Grand Theft Auto has been a favorite series of mine since GTA III. The idea of free roaming caused many games to go back to the drawing board and a bunch of mediocre clones to follow in its greatness.
Grand Theft Auto IV is set in Liberty City (Based on New York City) in 2008 and the first thing you should notice about this city it is incredible resemblance to the real New York City. Most of the famous buildings and landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and Chrysler Building have been recreated to a very high detail and give a good reason to explore the city. It falls short of San Andreas in size (It's about 75% the size of San Andreas) but the city is much more dense and full of detail. You will notice this detail just by walking around. People are smarter, cops are more tactical, weather effects are amazing, and lighting has gotten an overhaul. If you take the time to slowly explore the city instead of speeding through it in a sports car then you can appreciate the detail that Rockstar has put into it.
The main character this time is Niko Bellic. An eastern European immigrant who has arrived in Liberty City to pursue the American Dream and hunt down a certain someone. Niko is a much deeper character then other characters in past GTA games and it makes for an interesting story as he interacts with other characters and tries to make it out of poverty and a life of crime.
Game play wise most of the annoyances of past GTA games have been fixed. Targeting enemies is much easier and they have included a free aiming system for shooting at people in cars of whatever you want to shoot at. The cover system means that you wont be constantly getting shot. However with improvements there have been stuff that has been taken away. Many cheats from past GTA games are gone as well as lack of air and boat selection. So many missing features means that this game may seem inferior to San Andreas in some ways but the new stuff makes GTA IV miles ahead of any past GTA game.
Visually GTA is pushing its limits. For such a big city to run with no load times at such high detail is a technical feat and the framerate stays stable.
Multiplayer is an ok experience. The only time I really have fun playing it is if my friends are around. Free roaming is a fun online mode to play or you can play a death match, racing, or any of the other 15+ modes. Ranking up gets you new cloches to customize your online character but over time it gets too time consuming to rank up another level and online gets old soon after that.
Overall GTA is a very high quality game even if it is missing some stuff from past GTA games. If you finish the story mode and your not very sandbox happy then you may stop playing it gut the 50+ hours of story mode and even more time to 100% the game ensures you won't be putting down GTA IV for a while.