29 Reviews

Grand Theft Auto IV

More multiplayer, more traffic

GTA newcomers may want to read our in-depth review of GTA IV on console.

Almost seven months on the market and Grand Theft Auto IV has lost some of its initial wow factor. A 100% game save and two hundred hours squandered racing cars and shooting pigeons on rooftops has edged some of the sheen from Rockstar's stunner. But make no mistake; Niko's visit to Liberty City is still the standout action experience of the game, hell - the generation.

When Rockstar comes knocking at our door with the inevitable PC version then, this is one computer port definitely not worth rolling our eyes at - especially when you consider how improved technology can enhance the Liberty City experience.


Remember the thrill and spectacle of racing through Francis International Airport against 15 online opponents? Imagine how ridiculous a bout with 32 men is on PC. What about how immersive it felt to weave in and out of the busy Algonquin traffic at Star Junction? Imagine how authentic (and frankly, staggering) the experience is with three times the amount of cars on the road.

Technology has undoubtedly lent GTA IV PC some more than worthwhile improvements; the draw distance alone makes the console versions look and feel old hat in comparison.

GTA IV PC can be played both with mouse and keyboard or via an Xbox 360 controller - or if you're really anal you can chose to drive with one and run around on foot with another.

Free-aiming naturally feels tighter with a mouse and keyboard though, the extra chunkiness added by having to wrestle a keyboard to get into cover meant we simply stuck with the 360 pad, where everything's fine and dandy.

But despite it looking prettier, the real star of the game is still its characters, unmatched depth and scale and yes, Liberty City itself.

Even seven months on, we still challenge anyone to cruise around GTA IV's metropolis - mouse, keyboard or joypad - and not be utterly captivated by the size, intricacies and charm of Rockstar's game world. It's hard not to be impressed by the detail on the streets, the activities and comedy banter of pedestrians and just the character of everything that goes on inside the city walls.

And while we strongly believe it's the game world that wins GTA IV its accolades (how many other games, that aren't Oblivion, can you play for 30 hours and still not touch the main plot?) the thought and cleverness that's gone into creating its cast of characters shouldn't be overlooked either.


After living with Niko, other games feel totally outclassed in how they approach videogame relationships. In Liberty City you'll never hear a stranger ask you about your cousin Mary or how much taller you've grown; Niko's visiting America for the first time, and you're visiting with him.

Using your phone to call up in-game mates and hit the pub for a game of darts becomes totally compelling, and adds yet another layer to GTA IV's pool of immersion.

But, thankfully, the sandbox routes are there. Saints Row may have squeezed into the market, but Liberty City is still a standout contender when it comes to arsing about and 'doing the open world'.

The main quest needn't be touched, and there's such a manifold of things to see and do in the game that a good percentage of console players still haven't come close to that 100% mark - and we'd be surprised if a fraction ever do.

And if arsing about is your thing, then consider GTA PC 'arsing about edition'. You've probably already seen the mass of stunt and machinima movies captured by clever boys playing San Andreas PC, and presumably so has Rockstar.

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