Grand Theft Auto IV

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Grand Theft Auto IV
Grand Theft Auto IV cover.jpg
Developer(s) Rockstar North
Publisher(s) Rockstar Games
Distributor(s) Take-Two Interactive
Producer(s) Leslie Benzies
Programmer(s) Adam Fowler
Alexander Roger
Obbe Vermeij
Artist(s) Aaron Garbut
Writer(s) Dan Houser
Rupert Humphries
Series Grand Theft Auto
Engine RAGE, Euphoria,[1]
Bullet Physics Library
Platform(s) PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
Release date(s) PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
29 April 2008
Microsoft Windows
NA 200812022 December 2008

PAL 200812033 December 2008

Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player, online multiplayer
Distribution Download
Blu-ray Disc (PlayStation 3)
DVD-DL (Xbox 360)
2× DVD-DL (Microsoft Windows)

Grand Theft Auto IV is a 2008 open world action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 29 April 2008 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, and on 2 December 2008 on Microsoft Windows. It is the eleventh title in the Grand Theft Auto series, and the first main entry since Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in 2004. As the first title in the series to be released for the seventh generation of video game consoles, Grand Theft Auto IV was highly anticipated preceding its release.[2]

Grand Theft Auto IV is played from a third-person perspective in an open world environment, allowing the player to interact with the game world at their leisure. The game is set within the fictional state of Liberty City, which is heavily based on New York City.[note 1] The single-player story follows Niko Bellic, a veteran of an unnamed war in Eastern Europe who comes to the United States in search of someone important, but quickly becomes entangled in a world of gangs, crime, and corruption. An online multiplayer mode is included with the game, allowing up to 16 players to engage in both co-operative and competitive gameplay in a recreation of the single-player setting.[note 2] Two expansion packs were later released as downloadable content for the game, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, which both feature new plots that are interconnected with the main Grand Theft Auto IV storyline, and follow new protagonists.

Development began shortly following the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Upon its release, the game was acclaimed by many reviewers who praised its story missions, setting, and updates from previous games in the series. A commercial success, Grand Theft Auto IV broke industry sales records by earning US $500 million in the first week of its release.[4]

Its successor, Grand Theft Auto V, was released on 17 September 2013, and has also received universal critical acclaim.[5]

Gameplay[edit]

Quite like its predecessors, Grand Theft Auto IV allows the player to intervene on a large open world environment. On foot, the player character can walk, run, jump, climb over obstacles and swim, as well as use weapons and perform basic hand-to-hand combat. Players can steal and drive a variety of vehicles, including automobiles, boats, helicopters, and motorcycles. Grand Theft Auto IV takes advantage of Natural Motion's Euphoria engine, which combines artificial intelligence, bio-mechanics and physics to make open, non-linear environments that allow players to explore and choose how they wish to play the game. Although completing most of the storyline missions are necessary to progress through the game and unlock certain content and parts of the city, they are not required, as players can complete them at their own leisure. When not attempting a storyline mission, players can free-roam, giving them the ability to do activities. Some side missions include locating and destroying criminals in the police car database, or participating in street races. The player can also swim, a feature that was introduced in San Andreas, but missing from prior titles.

It is possible to have several active missions running at one time, as some missions run over the course of several days and require the player to wait for further instructions or events. The player can also attempt a variety of optional side missions. Grand Theft Auto IV also contains morality choices at points throughout the game, which alter the storyline appropriately depending on the player's choice. Which of the game's two different endings occurs is determined by one of these choices.

Combat and police response[edit]

Combat in Grand Theft Auto IV has been reworked to include a cover system.

Gunfights in Grand Theft Auto IV are conducted using a third-person system.[6] The game's cover system allows the player to deftly move between cover, to fire blindly, aim freely, and target a specific enemy. Individual body parts can also be targeted.[7] Additionally, Niko can perform "cinematic executions" at certain points in the story. Niko's health is shown by a green semicircle on the left side of the mini-map, while a blue semicircle on the right represents armour. When locked on a target, their health and (if applicable) armour level appears in the target circle. There are more hand-to-hand combat moves than in past games in the series, including dodging and blocking, disarming an opponent and counter-attacking.

If Niko is injured he can recover health using various techniques, including eating, using medical kits or calling for paramedics. Body armour can absorb gunshots and explosive damage but is gradually used up in the process.[8] If Niko's health level reaches zero, the action stops, and he re-appears at the nearest hospital having lost some money (but retaining his weapons).

The Wanted Level system has changed from previous Grand Theft Auto games. Although their star levels are retained (which increase with the number or severity of criminal acts by the player, with corresponding increases in law enforcement interference), the law enforcement agencies which may pursue the player have changed, with the focus on making them more realistic. In previous Grand Theft Auto titles, as wanted level rose the player was pursued by increasingly well-armed and violent agencies, culminating with the Army at the highest wanted level. In Grand Theft Auto IV, the LCPD (Liberty City Police Department) are assisted by other authoritative forces like the FIB, the game's rendition of the FBI and N.O.O.S.E, the city's S.W.A.T team and the game's rendition of the Department of Homeland Security.

