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May 23, 2008
Grand Theft Auto IV - PS3 Review Page 2
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
29/4/2008RockstarRockstarRockstar North12-16
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Standing patrol on the boat.
Prior to release Rockstar promised that one of the biggest changes, and improvements, would be to the combat in the game, and indeed this is one area which has been revamped for the better. The game now includes an auto lock-on similar to that in the companies Manhunt. By pressing the R2 button you will target an enemy although by pressing the right analogue stick you can switch between them. It is also possible, but moving the right analogue stick slightly while logged on, to target various body parts. Weapons available to Niko include his fists, a baseball bat, pistols, machine guns, shotguns, molotov cocktails and rocket launchers among others.

Grand Theft Auto IV also includes a cover system. By pressing R1 when near objects (pillars, walls, boxes or any pretty much any other objects) Niko will take cover behind them, only ducking out to fire his weapons. It's not just Niko using cover though, as enemies can, and will, also use cover. The final revamp to the combat includes the ability to use the L1 button and right analogue stick to fire a weapon while driving a car. It takes a bit of getting used to, but is quite invaluable for drive by shooting.

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Building interiors also look wonderful.
So let's talk about some of the other fun stuff to do in the game (and we are really only scraping the surface here!). Should you hijack a police car you will be able to hit L1 to access the police computer which allows you to look up addresses and mug shots of criminals, and then hunt them down. It's possible to play games of darts, bowling and snooker in the game - each of which is every bit as impressive as individual games. You can go to the cabaret club and watch some shows, or the strip club for some "alternate" shows - just make sure you get three lap dances in a row! Getting drunk is a blast. Niko struggles to walk without falling over and driving makes the screen shake all over the place, making it hard to drive in a straight line. Tremendous fun. Grand Theft Auto IV includes internet cafe's with the option to browse hundreds of sites, set up dates and of course e-mail associates for jobs.

Relationships are now a major focus of the game. As you progress through the game you will meet more and more friends. Not only will the majority of them want you to complete missions, but when you've earned their trust you can start to go out with them. Go to a pool hall, go play darts, a restaurant or even a strip club. The further you get into the game the more balancing is required to keep them happy. Do you go on a date with a female friend (and hope to go into her house for a, ermm, 'coffee'?) or do you go and complete that mission which another friend needs you to do urgently? It's a fine line, and a great element to the game.

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Niko is walking out of the bar.
Shifting away from the single player game Rockstar have also included some impressive multi-player modes. Accessed through Niko's mobile phone there are 15 different game modes for up to 16-players online. Naturally you have the standard Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch (for up to 8 teams!), but also modes such as Cops n' Crooks, Race and GTA Race (which are - surprise, surprise - racing modes) and more. The real standout though is the customisation in these game modes. As well as the look of your character the host can select the part of the city to play in, from a tiny suburb area to the full map, the pedestrians, cops, time of day, length of game, weather and more. Lag issues are, as with any online games reliant on the players individual connections, but the overall experience is one of the best on Playstation 3.

No game is perfect, and despite the scale, the complexity, the beauty of Grand Theft Auto IV there are indeed some areas where I think Rockstar could have improved the game further. Certainly the biggest complaint we have to raise about the game is the similarity of many of the missions. The bulk of the missions involve Niko driving to a location and then, more often then not, having to kill a bunch of bad guys before escaping the police. Sure there are plenty of other missions where you may have to drive someone to a location, or steal a certain vehicle. Also, there are plenty of side missions - hunting down wanted criminals, acting as a taxi driver and so on - but the main missions are quite similar.

When you're accompanied by friends the AI seems to go a little AWOL too. In one mission (Three Leaf Clover) we had to drive to a bank, on the way I jumped out of the car, my free friends followed suit but then started to randomly shoot at people without provocation. When I jumped back into the car to speed away from the cops two friends refused to get back into any car that I got into - restart mission.

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Water looks pretty impressive..
Looking at other issues there are a few too many occasions when traffic doesn't quite act as realistically as one would expect. Cars simply stop when you get in front of them, and there isn't any real attempt to go around you. Likewise, if they are traveling at speed they won't try to swerve around you. It's also quite clear that when you're driving a certain, even rare, car they roads suddenly start to fill with that car type. Finally, despite the massive city I really wanted to see more buildings opened up to be entered. It seems that any location in the game that you can enter was a part of a mission. Why are there so few Internet cafe's when in real cities they are on every street. Why are there so few restaurants? Where are the gyms?

Finally we have what is partially an issue, and partially a positive to Grand Theft Auto IV on the Playstation 3. Prior to playing the game you will have to undergo a mandatory install of approximately 3.4GB onto the PS3 Hard Drive. It is annoying that we are burdened with this (the XBox 360 version has no install as far as we know), but the positive is that the load times on the PS3 version are actually shorter then on Microsoft's console.

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There are plenty of choppers in Liberty City.
As most people would be aware Australia and New Zealand have received an edited version of Grand Theft Auto IV. Even following release of the game Rockstar are remaining tight lipped about changes made however we can confirm a few things. When you pick up a prostitute and have sex in the car the Australian version just shows the back bumper bar and number plate moving up and down, and there is no view of the two going at it. The other changed with prostitutes is that there is no option to select how much you want to spend on the 'service'. In terms of the rest of the game the drugs, drinking, strip clubs, and violence are all intact so there is no need to freak out about a 'lesser' version of the game. In short, no story or major gameplay elements have been removed.

Another thing to mention is that some time ago Microsoft made a deal with Rockstar to provide exclusive downloadable content in future on the XBox 360. Naturally, pricing hasn't been announced as yet but we have to point out that there is already so much gameplay in this PS3 title that it's hard to see you not getting your money worth from the PS3 version. Sure you may miss out on some content, but you're not being ripped off here in the slightest.

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