Previews

GTA IV Multiplayer

Hands-on: Liberty City, 16-players, no holds barred...

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We always wondered where the limits - the invisible walls - were in GTA IV's gorgeous game world. But piloting a chopper over the top of the city centre, with the blinking lights of skyscrapers laid out beneath us, a mate in the back firing off rifle shots and the other two players outrunning 20 police cars on the road below, it didn't seem to matter.

The view from the back of the chopper is stunning - even if your puny rifle shots are useless compared to the pilot's beefy minigun.

Just like Crackdown before it, the sheer scale of the carnage you can cause with other players running together in Rockstar's sandbox is very impressive. Screaming our armoured van across the highway with Kenny in the driver's seat, the second player fired off pot-shots from the rear, nailing a cop car's front tyre and sending it tumbling across the tarmac, Bad Boys-style. The resulting copper pile-up isn't quite as satisfying as sending a player cop car hurtling into a lamp post, but it looks brilliant.

Zoom

If you're driving skills are up to task it isn't much of a problem keeping the convoy of police cars behind you at bay. Especially if you've got a healthy stash of grenades; pressing the right trigger drops a primed one out the window, guaranteeing that anyone within a few metres behind you is going to need a new MOT.

With the police taken care of, us and our buddies finally reached the escape chopper on the other side of town - and it's game over. Hangman's Noose is definitely the most visual of GTA IV's multiplayer offerings, though because of its linearity it probably won't last as long as the others. It was a brilliant single ride, though.

Not even trying
Rockstar didn't really have to try too hard to pull of GTA IV's multiplayer mode. It has, after all, all been about the city and the playground that the player makes their own fun in.

Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch thus feel like really obvious and immediately effective setups, while stuff like Cops 'N Crooks throws a genius premise into the toybox.

Other modes, such as Hangman's Noose and GTA Race are far more linear, and we reckon their shelf life will ultimately depend on exactly how much depth Rockstar's packed into each scenario - something we'll find out when we get the chance to have a more extensive play session.

Chasing down a car full of players, firing shots from the back of a mate's chopper and racing bikes across the airport are all standout moments in GTA IV multiplayer, and for most people it's these that've made the series worth checking out in the first place. So even as a one off, playing with friends looks like a terrific counterpart to Rockstar's already massive single-player campaign. More soon.

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