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Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar North
System: Xbox 360
Genre: Action Adventure
Release date: Available now
Review by: Ryan Asher
“Niko! My cousin! I can’t believe you’re here!”
I shared Roman Bellic’s disbelief as I unwrapped my copy of Grand Theft Auto IV, popped the disc into my system and heard the enjoyably ominous “Soviet Connection” by Michael Hunter. Prior to IV hitting store shelves in late April, our last real taste of GTA-goodness was in the fall of 2004, when Grand Theft Auto San Andreas shattered all expectations of what open world games could do.
Sure, some expansion-esque sequels hit systems over the past few years to whet the appetite of those who were hungry for more mayhem, but nothing could fully stave off the excitement of a next gen. installment. Naturally, the buildup to Niko Bellic’s arrival in Liberty City was intense. In true fashion, Rockstar North stayed frugal when it came to story details and gameplay videos, and Take 2 was vigilant in weeding out leaked videos of their soon-to-be mega hit. Anticipation and hope among the industry and its faithful was so high, it seemed like IV was doomed to disappoint. There’s no way any game could live up to the hype, let alone one that seemed to be taking some steps backward when compared to its previous iteration.
Apparently, Rockstar North never received the memo stating “stripped-back” sequels could have as much scope as their predecessors. While the leveling up and property management features of previous installments are missing and the whole of GTAIV takes place in one “measly” city compared to a whole state, this game’s magnitude has yet again raised the bar for the franchise. It’s just, put simply, a stunning effort on all fronts.
In place of some of its missing features, Grand Theft Auto IV comes complemented with a new shooting mechanic, a plethora of online modes, relationship building, so many lines of dialogue you might feel pity for the poor writers slaving over this brilliant script, as well as a city so finely crafted and detailed, you can cancel those plane tickets to visit New York this summer.
Are these new and refined features enough to make us completely forget about all of the old stuff we’re missing? Read on to find out.
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