Grand Theft Auto IV Multiplayer Hands-On

Rockstar has remained tight-lipped about GTA IV's multiplayer game modes, but it recently blew away all the speculation with a full day of hands-on gameplay.

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When you finally explore Liberty City on April 29, you won't have to do it alone. Grand Theft Auto IV will be the first game in the series to ship with a complete online multiplayer component, supporting up to 16 players on both Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network. Little information has been released about how this aspect of the game will work, other than the subtle hints that Rockstar has dropped during earlier previews of the game. But with the game now finally approaching release this month, Rockstar decided to blow the lid off nearly all the multiplayer game modes, showing us Deathmatch, Cops and Crooks, Racing, as well as much more. Taking the form of an entire day's play testing at the company's London offices, we were literally able to take Rockstar on at its own game.

Deathmatch is a core part of the multiplayer game, and takes place in some familiar locales.

As we'd previously heard, the multiplayer mode is accessed by pulling out your mobile phone at any time during the single-player game. A small LCD appears at the bottom right of your view, and in one of the many small touches in the game, different players see different mobile operator logos on their home screens. From here, you can choose to enter the multiplayer game, at which point your single-player progress is saved and your console accesses its online network. As with Burnout Paradise, you'll be able to see which of your friends are currently playing GTA IV online, and if they're in an open party, you'll be free to join them. Likewise, if you choose to create a game, you can restrict it to just your friends list or open it up to the online community. Your character in the multiplayer game world is completely different from Niko: the fairly limited customisation options allow you to choose a male or female template and change outfits and accessories, but not facial details or body shapes.

To get a feel for the new multiplayer game, Rockstar initiated us with a simple four-on-four team Deathmatch. This mode may be simple, but the open world provides plenty of innovative ways to take down the opposition. As newbies, our first urge was to jump into a vehicle and work as a team, performing drive-by shootings while aiming to run over any enemies that got in our way. Both the driver and the passenger can shoot out of the window while moving, with the left bumper smashing out the window then firing your gun. You can aim using the right joystick, and a small reticle appears onscreen to help you line up shooting, as well as driving. There's also a downside to grouping together, especially if your enemy has a rocket launcher or another explosive device. One accurate shot can take out an entire team of people if they're all housed in one vehicle, leaving them to burn together in a burning wreck while the opposing team gets to regroup and rearm.

The alternative to using vehicles--collecting weapons and finding an elevated position--seemed to lead to higher scores. Combined with the new cover system, the environment can be used by clever players to avoid being hurt. For example, players can pop out when they have the best shots or simply blind-fire to keep enemies at bay. Pressing the right bumper snaps your character to the nearest cover, whether it is a wall or another object, such as a car. The Rockstar team was on hand for other tips, such as crouching when using a sniper rifle for better accuracy and always going for a headshot when fighting one-on-one. Even if you're restricted to a handgun, you can kill off an Uzi-wielding enemy using this method because it can bring down even the most heavily armoured foes. When locking on to an enemy with the left trigger, you can then flick the right stick to lift the aim to the head, and if you nail the technique, it takes only a couple of shots to kill someone.

Whether you're playing in single or multiplayer, you'll still be experiencing the same Liberty City.

Standard gunplay is all well and good, but GTA has always been about the unexpected opportunities that arise from its sandbox gameworld. Even though the Rockstar team had been instructed to go easy on us during our first game, one of the team members couldn't resist jumping in a helicopter, chasing us down a street, and using the rotor blades to send us hurtling through the air to our death. It was a fitting end to the Team Deathmatch mode, but after getting used to the control system, we were yearning for more. A rocket launcher Deathmatch game was duly arranged, pitting us against one other in a small park at night. The rocket launcher is a powerful but slightly tricky weapon to use because it takes a long time to reach its target and you can only carry six rockets at a time. Luckily, if you run out of ammo or want to get up close and personal, then you can have the option of engaging in a good old-fashioned knife fight.

While the Deathmatch modes were fun, the real attraction of GTA IV's multiplayer may well come from the many other modes that Rockstar has dreamed up. The second mode that we played through was Mafiya Work, where the aim was to complete missions before anyone else in the game. Missions are called in to your mobile from gang bosses all over the city; then, every player competes to carry them out and collect the cash. Once each mission had been issued, the objectives flash up on the map and it becomes a mad scramble for victory. Missions included stealing a certain car or delivering weapons to another location, with the player who has the most money at the end of the allotted time winning the game

The Cops & Crooks mode is another absolute riot where one team plays as police officers who have to catch the other team of criminals. The catch is that one of the criminals is assigned the position of the leader, and he must stay alive no matter what happens to the rest of the team. Other team members can die and respawn on the way to reaching their escape points, but if the leader is killed, then it's game over for everyone. There's also a co-op mode for up to four players called Noose Assault, where we had to help a notorious criminal make it from his private jet to a hideaway while being pursued by a ferocious SWAT team. It's a shame that the entire game isn't playable in co-op, but this mission was a nice alternative to the other more competitive multiplayer modes.

