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| platforms = PlayStation 3Xbox 360Microsoft Windows

| media = Blu-ray Disc, DVD DL, 2× DVD DL, download

| requirements = See Development section for requirements matrix

| input = Gamepad; keyboard and mouse

}}

Grand Theft Auto IV (commonly abbreviated as GTA 4 or GTA IV) is a sandbox-style action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North,"Grand Theft Auto IV: GamePro is the first to play the biggest game of 2008," GamePro 235 (April 2008): 50–51. and released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in Oceania, Europe, and North America on 29 April 2008, and in Japan on 30 October 2008. A Windows version of the game was released in North America on 2 December 2008 and in Europe on 3 December. It is the sixth 3D game in the Grand Theft Auto series.

Two episodic packs have since been released for the Xbox 360, the first entitled The Lost and Damned and was released on 17 February 2009. The second is entitled The Ballad of Gay Tony and was released on 29 October 2009. Both episodes are due to be released for PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows on 30 March 2010.

The game is set in a redesigned rendition of Liberty City, a fictional city based heavily on modern day New York City. It follows Niko Bellic, a war veteran from an unspecified country in Eastern Europe. He comes to the United States in search of the American Dream, but quickly becomes entangled in a world of gangs, crime, and corruption. Like other games in the series, GTA IV is composed of elements from driving games and third-person shooters, and features "open-world" gameplay that gives players more control over their playing experience. It is the first console game in the series to feature an online multiplayer mode.

As the first game of the critically acclaimed series to appear on seventh generation consoles, Grand Theft Auto IV was widely anticipated. A major commercial and critical success, it broke industry records with sales of around 3.7 million units on its first day of release and grossing more than $500 million in revenue in the first week, selling an estimated 6 million units worldwide. As of 31 January 2010, the game has sold over 15 million copieshttp://ir.take2games.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=449045.

Grand Theft Auto IV is one of the most critically acclaimed video games of all time, receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from critics, with many giving the game a perfect score. Grand Theft Auto IV is currently the second all-time highest-rated game on aggregated review website Metacritic and the highest-rated game on Moby Games and Top Ten Reviews. Despite this, the game has not been without controversy.

Gameplay

Much like its predecessors, the core gameplay of Grand Theft Auto IV consists of giving the player a large, open world environment in which to move around freely. 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 NPC behaviour and movement adaptive and more realistic.

The open, non-linear environment allows players to explore and choose how they wish to play the game. Although 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. Side missions such as ambulance driving, or locating and destroying criminals in the police database can keep the player occupied for long hours.

It is possible to have multiple active missions, 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 so-called "morality choices" at several 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

.]]

Gunfights in GTA IV are conducted using a third-person system.Marbles, Mr. "Wanted" in Gamepro Magazine p. 52 (October 2007) The player can slide to cover, target a specific person, blindfire, and free aim. Individual body parts can also be targeted. Additionally, Niko can perform "cinematic executions", only possible with a pistol to certain characters/situations when the target circle blinks red. 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, namely punching, kicking, "alternative" punching, dodging and blocking, disarming an opponent, and counter-attacking.

If Niko is injured, he can recover health by eating, drinking soda, sleeping, using medical kits, using his mobile phone to call for paramedics, calling one of his girlfriends for medical advice, or using the services of a prostitute. Health is generally reduced by physical injuries, such as being hit by vehicles when walking, being thrown through the windscreen of a vehicle when crashing, and gunfire or explosions and stab wounds. Body armour is gradually damaged by gunshots and explosions. If Niko's health level reaches zero, the action stops, and he re-appears at the nearest hospital having lost 10% of his total wealth (up to $10,000). Niko retains his weapons after re-spawning at a hospital, which previously only occurred in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories.

The Wanted Level system has changed from previous GTA 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 GTA 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 GTA 4, the Police are assisted by NOOSE (National Office of Security Enforcement - a parody of DHS) officers at a three-star wanted level, who in turn are again assisted randomly by either NOOSE's Tactical Response Unit (a parody of the NYPD ESU) or FIB (Federal Investigation Bureau - a parody of the FBI) at a five-star wanted level and beyond. Like previous GTA games, a police helicopter pursues the player at a three-star wanted level, but this is replaced by a helicopter gunship at the five-star wanted level, though it utilises sharp-shooters rather than its mounted gatling guns.

