Niko Bellic will be able to do just about anything gamers want him to do.
For the scruffy leading man in Grand Theft Auto IV, that includes blowing stuff up, driving drunk, meeting someone online, going on a date, hailing a cab, listening to the radio, killing innocent bystanders, patronizing strip clubs, flying helicopters, earning cash for criminal activities, running from the police and, of course, hijacking lots of cars.
Players will be tempted with such seedy choices in Rockstar Games' wildly anticipated ninth entry in their controversial but lucrative Grand Theft Auto franchise, set for release April 29. GTA IV will be the first game in the 10-year-old "GTA" series for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 video game consoles.
Video game analyst Mike Hickey at Janco Partners expects five million copies of GTA IV will sell the first week of release, on par with last year's record-breaking US$300 million first-week sales of Bungie Studios' "Halo 3." Hickey says that Rockstar's hush-hush promotional effort - more viral, less in-your-face than the "Halo 3" campaign - could give GTA IV an edge.
"Maybe the first week 'GTA IV' sales won't do what 'Halo 3' did, but I can almost guarantee they'll probably outsell 'Halo 3' in the first year," said Hickey.