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Old 03-17-2008, 05:47 PM   #1
bapenguin
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[360, PS3] - Grand Theft Auto 4 Hands on Preview

We bounced up and down as the ferry hit the wake of another boat. As we were skimming across the water, I tried to see NYC while crossing the harbor between New Jersey and Manhattan. I realized that soon the city I see before me would be my playground of destruction. However, the city I would play in is called Liberty City, and the game I'd be playing is Grand Theft Auto 4. It's the series that put Rockstar Games on the map, and it's the game that basically prints money for their publisher, Take 2 Interactive.

I'll be honest and say that after GTA 3 I was pretty well burnt out on Grand Theft Auto games, only investing a few hours here and there in the game's sequels. The story of GTA IV has you taking control of Niko Bellic, a character of eastern European decent, as he comes to America to work for his cousin Roman. You'll start the game doing various small missions for Roman's cab company. As you begin to make friends and network through these missions your in-game cell phone will be updated with contacts that you can use for future missions. In fact, the cell phone is your central hub for organizing what's going on in the game. Due to the complexity and depth of certain missions, the use of the cell phone is crucial. For instance, you'll be given the task to kill a major corporate head of a local company. The problem is getting to him because he's not just roaming the streets of Liberty City. So if you check the in-game internet you'll notice there's a job opening at the company. One quick email and a call later from the company and you'll have a job interview. This appointment will be added to your phone, and when the time comes you'll be reminded it's time to go. It's possible to miss this appointment due to being busy with another mission, but not to worry as you can call back and reschedule for one of the other 7 days of the week the game infinitely runs through.

Getting around in GTA 4 yields a few options. For one, you can be a good guy and simply take a cab, paying your fare and everything. Of course you could also punch the cabbie in the face and steal it to get where you need to go or you could steal just about any other car that's driving around. There are a few different things to do while driving as well, like changing to one of the 18 in-game radio stations. The game features the ability to shoot out of your window, give it a good punch and watch it shatter, or perhaps throwing Molotov cocktails from your moving vehicle into crowds of pedestrians is your thing. One nice touch I saw with the cars is the way bodies react to momentum. If you've ever taken a hard turn in a car, you know your body shifts away from your turn, and you can see the same thing happening to all the people sitting in your car in GTA 4. There's also a subway system to get between the 5 boroughs fairly quickly. While the game's map size is large, it's not quite as big as San Andreas, but the content is very densely packed. Your final two modes of transportation are helicopter (either paid fare or theft) and boat.

There are so many little things that really make this game amazing. Grand Theft Auto 4 is one of the first games to utilize Natural Motion's Euphoria engine for lifelike body movement, and from what I've seen this animation engine lives up to the hype. Bodies react realistically to gunshots, legs bend naturally to uneven terrain, and momentum is even seen when running and stopping. One section had me sniping some guards hanging out on construction cranes. As I shot their legs, they feel down to their knees and the momentum carries them forward end over end, plummeting many stories to their doom. All of this was governed by the Euphoria engine. Like I said, there are so many small attentions to detail. Have someone smoking in your car? Break a window and watch the smoke gently billow out. Blow up a construction site? Check the internet newspaper and read all about it. Fail a mission? You won't hear the same dialogue from the characters the second time through. In fact Rockstar claims that a lot of missions have up to five variations of dialog to them so things won't get stale.

Everyone wants to know about the graphics of the game, and GTA IV won't disappoint. While the game doesn't have the photo-realism of Gears of War, it does have style. With huge draw distances, tons of pedestrians, fun colorful textures, the game surely stands on its own. While taking a helicopter for a spin around the city you can really get an idea of just how big the area is, and just how far the draw distance can be. In fact, it should be noted, that GTA IV doesn't just take place in Liberty City, but in fact part of New Jersey as well. All of these areas you can seamlessly get to via helicopter, car, or boat with no loading screens. There's also a lot of verticality to the game, with most buildings offering ways to get to the top, as well as seamless transitions from outside to inside.