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 the search is aborted. Wanted levels can also be lost either by driving into a "Pay 'N' Spray" (unless seen entering by police), entering a safehouse and going to sleep, or clandestinely changing vehicles in empty areas such as parking garages. The player has the option of attempting to escape arrest before being handcuffed, at the cost of increasing the wanted level by one star. Additionally, pedestrians with cellphones can report crimes they witness in the surrounding environment.GamesTM, July 2007, p34

Vehicles

Common to the rest of the series, vehicles are the predominant means of travel in GTA IV. Every vehicle in the game uses the in-game minimap as a GPS device. "Waypoints" can be placed on the map, plotting the fastest legal route between Niko and the destination on the minimap. The player can also hail a taxi 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 him 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 or Molotov cocktails.PSM3 Magazine – Issue #98 (February 2008) The player cannot pilot fixed-wing aircraft, which was possible in previous games of the series, but can still pilot helicopters. The game also lacks parachutes, though they were later reintroduced in The Ballad of Gay Tony

The Bullet physics engine along with the Euphoria animation system causes Niko to react differently to every bike crash, instead of using a predefined animation. Unlike previous games, vehicles will not explode if they are flipped over, however they may catch fire and eventually explode if the engine is sufficiently damaged by collisions or firearms. Car engines can also break down, rendering them unable to start, and vehicles can be physically deformed at the location of impacts, sometimes rendering them undrivable.

In certain areas of Liberty City, Niko can also hire the services of a prostitute by stopping his car alongside them and honking the horn.

Communication

Whereas previous games in the series frequently used public telephones to relay missions to the player, in GTA 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. 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, online in a free 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. Also, unlike other games, cheat codes are entered by dialing certain numbers on the mobile phone

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@" (slang for vagina), 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. Although the Internet café was seen in Grand Theft Auto III, internet browsing was not possible. 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. 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.

Multiplayer

Grand Theft Auto IV includes online multiplayer, with 15 modes of play available. It supports up to 16 players (32 players in the PC version) and allows players to explore the entire city. 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 , but the PC version does have LAN support.

The online games are split into ranked and unranked matches. The reward for the ranked gameplay is cash, which determines players' ranks. Players use a customisable character in the majority of play modes, and cash earned during play gradually makes more customisation options available.

Several different game modes are available. Team based gameplay modes include Team Deathmatch, where 2–8 teams compete to accumulate the most kills in a traditional deathmatch; Team Mafiya Work, in which 2–8 teams compete to complete contract work for the "mafiya", such as escorting/killing targets or stealing cars; 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 title Bomb Da Base: act II from Grand Theft Auto 3 which featured a similar objective of destroying a ship with explosives. 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 (ie Subway trains and Taxi ride) are also disabled. These limitations also apply for all other game-types.

Synopsis

Plot

on Happiness Island]]

Grand Theft Auto IV follows the story of Niko Bellic, a human trafficker, smuggler, and veteran of the Bosnian War, who is haunted by the betrayal of his army unit by one of its own during the war. After a smuggling run he is running goes bad Niko leaves Eastern Europe to escape the anger of his employer, Ray Bulgarin. Eventually, under persuasion from his cousin Roman, Niko comes to Liberty City, where he hopes to pursue the American Dream as well as the man he blames for betraying his old army unit: Florian Cravic, whom he has learned lives in the city. After his arrival, however, Niko quickly learns that Roman's tales of riches and luxury were lies concealing Roman's struggles with gambling debts and loansharks.

