Grand Theft Auto IV First Look

We sneak a look at the next much-anticipated entry in Rockstar's GTA series.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more anticipated, or scrutinized, game than Rockstar's upcoming Grand Theft Auto IV. The release of the game's trailer in March saw the 50-odd seconds of teaser footage poured over like evidence in a CSI episode, with fans (ourselves included) rabidly dissecting it frame by frame. To further stoke the fires of anticipation, Rockstar Games recently hit town and did the previously unthinkable: They gave us a look at a work-in-progress version of the Xbox 360 game. Whereas years past have seen us getting access to GTA games when they were much further along in development, Rockstar, confident in how development is going, raised the drape and let us get a look at GTAIV months before it hits. Our guided demo showed off a tiny bit of the city and gave us a taste of what Rockstar is cooking up for what is arguably the most anticipated game of 2007.

If you're planning to steal a cab, make sure it doesn't belong to your brother.

The demo opened up with the game's Russian hero, Niko Bellic, standing in a building--the offices of the taxi service, to be exact. As our demoer guided him around the interior, we were given a rundown of his story. The Eastern European immigrant will come to Liberty City at the request of his cousin, Roman. The trip seems like a smart move for Niko, who's had a rather rough life so far. The picture of life in Liberty City painted by his cousin is that of opulence and easy money. Upon arriving, Niko gets a reality check. Roman is living around the poverty line and drives a cab. Once that recognition hits, Niko realizes he's got to find a way to eke out a living, which is where the story begins. Given what was shown and implied in the trailer, we expect Niko's career search to take some interesting, and probably violent, turns. Rockstar reps noted that Niko's path through the game isn't going to tell a stereotypical "rags to riches" story; instead, it will offer a grittier tale that's about survival, "rags to slightly better rags" to be exact.

Once we got the rundown of the story, our demoer took Niko out for a stroll in the city. As the tour started, we got another quick primer on the city. The Liberty City in GTAIV is a modern-day metropolis that's a bit different than the one we know. The city is based on New York, though there's no version of Staten Island in the game. For fans at home already working on their maps, the borough of Broker is based on Brooklyn, Dukes is based on Queens, Bohan is based on the Bronx, Algonquin is based on Manhattan, and Alderney is based on New Jersey. Our tour took us on a run-through of some of the neighborhoods in Broker, underneath the Algonquin bridge overpass, and eventually out to the docks to look out on the city proper. The environment had a lived-in look that featured pedestrians, homeless, trash, steaming manholes, traffic, and an impressive array of little touches used to set the scene. But, while we expected all that, the demo showed off a new wrinkle to the densely packed environments: height. Though "verticality" has turned into one of the catchiest buzz words for new games, it's still an interesting feature to see. From the sound of it, GTAIV is going to let you go up or down buildings in the game as needed. Our demo showed Niko climbing a power pole and taking a look around at the environment--highlighting the impressive draw distance. But we also noticed that the dense city environment, which is roughly the same size as San Andreas, will be a layered locale with things to see and do at different heights. If it works the way we're hoping, it might offer some additional options when avoiding the police.

Niko's character model is nicely detailed.

But avoiding police, like much of GTAIV's gameplay, is something that Rockstar wasn't going into too much detail on. There was no talk of the upcoming downloadable content or exclusive material for the PlayStation or Xbox 360. What was shared was that the role-playing elements are being dialed back, so Niko won't be morphing into a superman by the end of the game. Carjacking is being tweaked, so you can now break windows to jack parked cars. You'll be able to call people via cell phone and help move the story along, offering you more control over how the story will progress. Though you won't be able to fly planes, you should be able to fly helicopters. One of our big questions, what kind of online multiplayer the game will offer, was met with a coy assertion that the team wants the multiplayer to rival the single-player experience. Reps did note that it will not be a massively-multiplayer-online-game-style persistent city. Other details, such as the game's heads-up display, are still being ironed out. We did see a menu system that had all the expected options; we're just curious as to how it will be implemented. The driving force behind the game is its story, according to the team. So, to that end, the gameplay experience must be seamless. We're pleased to see the lengths they're going to for this to happen already. Moving in and out of buildings is seamless, and you'll have ample places to go in and out of, though not every building in the game is able to be explored.

The visuals in the game come courtesy of Rockstar's proprietary RAGE engine and offer a comfortable complement to the game's new look. The city area we were shown had all the real-world elements that are key to a GTA game's atmosphere: pedestrians, traffic, and a lived-in look. The key difference, as you can see in the trailer, is the level of detail and the art style. The expected bump in graphics seems to be agreeing with the team's ambitious tendencies, resulting in a dense city with rich lighting and populated by a diverse group of people. The little touches that were wrung out of the last generation of hardware are now fully realized, with proper lighting, particle effects, and shadowing being used to highlight the distressed city streets, old buildings, dusty windows, and vast panoramic views of Liberty City.