When the police are in pursuit of Niko, a circular search area appears on the map in which the police will be looking for him. The area grows with increased wanted level, and re-centres itself on Niko's location if he is spotted by the police. If the player escapes from the search area without being seen by law enforcement units, and can stay out of sight of police for a short time without committing any more crimes, the search is soon aborted. This is different from the previous methods of evading authorities such as changing clothes and collecting bribes. Wanted levels can also be lost either by changing the colour of the current vehicle, or entering a safehouse and going to sleep. While on foot, the player has the option of attempting to escape arrest before being handcuffed, at the cost of increasing the wanted level by one star (the traditional bold letters that note "Busted" for arrest are absent), although the police will immediately open fire. However, this move is only possible with a one star wanted level, as the police will focus more on killing the player at higher wanted levels, rather than arresting him, and like previous games, the player is immediately arrested when pulled out of a vehicle.[7][9]

Vehicles[edit]

Common to the rest of the series, vehicles are the predominant means of travel in Grand Theft Auto IV, with cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and city buses available for use. Every vehicle in the game uses the in-game minimap as a GPS device. Waypoints can be placed on the map, plotting the shortest legal route between the player and the destination on the map. The player can also hail a taxi or cab, which allows travel between destinations without having to drive. The journey can also be skipped, so the player arrives at their destination instantly. However, if the player decides to skip the journey, it will cost them more money. During car chases, the player can focus the camera on the target vehicle by holding the cinematic camera button, and also free-aim and fire out of the vehicle using one-handed firearms. The player may also drop grenades.[10] The player cannot pilot fixed-wing aircraft, which was possible in previous games of the series, but can still pilot helicopters. Though they are introduced in The Ballad of Gay Tony,[11] parachutes are absent from Grand Theft Auto IV. Liberty City also has an extensive, multiple-line subway system available for use. This allows the player to travel quickly between stations across the city.

Communication[edit]

Whereas previous games in the series frequently used public telephones to relay missions to the player, in Grand Theft Auto IV a mobile phone is used. It has several uses, including viewing text messages and appointments, arranging to meet friends for activities, and also for choosing to retry failed missions. The player can also take photos for certain missions, and call 911 to summon the emergency services.[12] The police will arrest felons, and paramedics are able to restore Niko's health. The phone also allows access to the game's multiplayer mode. The player can also call other characters to talk to them, or ask for a service that they can provide, such as transportation or a reduction in wanted level. The player can also enter cheat codes that may be entered by dialling certain numbers on the mobile phone.[13]

The game also features several different in-game databases that Niko can make use of. An in-game version of the Internet can be used by accessing the Internet café chain, "TW@", located throughout the city or by accessing a computer in a safehouse. There are over 100 fictitious websites that can be accessed within the game, and Niko can also send and receive email (including junk mail) and set up prospective dates with potential girlfriends.[13] Although the Internet café was seen in Grand Theft Auto III, internet browsing was not possible.[14] In a police vehicle, Niko can use an in-car computer to access Liberty City's criminal database, discover information about various criminals in Liberty City and even track them down for a reward.[15] The game also features in-game television programming, with several viewable channels featuring programmes and advertisements. The television shows cover a wide variety of genres, including a history channel, reality shows, card games, and cartoons.[16][17]

Multiplayer[edit]

Grand Theft Auto IV includes online multiplayer, with 15 modes of play available.[18] It supports up to 16 players and allows them to explore the entire city.[19] Hosts of the games can control many variables, such as police presence, traffic, and weapons. The console editions of the game do not feature any split screen or LAN multiplayer modes,[20] but the PC version does have LAN support. All versions of the game include voice chat.

The online games are split into ranked and unranked matches. For a player to level up through ranks, money must be earned.[21][22]

Several different game modes are available. Team based gameplay modes include:[23] Team Deathmatch, where 2–8 teams compete to accumulate the most kills in a traditional deathmatch; Team Car Jack City, where 2–8 teams compete to steal cars and earn money for keeping them undamaged; Cops n' Crooks, featuring a team of cops who must compete against a team of crooks (which features the "All for One" variation – requiring the cops to kill the crooks' "Boss" before he is escorted to the extraction point – and the "One for All" variation – requiring the cops to kill all of the crooks before they reach the extraction point); and Turf War, involving two teams who compete to take control of designated areas of the map and control them for as long as possible. The game also includes a variety of racing and cooperative modes, which include Race, in which players race through checkpoints in a traditional automobile race; a GTA race variation, where players race through checkpoints in an automobile race, with the ability to combat their opponents; Hangman's N.O.O.S.E., a co-op mode that requires players to collect a person from the airport and safely escort him to the extraction point before the cops kill him; Deal Breaker, a co-op mission that requires players to assault a construction site captured by enemies, then chase a group of enemies before they escape; and Bomb da Base II, a co-op mission that requires players to clear out a ship, then destroy it with explosives, referencing the mission "Bomb Da Base" from Grand Theft Auto III which featured a similar objective of destroying a ship with explosives.[24] The game also features a Free Mode, in which players have the entire map open to explore, with no end goal or mission to complete.