Niko's first conflict is with Roman's Albanian loan sharks Dardan and Bledar, whom Niko kills to protect Roman. Niko also meets Roman's Russian loanshark Vladimir Glebov, whom he spends some time working for to help pay Roman's debts and later kills because Vlad had an affair with Roman's girlfriend, Mallorie Bardas. Niko also befriends Jamaican drug and arms dealer "Little" Jacob Hughes and steroid junkie chop shop owner Bruce "Brucie" Kibbutz. After killing Vlad, Niko and Roman are kidnapped by members of the Liberty City Bratva, on order of Mikhail Faustin and his associate, Dimitri Rascalov. However Faustin is not angry with Niko for killing Vlad, and instead hires him. Niko completes several jobs for Faustin, quickly learning that Faustin is a sociopath with little concern for consequences. Soon Faustin orders Niko to kill the son of Kenny Petrović, the most powerful man in the Liberty City Bratva. Dimitri tries to negotiate an agreement, but Petrović demands revenge and Dimitri is forced to have Niko assassinate Faustin at his club, the Perestroika. However, when Niko meets with Dimitri to collect on the assassination, Dimitri sells Niko out to his angry former employer Ray Bulgarin. Niko fights his way through the ambush with the help of Little Jacob but Dimitri and Bulgarin escape and Jacob suggests dealing with them later.

Immediately afterwards Niko and Roman are forced to escape to Bohan when their Hove Beach apartment and taxi company are destroyed in arson attacks. At this time Roman reveals his plans to propose to his Mallorie. While in Bohan Niko takes jobs for former gangbanger Manny Escuela who wants to become famous by cleaning up the streets of Bohan; drug dealer Elizabeta Torres; Irish mobster Patrick "Packie" McReary; and Trey "Playboy X" Stewart, a successful drug dealer from Algonquin. Niko also becomes an errand boy for both Mafia Capo Ray Boccino and crooked Deputy Police Commissioner Francis McReary, who turns out to be Packie McReary's brother.

However, things go poorly in Bohan as well when one of Elizabeta's drug deals that Niko is working turns out to be a sting, and the LCPD begin to close in on Elizabeta. Elizabeta become paranoid and begins to take large amounts of cocaine. Then Elizabeta kills Manny Escuela and his camera-man, Jay Hamilton, when they confront her about being a drug dealer and has Niko sell the bodies to a doctor who steals their organs. Soon afterwards Elizabeta is arrested and later sentenced to 300 years. Then Roman is kidnapped by Dimitri Rascalov's men because he owes them money. Niko arrives at the warehouse where Roman is being kept and, in a rage, kills all the kidnappers. Roman decides Bohan is no longer safe, and decides to move to Algonquin.

Soon after, Roman buys a penthouse in Algonquin with money he has won gambling. Meanwhile Niko assists Ray Boccino in a conflict diamond deal with Jewish Mafia Capo and diamond dealer Isaac Roth, which goes badly and leads to the diamonds being stolen by Luis Lopez and the money being stolen by Johnny Klebitz. Boccino receives a death threat from Roth, and orders Niko to execute Roth. After killing Roth, Niko becomes angered with Boccino and refuses to work for him anymore. In exchange for Niko's help, Boccino locates Florian Cravic. But when Niko confronts Cravic he discovers that Florian has changed his name to Bernie Crane and become an effeminate homosexual. Niko soon determines that Bernie is not the person responsible for his unit's betrayal, leaving him one remaining suspect: Darko Brevic.

Niko also works for both Playboy X and Playboy's old mentor Dwayne Forge, who have different ideas about how things should be. Niko becomes friends with Forge, saying that he sees some of himself in Forge. After Niko kills the owners of the Triangle Club, whom Playboy does business with, the relationship between Playboy and Forge becomes so poisonous that each asks Niko to kill the other, leaving Niko a choice between the two. If Niko kills Playboy he does not get paid but does receive Playboy's loft and believes he made the right choice in sticking by his friend. If Niko kills Forge he is paid, but Playboy despises him as a cold-blooded hired gun and breaks off the contact with Niko.

While in Algonquin Niko also develops a strong connection with the McReary family, including Packie's older brothers Gerald, Derrick, and their sister Kate, whom he begins dating. Together Niko, Packie, and Derrick, along with "Saint" Michael Keane, rob the Bank of Liberty. After the robbery Derrick spends most of his share on drugs and alcohol, and sends Niko on several jobs to eliminate former partners he believes are informing on him. Soon Francis McReary becomes concerned that his brothers drug habits and behaviour could stand in his road to becoming commissioner, and tells Niko to kill Derrick. Soon after Derrick calls Niko, paranoid of his brother, asking Niko to kill Francis. This gives Niko a choice between the two.

