GTAIV PC Hands-On: Video Editor and More

Rockstar's latest epic has almost finished its journey home, and it looks likely to be well worth the wait.

Grand Theft Auto IV on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 was an undoubted triumph. The best game in the long-running series received high review scores from across the industry, and the sheer quality of the game made it easy to forget that the PC is where it all started for the franchise.

Thankfully, Rockstar has not forgotten this, and the team at its Toronto offices has been working very hard, by the looks of things, to make sure that the series' PC homecoming doesn't disappoint those fans who might have been disgruntled to see the console versions hitting shelves first.

At first glance, the game looks brighter, sharper, and more vibrant, with the development team looking to take advantage of the increased flexibility presented by the PC platform. The aim is to ensure that the game not only looks good on top-end hardware--at a maximum resolution of 2560x1600 pixels--but also runs perfectly well on three-year-old machines, according to the Rockstar staffer taking us through the demo. Recommended and minimum specifications for the game are yet to be released.

That having been said, the game features a wealth of options that allow you to optimise your machine's performance based on what you want the game to do. As well as the normal detail, lighting, and other technical settings, it's possible to change traffic density on the fly. If you know your computer struggles around really busy junctions, you can keep your settings at such a level that it keeps frame rates up most of the time and just lowers traffic density either across the board or as you enter more built-up areas. It also allows those with higher-spec machines to push the traffic levels in Liberty City up much higher than the default values on consoles, which does add an extra dimension to the city, with built-up junctions feeling even more chaotic than before.

The rig that we got to play on was running the game at 1920x1200 pixels. The work done improving textures, objects, and lighting was all immediately apparent. Trees look much better, close-up detail on surfaces look better, and above all, the lighting looks immeasurably better. The lit-up ads on the tops of cabs now really stand out as you drive through the shadows of trees, the neon displays around Star Junction have a new vibrancy, and shadows all seem much sharper, as well as more lifelike.

One other thing worth mentioning from a technical standpoint is the control scheme. It's possible to use either a mouse-keyboard combination or a joypad--or to use both, as switching between the two is seamless. Even the onscreen help prompts change simply by determining which input system you're using, without needing to change any options or settings.

Other than these relatively minor--though impressive--changes, the main point of this demo was to show off the new in-game movie editor, which is promised to integrate seamlessly with Rockstar's online services. GTAIV on the PC automatically buffers between about 30 seconds and three minutes of recent game data, depending on how much action there is going on onscreen. Simply pressing F2 saves the buffer as a file for later editing. This means that as soon as you've done something you thought looked cool, all you need to is press F2, and it'll be ready for you when you pop into the editor later on.

The editor itself is accessed via a new menu in Niko's phone and looks to have some serious potential for budding Scorseses. Entering the editor makes you leave the game proper, so you do need to make sure you've finished whichever task you were in the middle of when you captured your video before unleashing your inner cinematographer.

Opening up the editor, the controls seem very simple. The most important selection initially is the camera: You have the option of the default game view, which is exactly the view you saw as you played through the segment, the view from any of various nearby targets, several fixed angles--to Niko's right, say, or head-on--as well as a free camera. The free camera has some limitations, though. If you're within about 10 metres of Niko then it really is free, with views possible from any angle from any position inside the area. If you go out of that 10m-or-so circle, you're limited to being pointed at Niko, but you can pan and zoom out quite some distance nonetheless.

Setting up sequences of shots is just a matter of setting markers on certain frames, then telling the editor where you want the camera to be at each marker and how to transition between them. This means that you can easily set the camera to pan 360 degrees around Niko in the time it takes him to draw his weapon; for greater effect, you can even add filters to the shots or slow down time. In our time playing with the demo, we managed to get the camera moving through a shot-out cop car window as Niko gunned down the policemen hiding behind it, before swinging behind him as he loaded his rocket launcher. In our half-hour, we managed to make a fairly compelling vignette from part of a bank heist and could really see the enormous potential in the tools.

You also have complete control of the sound in any given clip, turning voices on and off at will. You can add any song on the soundtrack over the top and even push the SFX volume up to make the most of those explosions and gunfire in those dramatic moments. We were also told that it will be possible to pull clips together into longer segments, despite the limit on initial capture length.

All in all, GTAIV looks set to arrive home before Christmas in some style. Keep an eye on GameSpot as the release approaches for details on the recommended specifications, launch details, and more.

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Discussion

206 comments
Sharif_123
Sharif_123

Anyone want to enable the high texture in gts iv : D:\Rockstar Games\Grand Theft Auto IV 1) create .txt file an name it commandline . 2) open it and write this : -norestriction start the game and set it.

