After having a taste of Vice City and San Andreas, Rockstar takes us back to Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV, on an adventure to uncover the truth behind deceit, the justice behind betrayal, and the definition of what a sandbox game is. The Grand Theft Auto series has changed the world of gaming where the sidewalk can become the street, where you can go almost anywhere and do almost anything, where you can shoot a pedestrian simply because you felt like it, and then outrun the police in a fun chase. Grand Theft Auto IV changes gaming once more with updated graphics, a killer physics engine, new characters, and an awesome soundtrack.
In Grand Theft Auto IV, players follow the character of Niko Bellic, a Balkan immigrant who came to Liberty City on the false belief that his cousin Roman was living in the lap of luxury, when in reality, he's just a lowly cab depot owner who's barely scraping by. Niko, to his displeasure, realizes how awful the city really is and must make due and help his cousin and himself make a life for themselves with violence, crime, and Niko's past creeping up on him. The storyline is, for lack of a better word, amazing. With a new character who has a background we've never seen before in gaming - a Yugoslavian immigrant - who's looking to forget his past and make a life for himself in a new place. But it isn't your typical rags to riches story - Grand Theft Auto has never been about that. It's just a story about someone doing what odd jobs come his way to get rich and make a name for himself, with violence, crime, and more violence.
What I think is the best aspect of the Grand Theft Auto games, especially GTA IV is that there are no rules. While some missions can be pretty linear, there are some where you're given options. Furthermore, you can go where you want, do what you want (within slight reason) and it's not a game where you do mission after mission. If you want to complete a mission, then go on a murderous rampage and go play pool before the next one, no one and nothing will stop you. Want to go on a date with your in-game girlfriend and then freak her out by kicking a police officer and then shooting him in the face? Go ahead, my friend. There are no rules. On the other hand, the gameplay in Grand Theft Auto IV has been improved immensely. Controls have been reconfigured and revamped to give you a better experience. You can also meet "strangers" to get side missions from them, browse the internet, and even check dating websites to find Niko a girlfriend. What I like about the gameplay is the cover system - it makes gunfights a lot easier and makes dying a lot harder. No more standing in front of your enemies and shooting them, hoping they die first.
The soundtrack is absolutely amazing. I was thrilled to hear some songs I recognized and learn of a few bands new to me, along with solo artists and songs I just found catchy, even on the Russian radio station, Vladivostok. The hilarious talk shows have returned with a rather crude, humorous, and spot on show involving the health care industry. Rockstar has also added comedy clubs which provide you with some extra humour from the stylings of Katt Williams and Ricky Gervais.
All in all, Grand Theft Auto IV isn't a game to be missed. With the extensive replay value and exploration motivation the game instills in you, you're bound to be occupied with this one for awhile.