Come April 29th, anyone anticipating this game is not going to be disappointed. My 2 hour play session was a total tease; I want more. Not only that, there is so much more that I didn't tell here. Those little details are what really popped out at me. Those are the kind of “had to be there to experience” moments. They are everywhere in the game; so that every time you play it's a new and fresh experience. Personally, I can't wait for this game to come out.



The following is an Evil Avatar Exclusive screenshot showing off the subway tunnels - and the ability to bring vehicles down there!


Last edited by bapenguin; 03-18-2008 at 04:42 AM..
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Old 03-17-2008, 05:49 PM   #2
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I was sitting here tapping my feet a million miles a minute waiting for you to post this after the radio call! I cannot wait to experience those "moments!"
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Old 03-17-2008, 05:54 PM   #3
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Wow, awesome screen! Great write-up Bap, I've been looking forward to it.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:01 PM   #4
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I can't wait. The internet will break in half!
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:02 PM   #5
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Nice preview - I was stoked about it before and even more now. Thanks for making me drool, bap!
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:03 PM   #6
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I can't wait. The internet will break in half!
Nice Bendis (or was it Quesada?) nod there!
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:05 PM   #7
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Sounds awesome, bap. As long as Nico can swim, I'll be all over this game like stink on a donkey.

I'm trying my best not to get excited about GTA IV but given how much I loved San Andreas, I don't think I can resist the call.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:07 PM   #8
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Oh sweet mama jama...times like this I really love being a gamer. I might be playing this game so much that I might RROD my launch 360.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:08 PM   #9
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Awesome. Nice job Bap.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:10 PM   #10
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I can't wait. The internet will break in half!
The one IRL or built into the game?
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:13 PM   #11
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I might be playing this game so much that I might RROD my launch 360.
Shhhhh......
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:15 PM   #12
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Bap was nice enough to let me look this preview over today. All I could think about while I was reading the preview was how many different kinds of awesome this game sounded like, especially the whole cell phone situation and that no two conversations over the same mission are the same. I hated...HATED San Andreas, this sounds much more like a return to form from the time of GTA3 and Vice City and I couldn't be happier.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:15 PM   #13
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Sounds awesome, bap. As long as Nico can swim, I'll be all over this game like stink on a donkey.

I'm trying my best not to get excited about GTA IV but given how much I loved San Andreas, I don't think I can resist the call.
Yes, Nikko can.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:19 PM   #14
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Nice writeup! Can't wait to play this game.
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:35 PM   #15
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I am so pumped.. I may even pre-order the game!
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:49 PM   #16
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Game of the Forever
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Old 03-17-2008, 06:55 PM   #17
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Thanks Bap, sounds like I'm picking this up on Day 1.

Did we ever get confirmation on whether that "exclusive" 360 content is still exclusive? I've heard stories recently saying different things.
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:00 PM   #18
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Thanks Bap, sounds like I'm picking this up on Day 1.

Did we ever get confirmation on whether that "exclusive" 360 content is still exclusive? I've heard stories recently saying different things.
Well, first question is what have you heard and where have you heard it?

As far as I know, the 2 DLCs are still 360 exclusive. Whether they are timed exclusive or not I do not know, but Microsoft paid major money for the exclusivity and would probably feel very cheated if it wasn't a year plus before the exclusivity deal runs out (if it does).
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:04 PM   #19
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So how do the cars handle relative to the previous game? The one gripe I ever had with the series was that the cars were just a little too arcade. I always wanted them to feel like they had more momentum and weight.
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Old 03-17-2008, 07:22 PM   #20
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So how do the cars handle relative to the previous game? The one gripe I ever had with the series was that the cars were just a little too arcade. I always wanted them to feel like they had more momentum and weight.
They are definitley more realistically now. In fact, it takes quite some time to get used to because there is so much momentum on the big heavy cars.
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