By far the best Grand Theft Auto ever and one of the most ambitious and complete video games ever made.
If you're a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series already then we honestly can't see any way that you're going to be disappointed in this latest sequel.
It's a clear step beyond any of the previous games in the series and so full of detail and unexpected extras it dooms any subsequent clones.
One of the many problems with the previous GTAs is that while they've always had excellent dialogue, particularly on the radio, they've lacked in terms of story and character.
The plot here is the most complex yet, and in Eastern European immigrant Niko, Rockstar have finally created a main character with some genuine charm. He isn't a braggart and can even be made to make some hard moral choices.
Although this improves on every aspect of the series the underlying structure and gameplay is still largely the same. Once the game has walked you through the basic controls you're then left completely free to taken on missions from a variety of people.
Most aren't just empty avatars though, but must be befriended and socialised with, a task for which your new multi-function mobile phone is essential. Not only do the main characters seem more alive but the city does too, from snippets of overheard dialogue to the obsessive detail and hidden secrets.
And yet no matter how well presented the missions are few deviate too far from basic shoot-outs or driving tasks. Thankfully the controls for both are much improved, although aiming – particularly in enclosed spaces – is more fiddly than it needs to be.
Although the controls have been improved neither ally nor enemy artificial intelligence has. Bad guys still run around like headless chickens, escort missions are still a pain and no one can drive straight.
But GTA has always entertained, despite these problems and more - and now it has more stable graphics (although the frame is still sluggish) and even a mildly diverting online multiplayer.
With a game of this size it's possible to nitpick endlessly but there's not a single comparable title with anything like the same ambition or flair.
It's possible to live an entire virtual life in the game, with a whole fake internet to explore, dating agencies, comedy clubs and sub quests galore.
A game defined not by its gameplay but its environment the promise of the next gen consoles has finally been kept. This is undoubtedly one of the best games of the year and easily a contender for the prestigious GOTY award.