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!
"It hasn't in any way lost its sense of humour, or the satirical elements."
The game's main protagonist, Niko Bellic, is an Eastern European that arrives in Liberty City on a boat. He's led a pretty dark, difficult and shady life and gets lured to Liberty City by his cousin Roman who says he'll have a chance to live the American Dream. Roman tempts him with promises of extreme wealth and houses with women and Jacuzzis - but it turns out to be a pack of lies. The truth is, Roman's got a fairly humble taxi depot business, he's got mounting debts, and he's attracting a lot of hostile attention from some unsavoury characters. He's not walking into the life of riches and glamour he was promised - and pretty soon, players will start to learn that his past is going to catch up with him.
So, is this new GTA storyline still going to be one main story thread? After all, for some GTA critics, it was always something of a stumbling block in previous games that things were presented as being all about freedom, yet, if you want to actually play through the game, you pretty much have to follow one storyline that then funnels you down one path - there aren't multiple endings or anything like that.
"What I can say is that, for the first time, we're really trying to blur the line between on-[mission] and off-mission."
Rockstar warned us that the AI, physics, character models, textures, pedestrian dialogue ("Do you know in Italy they get three hours for lunch?!"), music and so forth are all still in development and placeholder to some extent - but aside from some expected, mild early-build issues it all looked pretty damn smart to us.
It's 8AM in Liberty City. We start the demo with Niko, standing in Roman's taxi depot in Broker - the game's version of Brooklyn. It's early morning and the sun is streaming through the industrial windows of the converted warehouse garage. Outside the windows we can see the life of this cosy corner of Liberty City going on. Already, in the first scene we witness of the new GTA, we see a more convincing use of high dynamic range (HDR) lighting than has been achieved in most other console games to date; it's not just a case of "look up, look down" contrast adjustment, or basic light flooding we've become used to over the past two years, but a proper scene full of subtle shadows and believable detail that's immediately striking. Not being a graphics engineer, it's tough to explain exactly what it is in this first scene that makes this humble room feel so natural - but it hits you right away.
"It's arguably the sound in GTA IV that impresses the most; cars really sound - and feel - like they're going past you."
Cars driving past really sound - and feel - like they're going past you, as the engine rumbles and the car's blaring music fades in and out. If a car suddenly brakes nearby, you don't need to see it to know it happened. The varying volume and intensity of car horns and the constant hum of traffic noise is transfixing to listen to, and the frequent deafening rattle of trains hurtling through the subway honestly make this city sound as real as the ones we live and breathe in - it's something we don't think has been emphasised enough in any previous coverage of this new title. Evangelists of game audio, and its importance in games, are going to be heard on an entirely new level when they bounce around the streets in this game. Even the surfaces you walk on - regular sidewalk or a pebbly area - sound different and real.
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|PLEASE DO NOT DIRECT LINK TO ANY MEDIA FILE ON KIKIZO|
Grand Theft Auto IV
Trailer 1 HD 720p
(High quality version - Download WMV)
Grand Theft Auto IV
Trailer 1 SD (Stream)
Sam Houser on GTA IV
Developer comments on PS3 including Rockstar president Sam Houser, who is clearly discussing GTA IV.
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