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  • Anvilicious: While there's satire on both ends of the political spectrum, most of it is aimed at the right-wing of American politics, with a Rush Limbaugh-esque radio talk show, the animated show Republican Space Rangers, and the right-wing "Family Values" mayoral candidate and closet case Bryce Dawkins. Rockstar also drops the anvil on Jack Thompson, along with just about every aspect of modern American culture in general.
    • There was mocking of some Left-wing stuff too, but it was admittedly somewhat phoned in.
  • Complete Monster: Dimitri. Near the end of the game, the mere mention of his name puts fear or hatred in most of the characters' minds.
  • Contested Sequel: There are many longtime GTA fans who consider this game to be a disappointing follow up to Grand Theft Auto San Andreas due to the smaller game world, no airplanes, harder to control vehicles, exorbitant hardware requirements, usage of Games for Windows Live, and the fact that it mostly abandons the zany, over-the-top nature of previous GTA games in favor of gritty realism.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: Aside from the actual licensed tracks like the Viktor Tsoi hit "Blood Type," there's Niko's theme, "Soviet Connection".
  • Crazy Awesome: Yusuf. With the help of Luis, he steals subway trains, police tanks and helicopters. He gets everything he owns covered in gold, he lives in a lavish apartment where he listens to rap and wears no pants, from what we hear of his property developments he believes in very unique architecture and his Big Damn Heroes moment at the end is win.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Brucie Kibbutz. He is a loud, egotistical, steroid abusing, violent, sexist sociopath (and most likely a self-denying closet case to boot), but he's just so enthusiastic about everything.
    • Dwayne may also fall into this. Most players chose to kill Playboy X because they sympathized with Dwayne so much. Either that, or because of the reward (a subversion of Evil Pays Better), or because Playboy X is a hypocritical, backstabbing, Smug Snake asshole.
    • Little Jacob also has a huge fanbase amongst stoner fans of the series, because of a combination of the amusing way he talks, his Rasta wisdom sayings (can' be shakin' no hands wit' ya fist clenched), and because he smokes like a chimney. Also, because he's actually the closest thing Niko has to a real friend in Liberty City. It doesn't hurt that he's also your main source of weapons for much of the game.
    • Yusuf Amir.
  • Fridge Brilliance: At the end of the game, protagonist Niko's cousin or girlfriend (depending on your choices) got shot, he's unemployed having left a life of crime behind him, in an unfamiliar place. All you can do is drive around aimlessly doing the odd little thing here and there, but after that there's nothing else. That's PRECISELY what Niko's life would be like in the same situation; empty, pointless.
  • Fridge Logic: Okay, so wait. If Kate dies, then Packie doesn't come with you for revenge?
    • Well, somebody needs to take care of Ma.
    • The song "New York Groove" plays on the radio, even though Liberty City is an obvious Expy for New York.
  • Funny Moments: Despite being more grounded in reality and serious than previous GTAs, there's still plenty of laughs to be had.
  • Good Bad Bugs: The "Swingset of Doom" is a child's playground in Broker that has some wonky physics. Many YouTube videos show players slowly driving cars into it, only for them to instantly explode or be flung half the length of the city. Another one, probably the funniest in the game, occurs when you take a friend or girl out for a date. When you return, park in the lit up area so that the passenger door is blocked. Your friend will politely thank you for taking them bowling, then punch Niko in the jaw and climb out the driver's door over his prone body.
  • Ho Yay: Roman and Brucie. In spades.
  • Hype Backlash: Too many people gave it perfect scores (including the infamous 10/10 from IGN, whose last perfect score was The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time) for the story to end well. Mere months later when the hype died down, everybody was criticizing the game for its numerous flaws, and accusing Rockstar of including some homemade Kool-Aid with copies they sent to reviewers.
  • Interface Screw: It is far easier to learn to drive drunk than to risk getting run over while repeatedly hailing and being ignored by taxis.
  • Iron Woobie / Jerkass Woobie: Niko. He's been through so many horrible things that it's hard not to feel immensely sorry for him, but he's far too badass for normal Woobie status.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Moment of Awesome: Several.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Playboy X ordering Niko to kill Dwayne, his friend and mentor.
    • Dimitri Rascalov.. For most players, it will come when he sells Niko out to Bulgarin, when he kidnaps Roman, or when he kills Roman in the Deal ending. By the end of the game, he's definitely on the far side.
    • Francis McReary when he orders Niko to kill his brother Derrick to protect his corrupt career. Then again, Derrick asks you to do the same to Francis, but he's convinced that Francis is gonna hire someone to do it to him first...
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The menu sounds.
    • The little riff that plays while the game is auto-saving after a successful mission. There are even several versions of it to fit the mood of each situation.
  • Narm:
    • "I'm here for Roman!"
    • The aforementioned "I'm leaving here with Roman!"
    • Most of the girlfriends' lines during sex. Kiki's stands out in particular. "Ohhh, Niko, you can prosecute me any time".
    • Also, refer to Karmic Death above. "I am not in the mood for this right now!!"
  • Player Punch: Used in very interesting ways. Not only is there the Downer Ending in the original game where either Roman or Kate dies, but The Lost and Damned add-on pack intertwines the stories such that many of the player punch moments in one become missions in the other.
    • The first would have to be Dimitri's betrayal, which hits rather hard considering how decent he seems at first (especially next to Mikhail).
    • Unfortunately Kate appears later in the game and can be one of four women Niko can juggle by that point. Because many players didn't get particularly attached to Kate, her death was not as meaningful as it could have been for them. Rockstar should have allowed you to choose your date.
  • Porting Disaster: The PC version of the game does a poor job of translating the controls to a keyboard and mouse configuration, has a horrible software protection scheme that requires the installation of near-useless bloatware in order to use multiplayer, has very demanding requirements out of line with similar titles, and a multitude of Game Breaking Bugs if your system configuration is cursed. Luckily, patching has fixed many of these problems.
  • The Scrappy:
    • For some fans, any of your "friends" who constantly whine about wanting to go bowling or drinking all the time.
    • Manny Escuela is The Scrappy to Niko, to the point where the normally stoic Niko later makes several jokes about Manny to Elizabeta and Little Jacob, who share his sentiments:

 Elizabeta: I think it'll be a bit more taxing than hanging with Manny on "the streets".

Niko: Not so. For one, I won't have to listen to him talk.

Elizabeta: [laughing] True!

    • Mohammed, the taxi driver under Roman's employ if you unlock Roman's get-a-cab-anywhere ability. He quickly annoys Niko, calling him out on his freeloading and rambling on about his skirt-chasing adventures at Francis International Airport while still being married. He doesn't even cheer up when Roman starts doing better and gets him a slick SUV for his cab.
    • Vlad Glebov, as mentioned in the Small Name, Big Ego entry, has made a lot of enemies among the named cast and everyone hates him.
    • Michelle. It's justified when she's working for the government all along and Niko doesn't punish her. Well, the bright side is after introducing to her boss, we won't have to see her ever again.
  • Scrappy Mechanic: The friendship system. On paper, it was a good idea to help immerse the player into the game by allowing the player to hang out with the characters outside of missions, kind of like how they would in real life. In practice, it is best described with the following words: "HEY NIKO, IT'S ROMAN! LET'S GO BOWLING!" Having friends call you every few hours and interrupt your gameplay to hang out proved to be more annoying than immersive, especially later on as your list of friends started to build up to as high as six (and that's not counting the optional girlfriends). Rockstar North must have realized how annoying this system was too, downplaying it in Episodes from Liberty City. Friends still call to arrange activities, but not as often. Also, perks (access to a gun van and vehicle delivery) are unlocked from the start in EFLC instead of earned through repeated outings to raise the friend's like statistic.
    • The system might have worked if you didn't lose friendship rating for turning down appointments or turning up a bit late. Or if they could have found their own way across town, especially if one person was in Alderney and the other in eastern half of Liberty City, and met you instead of forcing you to pick them up and drop them off each time.
    • Sometime during the development of IV, Rockstar felt that flying helicopters was too fun, and decided to make the game's few air vehicles absolute nightmares to control properly. Either that, or the game's physics engine ultimately made helicopter piloting too realistic.
      • Something that the game doesn't bother specifying but which made piloting helicopters much easier once figured out: if you don't touch any controls, the helicopter will stabilize and hover in place. You're welcome.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • At one point, Jacob says relations are getting strained with pot-paranoid Badman, and Niko utters the oh-so-Chekhovian line (especially alongside choices like Playboy/Dwayne and Francis/Derrick) "I'd hate to see what would happen if you two got in a fight!" Neeeever happens.
    • It also seemed like hints were being dropped that the McRearys would try to bust Gerry out of prison, but if so that was another cruel tease.
      • It's possible that the finale mission of The Lost and the Damned was intended to bust Gerry out of prison, but they re-wrote the plot later.
  • Uncanny Valley: The Statue of Happiness' face is a bit... disturbing. That smile...
  • Unfortunate Implications: Little Jacob and Dwayne's favorite activity is being taken out for some fried chicken. This is even lampshaded by Dwayne:

 Dwayne: A fucking cliche, man, but I love the chicken.

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