Certain features from the single player mode are disabled in the multiplayer modes, such as the bowling, darts, and pool mini-games. The cheats, clubs and Internet café and some forms of transport (i.e. subway trains and taxi ride) are also disabled.[23]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting[edit]

Grand Theft Auto IV takes place in 2008, in a redesigned version of Liberty City consisting of four boroughs, based on four of the boroughs of New York City.[25] Broker is the equivalent of Brooklyn; Queens is Dukes; the Bronx is Bohan and Manhattan is Algonquin. Adjacent to the city is the independent state of Alderney, based on Northern New Jersey and named after the Channel Island of the same name. The developers omitted a Staten Island-esque area, believing that gameplay based in such an area would not be fun.[26] There are three minor islands present: Charge Island (based loosely on Randall's Island), Colony Island (based on Roosevelt Island), and Happiness Island (based on Liberty Island and complete with a parody of the Statue of Liberty called the Statue of Happiness). Initially, the city's bridges are locked down due to a terrorist threat, and the player is constantly pursued by police if they are crossed, but eventually the blockades are lifted and the player is able to cross the Broker, Algonquin and Northwood Heights bridges and explore the rest of the city. The "Francis International Airport" is based on several New York City-area airports, most notably LaGuardia and JFK, however in a departure from past games in the series, exploring the tarmac area of the airport outside of missions usually carries a penalty of a high wanted level being triggered.

Grand Theft Auto IV takes place in a different storyline and timeline from the previous games in the series, disregarding the continuity of the events from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories to Grand Theft Auto III which is now known as the "3D Universe" of GTA.[27] Several characters from Grand Theft Auto IV have minor appearances in its successor, Grand Theft Auto V, as the two games are inter-connected and take place in the same canon, and both titles are considered part of GTA's "HD Universe".[28][29]

Plot[edit]

The main protagonist Niko Bellic (left) and the main antagonist Dimitri Rascalov (right).

In Liberty City, Niko Bellic, an Eastern European,[30] arrives to meet his cousin Roman. Niko comes to Liberty City to pursue the American Dream, and to search for the man who betrayed his unit in a fictional war fifteen years prior. After his arrival, however, Niko quickly learns that Roman's tales of riches and luxury were lies concealing struggles with gambling debts and loansharks.[31]

Niko defends Roman from his loansharks several times, eventually killing Vlad Glebov, Roman's Russian loanshark, after finding out that he was sleeping with Roman's girlfriend Mallorie.[32] After Vlad's murder, Niko and Roman are kidnapped by members of the Liberty City Bratva on order of Mikhail Faustin and his associate, Dimitri Rascalov. Faustin, not bothered by the murder of Vlad, hires Niko to work for him..[33] Niko quickly learns that Faustin is a psychopath when he orders him to kill the son of Kenny Petrović, the most powerful man in the Liberty City Bratva.[34] Dimitri then orders Niko to assassinate Faustin, under pressure from Petrovic, who is angry about the death of his son,[35] but when Niko meets with Dimitri to collect on the assassination, Dimitri betrays him to his former employer Bulgarin, whom Dimitri had brought with him, who claims that Niko had stolen from him. Niko denies the allegation saying that a cargo ship that he was transporting for Bulgarin sank and that he nearly drowned while swimming to shore. Dimitri's thugs attempt to kill Niko, but he fights his way out with the help of a friend Niko met while driving a cab for Roman, Little Jacob.[36]

Immediately afterwards, Niko and Roman are forced to escape to Bohan when their apartment and taxi company are destroyed in arson attacks by Dimitri's men.[37] However, things go poorly in Bohan: one of the drug deals that Niko works on for cocaine addict Elizabeta Torres, turns out to be a sting and another is busted.[38] After the latter incident, Niko's current girlfriend Michelle, introduced to him by Mallorie, then reveals that she works for a government agency and entraps Niko into working for her agency, known only by its cover: United Liberty Paper.[39] Niko kills several known or suspected terrorists for the agency in exchange for the file of the numerous crimes the police have on him and the promise of assistance in finding the traitor of his unit.[40][41][42][43] Niko also starts working with Packie McReary, an Irish mobster whom he met while working for Elizabeta(who has been incarcerated after the awry drug deals), and meets his three brothers Gerald, Derrick and Gordon, his half-brother Michael, and their only sister, Kate, whom he starts dating. The McReary brothers and Niko eventually perform a large heist on the Bank of Liberty, getting a lot of money. Ray Boccino, a contact of the McReary brothers, and capo of the Pegorino family, also hires Niko to do some jobs for him, including the stealing of some precious diamonds. Eventually, Niko is introduced to Jimmy Pegorino, the ambitious head of the Pegorino family, whom Niko starts helping out with.

