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Review: Rock Star Games Grand Theft Auto IV

The long awaited Grand Theft Auto IV is finally upon us. The 4th installment to Rockstar North’s Grand Theft Auto series is alread...

The long awaited Grand Theft Auto IV is finally upon us. The 4th installment to Rockstar North’s Grand Theft Auto series is already breaking records within the gaming industry having sold more pre-orders than Bungie’s Halo 3. In a sense this is still the game we’ve all come to know and love, but it’s much more this time around. This isn’t just a game, this is a cinematic masterpiece. You literally feel as if you are controlling the plot within a Hollywood film. The visuals have been completely revamped and although Liberty City isn’t as big as San Andreas, there are many more things that can be done within the space that is used. This is definitely the most depth we’ve ever seen in an electronic world. This game is definitely breathtaking and without a doubt one of the best games I’ve ever seen period.

This time around you take on the persona of Niko Bellic, an Eastern European attempting to escape his past and make a new life for himself in the land of opportunity that is North America. He arrives in Liberty City to meet up with his “rich and successful” cousin Roman and to live the American dream only to find out that his cousin may have slightly bent the truth about his current situation. Starting from the ground up Niko makes his living taking lives and being ruthless. Not exactly the life he came to America to live, but he is bent on forgetting his past.The more you progress you grow an attachment to Niko. He resorts to this lifestyle as a means to live, but you’ll notice at times that he really isn’t content with this type of living. The more he feels wary, the closer connection you feel with the actual character.

Liberty City is supposed to be loosely based on New York. There is so much detail and a sense of actual life going on within this digital city. The blocks are accurate representations of how they are in real life. Traveling through a higher class area and things are going to portray the wealth of the area, and the opposite for less fortunate areas that sport cracked streets and criminals roaming the streets among the homeless as well. You will rarely if ever come across the same pedestrians twice, and now the city fights back. If you attempt to steal someones car then expect to face a slew of community heroes trying to do the right thing.

It’s a brand new layout and a totally new game, there of course are new features that play a key part in the game play. One of the new features that plays a key role is building relationships. The cell phone feature is a vital aspect of the game. People will contact you as you can contact them. Whether you choose to answer or not is your decision. Answering can lead to a closer relationship with the person where as neglecting to answer the phone can leave the person feeling neglected and unwanted and ultimately leaving you alone. You can even receive text messages. Making these friends definitely does have its benefits though. Each friend you make in Liberty City has a special ability and can in some way help you out within the game if he or she likes you enough.

There are a little over 90 storyline missions that will take you roughly 30 hours to complete. Although all of the missions are pretty similar, you’ll enjoy them all the same. The rich textures of Liberty City keep you entertained as well as the excellent music within the game. You could probably play this game all the way through multiple times and still would not become obsolete.

Multi player is also a big thing for GTA IV. This is the first console version of GTA to ever have a multi player function and its definitely a home run. Even if there was no story line and no off line game play period, this game would still be worth purchasing simply for the online functionality. You can edit your character with very few options and take the battle online with up to 15 other online players. The cover feature and new target system definitely make the game play much smoother and although the cover system isn’t perfect, it does what it needs to do. There is also over 12 multi player game types for you to enjoy so as you can see there is definitely much to be done online.

The physics have also become much more realistic. All cars drive differently depending on size or model and when driving uphill you will feel strain as if you were driving a real car up a steep hill. Little things like this just add to the realism of the game even the more upscale cars tend to have voice GPS systems where as the cheaper counter parts do not. Rockstar definitely took their time with this game. There are a few glitches here and there but nothing that would make the game any less enjoyable.

The musical choices are vast and almost endless. One moment you can be cruising through liberty city hearing the calm and soothing melodies of Miles Davis or Duke Ellington, but the next you can be on a murderous rampage while bumping Nas or Prodigy. With 19 different stations, you are bound to find something to fit your style. From punk/hardcore rock, to dance hall, to a station dedicated to Bob Marley and his “Tuff Gong” record label. The game itself (upon release) will hold the record for largest soundtrack ever featured in a video game. Each station holds about a healthy 20+ songs per station, blowing previous games with about 8-9 tracks per station, out of the water. Aside from the music, the infamous GTA chat stations are back. This time, there are two different choices. Like the GTAs before, these offer some of the funniest dialogue present in the game and will keep you laughing for hours.

All in all this is one of the best games i have ever played. If i were to give it a rating I’d say 9.5/10.The game cost over 100 million dollars to make and it definitely was worth every penny. I have not seen such realism and cohesiveness in a free roam game before. Many replicate, but none better than the original. The Grand Theft Auto series is back to claim its thrown at the top of the video game industry, and I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way.

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