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Grand Theft Auto IV Preview for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC

This time I keep myself and Little Jacob alive. As the dust settles I enter the building and survey the result of my handiwork. Corpses lie strewn about - glowing cash aching to be nabbed. There's a first aid kit too, which I notice replenishes my green health meter - wrapped around one half of the mini-map, the other half is for armour. All that remains now is to drive Little Jacob home and watch the cash count on the top right of the screen.

I skip to about a third of the way through the game, to a mission called Final Destination that begins in Broker and ends in Bohan. I'm watching a cut scene in a seedy club in Hove Beach, GTA 4's version of New York's Brighton Beach, and named after the UK's very own Brighton and Hove. Hove Beach is where all the Russians hang out in Liberty City. Niko is with a man called Dimitri. They've come to the club to speak to an imposing Russian gangster called Mikhael, a man who looks extremely upset at having to send two scantily-clad women from his side to listen to you. Dimitri is in quite a state - he suspects the Feds are onto whatever it is Mikhael's operation has been getting up to. Mikhael suggests a rat - Dimitri says it's simply a case of drawing too much attention to the group because they've been getting adventurous. Mikhael suspects Niko and orders him to kill one of Dimitri's friends, Lenny, as a show of loyalty. Dimitri is up in arms at the suggestion, but you have no choice - Niko needs the money after all.

This being a preview build of the game, my Rockstar guide unlocks all the game's weapons for me to play with. I jack a car and start causing chaos, just to try everything out. While driving you can drop grenades and Molotov cocktails like land mines. You can't target, just chuck them out of the window, with the hope that they'll blow up any pursuers. It's an imprecise science - you need to be careful you don't hang on to grenades too long or they'll blow up in your face - but it does prove effective if you fancy causing crazy amounts of damage.

I decide to get back on track and take out Lenny. Here I get a feel for the mini-map and how you'll navigate Liberty City. On the map, yellow dots point out where you need to go, blue dots indicate you need to get something from that spot and a red dot tells you where you need to kill someone. You can set your own way points on the mini-map - but missions will automatically sort themselves out. We've talked about the sat-nav before, but we've discovered some new details. Get in a European-style car and the sat-nav voice will be that of a posh, sexy English rose. Get in a US-style car and it will be that of a posh, sexy, American woman. You can change the settings so that all cars have sat-nav, or only those good enough. And while Rockstar is keeping very quiet on the player versus player side of GTA 4, I'm told that players should turn their sat nav off after a while so that they better learn the nooks and crannies of Liberty City for the multiplayer. Interesting.

My English rose directs me, in sultry tones, to cross the Three Boroughs Bridge. Here my Rockstar guide takes the pad and switches the weather settings from sunny, clear sky to night, so that I might see Liberty City in all its glory as I cross the water. It is a truly impressive sight indeed - artificial light from skyscraper windows gleams in the distance, the moon casts an ominous glow on the road, car headlights fly past me like dance club lasers and I catch an eyeful of Liberty City's many advertising billboards - all fake and in keeping with the "taking the piss out of real life" GTA attitude. I get a real sense of the sheer size, scale and density of Liberty City as I cruise across the bridge, moving the camera about to get a better view with the right stick. I mess about with the controls, clicking in the left stick to honk my horn and toggling my headlights by holding down X. It's an effortless, almost therapeutic journey. I imagine I'll spend hours just cruising the city when the game's finally released this April.

Something puzzles me though. Buildings, landmarks and objects in the distance have an odd haze to them. This looks like a deliberate graphical effect, perhaps intended to simulate peripheral vision or an aeroplane engine-style heat haze. Perhaps it's a developer trick - a way of pumping out more immediate detail in such an open world. Either way, the "distance" is never in complete, high-resolution focus and at times during my hands-on this felt odd. While we're on the subject, I ask about GTA 4's weather effects. There's sunny day, clear night, morning fog and even heavy thunderstorm, but no snow. Ah well.

While in GTA 4's pause menu I spy some interesting options. You've got your standard mission objectives in the Brief, a massive amount of stats, including game progress, mission completion, times died, addiction level (how long you've played the game), Michelle fondness and details on how many times you've been shopping, bought clothes and got drunk. Buying clothes is important - you won't be able to customise Niko in any way apart from the clothes he's wearing. Some people will complain if you never change your clothes and some missions require certain outfits - you need a suit for a mission involving an interview with a lawyer (more on that later).

There are more general stats available, including how many crimes you've committed, how many vehicles you've driven and how much money you've made. You've got head shots and mini-game scores, too. One statistic that did catch my eye was for driving races. GTA IV will have an airport run - a sort of illegal car racing club. And you can expect online leaderboards on which you'll be able to compare your scores with everyone else in the world.

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Anonymous

Im getting it today horray!!! AT LAST!
Posted 00:26 on 18 July 2008
hihihihihihihi's Avatar
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hihihihihihihi

gta 4 rules!
Posted 23:59 on 17 July 2008
canz's Avatar
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canz

it really good you should play it
Posted 16:06 on 23 June 2008
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FIN_90

I wonder.. now when GTA4 is released, do u people have a life at all or do u spend all your time playing this ? Im sure its a good game but, c'mon guys.
Posted 21:32 on 20 May 2008
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dre

yo i mad i beat the game in 3 1/2 day but still fun after hit me up for tips o yea at the end kill dimitir
Posted 23:06 on 13 May 2008
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Krishna Kant

Dude, your review is rockinga nd filling me up to play this game now. what a crap, I don't have any X-box 360 or PS3. May i translate your review in Hindi, on my site?
Posted 20:10 on 12 May 2008
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Awesome

11 hours left sh*t!!
Posted 23:08 on 28 April 2008
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Anonymous

4 hours to go til the the local game store opens
Posted 18:51 on 28 April 2008
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ps dude

well atleast theres helcopters in gtaIII there was only a crappy dodo that only fluw for 2 secs and in liberty city stories nothing
Posted 08:11 on 28 April 2008
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ray

omg this game is so awsome only bad part is less buildings to go in and no talking to pepole
Posted 08:08 on 28 April 2008
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GTA player

lame, you dumbass whore dont you ever talk bad about any GTA ever again. you must be a freaking moron not to like GTA. thus shutting you up.
Posted 06:00 on 28 April 2008
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hydra

it wont be a dissapointment
Posted 23:02 on 24 April 2008
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hydra

why dont u guys read the article instead of asking us. the artilce tells u whether there is planes or not and what not.
but yea ive read jsut bout al there is to it. its gonna be unreal.
been counting down for months. not a lie.
o yea its got like 100 hours of gameplay b4 u beat it. so ill be playin it for longer than a month sparkky. it took me a year to beat gta III b/c i kept takin breaks from it and ive beaten san andreas 3 times. gta never gets old unless ur a diehard for rockstar games.
Posted 23:01 on 24 April 2008
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Jaded

I was hoping you would have stats you could spend points in ala The Godfather...oh well. And what's with Rockstar not wanting to push the envelope further with nudity? I'd kind of like to see an uncensored version, like they do with new movie releases, where you can buy either the toned down version or the x-rated version. Movie studios do this, why not gaming studios?
Posted 23:33 on 23 April 2008
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poo

cool
Posted 23:20 on 22 April 2008

Game Stats

Release Date: 29/04/2008
Developer: Rockstar
Publisher: Rockstar
Genre: Action
No. Players: 1-16
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 518 15
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