With the assistance of United Liberty Paper, Niko eventually tracks down the man responsible for his unit's betrayal: Darko Brevic; the player chooses Darko's fate.[44] Having dealt with his past, Niko is summoned by Pegorino again, who demands one final favour after many favours: to help with an extremely lucrative deal on heroin in collusion with Dimitri Rascalov.[45]

The story then features two possible endings depending on the choice made by the player at this point in the game: to strike a Deal with Dimitri or exact Revenge on him. If the player chooses to go through with the Deal, Niko soon finds out that Dimitri took the heroin for himself, which endangers and angers Niko. Kate also becomes disappointed in Niko choosing to deal with Dimitri.[46] Later, Roman calls Niko telling him that he has proposed Mallorie, and she has agreed. At the wedding, an assassin sent by Dimitri kills Roman with a stray bullet as Niko disarms and kills him.[47] A devastated and vengeful Niko later tracks down Dimitri and Pegorino, witnesses the former kill the latter, before chasing and killing Dimitri in the shadow of the Statue of Happiness. Little Jacob rushes over and stares at Pegorino's body. The two say nothing, and walk away from his body.[48]

After the credits, Niko is still grieving about his cousin's death, and receives several calls from Brucie and Kate, who are trying to comfort him. Mallorie also calls Niko, and tells him that she is pregnant with Roman's child, sad that her child won't have a father.

If the player chooses to extract Revenge, Niko ambushes Dimitri and executes him on the boat Platypus, the boat which brought Niko to Liberty City, ending it where it started. Roman will also inform Niko of his engagement.[49] In the aftermath, Roman's wedding takes place, but Pegorino, furious after Niko's betrayal, commits a drive-by shooting outside the church. He targets Niko, but ends up killing Kate, whom Niko had brought with him.[50] Niko, angered about Kate's death, soon tracks down Pegorino, who has become hated and targeted by the entire underworld of Liberty City, and chases him through Alderney, before killing him in the shadow of the Statue of Happiness, similar to Dimtiri's death. As Niko stares at Pegorino's body, Roman and Little Jacob run over to join him. Although Roman tries to talk to him, instead Niko walks away silently.[23][51]

After the credits, while Niko continues to grieve over Kate's death, he receives a phone call from Roman, who tells him that Mallorie is pregnant, and if it is a girl, they will call her Kate in memory of Niko's lost partner.

Soundtrack[edit]

Like previous games in the Grand Theft Auto series, Grand Theft Auto IV features a soundtrack that can be heard through radio stations while the player is in a vehicle. Liberty City is serviced by 19 radio stations, three of which are talk radio stations. The other stations feature music from a large range of genres, including tracks from Genesis, David Bowie, Bob Marley, The Who, Queen, Kanye West and Elton John.

The theme song of Grand Theft Auto IV is "Soviet Connection" composed by Michael Hunter, who also composed the theme for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.[52] People who provide voices for the radio DJs include fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, musicians Iggy Pop,[53] Femi Kuti,[54] Jimmy Gestapo[55] and Ruslana,[56] and real-life radio talk show host Lazlow Jones.[57] Saturday Night Live actors Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis appear on the liberal and conservative radio talk shows respectively, with Fred Armisen playing several guests on Lazlow's "Integrity 2.0".[57] Numerous other comedians, including Jim Norton, Patrice O'Neal, Rick Shapiro, and Robert Kelly, as well as radio hosts Opie & Anthony appeared on the radio and/or as characters in-game.[58]

The game uses a similar music system to that of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In other games in the series, each radio station was essentially a single looped sound file, playing the same songs, announcements and advertisements in the same order each time. With the radio stations in Grand Theft Auto IV, each sound file is held separately, and sequenced randomly, allowing songs to be played in different orders, announcements to songs to be different each time, and plot events to be mentioned on the stations. Certain songs are also edited to incorporate references to the fictional Liberty City.[52]

Following a partnership between Rockstar Games and Amazon.com, players are able to purchase real world MP3s through Grand Theft Auto IV's in-game mobile phone.[59] Players are able to find out the titles of songs played on the radio by texting ZiT on Niko's phone. They will then receive a text message providing the name of the song and the artist. If registered on the Rockstar Games Social Club website, a player will also receive a real world e-mail with a link to an Amazon.com playlist where all of the player's marked songs will be listed and available to purchase.

Development[edit]

Mural ad for the game on a wall in New York City, July 2007.