Niko also works with Gerry McReary to destroy the relationship between the Ancelotti Crime Family and their Albanian muscle-men and later kidnapping Grace, the daughter of the Don of the Ancelloti Family, in exchange for a ransom of the conflict diamonds stolen by Luis Lopez during Ray Boccino's deal with the Jewish Mafia.

Niko also does work for the Pegorinno family in Alderney, mainly with Capo Phil Bell and later for Don Jimmy Pegorino who is trying to gain a seat on the Commission by weakening the other families. This leads to a war between the Pegorinno, Pavano, and Ancellotti Crime Families. Eventually, after working for Pegorino several times, Niko is sent to kill Ray Boccino because Pegorinno is convinced Boccino is an informant.

Towards the conclusion of the storyline, a shadowy government agency (under the name of "U.L. Paper") that had forced Niko to help them in collusion with the dying mobster Jon Gravelli, locates Darko Brevic in Bucharest and arranges to have him brought to Liberty City as a final reward. Niko confronts Darko, who has become a drug-addicted wreck, and learns that Darko betrayed the group for $1,000 dollars to supply his drug habits. The player is then left with the option of either executing Darko or sparing his life. Having dealt with his past, Niko is left feeling lost and goes to the Honkers Strip Club in Alderney for a drink. But he is interrupted by Pegorino, who demands of him one final favour; to help with an extremely lucrative heroin deal in collusion with Dimitri Rascalov.

Finale

The story features two possible endings depending on the choice made by the player at this point in the game. In both endings Niko sees Pegorino as an enemy for allying so closely with Dimitri, and both antagonists die in nearly identical battles. The major difference in each ending is that either Roman Bellic or Kate McReary dies (they each advise Niko towards a different decision, and ironically, the one Niko takes advice from is the one to die).

If the player chooses to exact Revenge, Niko ambushes Dimitri on the ship Platypus while he is supervising the shipment of heroin. Niko begins an assault on the ship, climaxing in a gunfight within the cargo hold of the ship during which Niko kills Dimitri. In the aftermath, Roman and Mallorie's wedding takes place and Jimmy Pegorino, who is furious after the betrayal, commits a drive-by outside the church killing Niko's love interest, Kate McReary. However, now that Pegorino has angered both Niko and the Five Mafia families, the entire underground of Liberty City wants him dead and he goes into hiding. Niko, Roman and Little Jacob track down and follow some of Pegorino's men, who lead them to an abandoned casino in Alderney. Niko attempts to kill Pegorino, but he escapes via boat to Happiness Island. Niko, Roman, and Jacob pursue in a helicopter, until both the helicopter and the boat crash on Happiness Island. Niko chases and kills Pegorino at the foot of the Statue of Happiness before lamenting on the supposed "American Dream" to Roman and Jacob. After the end credits, Roman reveals to Niko in a phone call that he and Mallorie are expecting a child and if it is a girl, will name it Kate.

If the player chooses to strike a Deal, Niko meets Phil Bell at the docks to take the money from the buyers once Dimitri delivers the heroin to another location. However Dimitri does not deliver the heroin and Niko and Phil are forced to fight to escape, but retrieve the drug money regardless. Niko then receives a congratulatory call from Pegorino who has now allied himself with Dimitri. Kate McReary, however, who was against making the deal, is disappointed with Niko and refuses to attend Roman and Mallorie's wedding. The wedding takes place where an assassin is sent by Dimitri to kill Niko, but kills Roman with a stray bullet as Niko disarms him. Niko then savagely murders the assassin. A devastated and vengeful Niko teams up with Little Jacob and together they follow some of Pegorino's men to an abandoned casino in Alderney where Dimitri and Pegorino are hiding. Inside the casino, Dimitri betrays and kills Pegorino before escaping to Happiness Island via helicopter. Niko and Little Jacob pursue, and Niko kills Dimitri in the shadow of the Statue of Happiness. The story ends with a parting shot of the Statue of Happiness, with Niko concerned for the well-being of his soul. After the end credits, Mallorie reveals to Niko in a phone call that she is pregnant with Roman's child, who Niko promises "will never have to worry about anything".