The new cover system works well in multiplayer, allowing you to stay shielded while blind-firing or aiming for a headshot.

Another surprisingly addictive mode is the racing, which can be played with or without weapons. It won't compete with Burnout or Need for Speed in terms of realism or depth, but leading a pack of eight racers and tossing Molotov cocktails out of the window is still highly entertaining. The host of the game gets to choose the route and the type of vehicle used in each race, while the participants get to choose which individual cars and colour schemes they want to use. If you're playing with weapons, you can collect pistols and grenades by driving over them, while heath kits restore any damage that you take to your car. If your vehicle does get damaged or you just fancy a change, then you can still jump out and steal one, but this does cost you valuable seconds of the race.

On the technical side, Rockstar hooked us up to the Xbox 360 debug version with headphones and a microphone. Despite being located in the same London office, we were all connected to each other over the Internet, which gave us a good idea of the online experience we can expect from the finished game. While you're free to talk to your teammates at any time by speaking through the microphone, you can also call individual players by accessing the mobile phone and just ringing them up. As with many Xbox Live games, the vocal quality can sometimes dip, but the only other issues we encountered were occasionally dropped animation frames when the action became frantic. Otherwise, GTA IV looked like a smooth online experience--and, according to Rockstar both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 will be exactly the same in terms of multiplayer features. Rockstar also told us at this point that while the game will support 1080p, the game will only run in 720p natively, and will therefore be scaled up to the higher resolution.

We wondered just how much of a role multiplayer would play in GTA IV, and after seeing it in action, we're pleased to report that it's far from being a simple afterthought to the game. With classic deathmatch and co-op missions combined with cops-and-robbers and mission-based objectives, the multiplayer component of GTA has a wealth of content to offer. We didn't even get to see some of the other modes on offer, which we saw on the menu screen as Deal Breaker and Bomb da Base II. Having finally got a chance to sample the multiplayer action, we're as excited as ever to finally play it on April 29.

Discussion

709 comments
louguystalker
louguystalker

I will be the guy drining the big scary muscle car running everything overDEATHPROOF!

artcantravel
artcantravel

Hopefully they will continue to add co-op missions. It is such a great addition to the game.

Ra-Devil
Ra-Devil

Halo 3 isn't so bad anymore. Then again, I do play more ranked than social matches, and I'm a level 43, putting me up against 50s (thanks Bungie). I hope to whatever god anyone holds true that the kids don't f*** up the multiplayer experience to this game. I also hope Rock* at least put in a mute button, like Halo has, just in case there are noisy kids. And yes, it's always kids, and they're always doing stupid s***. Why can't they just get banned for playing an M rated game?? Especially if they're obviously not 17?? I mean, isn't it law now that you have to be 17 to buy the damn game, no questions asked?

osxgp
osxgp

The problem with the multiplayer aspect of this game is the amount of kids playing. Halo 3 anyone?

WJCJ
WJCJ

ONE MORE MTF DAY!!!!!!!!!

RAMSAY87
RAMSAY87

I probably wont leave my room for a week or two IM JUICED

alistair_rags
alistair_rags

@turbo_20000, you can make a custom character in multiplayer but only to a certain extent.

NitroNoddy
NitroNoddy

:BlueyesCyclone you better hope they have "spare" non prrordered stock left. i phoned all 5 shops withing 30 miles of Bournemouth and none had extra stock as all were taken with preorders. Probably your best bet will be Tesco or sainsburys...

BlueyesCyclone
BlueyesCyclone

Boi i wont going to college on Tuesday lol Game in Lewisham opens at 8am i'm gonna be there at 7:30am for this game got to be the first to get it lol.

LCPxIxCYRUS
LCPxIxCYRUS

To answer turbo_2000 question. No, you can't customize a character. read the whole article! anyways, the online multiplayer is going to be awesome! dang! April 29th is taking forever! I need to get my hands on this game!

mentos_eater424
mentos_eater424

Gamezero224, do you have multiple personality or what??

Eggie37
Eggie37

what made u change ure mind from "The multiplayer is going to be awsome." to "ppl keep away of drugs. grand theft auto is a bad game with violence. last words keep away from gta"..

Gamezero224
Gamezero224

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Gamezero224
Gamezero224

ppl keep away of drugs. grand theft auto is a bad game with violence. last words keep away from gta ps: did everybody see the guy that wrote this articles name guy cocker lol

Honchy
Honchy

Why is there a picture with a guy in the middle of the street with the caption "The new cover system works well in multiplayer, allowing you to stay shielded while blind-firing or aiming for a headshot."?

WJCJ
WJCJ

GTA IV fully leaked! Go to dailymotion.com and type in 'GTA 4 gameplay' and you'll come up with almost 20 videos of gameplay footage from pirated versions of the game. SERIOUSLY!!!!!!!!