Work on Grand Theft Auto IV began in November 2004, almost immediately after the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.[26] Around 150 game developers worked on Grand Theft Auto IV,[60] led by core members of the Grand Theft Auto III team.[61] The game uses Rockstar's own RAGE game engine, which was previously used in Rockstar Table Tennis, in combination with the Euphoria game animation engine.[62] Instead of pre-written animations, Euphoria uses procedural animation to control the way the player moves, enabling character movements to be more realistic.[63] The Euphoria engine also enables NPCs to react in a realistic way to the player's actions. In one preview, a player knocked an NPC out of a window and the character grabbed onto a ledge to stop himself from falling.[64] The game also uses middleware from Image Metrics to facilitate intricate facial expressions and ease the process of incorporating lip-synching.[65] Foliage in the game is produced through SpeedTree.[66]

Grand Theft Auto IV sees a shift in the series to a more realistic and detailed style and tone,[26] partly a result of the transition to consoles which offered high-definition graphics and the new and improved capabilities of such consoles.[61] Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser said "what we're taking as our watchword on [Grand Theft Auto IV] is the idea of what high definition actually means. Not just in terms of graphics, which obviously we are achieving, but in terms of all aspects of the design. [...] You know, trying to make something more realistic, more held together, but still retaining the overall coherence that the other games had."[26] Art director Aaron Garbut said one of the reasons they decided to set the game in New York because "we all knew what an amazing, diverse, vibrant, cinematic city it is," and since they were hoping the push the "detail, variety and life" to a high level, it seemed that "basing the game in a city so synonymous with these things was a great fit."[67] Dan Houser added "because we were working in high definition and we knew we'd need a shitload of research, we wanted to be somewhere where we had a foothold."[61] The developers consciously avoided creating a block for block recreation of New York City, Dan Houser said "what we've always tried to do is make a thing that looks real and has the qualities of a real environment, but is also fun from a game design perspective."[26] The Grand Theft Auto IV rendition of Liberty City is far more detailed and larger in size than most earlier entries in the series[68] Although smaller than San Andreas, the main setting for Grand Theft Auto IV's predecessor Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Liberty City is comparable to it in terms of scope when "the level of verticality of the city, the number of buildings you can go into, and the level of detail in those buildings" are taken into account.[68] The goal for Liberty City was to have no dead spots or irrelevant spaces, such as the wide open deserts in San Andreas.[26] To achieve a realistic environment, the Rockstar North team, based in Edinburgh, Scotland, made two trips to New York for research, one at the start of the project (which was done with every previous Grand Theft Auto game) and another smaller one further into development.[67] A full-time research team, based in New York, handled further requests for information ranging from the ethnic minority of a neighbourhood to videos of traffic patterns.[61]

The story of Grand Theft Auto IV was written by Dan Houser and Rupert Humphries.[23] Unlike previous Grand Theft Auto games which have a strong cultural or cinematic influence, "[Grand Theft Auto IV doesn't] really have any cinematic influences",[26] as explained by Houser. "We were consciously trying to go, well, if video games are going to develop into the next stage, then the thing isn't to try and do a loving tribute or reference other stuff. It's to reference the actual place itself".[61] Houser also said, "In terms of the character, we wanted something that felt fresh and new and not something that was obviously derived from [a] movie. [...] Maybe [we] could do something ourselves that would live alongside that stuff".[61]

Music supervisor Ivan Pavlovich said "[we had] to pick the songs that make New York today what it is, but make sure they won't feel dated by the time the game comes out."[69] The developers contacted over 2,000 people in order to obtain recording and publishing rights.[52] They even hired a private investigator to locate the relatives of late Skatt Bros. member Sean Delaney to license the band's song, "Walk the Night".[70] Citing sources close to the deals, Billboard reported that Rockstar paid as much as $5,000 per composition and another $5,000 per master recording per track.[71] Developers originally considered letting players purchase music by going to an in-game record shop and for Niko to have an MP3 player, but both ideas were cut.[52] DJ Green Lantern produced tracks exclusively for the game's hip-hop radio station The Beat 102.7.[71] Record label owner and record producer Bobby Konders, who hosts the in-game radio station Massive B Soundsystem 96.9, went through the extra effort of flying to Jamaica to get dancehall artists to re-record tracks to make references to the boroughs of Liberty City.[71]

The Corporate Vice-President of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business division, Peter Moore, announced at E3 2006 that the game would appear on Xbox 360, by rolling up his sleeve to reveal a Grand Theft Auto IV temporary tattoo.[72] Rockstar Games initially appeared to be committed to the original 16 October 2007 release date; however, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter suggested that Take-Two may choose to delay the release of the game in order to boost its financial results for 2008 and to avoid competing with the release of other highly anticipated titles, such as Halo 3.[73] Rockstar responded by saying that Grand Theft Auto IV was still on track for release in "late October".[74] On 2 August 2007, Take-Two announced that Grand Theft Auto IV would miss its original release date of 16 October 2007 contrary to their previous statements, and would be delayed to their second fiscal quarter (February–April) of 2008.[75] In a later conference call with investors, Take-Two's Strauss Zelnick attributed the delay to "almost strictly technological problems ... not problems, but challenges."[76] It was later revealed that technical difficulties with the PlayStation 3 version of the game contributed to the delay, along with storage problems on the Xbox 360.[77] On 24 January 2008, Take-Two announced that Grand Theft Auto IV would be released on 29 April 2008.[78] As the release date approached, Rockstar Games and Take-Two marketed the game heavily through various forms, including television ads, Internet video, billboards, viral marketing, and a redesigned website. A special edition of the game was also released for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.[79] At a Take-Two shareholder meeting on 18 April 2008, Take-Two CEO Ben Feder announced that Grand Theft Auto IV had already "gone gold" and was "in production and in trucks en route to retailers".[80] The game was eventually released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 video game consoles in Europe, North America, and Oceania on 29 April 2008,[78] and in Japan on 30 October 2008.[81] Overall, Grand Theft Auto IV took over 1000 people and more than three and a half years to complete, with a total cost estimated at approximately $100 million, making it, at the time, the most expensive video game ever developed[82]

The Windows version of Grand Theft Auto IV includes a replay editor. This screenshot shows the Clips interface which is used to capture game footage.