Setting

Grand Theft Auto IV takes place in a redesigned version of Liberty City consisting of four boroughs, based on four of the boroughs of New York City. 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 a Channel Island. The developers omitted a Staten Island-esque area, believing that gameplay based in such an area would not be fun. There are two minor islands present: Charge Island (based loosely on Randall's Island), and Colony Island (based on Roosevelt Island). Initially, the city's bridges are locked down due to a terrorist threat, and the player is pursued and killed by police if attempting to cross, 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.

Characters

with the antagonist Dimitri Rascalov at a seaside amusement park]]

The characters that appear in Grand Theft Auto IV are diverse and relative to the respective boroughs of Liberty City they are based in; belonging to various gangs and ethnic groups. The player controls Niko Bellic, a veteran of an Eastern European war. According to Dan Houser, virtually none of the characters from the previous games would return, as "most of the characters we liked were dead," further evidenced by in-game graffiti bidding farewell to these characters.

Unlike previous games in the series, the voice actors of Grand Theft Auto IV do not include notable and high-profile celebrities, instead opting for lesser known actors such as Michael Hollick, Jason Zumwalt, Timothy Adams and Coolie Ranx. However, several high-profile DJs host the various radio stations within the game such as Iggy Pop, Juliette Lewis, Karl Lagerfeld, DJ Premier, Roy Haynes, Fez Whatley and Lazlow Jones. 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". Katt Williams and Ricky Gervais also have their likenesses and comedy depicted in an in-game comedy club. Numerous other comedians, including Jim Norton, Patrice Oneal, Rick Shapiro, and Robert Kelly, appeared on the radio and/or as characters in-game. Tony-nominee, Alison Fraser can also be heard.

Soundtrack

In 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 18 radio stations, three of which are talk radio stations. The other stations feature music from a large range of genres. There are notable inclusions to the game's soundtrack, such as tracks from Genesis, David Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins, The Sisters of Mercy, Seryoga, Bob Marley, Don Omar, The Who, Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, Black Sabbath, Philip Glass, Simian Mobile Disco, Nas, Kanye West, R. Kelly, Lloyd, Miles Davis, Loose Ends, Elton John, ZZ Top, R.E.M., MC Lyte and Barry White. The theme song (intro music) of Grand Theft Auto IV is "Soviet Connection" composed by Michael Hunter, who also composed the theme for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

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 "mixed" 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.

Following a partnership between Rockstar Games and Amazon.com, players are able to purchase real world MP3s through GTA IV's in-game mobile phone. Players are able to mark radio songs that they like by dialing ZIT-555-0100 on Niko's phone. They will then receive a text message providing the name of the song and the artist. If a player is registered on Rockstar's 'Social Club' website he or she 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

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. Around 150 game developers worked on Grand Theft Auto IV, led by core members of the Grand Theft Auto III team. 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. Instead of pre-written animations, Euphoria uses procedural animation to control the way the player moves, enabling character movements to be more realistic. 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. The game also uses middleware from Image Metrics to facilitate intricate facial expressions and ease the process of incorporating lip-synching. Foliage in the game is produced through SpeedTree.

Grand Theft Auto IV sees a shift in the series to a more realistic and detailed style and tone, partly a result of the transition to consoles which offered high-definition graphics and the new and improved capabilities of such consoles. Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser said "what we're taking as our watchword on 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." 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 we were hoping to push the detail, variety and life, for lack of a better word, to such a degree it seemed that basing the game in a city so synonymous with these things was a great fit." 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." 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." The Grand Theft Auto IV rendition of Liberty City is far more detailed and is the largest individual city in the Grand Theft Auto series. Although smaller than 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. The goal for Liberty City was to have no dead spots or irrelevant spaces, such as the wide open deserts in San Andreas. 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 is done with every GTA game) and another smaller one further into development. 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.

The story of Grand Theft Auto IV was written by Dan Houser and Rupert Humphries. Unlike previous Grand Theft Auto games which have a strong cultural or cinematic influence, "IV doesn't really have any cinematic influences", said Dan Houser, "we were consciously trying to go, well, if videogames 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." Houser also said, "In terms of the character, we wanted something that felt fresh and new and not something that was obviously derived from movie. Maybe could do something ourselves that would live alongside that stuff."

