Grand Theft Auto IV. Oh how long we have waited for this day. Ever since the game was delayed (not surprisingly) from last year to April 29th 2008, we have been on the edge of our seats staring at fake boxarts, scant pictures, and no gameplay reveal whatsoever on GTA IV from Rockstar Games. The time is now, and it is finally here. Let us finally head into Liberty City for the first time, the fictional counterpart to New York City, and indulge ourselves in a splendor of an atmosphere that would make us want to yell at the top of our lungs.
Time to Flee
The game’s protagonist, Niko Bellic, is tired of all the tortures of life he has seen in Eastern Europe with his service in the Bosnian War. As a result, the character is a bit tired with his old self and the underlying aspect of this mood shows to his first visit in America in hopes of making easy money. Niko just wants a new start and a new beginning, which is exactly what he gets when he steps into America. Except, it is not exactly the most ideal life as his course witted cousin leads him to believe. The mansion is a rundown apartment with cockroaches to boot. His car is no limo, and the city view itself is not exactly to die for: crusty fire steps, and garbage sewers underneath with loud neighbors to add on. But this is the beauty of the city. Nothing is perfect, and nothing is like a video game. You sometimes run into those bad bastards across from you who talk at 3AM in the night on their cell phones. Or that couple that always fights half past 2 AM. This is life, and it is looking great.
Aside from the obvious environment itself, the game’s core number of objective and accomplishment options takes this generation’s gaming to what we can truly define as next generation. Because what you see in relation to such gaming is not what you interpret or execute. But the case here is completely blowing the cookie jar. This time, however, the missions mean something genuine and something more visceral than the “shoot X and win X and run around shooting until you drop” philosophy that was pretty much what every predecessor in the series focused on. In really make things different, it is not just about the core missions that are emphasized. Every single choice, whether it is to go to the strip club or hitch a ride to Algonquin in a taxi by whistling, to have fun in a roller coaster is important. If you get tired of both, you can head out to meet a girl you managed to hook up with at Liberty City’s Middle Park, and go out on a date. You know: live life. Live what is given and what is apparent. This is a game, but its best described as a life simulation game. Except, you play one witty Russian immigrant who happens to be at the center and heart of the city.