The city's residents are an interesting bunch, even in their unfinished state.

As for the residents, our tour of the city gave us a look at a sampling of some work-in-progress models that are set to be used for the non-player characters you'll meet. The models sported a higher level of detail and looked good, albeit nondescript, like any good NPC. Niko is the star of the game, with a character model that reflects his mental baggage. The detailed model has a decidedly gritty look that makes it pretty clear he's been around the block a few times--maybe even hit by some cars. Animation was early but seemed to be coming along fine. His gait when walking was deliberate and was on its way to adding to his world-weary vibe. Our demo also focused on showcasing a number of subtle touches being worked into GTAIV. The standouts were Niko leaning in a direction as he runs and, most awesomely, his breaking windows on parked cars so he could jack them. Though we just saw a small slice of what to expect from the game's visuals, we have to say we're impressed by the restraint we're seeing. In a time when so many games on the PS3 and Xbox 360 are going all out with the special effects and a glossy look, GTAIV seems to be drawing on the effects and tech it needs to establish a convincingly rundown look. While it may not bowl you over with blinding use of light blooming and other stereotypical "next-gen" effects, we've seen most of them used in subtle ways. But the game is focused on its realistic look, and we're pleased by what we're seeing.

The game's audio was far from finished, as Rockstar reps were quick to point out what we heard in the demo was very placeholder, with a fraction of the audio that will be in the final game peppered through it. It seems as though the plan is to expand on the concepts used in the previous games, so you'll hear tons of ambient chatter and city sounds designed to sell you on the game's virtual world. Finer elements such as voice acting and the ever-popular radio stations are still being ironed out. The team is mulling over the direction of where to go with the radio stations, given the tone of the game. There will be plenty of variety in music, but what those types are remains to be seen. The voice acting in the game is in a similar state of reevaluation. The team is thinking on what would best serve the story in terms of the talent used and the direction. As with the previous entries in the series, Rockstar is competing with the standards set by GTAIV's predecessors, which all featured great voice acting. As it stood, what we heard of the audio was coming along fine, and finished or not, we liked where it was headed.

The level of detail on every building in the game is impressive to say the least.

Ultimately, our demo of the game was a pretty controlled experience and was more about showing off the world and the possibilities of what could be done inside it than showing off specific gameplay features. That said, even this modest look at a fraction of the city shows a whole lot of potential. The nuanced story; greater interactivity with the world; densely packed, vertical environment; ambitious scope; and increased freedom all seem like the right ingredients to have in play for such an anticipated sequel. Factor in the mysterious online multiplayer and downloadable content, and you have about as fully loaded a sequel as you could ask for. Grand Theft Auto IV is currently slated to ship this October for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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Discussion

1045 comments
feararagon
feararagon

Rockstar hurry up and make this for pC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Philosoph
Philosoph

checked this game out on ps3 recently and damn they really nailed it this time. liberty city finally feels like a city, it is awesome, can't wait for pc version.

Sakhr1987
Sakhr1987

Ahhhhhhhhh, Finally, The PC version

Thysin
Thysin

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

1krondo1
1krondo1

just go buy a ps3 or 360 u cheapo's get a job or i f ur too young u shouldnt be buying this game anyways!!

xxyanlixx
xxyanlixx

GAMESPOT CAN YOU GUYZ PLEASE DELIVER OUR SINCERE REQUESTS TO ROCKSTAR AND TELL THEM WE WANT GTA 4 TO LAUNCH ON PC!

herzalot
herzalot

I want this game on PC.real fast.

herzalot
herzalot

I want this game on PC.real fast.

herzalot
herzalot

I want this game on PC.do you understand rock star?!

blacksmit049
blacksmit049

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Sparky2002
Sparky2002

WOW CHECK OUT THE 4 AWESOME CAR'S TO JACK Grand Theft Auto IV Official Movie 7 trailer at 30'seconds looks like a farrari alfa romeo/ or TVR / & subiaru, or RX 7. look alikes Nice boot out the driverside window & get in ;)

charmander7
charmander7

this is going to be the worst game in the world jk

warrioremperor
warrioremperor

Happy to know that they are being realistic, and i will be pleased to know there will be no supernatural effects like most of next-gen games. Also good to know that this Niko is Russian, may be the Russian mafia will play a good role in this release. but the biggest question remains: Are there any 18+ (or 16 depending on your culture ;) ) tricks in this one too?

