I always liked 4 because at the time it felt like you were in an actual living city (although, looking back now you can see where it falls short and where they cut corners). 4 is probably my second most played GTA after Vice City and it purely comes down to aesthetics. Vice City captures the feel of an 80's crime movie pefectly and in a similar way 4 captures the feeling of a 2000's Crime TV series and that's what I like about the games.In San Andreas they tried to tackle too much and as a result everything after the Boyz n the hood N.W.A opening feels stilted or tacked on. 5 on the other hand feels more like a parody of itself.You know, Im legit curious after looking at the series as a whole. Do people think that GTA has either become too realistic or cartoonish?
Because I think the 3D entries in the series tried to keep a healthy balance between both but still being aware that this is all meant to be entertaining ultimately. The stories could get a bit silly but not to the point I cant still take them and its characters seriously. GTA 4 tried to lean more on the realistic side...but it ended up being a tad too realistic in my taste, to the point Liberty City doesnt feel too special but I am aware a lot of people do prefer it because of said realism. I dont dislike 4 at all, in fact, I do think that it stands out in the series the most because its actually a compelling story with mostly realistic characters but I always found like it was missing that GTA styled humor that the DLCs were able to bring some of it back. GTA 5 tries to have that balance between sillyness and realism that the 3D entries had I think its their best effort for the time being. I sort of blame this shift because the graphics, I think the "better" they look, the more compelled they feel to bring more realism to the series as a whole.
But the realism/cartoony stuff in the series becomes a heated love/hate topic depending of when they were introduced into the series. Like I said, the ones that started with 4 prefer its more realistic storytelling and atmosphere over the more over the top style of 5 (to the point its difficult to buy they are meant to be set in the same universe, if anything, its easier to buy this being in the 3D universe decades after GTA 3, somehow)
What are you personal opinions?
The whole realism vs goofy argument is kinda contrived as all the games have their moments of silliness. It's more a question of whether it fits the mood they are going for. CJ breaking into Area 69 would have been fucking stupid during the Los Santos missions but fits during the post SF Toreno shit. At the same time the sudden shift to Trevor 5 is quite jarring and tonally confused as you were doing Yoga an hour ago.
A lot of what is missing in 5 in particular is the ramp up to the extreme/silly stuff. In VC it's easily 10+ missions before the game even throw a gun at you. SA is the same except your first gun comes with a tutorial. 4 I think takes longer as it gets you acustomed to the way traversal and melee works. Not counting the intro, I think 5 has you gunning down multiple gangsters by like mission 3. Some people might prefer that but to me it's the game blowing it's load early and is proven by the game pregressively trying to be more bombastic by throwing more silly shit at you until the game ends.