Comduter
Comduter

"The aim is to ensure that the game not only looks good on top-end hardware--at a maximum resolution of 2560x1600 pixels--but also runs perfectly well on three-year-old machines, according to the Rockstar staffer taking us through the demo." Bull****! Cough! BULL$#%$#%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No wonder this "Rockstar staffer remained anonymous. Three year old machine MY ASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tharki
Tharki

i need GAMESPOT ScORE!!

ed_jpa
ed_jpa

It's TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

tarantyno
tarantyno

yay less then one week! and luckyly im getting a new dual core pc on tuesday,yipeeee!

dbhayes68
dbhayes68

@ marinkalomensky "Does this mean I have no right to play?" Well, yeah. Why would you think you have the right? We're not talking about food, water or shelter here.

keatman
keatman

The thing is, if you really want this game then you should strive to get it despite the cost or any difficulty getting it. Yes, it is expensive for some people (included me) but you should understand the hard work that was put into making this game. They took 3-4 years developing this game, how much would you expect people to pay you if you spent 3-4 years toiling to make something for them? $10? $20? If you want rockstar to continue with their good work, pay them what they truly deserve or else get a pirated and do not hope for any future projects. If your reason is that you do not have enough money to spend for the month if you get this game, save your money. People who toils for what they want will have their worth.

keatman
keatman

talking about price. this game will cost 1/3 of my salary in a month. but i will definately get the original for this game though.

torinraven
torinraven

@marinkalomensky: You make a valid point, and something to that effect should be addressed, such as price scaling so the price of electronic entertainment more closely matches local income levels; after all, getting $5 for a legitimate copy of a game is better than getting nothing at all (although how on earth do you regulate that?). My argument was directed more toward those who do have the means yet choose to steal a copy simply because they can get away with it. A teen or young adult living at home with a McJob who has no financial obligations beyond gas and weed money should have to chip in just like those who have a house and kids to support.

marinkalomensky
marinkalomensky

@ nunyerbiz & torinraven - Well, I can buy some cheap game but in my d@mn country the average salaries are around 200-250$ with which people have to live whole month so I can't afford it. Does this mean I have no right to play? In the same time I know you're both right and I feel sorry that I can't support any company at all. And still there are far worser than my countries but I'm not sure does they even have computers. Decide for yourselves but know that not everybody can afford paying. And for the game - err... the PC gamers are becoming forgotten. Waited a lot of time for this game and a lot more which were for XBOX year ago...

torinraven
torinraven

@ Nunyerbiz: Agreed. Stop the D@MN piracy! People keep complaining about the shrinking PC game market without remembering that PROFIT is what drives developers to create games. No profit, no games. I've even been to some GameStops here in the Philly area that don't even HAVE a PC section. Get a job and help support the industry

doktron
doktron

so when is Gears of War 2 and Halo 3 coming home to the PC?

keatman
keatman

Great, now we havta wait longer. My axieties are killin me man! Anyway, is there any preorder for this available yet? I just need this game immediatly after it releases on PC.

nunyerbiz
nunyerbiz

I'm getting more and more excited for this one... I'm getting older now, married with two young sons and don't have the time or desire to play video games like I used to. That said, I will make the time for this one. Kudos to Rockstar for the PC support. I haven't bothered buying a PS3 or 360 due to my lack of gaming time... but I'll always keep a halfway decent video card in the PC. :) And yea.... stop pirating games already. I thought it was kinda cool and anti-establishment when I was a dumbass 14 year old... but we all gotta grow up at some point. If you can afford the gaming rig and/or consoles, then you can afford the software.

RLCD
RLCD

That makes too of us mehboob_j

mehboob_j
mehboob_j

(*_*) I played all the series of GTA and i was just waiting for this.. (*_*)

Oggy1985
Oggy1985

Finally the waiting has come to an end (soon). I love this game!

hhhhhhhhhh1977
hhhhhhhhhh1977

thank you I am waiting it ,it is will be awesome

totti_freeman
totti_freeman

well at least they didnt cancel it (thank u god).if its necessary to delay it,just to fix some things,and perfect every thing that needs perfecting,then im okay with it.its better to release a good,high quality and bug free game,rather than a buggy and unfinished one.go rockstar GO!!! just dont cancel it...or i will personally sue u!!! just kiddin...but seriously...don't cancel it.

soujiro_t
soujiro_t

"and remember, respect is everything."

analgrin
analgrin

The ps3 version is selling 2nd hand on ebay for about £25 here in the uk. Think i may sell my copy and use the money to buy the pc version, which just so happens to cost £24.99 delivered :) Free upgrade!!!! LOL thats why i just love pc gaming.!!!

