Previews// Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV - 'Small fish in a big pond' preview (cont'd)

Posted 26 Jul 2007 23:09 by
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Games: Grand Theft Auto IV
Another very cool new feature in GTA IV is the ability to hail one of the many iconic yellow NYC-styled cabs prowling the streets, particularly handy for those occasions in which jacking a car might well draw unwanted attention. Or maybe you just don’t fancy driving and want to kick back for a bit and listen to some tunes while you appreciate the views of Liberty City – the blurred neon, the heaving mass of people - as the city haze slides by outside the window.

Or, should you be a typically impatient gamer, you can just pay a little bit extra to skip the cab journey and go directly to your destination. Although that way, you will miss out on all those great tunes. Which I can’t tell you about, except that they’re great… (Basically they are so good that I’ve gone out and bought a whole bunch of excellent new tunes that I never even knew about since seeing this demo).

Niko cabs it over to the hilariously named ‘TW@’ internet café in order to email his CV over to the law-firm so he can infiltrate the company by masquerading as a genuine trainee lawyer. Just like the in-game mobile phone, Niko can access the in-game internet from any computer or internet café around Liberty City. Also, just like the mobile, the in-game internet is very much like, well, the internet – so again, 99.9% of gamers will be instantly familiar with the look and feel of it. Genius.

An interview appointment is soon agreed with the dodgy lawyer’s PA and the next job is to get some half-decent threads. Niko’s not going to get very far going for a job at a high-falutin’ law firm dressed in scuzzy shell-suit bottoms. This is another important difference to understand about GTA IV – whereas in the previous games your character has received missions, this time around you are actively instigating them – which immediately means that you are partaking in, and feel much more a part of, the unfolding story far more than you were in past versions of the games.

As he's considering how and where to get suited and booted, Niko gets sidetracked into a second mission. "You can run multiple missions at the same time and the line between on and off mission is much more blurred” we are told - as our man heads over to some deserted dockside warehouses to hook up with dodgy cop McReary, where the following exchange takes place:

McReary: "Were you followed?"

Niko: "Hey, strange seeing you here, Officer McReary."

McReary: "I told you to come here, you fucking maggot!"

Niko: "You did? Why?"

McReary: "I know about you."
[b]
Niko:[/b] "Know what?"

McReary: "I know enough, boy."

Niko: "Oh, what do you know, boy?"

[Rockstar mutes the TV due to a plot spoiler in the dialogue]

Niko: "I don't know what you're talking about, chief."

McReary: "Do you think this is a town that can keep a secret?"

Niko: "I really don't know what you're talking about."

McReary: "Yeah you do. You know that a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. That people ain't perfect, that life is a mess..."

Niko: "Sure, everybody knows that."

McReary: "So. You look out for me, and I don't look out for you. Know what I mean?"

Niko: "I think so."

Hmmm, I think to myself as I watch Niko pelt it down to the river to find a guy who’s trying to blackmail McReary, so there’s a little bit more to the plot than they are currently letting on. What is this strange and dark secret in Niko’s past that McReary so evidently has on him? Looks like I’m going to have to wait until I get a final review version of the game until all of Niko’s murky past becomes clear.

Niko soon hotwires a classy big ol’ black muscle car and turns up some filthy funk music (it’s really good – can’t tell you what it is though!) to accompany his drive through Algonquin. Driving in the game is far more pleasurable than in previous GTA games. Your GPS system will guide you better than ever before and the adjustable camera angle which defaults slightly off-centre, slightly behind the drivers viewpoint, along with the lovely wide roads and incredibly impressive draw distances really make for a much better drive. The random and genuinely funny ad-breaks on the radio station really had me laughing out loud, remembering why I always had a special place in my heart for GTA – because it is genuinely Very Fucking Funny. And there are far, far too few properly ‘adult-themed’ videogames that you can say that about.

Down at the river, Niko calls the blackmailer on his mobile and is soon able to identify the guy amidst a crowd of innocent citizens sat down near the water. Ah well, Niko pulls out his gun and pops a cap in his ass (well, his head actually) and runs down to collect the memory stick the guy was blackmailing McReary with. The targeting, shooting and cover systems have all clearly taken a leaf from the Gears of War book of ‘how to make a good shooter’ and as such look to be tons better than in previous GTAs.

Meanwhile, all hell breaks loose down near the riverside with pedestrians running off in every direction away from the mentalist that’s popping off bullets. Wailing sirens are soon heard and get louder and louder as Niko is given a two-star ‘wanted status’ on the screen. The ‘wanted status’ makes the police chases in the game much more realistic and much more like a game of cat and mouse – and the more wanted stars you pick up for each felony you commit, the bigger the police’s red-coloured ‘search radius’ on your HUD becomes. The police chases also cleverly work on a ‘line of sight’ system – so that if the police clap their eyes on you, their search radius becomes centred on your last known location. Clever stuff.

Once Niko’s shaken the cops and returned the offending memory stick to a much-relieved bent cop he gets back on track with the initial objective – to get kitted out in some decent threads for his impending ‘interview’ at 'Goldberg, Ligner, and Shyster'. Our shabby immigrant heads to top tailors ‘Perseus’ where, after blowing a cool couple of grand on a suit and shoes, he soon emerges looking the part of a flash Manhattan (sorry, Algonquin) lawyer.
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Comments

config 27 Jul 2007 10:40
1/1
The "TW@" Internet Cafe featured in the original GTA3 - it was just south of the Times Square-like area on Staunton Island
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