riku222
riku222

I'm SOOO getting this for the PS3!!! XD Umm....when does it come out anyway?? I can't wait!!! It'd be kewl if that Niko guy could climb buildings like Altair in Assassin's Creed!!!(Not gonna happen, lol ^^)

goosey7683
goosey7683

this game is going to be so awesome! It sounds like it is non-stop fun. It is so realstic!!!!!! I can't wait til it comes out

Coole_o8
Coole_o8

So...How is this going to work Wow i posted a comment on an old article pathetic gamer

Raptomex
Raptomex

This game is going to be the ****

dead_god86
dead_god86

alright, online with GTA IV in an MMO style(obviously) definately a must, been waiting for multyplayer in GTA since GTA 3, got a bit of a taste of that ins SA, although i have that on PC. so, definate worth investing in a 360 after xmas this year for this, goodbye WoW, hello GTA:IV, ...yeh no planes is a bummer, but, adds to the realism, i'm sure there will be plenty to do, + downloadable stuff, means later extra content

gtaMANIC
gtaMANIC

damn no planes :( WHYYYYYYYY??

murfy-halo-lad
murfy-halo-lad

this wil b da game of the year!! apart from halo 3!! cant w8 2 get dem both!!

Javon_cK
Javon_cK

this game comes out either january or febuary 2008 and im pretty sure the score for it will be between 9.7 to 10 and for all those people who think grand theft auto IV is coming out on ps2 or xbox its not gta4 was made for NEXT GEN CONSOLES ONLY so i would suggest investing in an xbox 360 because the ps3 is overly priced and the 360 has many more games to choose from

Eggie37
Eggie37

it wont come out on ps2

hahatchimmmmm
hahatchimmmmm

whell, it's going to be the best game hever, like GTAsan andreas was and is. i hope it will be a perfect game, please god please make my investiment for ps2 not be in vain,

Eraak
Eraak

"this going to be the best game until halo comes out" This comes out AFTER Halo, gg

MajorCain501
MajorCain501

i agree with gears, halo has been such an awaited game because bungie left us hanging with the bad ending because, "What are you doing on that ship?" "Sir, Finishing this fight!!" Whats up with that??

gearsman-1
gearsman-1

this going to be the best game until halo comes out

xployt268
xployt268

yes this game is gonna rock the 360 world yep halo bring it on

robotchicken29
robotchicken29

GTA is going to change the way of gaming once agin

Nicksta101
Nicksta101

looks great, Rockstar haven't dissapointed me with any of their games, this should'nt either.

Kotake10
Kotake10

It is going to be on my list but the style of gameplay looks similar to other GTA games except more like GTA3 but i hope it doesnt give me the same jailed feeling like i cant steal planes and such. I think it wont be like that considering the sie of the game though.Well anyone MOVE IT ALONG ROCKSTAR!

kalcaron
kalcaron

I need to buy a controller for my PC soon, for this game.

Snake12511
Snake12511

It's Looks like the game is coming on well, from what i heard from in the demo. I hope it will be even better then GTA 3. I will be the first in-line at the store to get my copy of the game.

barry1991
barry1991

the game looks bloody amazing and karan7 most of the things u say have already been dont but i agree with you on all of the other ones that you said dont really care bout multiplayer also one thing to say america is so against terrorism maybe they should make the police on high alert after you fire a rocket launcher at a building or sumtin like tht give it a sense of realism or like close a scene for investigation

dany_gamer_kid
dany_gamer_kid

in others gta,when a car hits you, the player just flyies away 5 meters,and than he wakes up and walk without any problem. but it would be better if he has an arm broken,or he starts bleeding,he needs to go to hospital or CALL an ambulance...what do you say?

TheWartongue
TheWartongue

personally im anticipating a good first person perspective in vehicles....my biggest problem with GTA games is the third person camera for driving...it takes me out of the world.

JukedSolid
JukedSolid

Its got a long way to go but it looks pretty insane. Definately the most anticipated game

kabur
kabur

I might just buy an Xbox 360 just for this game alone

buffalobill
buffalobill

Is it just me or does anyone else think Niko looks like the president of Iran?