WhiteSnake5000
WhiteSnake5000

You know the only way I understand someone not buying the game is if they already bought it on a console and just want to play it on the PC. I think it's unfair to pay $50 for the same game. But I'll definitely buying it, I didn't pay for GTA4 on the ps3, now if I did, I'd totally steal it. lol

shamim101
shamim101

why did they delay the release?anybody knows?

sythex
sythex

how would downloading pc games be the end of pc gaming? everyone I know has a modded xbox 360 and download every new release. it's not that hard to mod a system. pirating is definitely not okay in my books, but it is not only pc gamers who pirate games. look at blackcats.net, their servers hold a much higher ratio for console games than they do for pc games. do some research and find out for yourselves.

leem2k1
leem2k1

drdoris: It's interesting that you list shoplifters as major criminals, when their crime is stealing things, just like people who download games illegally. And I don't need to "persuade" you that it's illegal. It's a fact, whether you acknowledge it or not.

Cactus_Matt
Cactus_Matt

I didn't like it on the console, but I'll pick it up on PC.

hotbodyboy_2006
hotbodyboy_2006

Lol, This and Prince Of Persia releasing Together. LMAO. I am bankrupt for sure.

drdoris
drdoris

snikka. did you really say "major criminal activity. not just a slap on the wrist?" you're a tit arn't you? lets forget shoplifters, rapists, and armed robbers. those people who pirate games are relly ruining the world we live in. aren't they? i have pirate versions of every new game. and iam yet to be persuaded that what i do is illegal. yet alone as immoral as you would have it. grow up. and look at the state of the real world.

tarantyno
tarantyno

why the bloody hell they needed to postone it untill december 2?... i guess ill be playing Left 4 Dead untill i'll be download this... oops, I mean i'll buy this legally for a bunch of cash :)) ... uh-oh,and theres also COD 5 and Mirrors Edge in november... i guess i wont be too bored after all

lucebuce
lucebuce

nice to see that unlike the previous PC port by Rockstar , it didnt take years and they've tried to add things and improve on the things that needed it

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

FINALLY Rockstar stops milking console noobs and returns to stroke the true believers.

trodeback
trodeback

I got a 360 for this game and some others when the price went down. Was disappointed at the 360's graphics so I sold the thing right when I heard this was coming to the PC. Console games just can't live up to the graphic power of my PC.

fnscj
fnscj

f..ack consol pc rules ...PC THE BEST !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DeadManRollin
DeadManRollin

It's good to see a developer paying respect to the PC platform by improving the game. Most developers are lazy and they just port a crappy console version of the game to PC, and miss out on improving it.

LettuceJoans
LettuceJoans

1920x1200 baby! That my resolution! I haven't played GTA4 at all yet, so I'm very excited for the PC release.

DieselCat18
DieselCat18

Twilite....people like you are the ones causing problems in the gaming industry. Like my father use to tell me..."three of the worst things in this world are lairs, thieves and cheats".....I wonder where you stand if you don't pay for your games ? GTA is back where it belongs...on the PC !

sumukh3
sumukh3

game on baby!!! gta bak to where it belongs... finished it on 360,still cant wait to try it on pc,jus for better graphics n unbeatable handling...PC rockks,bow down consoles...

-Twilight-
-Twilight-

As if my mind wasn't blown by the console release. Can't wait to see these technical improvements on the PC. I never even intended on holding out this long for my own personal copy of the game. I'll have to go out and buy this one.

Craft2299
Craft2299

Holy **** ive gota great idea for a cutscene! :D

snikka
snikka

You can't really stop the a*seholes that download illegally, but they'll be caught eventually. Mark my words, If you'd seen the stuff that they're starting to use now to catch the downloaders, You'd think twice. We're talking major criminal activities, it won't be a slap on the wrist. Anyway, back to the game. It's good to finally see GTA coming back to it's roots. I was starting to lose faith in Rockstar as they should have released this on PC first, regardless.

Jkouw
Jkouw

can't wait. don't download it will just bring the end to PC gamming.

RevanzZz
RevanzZz

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

sakin123456
sakin123456

the previous ones were great and hope that this will also be a great one. and pc gamers dont download this game. it is better to buy it. kane and lynch dead men was good but it still cannot beat gta in anything.

jackthehunter
jackthehunter

Thank you rockstar for delay of this game !! I can download other game by that time and will get hands on this :)

paulb4uk
paulb4uk

Looking forward to this we all knew it would arrive eventually on a proper gaming platform .

sylar_heroes
sylar_heroes

FINALLY!!! I was waiting so hard for this one...

gK-SilveRMatt
gK-SilveRMatt

GREAT! And as ChadFromCanada says: BUY THE GAME, DO NOT DOWNLOAD IT!