On 6 August 2008, Rockstar announced that a Microsoft Windows version of Grand Theft Auto IV was in development by Rockstar North and Rockstar Toronto.[83][84] The game was originally announced for release in North America on 18 November 2008 and in Europe on 21 November 2008 but was later pushed back to 2 and 3 December 2008, respectively.[84] It contains expanded features,[84] including traffic density control, draw distance configurations and a replay editor.[85] The replay editor allows players to record and edit game clips, videos can then be uploaded to Rockstar's Social Club website. It utilized Games for Windows - Live for online play and supports 32 players for multiplayer.[86][87] SecuROM protection is utilised and a one time online activation is required in order to play the game.[88] The game was made available on Steam on 4 January 2009.[89]

Episodic content[edit]

Two episodic packs for Grand Theft Auto IV have been released. These two episodes were first released separately, exclusively on Xbox Live,[90] as downloadable content (DLC), requiring the original game to play. Following that in October 2009 they were released together as part of a standalone game called Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City for the Xbox 360 that does not require the original Grand Theft Auto IV media to be playable.[91]

The first expansion is entitled Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned, originally released on 17 February 2009.[92] The Lost and Damned features a new central character, Johnny Klebitz, a member of Liberty City's biker gang The Lost, which was featured in several Grand Theft Auto IV missions. Dan Houser stated the episode shows "a different side of Liberty City".[93]

The second expansion is entitled Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony, released on 29 October 2009.[94] The Ballad of Gay Tony also features a new central character, Luis Fernando Lopez, an assistant to nightclub owner Tony "Gay Tony" Prince, and follows him as he resolves the conflicts of his friends, family, and boss.[91]

Jeronimo Barrera, Vice President of Product Development for Rockstar Games, said that the episodes were experiments because the team were not sure that there was enough users with access to online content on the Xbox 360.[95] Take-Two Interactive's Chief Financial Officer, Lainie Goldstein revealed that Microsoft was paying a total of $50 million for the first two episodes.[96] In January 2010 Rockstar announced that the DLC as well as Episodes From Liberty City would be made available for the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows on 13 April 2010 in North America[97][98] and 16 April 2010 in Europe.[97]

Both episodes were released for PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows on 13 April 2010[97] in North America and on 16 April 2010[97] in Europe.[99] Grand Theft Auto IV: The Complete Edition, including the original Grand Theft Auto IV and its two episodic expansions, was listed on online stores,[100] before being confirmed by Rockstar. The compilation was released on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Windows on 26 October 2010 in North America, and 29 October in Europe.[101]

Community features[edit]

The Rockstar Games Social Club is a web site that displays the gameplay statistics of registered users and feature competitions and awards based on player activity within the game.[102] The website was announced on 27 March 2008 and launched on 17 April 2008. The main features of Social Club launched on the same date of the game itself 29 April 2008. Social Club provides online features for Rockstar's latest Midnight Club game, Midnight Club: Los Angeles. Social Club consists of multiple parts. It initially included the LCPD Police Blotter, The Story Gang, The 100% Club, The Hall Of Fame, The Liberty City Marathon and The Zit.


Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings PS3: 97.04% [106]
X360: 96.67%[107]
PC: 88.48%[108]
Metacritic PS3: 98/100[103]
X360: 98/100[104]
PC: 90/100[105]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com A+ (PS3/X360)[109]
B (PC)[110]
Computer and Video Games 9.4/10[111]
Edge 10/10[112]
Eurogamer 10/10 (PS3/X360)[113]
9/10 (PC)[114]
Game Informer 10/10[115]
GamePro 4.5/5[116]
GamesRadar 9/10[117]
GameSpot 10/10 (PS3/X360)[118][119]
9/10 (PC)[120]
IGN 10/10 (PS3/X360)[1]
9.2/10 (PC)[121]
Official Xbox Magazine UK 10/10[122]
Play Magazine 8/10[123]

Grand Theft Auto IV has received universal acclaim from video game critics. The review aggregator Metacritic rates its as the best PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 game of all time, as well as being the second highest-rated video game on the website, tying with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 and SoulCalibur, and falling behind only The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.[124] Grand Theft Auto IV is the fourth highest rated game on GameRankings.[125] Ahead of its worldwide release, most publications were not sent copies of the game. Instead, reviewers had to play the game on Rockstar premises or in booked hotel rooms.[126][127]

