you might want to find another one nearby to soak up all the damage, as it's really frustrating when you're trying to make your getaway and your car catches on fire with the last bullet fired as you speed off. That often leads to jumping out of the car at high speed, and I can speak from experience when I say that that will often lead to you getting run over by an oncoming police cruiser. It's funny as hell, but then you realize you're dead.
Many gamers are calling the car handling the worst part of GTAIV. It's more realistic, sure, but that also means it's less arcadey and fun. But there are ways to still take turns and such at high speed - they're just going to require you drive a bit more like a racing game. For example, if you want to make a right turn without losing much speed, don't do it from the right side of the road. Head over to the left lane, or if there isn't much traffic, all the way to the left side of the road in advance of the turn. Use a little braking and start your right turn early. You'll find yourself smashing into far fewer walls this way.
Handbraking is also different for each car. I think you'll find that a tap on the handbrake for turns in the sports cars can get you some excellent results. Either way, I think the cars with a good mix of speed and handling are the Sultan (the front end looks like a Lexus IS200) and the Comet (resembles a Porsche 911). You won't find many of the Infernus (Lamborghini Diablo knockoff) model on the streets, but those are nice as well. Other good choices for both speed and handling are the Sentinel (BMW M3), Coquette (Corvette), and yes, the Patriot (Hummer). That last one is nice because collisions cost you much less in terms of speed, but it still drives and handles pretty well.
Take a helicopter up to the top of a building and then dial 625-555-0100 on your phone (press up twice on the D-pad to bring up your phone and then bring up the numbers to dial) to cheat and spawn a NRG-900 motorcycle, then drive off with it and try to do backflips - unlike with past GTA games, you don't get booted off the bike when going upside down. (note: you won't lose any achievements or miss 100%-ing the game by using this). Or if you get into some kind of problem in a mission where someone's chasing you, you can actually dial 911 and have the cops come out. It's not often that they'll start sticking to the guys chasing you, but it's fun to do. It's more amusing to get people to fight each other and call the cops on them so they start getting shot.
Jump towards a fast-moving car to see the Euphoria physics engine at work, or just drive down the sidewalk of Times Square and other populated areas at high speed. Don't forget to hold B (Circle on PS3) and while holding it, click down the left stick for slow motion mode. Hell, go into slow motion during a mission when Niko is talking to someone in the car for a funny effect on the voice acting.
As soon as you get access to the center island of Algonquin, you can start fiddling around with helicopters. Down at the southeast corner of Algonquin is the Helitour place, and you can walk up and free-aim at the pilot of a chopper, shoot him, and take the chopper for yourself. It beats paying him for the tour!
The airport at the northeast corner of the map also has an Annihilator police chopper for you to play with sometimes. It's at the north end of the runways, but beware that you will get four stars for entering the restricted areas of the airport, and the chopper ain't always there. Unfortunately, the guns on the Annihilator suck and there are no rockets.
If you try a mission and fail miserably, especially one where you need to do a lot of shooting, grab a cab before you restart the mission and head to a gun store to stock up on armor and explosives first. Maybe grab a sniper rifle - if you can pop a few enemies from a safe distance before you move in, that's a good choice as well. But look out - for some missions the game seems to let you kill as many enemies as you want with little attention from the LCPD, but sometimes going outside of some invisible "bubble" and shooting those same people will bring the cops down on you, hard. Either way, try different approaches and always have body armor when you're about to head into a mission with a ton of shooting. And you'll find that health and body armor are also placed throughout some of these locations, so use them wisely - skip the first aid kit if you're only down a little health, and come back for it when you've taken more hits.
It may seem like a pain in the ass to do the friendship thing, but there are some very usable and real perks that come from it. The best ones are probably Roman, Little Jacob, and Dwayne. I won't spoil what these do for you, but they're very handy, especially if you are finding the shooting missions difficult. Spend the time early and get the friend benefits out of these guys and you'll find that it's worth it. Unfortunately, the tougher missions are often the ones where you're stuck with a motorcycle and a city full of cars ready to send you flying off of your crotch rocket, and none of the friend perks are going to help you with that one. There are perks from dating the chicks from Lovemeet.net, but I think you'll find that they're not quite worth it.
Use that 625-555-0100 phone number to spawn yourself motorcycles and get good with them. GTAIV throws quite a few of these missions at you, and while you can spend that precious extra time to find a fairly fast car and get in it, you'll often find it's just better to learn how to drive a motorcycle better. Unfortunately, there's just no solution for when you're speeding down the exact center of a road and some taxi minivan decides to make an unannounced left turn directly into your path. Just always be ready to hit the brakes or swerve, because if you go flying more than about 10 feet off of your bike, that usually loses you enough time to cost you the mission.
Hopefully these tips will get you through some of the tougher missions in GTAIV. It is worth going to the end, but make sure to save in separate slots before the game starts offering you major, major choices. The game does have multiple endings and it's worth seeing each!