GTA 4 promises to be 2008's biggest game, and will no doubt sell more in its first week than Gears of War 2, Metal Gear Solid 4 and Resistance 2. Following our mammoth six-page GTA 4 first-look in January, we've returned to Rockstar's London HQ for our first hands-on with the gangster epic. The result? We've blown the game wide open with our hands-on preview. But we know you GTA fans want more, so here VideoGamer.com reveals 10 GTA 4 secrets we've discovered from the trip. If that doesn't satisfy your GTA 4 lust, nothing will.
10. GTA 4 will have loads of mini-games, and online leaderboards.
Rockstar isn't saying much about GTA 4's mini-games, but what I can reveal is that there will be lots of them and you'll be able to compare your scores via online leaderboards. There's darts, pool, bowling and even retro arcade games (Rockstar wouldn't say which ones). And if that's not enough there will be an Airport run for you to sink your teeth into - an illegal car race that's sure to prove popular with driving fans. There will be no casino mini-games though, and no rampages either. Bah. But there will be vehicle stunts - if you see a ramp that looks tempting, have a go. If you complete the stunt you'll unlock an achievement.
9. TWAT stands for Totally Wireless @, and the game's web browser looks like Rockstar's GTA 4 website.
You'll be able to browse news websites (on Rockstar's version of the internet) and check the coverage of your own handiwork. You'll be able to access email - you'll need to send a CV via email for an interview with a lawyer. TWAT's Internet browser will end up looking a lot like Rockstar's GTA 4 website, I'm told, and will be more for completists. But you will be able to affect gameplay through it.
8. The only customisation available to Niko will be his clothes.
The weight fluctuation, bulking up and fitness control from San Andreas has been thrown out of the window. Custom hair styles have bit the dust too. The only way you'll be able to customise Niko is with his clothes. But don't fret - his outfit will have an effect on the gameplay. Keep wearing the same stinky clothes for too long and your mates will start to take the piss. Dress up in sharp suits and you'll impress the ladies. Some missions require a change of clothes - you'll need to wear a suit for that interview with the lawyer. There will be clothes shops of varied quality too. Perseus is one expensive chain. But if you're short on cash there are cheap Russian shops that make Primark look like Gucci, although expect ridicule.
7. GTA 4 won't have real world products.
So don't expect Niko to use a Nokia phone, listen to Classic FM or nick a Porsche. What I have discovered is that there will be different brands of phone, one of which is called Whizz - you'll see billboards advertising the phones all over Liberty City. You'll be able to upgrade them too. Better phones will give you more options, allowing you to take photos and change your ring tone. Certain missions, I'm told, will require you to take a picture, nick a cop car, access the police database and search for a name and address via the picture. All the radio stations are made up, in order to keep the GTA satire thing going. And while all the vehicles are fake, they are inspired by real world counterparts. The Banshee, GTA 4's fastest, coolest car, looks a lot like the TVR Tuscan.
6. There may be tiny differences between the Xbox 360 and PS3 version but Rockstar is aiming to make both versions very similar - no PS3 Sixaxis support.
Not much more to say on this. As you probably know, the Xbox 360 version will have access to exclusive episodic content, which, in my mind, makes the 360 version the one to get. We've also heard rumblings that the release date of the game has been held back because of PS3 development issues. When I asked if there will be any differences Rockstar said that apart from the episodic content the team is aiming to make both versions very similar. But it did admit that there may be tiny differences. No Sixaxis support either, which may be a blessing in disguise for PS3 owners.
5. It's unlikely there will be a GTA 4 demo.
When I asked Rockstar about this, this was its response: "I'm sure there won't be. If there was we would have talked about it. With a game like this the guys at Rockstar North will want to spend every minute making the game look great. Most people know the concept of GTA anyway. I don't know that the demo is worth the time and effort.
"Also much of GTA 4 is the driving around and we wouldn't be able to give out the whole city. We would have to give away half the game for free. People would think Liberty City is a tiny city. You run into problems." So there it is. No GTA 4 demo. Get over it.
4. 60 FPS is not confirmed.
Shocked? You shouldn't be. GTA 4 is an open world, go anywhere do anything game and because of that keeping a consistent Devil May Cry 4-style 60FPS is nigh on impossible. I'm told Rockstar North is aiming to make the game as smooth as possible, which is good enough for me. From what I've played of the game I suspect the final release will fluctuate around 30FPS, depending on what's going on. In the build I played the cutscenes have a degree of pop-up, too, but expect a more polished final product. I'm not sure about the character models though. As I've said before GTA 4 looks amazing when viewed as a whole, but less impressive on closer inspection of its parts.
3. Rockstar has got rid of all the fantasy vehicles from previous GTA games.
Everyone will have their own view on the rights and wrongs of this move, but at least it's consistent with Rockstar's move towards a more realistic GTA. So out go the aeroplanes, tanks, jetpacks and bicycles. Still in are motorbikes (they control exactly the same as cars except you can do a wheelie by pulling back on the left stick, meaning you can fire weapons while driving them), speed boats, helicopters and, as you'd expect, plenty of cars. There won't be any base-jumping with parachutes either, which we think is a crying shame.
2. GTA 4 will take roughly 100 hours to finish.
That's if you take your time, mind, and answer the phone when it rings. I'm told that it's hard to distinguish between main and side missions in GTA 4 because it's not as clear cut as in past games. From my hands-on time with the game, Niko's phone rang off the hook. I got calls from woman bugging me for dates (story of my life), Russian crime lords offering me money in exchange for murder (once again, story of my life) and Eastern European relatives asking for drink buddies (one more time, story of my life). If you want to play GTA 4 properly, and get the most out of the experience, expect an epic of extreme proportions.
1. There will be no sex mini-game, hidden or otherwise, in GTA 4.
Pull your pants up, you read right. I've been assured by Rockstar that GTA 4 won't have any "Hot Coffee" style hidden sex mini-games buried deep within its code. Sure, you can take women back to your place, or even their place if you're feeling frisky, but the game won't show anything. Instead, it'll cut straight to the morning after. Disappointed? For shame. Use the Internet instead.
I will tell you this: if a woman calls you up asking for some Niko love and you accept, (turning women down causes Niko to make an awkward excuse about being busy) the main map displays a number of dating hotspots, from which you need to decide where to take the target of your affection. Thing is, you need to find the right venue for the right woman - they all have their own tastes, and won't take too kindly to certain bars or clubs. Get it right though, and, we'll, you can start thinking about taking things to another level.
GTA 4 will be released on Xbox 360 and PS3 on April 29 2008.