The May 2008 issue of Official Xbox Magazine (UK) published the first Grand Theft Auto IV review, giving the game the maximum score of 10/10. The magazine also stated that the game has an "amazingly realistic world; stunning action set pieces; genuinely engrossing storyline; hugely entertaining multiplayer;" and that it is "vast in every respect."[122] PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) also gave the game 10/10 in their May 2008 issue, describing the game as "a masterpiece that improves on all GTA's best bits."[57] Xbox World 360 gave the game a 98% rating, the highest it has ever given to any game, mentioning the game was "everything we were entitled to expect, and yet somehow impossibly more."[128] GameSpot gave the game a perfect 10 on both the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions,[118][119][129] making it the first game since 2001 that GameSpot had rated perfect. The review called the game "compelling", with a "plethora of online multiplayer features" and stated that Grand Theft Auto IV is "undoubtedly the best Grand Theft Auto yet."[118]

Hilary Goldstein of IGN gave the game a 10/10 score, with the game earning 10/10 in each individual category: presentation, sound, graphics, gameplay, and lasting appeal. It is the first game in the publication's history to receive straight-10 subscores across the board. Goldstein called the game "just as big a leap forward as Grand Theft Auto III, albeit in subtler ways", and said it "sets a new benchmark for open-world games", with "no one major weak aspect". Goldstein's only serious criticism was for "the occasional flaw in the cover system", but the review concluded with the statement that "We don't give 10s often—just to games that merit the score".[1]

The British newspaper Daily Star gave it a positive review, saying: "This could be a console defining title, one that in years to come people will remember as the stand-out of the era".[130] The New York Times also wrote a favourable review, calling it a "violent, intelligent, profane, endearing, obnoxious, sly, richly textured and thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun".[53] The film magazine Empire gave the game a perfect 5/5 in its game reviews section, calling it "damn-near perfect".[131]

Despite the almost unanimous praise given to Grand Theft Auto IV, the game has received some criticism. A review in Ars Technica states that the game "...[is] not perfect. It does not deserve unquestioned, unadulterated praise. In many ways, the slight regression of the series from San Andreas is surprising: there are fewer vehicles, weapons, and story missions, less character customisation, and even the size of the city itself is smaller".[132] GameSpot noted that there are occasional problems with friendly AI and avoiding the police being "a little too easy".[118] There were some minor complaints with the game's cover system, which reviewers noted, stumbled in box-filled environments and the stickiness of cover points being an issue.[1][113][122] The occasional presence of noticeable pop-in was also criticised.[109][113][122] Lastly GameSpot has regarded the Windows port as inferior to the console versions due to "noticeable performance issues even on rigs that far exceed the unreasonably high recommended system specifications".[133]

In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.[134]

Commercial success[edit]

Shares of Take-Two Interactive gained 3.4% amid positive reviews before the game's launch.[135] Scott Hillis of Reuters said first week sales of the game were expected to reach $400 million.[135] Some observers suggested that Grand Theft Auto IV's success could dampen the box office for 2 May 2008 release of Iron Man, setting a precedent where movie studios will begin browsing video game release dates to check for conflicts.[136] Matt Richtel of The New York Times said the game's release was "expected to be one of the biggest video game debuts ever" and said 5 million copies of the game were expected to be sold in the first two weeks.[137] Analyst Michael Pachter predicted the game would sell 11 to 13 million units by the end of 2008. Pachter also expected Grand Theft Auto IV to represent 3.2% of all U.S. and European software sales for 2008 and for lifetime sales of the game to reach 16 to 19 million.[138] Analyst Evan Wilson predicted that Grand Theft Auto IV would have opening week sales of $550 million.[138]

Upon release, Grand Theft Auto IV claimed two entertainment industry sales records, posting the best single-day and seven-day sales totals for a video game.[139] The game sold more than 3.6 million copies on its first day of availability, while also selling 6 million copies in the first week of availability (garnering $500 million in sales).[140][141] In the United Kingdom, the game sold 631,000 copies on its first day of release,[142][143] making it the fastest-selling game in a 24 hour period within that region, according to Chart-Track.[144] The previous record holder in the UK, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, sold 501,000 copies within 24 hours.[143][144][145] During the first five days of availability, the title sold 1.85 million units on the Xbox 360 and 1 million on the PlayStation 3 in the United States, according to the NPD Group;[146] in the United Kingdom the Xbox 360 version sold 514,000 copies and the PlayStation 3 version sold 413,000, according to Chart-Track.[143][147] The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Grand Theft Auto IV are the fifth and eighth best-selling games of 2008 in the United States respectively. The Xbox 360 version sold in excess of 3.29 million, while the PlayStation 3 version sold in excess of 1.89 million for a combined 5.18 million copies in 2008 in the region.[148] GameStop and EB Games reported that the game led in sales the first week after its release, noting that its stores in Puerto Rico led all districts in pre-release reservations and sales 48 hours after its release.[149]

