Grand Theft Auto IV: Kikizo Preview 3

Our third GTA IV preview spectacular reveals exclusive new details for the first time anywhere, and takes a much broader look around Liberty City in a fantastic build of the game that's nearing completion.

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By Adam Doree

After six months of waiting, our Grand Theft Auto IV first hand coverage returns. And with last year's delay now old news, this really is the final straight. In May last year, we took an in-depth introductory look at the game and cruised around the streets of Broker. July saw our second massive preview, which examined various game missions and took us all over Algonquin. This is our third big preview.

We'll continue to update this page with all our regular previews, based on our rather privileged, direct access to the game at Rockstar. Remember you can subscribe to this RSS feed or simply bookmark if you don't want to miss a single beat.

Grand Theft Auto IV: Kikizo Preview 3

So it's been a while, that's for sure. But last week we went back to Rockstar once again for our lengthiest look at the game yet - a rear-aching ninety minutes of GTA IV, no less. No magazines have seen this demo. Which means for the first time the only place you can get this new information is just where it should be - online - and the only place you can get the FULL detail from of the small handful of sites that have seen it, is Kikizo. Cool huh?

Rockstar is starting to open up more about the game as it nears the end of its marathon development process, and is answering more and more of our burning questions. Today we'll reveal a much broader look around Liberty City including our first unrestricted look at the entire game map. We got to see parts of Liberty City we hadn't been taken to before, and best of all, we'll introduce you to some awesome new characters and missions in detail you won't find anywhere else.

We're also starting to get a much better overall impression of what Niko is like as a character now. Hardworking, risk-taking, calm, firm and determined, with a subtle sense of humour. We're also curious how Niko is with the ladies; at one stage of our latest demo we saw the words, "alternatively you can ask her on a date" appear on the HUD. Intriguing.

The technical quality of the game is now very solid. The frame rate is drastically improved since we first saw it, and Rockstar says it is basically what the final game is going to be running at - it's obviously not going to get any worse. It looks like sex, quite frankly, and the solid frame rate combined with the exceptional detail and lighting really make things feel powerfully real. Rockstar is basically just polishing now - some lip-syncing, a few glitch fixes here and there. But essentially the game is now finished. Our hands-on will be in about a month from now, and then we'll have a review close to when the game is hitting shelves globally on April 29.

We actually want to start at the end of our demo. What Rockstar wanted to show us at the end was a different, broader perspective of the city, this time by water. For the first time, Rockstar also showed us the game map. Algonquin (Manhattan in real money) is the large island in the middle; Alderney (New Jersey) is a similarly sized island to the left, and then to the right there are two smaller islands: top right, the smaller of the two, Bohan (Bronx), and a sizable island dominating the bottom right of the map, where you'll find both Broker (Brooklyn) and Dukes (Queens). This island connects to Algonquin via the Broker Bridge, and, right underneath Algonquin is where you'll spot Happiness Island, home to the Statue of Happiness (the Statue of liberty).

So now all fans charting information about the map can relax because this is the lowdown on how the map really looks. There is also a subway system, which, we can reveal, Niko is able to use. We're not sure if the subway map covers the entire game map, but it has been seen by our Rockstar source in both Algonquin and Broker at the least. We've made an approximate estimation of Liberty City 2008 based on what we scribbled down when we saw it:

When we showed Rockstar a printout of a still from the recent trailer taken by a fan, which appears to show part of the Liberty City map circled in red, they could only remark, "My God!". The professional-level investigative work carried out by the GTA fan community never ceases to impress. For the record, the Rockstar staff were pretty sure that what we see in that shot probably "could be" the map but we were all too scared to declare it 100%. It seems pretty obvious though, judging by what we now know is the bona fide map.

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