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

i think they should do a GTA MMO after this, that would be incredible!!

zrazer
zrazer

i think it should have 50 or 100 players rather than 16

NitroNoddy
NitroNoddy

And to make life even better HMV have just said they want me to experience the best game ever on the day of release as they are now sending it Royal mail special delivery for FREE!!! result

Gamezero224
Gamezero224

The multiplayer is going to be awsome.

dregghead
dregghead

hey will the multiplayer be splitscreen as well?

Red-Fist
Red-Fist

Awesome now i get to kill someone, with more pleasure.

French023
French023

Wow this sounds amazing. But really when i get gta i get it to play gta. I get halo 3 or cod to play things like deathmatch. But it will be a fun little add on

WJCJ
WJCJ

GTA IV fully leaked! Go to dailymotion.com and type in 'GTA 4 gameplay' and you'll come up with almost 20 videos of gameplay footage from pirated versions of the game.

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

dolfan92, Its the MP thats got me into this too. Cant wait

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

dolfan92, Its the MP thats got me into this too. Cant wait

samdonni
samdonni

This game is gonna kill every other game out there! Cant w8!

WJCJ
WJCJ

Nitro Noddy.....Ummm......Shut da hell up

dolfan928
dolfan928

Online is what's selling me this game. Free Mode is gonna be the s**t! Once this generation fully goes to Blu-Ray, either by 360 adopting it or going the way of the Dreamcast, we'll probably see Vice City/San Andreas again with the GTAIV graphics treatment since they'll have 35+ additional gigs to work with. That's what I'm really looking forward to. GTAIV's online will keep me happy in the meantime.

Jubei_1987
Jubei_1987

Nitro Noddy, im not bein funny or anythin but you just made yourself look like a proper *cough cough". Maybe just after you get the game smiling from ear 2 ear off the postman, you hear another knock at the door, open it with you happy hands still clutching the game and POW i punch you in the face and take your "GTA IV SE" lets see the smile now. then i walk away down your path while your knocked da **** out I turn backround and say, "Here keep your **** Duffle bag!"

parmjit
parmjit

im getting it from bestbuy the first day it comes out this game will be so tight it will replace my 6pm porno night. but the bad thing is im only 15 and they might not let me get it ill rape little girls if i dont get this game man but i still wish they made it a black guy because it was funnier when CJ and them did all this **** in the game. san andreas is the best so far but i hope this game is better on the ps3 PSN ID: H_A_R_K

ag3ntz3rox0x
ag3ntz3rox0x

if i went to school id so skip to play this game. lol

NitroNoddy
NitroNoddy

So, only 7 days till my special edition arrives. For those of you uninitiated with whats in the SE version I will recap: GTA IV Game Rockstar Safety deposit box with key Selected ingame music CD Special addition artwork from game book Duffle bag So just 7 more days till the parcelforce man knocks on my door and says " Got a parcel for ya mate". I will have the biggest grin on my face he will probably think its a box of Swedish porn thats making my grin go ear to ear :) Alot of people are still asking " will this be in the game... Will that be in the game" so if your in the UK I suggest you buy this months Official Xbox magazine as this will answer all your questions about the game ( and no I dint work for them ). They have done an excellent review after playing the "final game" for 2-3 hours solid ( jammy gits ). As for the "xbox 360 v PS3 " debate I ( having owned both consoles ) have to say I know why PS3 owners are miffed. This game WAS originally when announced a PS3 only exclusive ... So you can now understand why their tetchy ;) Personally I think that whoever plays this game on whichever console will have their gaming lives enriched by playing what will potentially be game of the year 2008. Never has a game had me counting down the days and annoying the wife with any new bits of info I find out about the game ( yes she has her own xbox 360 ) like this . My final point ( and apologies because I can't remember who first asked about it - I'm on my iPhone ) the single player is limitless! Yes you might do the main missions is 60-100 hours of game playing time but you also have to factor in the collectables / taxi driver missions / ambulance mission and police vigilanty mission etc... So I would say limitless. Anyways enough waffle for now.. Let us all be thankful were will be privileged to play what i believe will be a truly groundbreaking open world game. Best wishes Glenn ( GT : Nitro Noddy )

smithsmith07
smithsmith07

It will be the greatest GTA ever made. San Andreas just scratched the surface with their hidden co-op missions, but GTA VI will absolutely take it to the extreme. Get ready for a bloodbath

reggybabes
reggybabes

gonna be mint! 6 days left, get in!

footiemanic
footiemanic

oh yes dis game is gonna be da beez neez in my view

jlwarwick
jlwarwick

yes gamers u can get pissed in free roming and watch people going for joyrides

I_pWnzz_YoU
I_pWnzz_YoU

@MasterJuice Im pretty sure you'll be able to *crosses fingers* that'd be awesome!!

MasterJuice
MasterJuice

wait.. so you will actually be able to do what you do in single player (say get wasted) when you do a 16 person free for all match? that seems to awesome to be possible... anyone know if you could do this?