On 13 May 2008, Grand Theft Auto IV broke the Guinness World Records for "Highest grossing video game in 24 hours" and "Highest Revenue Generated by an Entertainment Product in 24 Hours". It sold 3.6 million copies on day one, which equalled roughly $310 million in revenue. For first day sales it also broke the record of "Fastest-selling video game in 24 hours", previously held by Halo 3 at $170 million,[150] however, its record was broken in November 2009 by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

By 31 May 2008, the title has sold over 11 million copies to retailers and 8.5 million have been sold through to consumers, according to Take-Two Interactive.[151] According to the NPD Group and GfK Chart-Track, the game has sold 4.711 million units in the US and 1.582 million in the UK, for a total of 6.293 million units as of 1 August 2008.[152] As of 16 August 2008, the title has sold over 10 million copies through to consumers, according to Take-Two Interactive.[153] In its first four days of availability in Japan, the title sold 133,000 copies on the PlayStation 3 and 34,000 on the Xbox 360, according to Media Create.[154]

Sales for the Windows version of the game were considerably less successful. According to NPD Group the game debuted at #7 of their weekly top ten.[155] One week later, the game disappeared completely from the top ten published by NPD Group.[156][157]

On 3 March 2010, Take-Two Games announced that Grand Theft Auto IV has sold 15 million units globally.[158] On 9 June 2010, Take-Two announced that Grand Theft Auto IV had sold over 17 million copies.[159] On 10 March 2011, Take-Two announced that Grand Theft Auto IV had sold over 20 million copies and Grand Theft Auto series has now sold over 100 million copies.[160] By September 2011, the game had sold over 22 million copies.[161] As of late 2012 Grand Theft Auto IV has sold over 25 million copies, according to the Game Informer cover reveal of Grand Theft Auto V.[162]

Grand Theft Auto IV was one of the most played Games for Windows – Live titles, based in unique users, and was the number one in 2009 and 2012, and the number two in 2011, surpassed only by Age of Empires Online.[163]

Awards[edit]

Michael Hollick, voice of Niko Bellic, won a Spike TV award for "Best Performance by a Human Male".

Following the critical acclaim it received on its release, Grand Theft Auto IV has received numerous awards from various critics and publications. It received several Game of the Year awards, from gaming media outlets such as Spike TV,[191] Giant Bomb,[186] Kotaku,[188] and GameTrailers,[176] as well as mainstream publications, like The New York Times,[194] the Los Angeles Times,[195] and Time magazine.[196] The game has garnered over 60 Game of the Year recognitions from major publications, more than any other game that year. Grand Theft Auto IV also received seven nominations at the 5th British Academy Video Games Awards (BAFTA Games Awards),[198] and three nominations at the 9th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards,[199] but did not win any of them.

Controversies[edit]

Prior to and since the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, the game had been subject to a great deal of controversy, as was the case with previous Grand Theft Auto titles. Figures including George Galloway, Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton have criticised the game, as have organisations including New York City officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).[200] MADD asked ESRB to change the rating of the game from "M" (for ages seventeen and up) to "AO" (for adults only) due to the player's ability to drive under the influence of alcohol.[201]

The version of Grand Theft Auto IV released in Australia and New Zealand was edited to remove content to allow the game to meet the requirements of the Australian classification system.[202] However, the game was resubmitted to the New Zealand OFLC by Stan Calif, a 21-year-old student who was unhappy that New Zealand received an edited version of the game as a result of Australian censorship laws. The unedited version was subsequently given an R18 rating and cleared for sale in New Zealand.[203] The PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV released in Australia is reported to be unedited, identical to that of other international releases, under the MA15+ rating.[204] The PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 versions of the game have since been updated to be completely uncensored while the complete edition has the console version uncut for the first time at retail.

There have been reports in the United Kingdom and the United States of crimes perpetrated against people purchasing Grand Theft Auto IV, as well as employees of stores selling the game.[205] One of these incidents, an attack near a Gamestation store in Croydon, London was later reported to be an unrelated argument between two groups of people leaving a pub[206] and the story has been referred to as a "media panic."[207] Six teenagers were later arrested in June 2008 after engaging in a crime spree in New Hyde Park, New York, assaulting and robbing several people, and attempting a carjacking. According to police, the teens claimed that they were "inspired" by Grand Theft Auto IV.[208]

The first downloadable episode The Lost and Damned has a brief scene containing full-frontal male nudity, uncommon in video games.[209]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Games in the Grand Theft Auto series are grouped into distinct fictional universes, which share interconnected plots and characters. The previous "3D universe" consists of Grand Theft Auto III (2001), Vice City (2002), Advance (2004), San Andreas (2004), Liberty City Stories (2005), and Vice City Stories (2006). The Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV is different from its previous renditions.[3]
  2. ^ The online multiplayer mode for the Windows version of the game allows up to 32 players, while the console versions allow up to only 16 players.

References[edit]

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