Rockstar have taken great pains over the past year to elaborate as much as they can (within reason) on the method of interaction with the world, specifically how missions will be assigned and completed. We've all heard about the in-game cell phone and access to the internet, but above all else the real emphasis appears to be on your ability to make and keep friends. "Brucie", a smart-mouthed, steroid-pumping workshop owner with a voice that appears to be a cross between Ashton Kutcher and Donkey from Shrek, is someone that Niko needs at this particular point of the game in order to make a bit of money on the side and, presumably, make more friends in the future. After navigating to Brucie's garage, which is just around the corner from Roman's taxi business, we're offered the mission - it's entitled "Search and Delete", and involves stealing a Police car and whacking a Police informant by the name of Lyle Rivas.
Rockstar at this point took time to explain that there are many ways of attracting Police attention, and therefore Police transport. We could have simply driven like maniacs, or started shooting in the street - we could have even pulled out our cell phone and dialled 911, which would result in the Police arriving and spending a bit of time looking around before presumably noticing that we'd stolen their wheels. In this demonstration however, a slightly more subtle approach was taken - we simply drove to the nearest Police station and stole a cruiser from out the front. It would appear that in Liberty City, as in real life, people generally assume the safest place to park a car is in full view of the law, and therefore pay the least attention to looking after it.
The theft was easily accomplished by smashing the passenger window and hotwiring the cruiser. The hotwiring sequence was extremely quick - Rockstar said that various cars will take different lengths of time to hotwire, however it isn't a skill as such, it's a button mechanic: the faster you pull the right trigger, the quicker you’ll hotwire the car, so it will take a degree of practise. They also confirmed there would be various different hotwire animations.
After travelling a few blocks, our presenter from Rockstar (who I had just realised was in fact one of the best players of Grand Theft Auto IV in the world, simply because the rest of the world hadn't played it yet) executed a perfect 180 spin using the handbrake and came to rest on the side of the curb. From here, we switched to the on-board Police computer and punched in the name "Lyle Rivas" - an address came back at us, which was instantly entered to the GPS system, and a course was plotted. Interestingly enough, the computer flipped through a fair few different faces and names before finding Rivas - perhaps an indication of the depth of this particular game addition?
We follow the GPS system to a run-down house where our soon-to-be-dead Police informant is hiding out. As we enter the building, Rockstar point out the absence of any loading screens - you can move all around Liberty City with no downtime. The only time any loading is involved is during cut-scenes, but even then it's minimal. As Niko knocks on the door to Rivas apartment, a cut-scene shows Rivas leaping out the window, at which point we're prompted to head back to the Police cruiser and follow him - this is really the only time in the demonstration where a full-speed chase scene is apparent. Rockstar have already demoed a lot of these chase scenes last year, including showing Niko smashing out the driver's side door glass, reaching out the window and firing a few rounds off at the car he's chasing. This was no exception.
After a brief chase, our victim evidently prefers to chance his luck with the asphalt, and dives out of the car as it flies into a group of pedestrians and explodes. His body tumbles and rolls, showing off the new Euphoria physics engine as he tries to protect himself. He comes to a halt and tries, slowly, to get to his feet. Niko gets out of the Police cruiser, ignores all the pedestrians running past him and screaming (some of which bounce off him and curse loudly) as he calmly uses GTA IV's new combat targeting system to line up his pistol and fire two rounds at Rivas. Mission accomplished - the autosave kicks in and Niko uses the cell phone to call Brucie and let him know the good news, whilst in the background we see half a city block on fire and bodies lying everywhere. It's nice to know some things don't change.