Rockstar has a lot to prove, but today's Take 2 conference delivered something of a delightful surprise for attendees: 3 minutes or so of actual GTA IV gameplay, running on 360 hardware and looking every bit as cool as the initial trailers have suggested.
Despite the presenter's insistence that IV offers "progressive…changes to the series", what IGN saw offered only a glimpse of the most basic gameplay - driving mechanics and walking around - and it all looked very familiar. The demo started off with a black menu screen, which is likely a temporary version, as is much of the user interface. The menu listed, from left to right, 'map', 'game', 'brief', 'stats', 'controls', 'audio' and 'display'.
In an announcement that is sure to drive fans wild, the presenter confirmed that GTA IV's scope and scale is on par with San Andreas - but much more focused and packed with detail. As the game kicked off legitimately, Niko Bellic (lead character) is in the middle of the mock-New York streets, in Times Square. The traffic and most other AI characters are turned off, so it's hauntingly empty. However, the lighting and atmosphere is undeniably hot - it's night time and the hours start to pass, drawing out the sun and showing off the HDR lighting, which is very realistic.
More after the jump...