Music supervisor Ivan Pavlovich said "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." The developers contacted over 2,000 people in order to obtain recording and publishing rights. 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". 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. 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. Grand Theft Auto IV's theme song is "Soviet Connection" by Michael Hunter, who also composed the theme for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. People who provide voices for the radio DJs include fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, musicians Iggy Pop, Femi Kuti, Jimmy Gestapo and Ruslana, and real-life radio talk show host Lazlow Jones. DJ Green Lantern produced tracks exclusively for the game's hip-hop radio station The Beat 102.7. 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.

The then 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 GTA IV temporary tattoo. 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. Rockstar responded by saying that Grand Theft Auto IV was still on track for release in "late October". 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. In a later conference call with investors, Take-Two's Strauss Zelnick attributed the delay to "almost strictly technological problems... not problems, but challenges." It was revealed that technical difficulties with the PlayStation 3 version of the game contributed to the delay, along with storage problems on the Xbox 360. On 24 January 2008, Take-Two announced that Grand Theft Auto IV would be released on 29 April 2008. 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. At a Take-Two shareholder meeting on 18 April 2008, Take-Two CEO Ben Feder announced that GTA IV had already "gone gold" and was "in production and in trucks en route to retailers". 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 the most expensive game ever developed.

Episodic content

Rockstar Games has released two episodic content for Grand Theft Auto IV. These two episodes were first released separately on Xbox Live, 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. 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 31st March 2010.

The Lost and Damned

The first episode, titled The Lost and Damned, was released on Xbox Live on 17 February 2009. The episode features a new central character, Johnny Klebitz, who is a member of Liberty City's biker gang The Lost, a gang which is featured in several GTA IV missions. Dan Houser, vice president of creative development at Rockstar Games, claims the episode shows "a different side of Liberty City". Jeronimo Barrera, Vice President of Product Development for Rockstar Games, has said that the episodes are experiments because they are not sure that there are enough users with access to online content on the Xbox 360. Take-Two Interactive's Chief Financial Officer, Lainie Goldstein revealed that Microsoft was paying a total of $50 million for the first two episodes..

The content was first announced during Microsoft's 2006 E3 press conference on 9 May 2006. Peter Moore, the then head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business division described downloadable content as "epic episode packs", and not just an extra car or character. A press release during the conference said that the packs would add "hours of entirely new gameplay" to the game.

The Ballad of Gay Tony

The second episode, Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony, was released on 29 October 2009. The episode focused on Luis Lopez, an assistant to nightclub owner Tony Prince, aka "Gay Tony" and a petty crook, the conflicts detailed between his friends and family.

Updates

Upon the game's release, Kotaku reported that several PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 owners had complained of the game freezing during the initial cut-scene, rendering it unplayable. It was also reported on Kotaku that the online multiplayer was down on release day for most PlayStation 3 users. On 7 May 2008, Rockstar released a patch for the PlayStation 3 version of the game to improve the multiplayer experience. According to Rockstar, the update prevents GameSpy's servers from being overloaded and therefore reduces the impact on those servers that were causing the game to stutter and lock up. Further multiplayer fixes were made available on 23 June 2008.

On 27 October 2008, Rockstar released an update which added Trophy support to the PlayStation 3 version. Like Achievements on the Xbox 360, Trophies may be unlocked by completing certain unique tasks.

On 15 November 2008, another patch (1.04) was released for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

On 12 December 2008, a patch (1.0.1.0) was released for the Microsoft Windows version of the game. This patch added DirectInput support, enabling non-Microsoft controllers to be used.

On 24 January 2009, another patch (1.0.2.0) was released for the Microsoft Windows version of the game. It fixed many performance and graphical issues as well as correcting issues created by the first patch.

On 20 February 2009, a patch was released for the European and Australian releases of the game, fixing an error caused by a previous update to The Lost And Damned, which had reversed regional censorship rules for the European and Australian editions of the game.http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/rockstar-de-censors-euro-gtaiv

On 21 March 2009, a third patch (1.0.3.0) was released for the Microsoft Windows version of the game. This fixed many major graphic flaws such as headlights on the player's car consuming too much GPU power.

On 19 June 2009, a fourth patch (1.0.4.0) was released for the Microsoft Windows version of the game. Rockstar Toronto called it a 'Maintenance Update' and said that it is in preparation for a future patch.

