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GTA IV Hits the Shelves

Mike Musgrove

Predictably enough, the new Grand Theft Auto game is selling briskly. One local DC game store tells me they've already sold 200 or so copies of the title, which was released yesterday. They have a few left, but those are all reserved copies for customers who already put a few dollars down.

Game industry analyst Michael Pachter has said he expects the game to sell about 9 million units in the first couple of months -- and 11 to 13 million by year's end.

One guy I know who has tried the game got his hands on a leaked version off the Internet this past weekend, in advance of the release. He gives it a thumbs up. (He says he intends to buy a copy of the game soon.)

He notes one instance where the game's developer takes a wink at the camera, so to speak. After one in-game date, one of the game's female characters tells the protagonist:
"I'd invite you in for hot coffee, but it would cost you at least $20 million." Nice little reference to one of the bigger controversies attached to GTA IV's predecessor, San Andreas.

I haven't played it yet, as I've been occupied with more family-friendy fare. Anybody out there have a take on the new game so far?

By Mike Musgrove  |  April 30, 2008; 11:40 AM ET  | Category:  Mike Musgrove
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I like it so far, though I'm still in the phases of getting used to the new environment and some of the control changes. I'm very impressed with how real all the characters and people feel, it's no longer just people walking aimlessly on the street. The writing is as sharp as ever, and I bet this will eat up all my free time for the next several weeks.

I tried a bit of online with friends, and it was some of the most entertaining chaos I've ever played.

Posted by: Adam | April 30, 2008 11:57 AM

I'm happy with my copy so far. The graphics are definitely improved, but not quite as good as some other titles (Assassin's Creed comes to mind). The story seems incredible so far, there is almost too much to do. And I also enjoyed the "Hot Coffee" reference (also it is toned down a bit even if he is invited in).

Posted by: Mark | April 30, 2008 12:28 PM

The pinnacle of the series. Fresh off the boat, you get the bluntest explanation from a friend: "We're at the bottom of the ladder." The game does a real good job describing your ascent of that ladder, and the choices you get to make during the game are important and insightful. Whatever you do says something about the main character. I'm glad to see the "friends" system come back. You get some really cool missions and benefits from it.

The fake internet is a real nice touch. As is the cell phone. So far, I'm loving this game.

Posted by: Scott | April 30, 2008 12:47 PM

Phenomenal piece of work this game is. By far the greatest came I have played, judgin from my initial dealing with it.

Posted by: PW | April 30, 2008 1:00 PM

Hey dont be a fag and play Wii GTA IV is where its at.

Posted by: Mick | April 30, 2008 1:00 PM

Vice City was like playing a bad guy on miami vice. I'm 32, so being able to play that role was a throwback to my adolescence. San Andreas reminded me of pop culture in my teens. IV is nothing like the previous games. The basic premise is there, but the updated graphics add a whole new level of realism. What an incredible job! I'm looking forward to countless evenings behind the controls.

Posted by: Len | April 30, 2008 1:02 PM

this is also the first time in the GTA series where a satiric tone hasn't been given by or applied to the main character, thusly making the player actually care about the plight of the character and his past.

the controls? much different. or maybe i'm just too accustomed to CoD4 controls. There's just way too much going on when you have to cover, lock on to a target, fire, release from cover, run and duck back behind cover. God help you if you have someone behind you because turning around to cover your 6 is damn near impossible.

In the PS3 version, there are stalls and freezes at every turn. some are just hiccoughs (the game will catch up) and some require a full system reboot.

The fact that you can't skip the opening scene bothers me. especially when it's 3 minutes of graphics!

Plus, SCEA should have never outsourced to use GameSpy's servers for multiplayer. Needless to say, not many PS3 players have been able to delve into the multiplayer realm of GTA IV since ALL SERVERS ARE DOWN.

I guess that's what happens when SCEA offers multiplayer for free.

XBoX players, however, could immediately play online.

The environments are crucial; so much attention to detail that it's delicious. The fact that you can change the saturation and contrast -- not just the brightness -- of your display is something i have been waiting on for a while now. PLUS, they have a dedicated "Tuff Gong" radio station so i can listen to the soothing sounds of reggae as i mow down innocent bystanders.

