The most anticipated game of 2008 expands the open-world action introduced in the groundbreaking Grand Theft Auto III to a new level of detail. The next-gen debut of the unapologetically violent series stars new protagonist Niko Bellic, a criminal looking for a fresh start and perhaps a shot at redemption. Niko is lured to the bustling Liberty City from Europe by his reckless cousin Roman, who sells him on a life of luxury with quick cash, fast cars, and faster women. Roman has considerably overstated his wealth, however. The cousin is indebted to the type of people who don't take "no" for an answer, and he desperately needs Niko's help.
So begins Grand Theft Auto IV, which returns players to a revamped Liberty City teeming with pedestrians, vehicles, and criminal activity. The game's tongue-in-cheek version of the Big Apple features replicas of four boroughs as well as a portion of New Jersey. While the environment is smaller than the area found in 2004's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the setting is more densely packed, offering a greater amount of things to see and do. A new physics model forms the backbone of the advanced 3D engine, allowing players to interact with objects and characters in more lifelike ways. The storyline is designed to offer more meaningful choices as well, with Niko able to access key contacts and messages at any time with his camera-equipped cell phone.
The world is once again viewed from a third-person perspective with players able to freely walk, run, swim, or drive with little to no restrictions. Combat continues to incorporate hand-to-hand moves and gunplay, albeit with a new aiming system designed for more precise control. A reticule can be manually positioned for pinpoint accuracy, or it can be set to automatically lock onto the next available target. Niko can also duck behind objects for cover, trading shots with enemies who do the same. New ways to interact with the world include GPS-equipped vehicles, functional police car databases, working window scaffolding, and much more. During the day or at night, players can listen to a variety of licensed songs from dashboard radios in cars, trucks, boats, helicopters, and other vehicles.
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