Rockstar says this patch "ensures all copies of the game are properly aligned for the next gold master build pressing".

On 4 September 2009, another patch was released for the Xbox 360 version of the game. It was released to patch cheat exploits in Xbox Live multiplayer.http://www.rockstargames.com/newswire/2009/09/04/501/grand_theft_auto_iv_title_update_for_xbox_360

On 10 November 2009, a fifth patch (1.0.0.4) was released for the Microsoft Windows version of the game. It fixed some minor bugs, improved keyboard mapping and added some cheating deterrents.http://www.rockstargames.com/support/IV/PC/patch/index.html

Community features

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. The Social Club web site 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 will also provide 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.

In an interview with PlayStation World Magazine, Rockstar mentioned that they will "heavily support" Sony's PlayStation Home, a community-based service for the PlayStation Network. Rockstar also mentioned that visitors to their PlayStation Home apartment would receive 'goodies' such as clothing for their avatar and items and decorations for their own PlayStation Home apartment.

Windows version

On 6 August 2008, Rockstar announced that a Microsoft Windows version was in development by Rockstar North and Rockstar Toronto. 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.

It features expanded features, including traffic density control, draw distance configurations and a replay editor. The replay editor allows players to record and edit game clips, videos can then be uploaded to Rockstar's Social Club website. It utilizes Games for Windows - Live for online play and supports 32 players for multiplayer. SecuROM protection is utilized and a one time online activation is required in order to play the game.

The Windows version of the game was praised for its improved graphics compared to the console versions, but on the other hand there were reports of many customers who were unable to play the game due to incompatible ATi Radeon graphics adapters, no SLI, no AA support, texture rendering bugs, DRM issues, and other unaddressed issues, such as the Windows XP Service Pack 3/Windows Vista Service Pack 1 requirement. There have been many complaints that the game was unable to install, due to the fact that the players are unable to get the Vista SP1 to install on their computer. There were also multiple bugs and glitches that were reported. bit-tech went as far as to name the PC version the fourth-"most disappointing game" of 2008.

The Australian PC version of GTA 4 is completely uncut, unlike the Australian console version of the game.

Reception

Critical reception

PC: 90/100

|GR = X360: 96.31%PS3: 97.31%

|PSM3 = 20/20

|OPM = 10/10

|OXMUK = 10/10

|OXM = 9.5/10

|IGN = 10/10

|1UP = A+

|Edge = 10/10

|Gametrailers = 9.8/10

|EuroG = 10/10

|GSpot = 10/10

|GI = 10/10

}}

Grand Theft Auto IV has received universal acclaim from video game critics. It currently stands as the highest rated videogame of all time along with Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The PS3 version is the second highest rated game according to both Metacritic and Gamerankings. 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.

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." 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." 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." GameSpot gave the game a perfect 10, 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 GTA IV is "undoubtedly the best Grand Theft Auto yet."

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."

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

Despite the almost unanimous praise given to GTA IV, the game has received some criticism, particularly its Windows port. A review in Ars Technica states that the game "... 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." GameSpot noted that there are occasional problems with friendly AI and avoiding the police being "a little too easy." 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. The occasional presence of noticeable pop-in was also criticised.

Rockstar has come under fire from Grand Theft Auto communities, Gamespot and other websites, due to the game's abnormally high system requirements, as well as for its poor performance, even on systems that exceed the recommended system requirements by a wide margin. The game has also been criticized for its dependencies, such as Rockstar Social Club, SecuROM, and Games for Windows - Live, noting that single player progress can't be saved unless Windows Live is also installed.

Commercial success

Shares of Take-Two Interactive gained as much as 3.4% amid positive reviews before the game's launch. Scott Hillis of Reuters said first week sales of the game were expected to reach $400 million. Some observers suggested that GTA IV's success could dampen the box office for the 2 May 2008 release of Iron Man, setting a precedent where movie studios will begin browsing video-game release dates to check for conflicts. 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. Analyst Michael Pachter predicted the game will sell 11 to 13 million units by the end of 2008. Pachter also expects Grand Theft Auto IV to represent 3.2% of all US and European software sales for 2008 and for lifetime sales of the game to reach 16 to 19 million. Analyst Evan Wilson predicted that Grand Theft Auto IV would have opening week sales of $550 million.

