Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto IV
Take to the streets of Liberty City
- It's the best GTA ever, in all ways. If you thought the other GTA titles were impressive, just wait until you get your hands on GTA IV. We're serious. In terms of city size, gameplay mechanics, mission types, narrative story and user empowerment, GTA IV is without a doubt the finest distillation of the GTA formula yet. In short, the game succeeds on pretty much every level. That's not hyperbole, people: it's fact.
- There aren't many things wrong with the game. But if we had to nitpick, the story gets weighed down at points by the introduction of too many characters. You practically need a program to keep track of who's who and what's what. The trademark "GTA glitches" also abound. Clipping issues and other wonky behaviour will have you either rolling your eyes or laughing your ass off. But as far as negatives go, that's about it. Even if there are other problems, you'll be too busy having the time of your life to care.
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The PlayStation 3 version of Grand Theft Auto IV is largely the same as its Xbox 360 cousin, but there are a few key differences. The game runs at a slightly lesser resolution, resulting in a slightly "softer" look, but the game still looks crisp and vibrant. We also noticed deeper, more robust use of color throughout the PS3 game, though these findings could likely be replicated on the Xbox 360 version by fiddling with your television's video options. The PS3 version also has noticeably less "draw in" than the Xbox 360 version, which means it's rarer to see trees or buildings pop into view on the PS3.
Otherwise, the PS3 version differs in only a few small ways. You must install the game before playing on the PS3, and the install process takes about seven minutes and consumes a little over 3GB of hard drive space. But installing grants you faster load times, so you'll wait less in between missions on the PS3. The PS3 version also has (optional) Sixaxis motion-sensing controller support, which allows you to drive motorbikes, boats, and helicopters using the Sixaxis. The Sixaxis controls are fun to play around with, but the boat is the only vehicle that's easily controllable with Sixaxis; the other two vehicles are too demanding to use Sixaxis. You can also activate a Sixaxis-reload function, where Niko reloads his gun when you jerk the controller vertically. It's a nice touch, but nothing worth screaming about.
Overall, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Grand Theft Auto IV are remarkably similar. If you care about Xbox Live and your Gamerscore, then the best choice would be the Xbox 360 version. Otherwise, you can't make a wrong decision with GTAIV — both versions are excellent in their own subtle ways. Viva la choice!
Lesser companies would have crumbled under the weight of the controversy and the intense media scrutiny that the company has had to endure. But not Rockstar: if anything, the adversity seems to have made the company stronger and, most importantly, smarter.
And not only are they dealing with political pressure from outside the industry, they're also going head to head with the most nefarious beast of all: fan expectations.
Working on one of the most anticipated game of the year has to be a nerve-wracking experience, especially considering the success of the previous titles. Add in the fact that the series was making the jump to the more powerful new-gen consoles and you have a perfect storm scenario for what could have amounted to a colossal letdown.
In short, Rockstar had the wolves snarling at their throats. And what does the company do under these adverse conditions? They go and develop a Grand Theft Auto title that not only trumps all the others but manages to overshadow nearly every other game released in this generation.
GTA IV isn't just a game. It's a testament to the immense talent and take-no-prisoners mentality that has made Rockstar the company that it is today. Oh, and it just happens to be a heck of a lot of fun. We don't use the words "must-own title" very often here at GamePro but if you don't rush out and buy this game on day one, you will miss out on one of the best gaming experiences ever produced.
So strap yourselves in and ride shotgun with Senior Editor Chris Morell as he guides you around the ins and outs of Grand Theft Auto IV. Trust us when we say that he's got one hell of a tour lined up for you.
And if you see us walking around the virtual streets Liberty City, be sure to stop and say hello.
As they showed seven years ago with their industry altering hit, Grand Theft Auto III, Rockstar Games is a company that can not only change the rules but completely rewrite the rulebook. And just when you think the controversial company has nothing new to say, they unveil Grand Theft Auto IV, a game that pushes the envelope further than anyone could have expected.
Though controversy, delays and other setbacks haunted the game's development, Rockstar still managed to produce a game that meets, and in some cases, exceeds, our ridiculously high expectations. Sure, it doesn't reinvent the wheel but much like Apple and its constant refinement of the iPod, developer Rockstar North has tweaked the GTA formula to the point of near perfection. GTA IV is not only the culmination of almost a decade of hard work, it also represents the pinnacle of interactive entertainment and game design.
With a simple yet compelling story, a memorable protagonist, top-notch voice acting, and an intriguing online multiplayer component that offers a long-lasting customisable experience, GTA IV is, without a doubt, the complete package.
Coming to America
Niko Belic arrives in Liberty City, a fictional yet strikingly accurate representation of New York City. Niko is an eastern European immigrant lured to Liberty by his cousin Roman, who fills Niko's head with visions mansions, money and beautiful women; thinking he is about to live the American dream, Niko arrives to a much starker reality: cousin Roman is not the self-realised success that he had portrayed himself to be. Instead, he lives in a rundown apartment and runs a struggling taxi business. But Niko didn't survive as long as he has by sweating the small stuff. He takes his cousin embellishments in stride and sets out on his journey through Liberty City if the good life won't come to him, then he'll go and hunt it down. And of course, there's something larger and more personal at stake for Niko. So begins the next chapter in the GTA saga.
Much like the previous titles, GTA IV sets you loose on the streets with a single contact your cousin Roman who slowly dolls out small tasks and errands. From there, Niko branches out from his dilapidated apartment in Liberty's take on Brooklyn, Broker, to more interesting and often times dangerous locales. These include Dukes (Queens), Bohan (the Bronx), Algonquin (Manhattan) and finally, Alderney (New Jersey). The story in GTA IV is definitely simpler and more streamlined than in past games and you never feel like you're muddling through the 25-plus hours of single-player mode, a testament not only to the developer's writing skills but the excellent gameplay experience that they've crafted.
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