Grand Theft Auto IV Steals Reviewers' Hearts

Dennis Faas's picture

Long heralded as the most open-ended franchise in history (well, aside from those 100-plus hour Elder Scrolls games), Grand Theft Auto has received both acclaim and criticism for its violent nature. However, the most recent installment, Grand Theft Auto IV, is receiving reviews previously unheard-of in gaming. All in all, these kinds of scores make Halo 3 look like Superman N64 (uh, the worst-reviewed game in history).

When it first launched shortly after the introduction of the PlayStation 2, there was little doubt Grand Theft Auto III had changed the way games were made. Granted, it wasn't much different than its predecessors in the way it placed gamers in the shoes of a common street thug. However, for the first time ever it blended cutting-edge graphics with a vast, urban environment where the player could do just about anything they chose. The immense popularity of the game led to two semi-successors, including GTA III: Vice City and GTA III: San Andreas.

Grand Theft Auto IV has been blessed with no such title. This, it appears, is a whole new game, and by the looks of reviews, a whole new stage in gaming. For one, the graphics are improved. Popular gaming site 1UP recently remarked that Liberty City (the metropolis in which the game is set) boasts "breathtaking vistas, incredibly varied scenery, and lived-in look...The city just feels alive." The new multiplayer element, a surprising addition to the franchise, is also being heralded as a fine piece of work. Up to 16 people can roam Liberty City causing trouble in the appropriately named "Free Mode". (Source:

Aside from the freedom to roam, reviews thus far suggest that GTA IV boasts remarkably deep artificial intelligence. Liberty City's citizens act like real people; cyclists oogle good-looking girls, motorists slam into one another, and when they do, exchange formalities. That kind of detail will give gamers a good idea of what Rockstar has been doing with its time since San Andreas a few years ago. (Source:

GTA IV ships Tuesday.

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