matthouse123
matthouse123

New tailer 2 out, its damn good,can wait till its out

soldado_nazi
soldado_nazi

Lets just hope they release a pc version and for win XP, not the "exclusive vista"... If that happens, more proof of monopoly from consoles we have... And dont start vista has bla bla bla... gta san andreas worked on xp, gta4 can definetly work too regardments

darthvulger
darthvulger

you people should see the new trailer...its awsome

karan7
karan7

What We Would Like Here is a list of features we would like to see. Now don't quote us on these, they're simply a collection of wishes. Saying that, if any popup then don't say we didn't tell you so. ;0) Flying planes and who knows maybe even commercial aircraft. Graffiti will play a part in the game, tagging turf. You’ll be able to operate other forms of machinery, such as cranes etc. You can go shopping or shop lifting. Newspapers will be able to be read to find out what’s going in the city and to check your wanted level Cops will try and pull you over for having a busted tail light or running lights. You have to eat You can climb and hide in trees. People may try to mug you in certain areas. You can take your cars to service stations to fill up or get repairs. There will be frequent traffic jams - especially those accidents caused by you that last . A lot will happen in back alleys You can start a relationship with woman and choose when and how you see them. Able to start a relationship and take it as far as you want. Actually have a life outside of crime Hopefully control at high speeds in the rain is harder in vehicles Undercover cops would be awesome. FBI agents will stake you out - and you won’t know you’re being followed You can send picture messages on your phone to other GTA players Stealing from houses like TVs etc Different fights with people based on physic, like old lady will fight different to a young man. Some sort of ipod with custom soundtracks Hitman side missions. A branching storyline. Better range of property to buy, some sort of empire mode. Traffic that doesn’t have the same car over and over due to the Xbox 360 and PS3's higher Ram. Some sort of reward vehicle once game is complete, much like jet pack or fighter jet. Ability to download new missions, not just episodic content. Able to give missions out for once, rather then receive them. Swimming? Back pack to carry extra ammunition. Ability to keep the weapons you died/got busted with by paying a bribe (like older GTA’s) A more 'living world, everything you do adversely will affect the game, the more you act like a criminal, the more the police will harass you. The more notorious you are the more people will fear you etc. You can actually get flagged down and pulled over (if you decide to) and get tickets and stuff. Ability to buy vehicles, not just steal them. Real time passes as you play; some missions have you needing to turn on your console at night to complete etc It should be much easier to say steal a car or rob a bank in the night then it is in the day Ability to create your own scenarios/missions, and put them online for others to download. Date and Time sensitive missions once the game has been completed. Basically like Animal crossing. Certain missions appear throughout the year. Date and time effect environment, eg, New Years Eve will have Liberty City lit up with fire works, etc.

karan7
karan7

What We Would Like Here is a list of features we would like to see. Now don't quote us on these, they're simply a collection of wishes. Saying that, if any popup then don't say we didn't tell you so. ;0) Flying planes and who knows maybe even commercial aircraft. Graffiti will play a part in the game, tagging turf. You’ll be able to operate other forms of machinery, such as cranes etc. You can go shopping or shop lifting. Newspapers will be able to be read to find out what’s going in the city and to check your wanted level Cops will try and pull you over for having a busted tail light or running lights. You have to eat You can climb and hide in trees. People may try to mug you in certain areas. You can take your cars to service stations to fill up or get repairs. There will be frequent traffic jams - especially those accidents caused by you that last . A lot will happen in back alleys You can start a relationship with woman and choose when and how you see them. Able to start a relationship and take it as far as you want. Actually have a life outside of crime Hopefully control at high speeds in the rain is harder in vehicles Undercover cops would be awesome. FBI agents will stake you out - and you won’t know you’re being followed You can send picture messages on your phone to other GTA players Stealing from houses like TVs etc Different fights with people based on physic, like old lady will fight different to a young man. Some sort of ipod with custom soundtracks Hitman side missions. A branching storyline. Better range of property to buy, some sort of empire mode. Traffic that doesn’t have the same car over and over due to the Xbox 360 and PS3's higher Ram. Some sort of reward vehicle once game is complete, much like jet pack or fighter jet. Ability to download new missions, not just episodic content. Able to give missions out for once, rather then receive them. Swimming? Back pack to carry extra ammunition. Ability to keep the weapons you died/got busted with by paying a bribe (like older GTA’s) A more 'living world, everything you do adversely will affect the game, the more you act like a criminal, the more the police will harass you. The more notorious you are the more people will fear you etc. You can actually get flagged down and pulled over (if you decide to) and get tickets and stuff. Ability to buy vehicles, not just steal them. Real time passes as you play; some missions have you needing to turn on your console at night to complete etc It should be much easier to say steal a car or rob a bank in the night then it is in the day Ability to create your own scenarios/missions, and put them online for others to download. Date and Time sensitive missions once the game has been completed. Basically like Animal crossing. Certain missions appear throughout the year. Date and time effect environment, eg, New Years Eve will have Liberty City lit up with fire works, etc.

play333
play333

i made the 1000 comment thank you very much

play333
play333

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

play333
play333

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]