Welcome to Grand Theft Auto IV

The next-generation doesn't start until Rockstar says it does, it would seem, based on our first-hand introduction to GTA IV. Find out more in our series of stupidly detailed previews, complete with all-new screens!

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By Adam Doree

Welcome to the first in a special Kikizo series of several massive, first-hand previews of Grand Theft Auto IV, as we start counting down the months to the game's release in October. You may remember our ludicrously in-depth coverage of San Andreas throughout 2004, which included nine full previews, and we're leaving no stone unturned for the biggest game of 2007 either - so you can count on Kikizo to be your first stop for the most detailed, accurate impressions and information direct from our regular private viewings at Rockstar Games HQ. We'll update this very page with all our new previews for the rest of the year and final review in October. Now may be a good time to subscribe to this RSS feed or simply bookmark GTA4.kikizo.com if you don't want to miss a single beat - we're going to tell you everything we can, in obsessive detail that all GTA fans demand. Starting right now!

Welcome to Grand Theft Auto IV

Our introduction to GTA IV - in this case, realtime gameplay from the Xbox 360 development version of the game - is right at home on a stunning 65" HDTV. "This is definitely the earliest we've ever shown a GTA game," warns Rockstar's Hamish Brown. "The reasons for that are not only because we're incredibly proud of how it looks at this early stage, but also because we want people to get an understanding of what we're trying to achieve with the game as early as possible."

Rockstar's approach to showing the new GTA to the world is going to be different than before. "We gave a lot of access and a lot of information away about [San Andreas] in the months leading up to its release, to a point where, on reflection, we thought perhaps we didn't leave enough for the gamers to discover themselves. With GTA4 our approach is going to be slightly different - we're going to make sure there are surprises."

Up at Rockstar North in Scotland, UK, there are a couple hundred people working on GTA IV, along with the people that developed its RAGE-powered engine at Rockstar San Diego, plus a large number of researchers based in New York. And, of course, Sam and Dan Houser are producing, writing, and directing out of New York as well.

"To some people, New York feels like the capital of the world; it's an incredible multi-cultural place with an amazing crime history."

"The core team that set up Rockstar moved to New York and it's a city they have an affinity with, and know on a very kind of detailed, personal level, and felt they could do that city justice that perhaps they wouldn't be able to afford another city. Sam's the president of Rockstar but he's very involved in the vision of where the games are going to go and what they want to achieve. Dan's been one of the main writers of the game, since the beginning. To some people, New York feels like the capital of the world... it was the only place we wanted to do." Brown also told us that a credible (MCV trade magazine) 2004 report of "GTA: Europe" was incorrect: "As soon as we finished San Andreas, we knew where it was going to be."

GTA IV isn't a sequel to San Andreas, but more of a successor to GTA III, according to Rockstar. "I think when people think about San Andreas it was always about the size, scope and scale of the game, and in part it was almost seen as a 'features list'; it was all about how many cars, how many planes, how many this and that - whereas GTA4 is a completely different beast altogether. It's a far more evolved, more detailed game."

Next-generation gaming for Rockstar isn't just about producing more of the same with better graphics - it's about creating an experience that simply wasn't possible before. "Not only are we creating a game that's graphically stunning, but we also believe we're redefining the player's level of immersion within the world we're creating." The demonstration we were about to get would leave no doubt about that...

"All the characters move in a much more naturalistic way."

"It's that level of tactility - all the characters move in a much more naturalistic way, it's the level of detail in the car handling, the complexity of the storylines we're able to achieve now, and the massive level of interactivity with all aspects of the world. It's this level of fidelity and precision that's something we've dreamed about doing for the last ten years."

Is this new focus for the next-generation GTA more on the world itself or the character's story and his role in the world? "Every aspect of the game has been ramped up," offers Brown. "The storyline has never been as important as it is now. But then, the things you can do in the world have been multiplied exponentially. There's a freedom of choice like you wouldn't believe." Tantalisingly, though, Rockstar isn't ready to give examples of many of those things just yet. "But I promise you we will, later on".

"There's a freedom of choice like you wouldn't believe."

Grand Theft Auto IV is a new story about an immigrant arriving in Rockstar's version of New York, Liberty City, how this outsider exists and survives in an alien, foreign world, and how that world reacts to and interacts with the player. "With GTA4 we do believe we're creating something wholly new and unique."

And yet, a minority of fans have expressed concern about the gritty, more realistic world that the new game is set in - is it now less of a 'homage', featuring less satire and comedy edginess than the previous games? Surely not...?

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Video Coverage
(See Latest Videos & Video FAQ Here)
Grand Theft Auto IV
Trailer 1 HD 720p
(High quality version - Download WMV)
1:02 42MB HD, 16:9
Grand Theft Auto IV
Trailer 1 SD (Stream)
1:02 8MB SD, 16:9
Sam Houser on GTA IV
Developer comments on PS3 including Rockstar president Sam Houser, who is clearly discussing GTA IV.
4.22m 72MB DF, SD, 30

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