They've finally applied real-time physics to their vehicles which, at first, seems almost to realistic. After some getting used to, however, i dig it even more.

All in all, I am quite happy with GTA IV. I just hope that some of the bugs that PS3 players are encountering get squashed sooner than later... 'cause i would love to play me some close-quarter RPG battles online in GTA IV.

OH! SIXAXIS controls for the chopper are pissing. me. off. turn 'em off. the SIXAXIS system is such a waste.

Posted by: john mays | April 30, 2008 1:22 PM

Played the game fer about three hours last night and i gotta tell yah that i have not been a big GTA person up to this point but i have the strangest feeling that this is about to change.....
The story seems well written and the graphics although not being the best ive seen.....(unlike oblivion, and such fer 360)
the graphics are still the best fer a GTA game and the realism helps alot!!!!
It Appears that there are enough missions in here to keep a priest busy and the multiplayer is hysterical chaos!!!!
Word to the wise, if you like shoot em up, beat em up, city-scape games where you can bed a chick after taking on crime lords than run dont walk to your closest game store and pick up this one!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Jack Handy | April 30, 2008 1:30 PM

What the hell!

You have not played the game? You have only spoken to one person who kind of played the game? All you did was repeat press release information and projected sales stats?

Why even write something if you have nothing to say?

Posted by: jake | April 30, 2008 1:33 PM

The game is great! The controls took a good hour to get used to, and the car physics really seemed too exagerrated at first. But after you get into it a little all that fades away into an awesome environment and an almost overwhelming storyline. every choice you make effects the outcome in or out of a mission, which really makes you more interested in wether or not you hit that pedestrian walking down the street, or swerve around. Gives a real world aspect to it. Both thumbs way up!

Posted by: Tad | April 30, 2008 1:33 PM

A solid game. They've focused on core competencies like a rich free-roaming experience and compelling story, and taken advantage of the potent graphics accelerators in the new consoles.

Plus it's less violent than most gangster movies or first person war games, and stays far from the blatantly inappropriate sexual content that you might find in Vanity Fair (pardon the cheap shot, but seriously - is Jack Thompson going after them?)

Posted by: Bob | April 30, 2008 1:35 PM

I threw mine on for about an hour last night, so far so good, the TV shows you can watch in the apartment are pretty funny, like another poster mentioned, it's just a matter of getting used to the new controls and enviroment. I like hown the map works to. Lots to explore, I'll dive in a bit more over the weekend.

Posted by: Tim | April 30, 2008 1:39 PM

Tad, relax, that's why he asking, thats why we can post comments.

I got the PS3 version, I love it. Still getting used to the controls, I didn't notice the problems John Mays was referring to...I didn't even attempt online yet, I wanna get used to the controls and feel of the game before I go there, I'm loving what I've done so far though!

Posted by: Ryan | April 30, 2008 1:49 PM

Mike, get all of your other games done now, this will occupy your gaming for a long time. I laughed out loud when I unlocked the "Warm Coffee" achievement last night. Only had a small taste of the mutiplayer but that was fun as well. But be patient, don't expect to get dragged into the fire right away. So far, it's getting you used to the story, controls, and characters. The mini games are a fun add too (bowling, pool, etc.) Oh, make sure to visit one of the bars in the game, I won't ruin what happens after, but it's hysterical.

Posted by: CMc62480 | April 30, 2008 1:55 PM

Played this for quite a while last night. Have to say the physics are impressive. Realistic rain, darkness at night (which if you rear-end someone breaks your lights which adds an interesting dynamic).

The storyline is comprehensive - I echo earlier posts, that there is almost too much to do. There are plenty of sexual overtones still - especially when you consider the strip clubs and dating in general. While that can be steered away from (literally), it's there.

A few dynamics such as leaping out of a car (ouch) or off a motorcycle (double-ouch) make the chases a bit more exciting. Definite improvements.

