GTA IV: A must-have for diehard GTA fans

Alison Young
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May 09, 2008
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Last week Rockstar Games released the much-anticipated Grand Theft Auto (GTA) IV video game for the PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Xbox 360 (including the special edition package). Most of you have probably heard of the previous GTA games, and this time you play as the Eastern European immigrant Niko Ballic, fresh off the boat and living in Liberty City (inspired by New York).

If you’re a newbie to GTA games, based on its name you can probably guess this is not a game you want to give to your kids. It’s not a “traditional driving game”- you’re living a life of crime and running red lights, stealing cars and possessing/shooting firearms.

Yes, I know, that all sounds horrible, but remember, it’s not for keiki! Note it did score a perfect 10 out of 10 on two of the leading video game review websites.

“This release marks a major milestone for the series and for Rockstar Games,“said Sam Houser, founder of Rockstar Games.“Grand Theft Auto IV delivers on the vision we had when we began work on the game more than three years ago. Rockstar North has created an amazing interactive entertainment experience. We hope it will resonate with our audience around the world for years to come.”

Liberty City is what sets GTAIV apart from previous releases. It has the most realistic urban environment I’ve seen in a GTA game. You walk around interacting with the city’s inhabitants, including picking fights, stealing cars or ordering food. If you focus, you can probably go through the entire game in 30-40 hours, but realistically that is difficult because of the sidetracking.

While you’re not stealing a car or causing trouble, there are tons of opportunities to veer off and do your own thing. I ended up wandering off everywhere to see different scenery and reactions from the characters (i.e. just walking up to someone and cracking a punch). You can just sit there and watch TV, sit in the car and listen to the radio, go to comedy clubs or use a computer to surf the Internet from within GTAIV. The majority of missions involve making a delivery and/or killing people. Playing with Niko makes this easier, since he’s a much more efficient killer than his predecessors. Some of his abilities include scaling fences, walls or anything on which he can secure a foothold. He is excellent at taking cover behind objects and sticking close to parked cars or walls. This is extremely helpful when you’re in a gunfight.

Since you’re breaking the law pretty much throughout the whole game, chances are you’ll run into the police at some point. They’re actually fairly easy to evade, but are quick to respond if you’re flagged with a certain wanted level. Your GPS will show you the exact locations of patrol cars and police on foot near you, and it sort of doubles as a police scanner.

One of the new GTA features is a cell phone. You’ll keep good track of your safe houses with it. It’s very simple to use - controlled with the D pad, choose your contact or what you want to talk about (work, fun activity or asking a favor). The incoming calls are the easiest, and you also can purchase ringtones and visual themes via the in-game Internet.

After you’re done goofing off in the story mode, jumping online is simple with your cell phone and choosing the multiplayer option. You’ll enter a lobby and wait for a game to start. You can play up to 15 other players (16 total). Once you’re in the game, there are weapons all over the place, so you’ll be blowing each other up in no time. If you host a multiplayer session, you can customize the game type, including variables such as friendly fire, weapons sets, police presence, radar functionality, traffic levels,where the game takes place and more.

I played GTAIV on the Xbox 360, but from what I understand, there’s not much difference between that and the PS3 version. The game is what you make it out to be. Personally, I probably ended up getting way too sidetracked within the game to actually focus, but that’s what makes it fun. There’s so much detail within the game. If you’re looking for a true car-racing game, you won’t find it here. For diehard GTA fans, this is a must-have.

Whether you choose the Xbox 360 or the PS3 version, GTAIV is rated M for Mature (ages 17-plus) and sells for $59.99 or $89.99 (Special Edition w/production art, soundtrack CD and duffel bag). Find it at your nearest Best Buy (www.bestbuy.com), GameStop (www.gamestop.com) or at Amazon (www.amazon.com).

 

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