Grand Theft Auto 4 was released in April 2008 to critical and mass acclaim. The series which revolutionized 'open world' play has received it's fair amount of attention and controversies.
Grand Theft Auto 4 follows the adventures of Niko Bellic an immigrating looking for the elusive American Dream. Playing as Niko you seek this dream through some more 'unconventional' methods – crime. Stealing cars, carrying out a range of missions from picking up particular characters of importance, to carrying off a bank heist in a homage to the Michael Mann film, "Heat". The story follows Niko's journey as he looks to make himself in the city of Liberty City, modeled on New York.
As with previous games, GTA4 provides the opportunity to roam and explore the city at will, grabbing a car and driving around to your hearts content. It is truly open world with the ability to stay on script or go off it and enjoy the multitude of side games, challenges and hidden bonuses that range from getting drunk in a bar to going to an internet cafe and browsing the in-game 'internet '.
The breadth and depth of this game is truly astounding. It is actually the city itself which is the true start of the game. With the game melting from day to night, you get the real sense of being in a busy, thriving city, not something that was merely created to help you get from A to B as a matter of convenience. Pedestrians walk about their daily lives and the character modeling is particular impressive. Unlike previous iterations where it felt you were bumping into the same characters all the time, there are many different models adding an element of uniqueness to the city as you walk about and explore.
The game is controversial, but adds an element that allows you to make ethical and moral choices that no other games seem to be able to pull off as effectively as GTA4. Do you kill the petty criminal or let them live? Do you take one route that will lead to murder, or do you take the other where there may be consequences for not taking the ruthless decision you discussed about?
As a truly expansive and immersive experience GTA4 is not so much of a game, but an experience that envelopes and captivates, while providing shocks, twists and a fair amount of humor. If you are a gamer and have not played this yet, make sure you invest as soon as possible. You will not be disappointed.