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. 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). In the United Kingdom, the game sold 631,000 copies on its first day of release, making it the fastest-selling game in a 24 hour period within that region, according to Chart-Track. The previous record holder in the UK, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, sold 501,000 copies within 24 hours. 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; in the United Kingdom the Xbox 360 version sold 514,000 copies and the PlayStation 3 version sold 413,000, according to Chart-Track. 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. 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.

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, however, its record was broken in November 2009 by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

As of 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. 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. As of 16 August 2008, the title has sold over 10 million copies through to consumers, according to Take-Two Interactive. 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.

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. One week later, the game disappeared completely from the top ten published by NPD Group.

Over 13 million units of Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto IV have been shipped as of 31 January 2009.http://ir.take2games.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=370041

Over 15 million units of Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto IV have been shipped as of 31 January 2010.http://ir.take2games.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=449045.

Awards

Following the critical acclaim it received on its release, Grand Theft Auto IV has received awards from various critics and publications. The game has won over 40 Game of the Year awards from major publications, more than any other game that year. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions are, respectively, ranked as the second- and sixth-best games of all time on Game Rankings.http://www.gamerankings.com/browse.html The following are some of the game's awards (all of which are 2008 awards):

  • IGN has given the game its "Best Xbox 360 Action Game", "Best PC Action Game", "Best Graphics Technology (Xbox 360)", "Best Voice Acting (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)" and "Best Story (Xbox 360/PS3)" awards.

  • GameTrailers has given the game "Game of the Year", "Best Action Adventure Game", "Best Story", "Best Xbox 360 Game", "Best PlayStation 3 Game" and, for the game's trailer, "Trailer of The Year".

  • Spike TV has given the game the awards of "Game of the Year" and "Best Action Adventure Game" in its Video Game Awards. They also gave Michael Hollick "Best Performance by a Human Male" for the voice acting of Niko Bellic.

  • GameSpy has given the game the awards of "Best Story" and "Character of The Year" (for the character Brucie Kibbutz) in its Video Game Awards.

  • GameSpot has given the game its "Best UK-developed game" and "Best Xbox 360 Game" awards, and Bruce "Brucie" Kibbutz won the award for the "Best new character".

  • GiantBomb has given the game its "Game of the Year" and "Best Multi-Platform Game" awards.

  • Kotaku has given the game its "Game of the Year" and "Best Writing" awards.

  • Game Informer has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • New York Times has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • Electronic Gaming Monthly has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • IGN AU has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • Console Monster has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • Gamervision has given the game its "Game of the Year" and "Best Action Adventure Game" award for 2008.

  • Thunderbolt has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • Extreme Gamer has given the game its "Game of the Year" and "Best Action Adventure Game" award for 2008.

  • Los Angeles Times has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • Time (magazine) has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • Atomic Gamer has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • Games Master has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • What If Gaming has given the game its "Game of the Year" and "Best Action Adventure Game" awards for 2008.

  • Team Xbox has given the game its "Game of the Year", "Best Action Adventure Game" and "Best Developer" to Rockstar Games for 2008.

  • Entertainment Merchants Association(EMA) has given the game its "Game of the Year" and "Best Action Adventure Game" awards for 2008.

  • Eurogamer(DE) has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • Play.tm has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • Action Trip has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

  • MTV Game Awards has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008.

    Controversies

    Prior to and since the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, the game had been subject to a great deal of controversy. Figures including George Galloway, Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton have criticised the game, as have organizations including New York City officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). MADD requested ESRB to change the rating of the game from "M" for ages seventeen and up to "AO," for adults because of the player's ability to drink and drive.

    The version of GTA 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. 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. 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.

    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. 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 and the story has been referred to as a "media panic."

    Six teenagers were 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.

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

    Episodes from Liberty City features a new radio station, 'Vice City FM', and new songs for the Vladivostok, K109 and Electrochoc radio stations. This content is not available in the download versions of the episodes, this was announced by Rockstar via their Newswire page 21 October 2009.

    References

    External links

  • Grand Theft Auto IV Official website

  • Grand Theft Auto IV PC Official website

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