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February 13 2008
Grand Theft Auto IV - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
29/4/2008Rockstar GamesRockstar GamesRockstar North
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
12-TBA$119.95 Standard
$149.95 Special Ed.
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The city is full of signs and billboards.
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Character models look very impressive.!

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I'd be backing up here too!
When you talk about the movie industry you talk about 'blockbuster' and 'tent pole' movies - those which either have, or are certain to generate, massive amounts of dollars at the box office. The games industry has similar titles and right now that standout franchise is Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar redefined the action genre with GTA III on the PS2 as well as several subsequent titles including GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas and are set to do it all again. Grand Theft Auto IV is the latest title in the series, and as the name suggest it involves and entirely new engine, gameplay and storyline. We've waited for well over six years for the true next game in the series, but it looks like being well and truly worth it.

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Someone's in trouble here?
What does the American Dream mean today? For Niko Bellic, fresh off the boat from Europe, it is the hope he can escape his past. For his cousin, Roman, it is the vision that together they can find fortune in Liberty City, gateway to the land of opportunity.

As they slip into debt and are dragged into a criminal underworld by a series of shysters, thieves and sociopaths, they discover that the reality is very different from the dream in a city that worships money and status, and is heaven for those who have them and a living nightmare for those who don't.

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Standing patrol on the boat.
To emphasise just how big Grand Theft Auto IV is, there are apparently over 150 people working on development of the game - a massive number in anyone’s terms. It seems to be paying off though with the game looking to be one of the biggest of all time, in almost every regard. Set in the modern day this is, as with previous titles, a third person action adventure title. As a sandbox game you are free to go anywhere and do anything at any and all times. Obviously with the day/night cycle some shops and locations will be open or closed depending on the time of day. Niko can drive cars, ride motorbikes, speed around on the water in boats or walk around as a pedestrian. It's all available. He can climb, swim, run and do anything else like a normal human being (hell, some people can't swim so I guess he's even ahead!). As with previous games the missions available will be quite varied and will include tracking down people, transporting goods, taking out targets and so on.

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Building interiors also look wonderful.
One of the big changes promised for this game is the combat. Previous titles have included some rather simplistic combat moves, but this game has been totally reworked for a full combat system. The game now includes improved targeting, a full cover system and improved hand-to-hand combat. Indeed Niko can take cover behind almost any objects in the world while he can even blind fire (using weapons like machine guns, shotguns, pistols or even grenades!) on enemies from behind that cover. Just remember though, enemies can also use the cover system to protect themselves! When using guns Grand Theft Auto IV allows you to Free Aim, or lock onto different body parts for a bit of extra brutality. As well as normal 'on foot' combat it is now possible to shoot while driving cars. Using the right analogue stick you can now target enemies and take them out while driving by.

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Water looks pretty impressive..
So what else can we tell you about the game? We could go on for hours on end really, but we honestly don't want to give you too many details to spoil it. But anyway here goes. In the game you will be able to hijack a police car. As well as tearing around in it the big option will be to access the police database to gather information, and mug shots, for people in the game world including those you are trying to track down. It will then be possible to go to that persons location by entering the address into a GPS which most cars in the game have. The better the car, the better the GPS too! It will even be possible to get drunk in the game, the results of which will make the screen go blurry, and make controlling the characters much harder.

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The Special Edition bundle.
If you are a GTA fan the odds are that you'll be most interested in paying a few coins more to pick up the awesome Special Edition which contains a few bonus items (the games are identical between versions). The Grand Theft Auto IV Special Edition will be presented in a customized Grand Theft Auto metal safety deposit box and inside contains:

  • Grand Theft Auto IV game with special packaging
  • The Grand Theft Auto IV Art Book, featuring never-before-seen production artwork from Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Selected soundtrack CD from Grand Theft Auto IV, featuring new material from top artists, only available on this release
  • An exclusive Rockstar keychain for the safety deposit box keys
  • Completing the collection is a limited edition Rockstar duffel bag

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Niko is walking out of the bar.
While the graphics may not be the 'sharpest' or 'most detailed' or include 'character models with the most polygons' we have seen on the PS3, what must be remembered is that this is a living, breathing city with hundreds of people going about their daily lives in the city oblivious to the storyline that is taking place around them - unless you decide to interfere with their daily routines.

Liberty City is littered with billboards and signs and you can be sure that Rockstar will be packing this game with hundreds of smaller details and humourous pieces. Did you see the building "Getalife" in the first trailer? The game has some superb lighting routines which not only demonstrate different times of day, but also other visual effects such as fires, street lights, car lights and the like. A full weather system is also being implemented in the game which, from the screens when raining, looks impressive. We believe that Grand Theft Auto IV will be natively rendered at 720p and if it manages to hold a solid frame rate then it could be a visual triumph.

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Standing around with some heavies.
Audio has always been a major part in the series and yet again Rockstar are going all-out to make this one of the best audio experiences in a video game. Thousands of lines of dialogue have been recorded for the game and there will be multiple radio stations to listen to. To fit into the Russian theme the developers will even be including a Russian radio station to listen to. Radio stations won't be limited to being in-cars as you will also be able to whip out your mobile phone and tune in as well. As yet the dozens (or perhaps hundreds) of songs have not been announced as Rockstar is finalising licensing for the music in the game.

I could sit here and tell you that we're going to have to wait and see how this game turns out, but to be honest, we're more confident about this game being a hit both critically and commercially then any other this year. To be honest there is still so much we don't know about Grand Theft Auto IV including any multi-player modes and options - and I would suspect much of it won't be known until the game gets into our hands given Rockstar's track record, but at this stage everything seems to be coming together very nicely indeed. Rockstar Games have confirmed that Grand Theft Auto IV will see a simultaneous worldwide release on April 29th 2008. Not long to go now.

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Lighting in GTAIV is very impressive.
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Nice neon light there!