Posted by: AgentDuke | April 30, 2008 2:09 PM

Yea i got my copy at midnight. I was shocked to see like 150 waiting on the street in brooklyn. It was a sight to see. Ive never gotten a midnite pickup before. The game is fantastic. Aside from the technical stuff, the script and storyline are incredible. Its like watching a really good movie. The seamless environment is great. The cellphone was a great idea. Listen to this, this made me go nuts when i realized it. On your cellphone, you can change the cell from ringer to ringer vibrate and silent or just vibrate. Like a real cell phone. I thought it was funny to put this into a game because i didnt think it had a purpose. Lo and behold as im discreetly following some dealer so i can jump him and his suppliers, my phone rings and alerts the guy im following! So i had to chase him the rest of the way and oh yea yell at Roman for calling at a bad time. Stuff like that to me is insane. who thinks of that type of stuff for a video game. Rockstar baby. Rockstar. The driving a lot harder but its more rewarding as well. Car chases are much more realistic when your not just speeding at 100 miles an hour taking turns with ease. Also the physics engine has allowed for a whole slew of crazy events. Like I stole a car and the guy who i stole it from tried to get it back i slammed on the gas as he was grabbing the door handle and he hung on! So i dragged him (realistically) for a block or two before making a sharp turn to send him flying. I was blown away by this. I could talk about the missions and the guns and all that, but its these little details that make me smile. Way to go Rock Star!

Posted by: Nick | April 30, 2008 2:12 PM

Nice post Mr Musgrove, the article most have taken you all 3 minutes to write! I got more info about the game from the reader's "reviewing" your post than from what YOU wrote!

Posted by: Hugo | April 30, 2008 2:15 PM

Edit:

Auto-Save! HELL. YEAH. it's about time that they incorporated this into the game. it's hard enough to be on a three-tiered mission where there are no checkpoints. But, it's even worse when you've completed three previous missions, gone on a few dates and made more contacts, and then you die in another mission because YOU NEVER SAVED AT YOUR SAFEHOUSE. Now, you have to go back and redo everything.

With the implementation of an auto-save feature, those worries are a thing of the past.

kudos, rockstar!

now let's get working on some in-mission checkpoints.

Posted by: john mays | April 30, 2008 2:25 PM

Murder, rape, and pillage - it's all 'normal' viewing as far as society is concerned, and the more the better.

Manhunter 2 has just been released in the UK - Sick Society No 2.

Posted by: John Riley | April 30, 2008 2:31 PM

First you post a half-assed remark so you can get a rating on google news while you fritz around throwing shells at go-karts, then ask for people who have actually played the game to comment on the article, then you pull my comment?

I like how you are pretending to run a little 'blog' here, but sadly it is just another mainstream news outlet who dont want people to speak out about the content on the site.

fail.

Posted by: xvalue | April 30, 2008 3:06 PM

I played Grand Theft Auto III and found myself exploring the city more than completing missions but it sounds like this one has a much richer story line that will make you want to complete all the missions.

Posted by: Arthur | April 30, 2008 3:07 PM

Ah yes, Manhunt 2. I find it interesting that a game like Manhunt 2, which was toned down from an "Adults Only" rating to a "Mature" one, has not received more outcry from video game criticizers. While GTA4 is quite violent, It is not the most graphic depiction of violence, but perhaps the most believable. In another very popular game, Gears of War, the player has the ability to saw the opposition in half, causing blood to douse the screen. To me, It is no more violent or gratuitous than most R rated movies, like say Saw (which has seen FOUR iterations), or Ichi the Killer. That being said, I love GTA4. I was not a big fan of the previous titles but this one really changed it for me. It is, as many have said, like being able to play your favorite movie or TV criminal.

Posted by: Jeff | April 30, 2008 3:13 PM

I just got this for the 360, and I have to say I am HOOKED. I also LOVE getting Nico to eject from the car THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD. The euphoria engine really makes this experience, and the improved gunplay makes me want to go home and play it more right now...

Posted by: OthelloNYC | April 30, 2008 5:50 PM

As an avid gamer, I must say that GTA IV is the greatest game I've ever played. It is absolutely addicting. My previous favorite was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 64. Rockstar has really outdone themselves...again.

Posted by: AB | May 2, 2008 4:13 PM

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