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Attention to detail

Speaking of pedestrians, there's nothing quite as satisfying as the noise they make when hit at high speed. It's sort of a cross between a deep thud and a cracking sound.

Joel: Bodies fly around and collapse very believably. They will bounce off your hood and drag along beside you very realistically. A nice touch: occasionally when car jacking the person will attempt to grab onto the car as you race away, in which case you have to literally try and shake them off (or swipe them into oncoming traffic). But what has really made GTA IV so very different, is the incredible ‘living world’ that has been created. This time around you really do feel as though the city is alive. Sure there aren’t quite as many people around as you would perhaps expect in a real city, however considering how gorgeous everything looks and the sheer level of detail in the environment, it's quite understandable.

Aylon: There’s a lot more details, like my character actually looking behind him when I reverse, people grabbing onto their cars when you steal them, trying to not let you get away and I’m sure plenty more I haven’t even seen yet. I have seen how great it looks though. For everything that is happening in this game, it looks amazing. The city is alive and its different areas are distinct, and while you will see the same people twice, it won’t happen too often. Rain in particular looks good, the roads get a slick wet look and yes, it does affect your driving. If I had only one gripe it's that the controls aren’t always quite perfect and driving can be a little crazy sometimes. As they say, the faster you drive, the bigger the mess and when you go flying out of the front windscreen when you smash into a wall; well... don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Whilst Liberty City has been entirely made-over, your character Niko has less to worry about this time. There is no fitness ability, and Niko isn't required to eat at certain times (however, eating does restore lost health). He's a good swimmer and can run forever without tiring, and he can even jump down stairs and perform a perfect parachutist's roll. The most impressive feature however is his ability to jump, grapple and climb over virtually any sloped surface. Being chased by the police? No problem, slam on the brakes, run across the motorway and jump off the overbridge to the embankment below. Steal another car and head off in the opposite direction before the police figure it out. Being able to go over objects flawlessly has brought an entirely new dimension to the game.

As with enhanced movement controls, having an accurate guidance system is paramount to any serious career criminal. Every car you obtain has a built-in GPS unit that you can either program with a destination (from the in-game map screen) or whatever mission you're involved in will auto-populate the destination for you. You can have multiple GPS paths as well - ones you program (such as stopping off at a gun supplier before starting a mission) will appear as green, and mission-related routes are yellow. Blue denotes a pick-up. As with real GPS units, if you miss a turn it will recalculate the route and apply it within seconds - particularly useful when you're travelling at extremely high speed.

Verdict

There are reviews popping up all over the internet as the sun rises here at GPHQ; glancing through a few I can see none that do the game justice. This isn't due to a lack of attention, it's simply that in order to describe every little thing that you see in this game would require volumes. There is a staggering level of detail and for every detail we've mentioned so far, there are at least a dozen we've missed. Still, that's the beauty of Grand Theft Auto IV: the details will always be there for you to discover yourself. Which you absolutely should. This is a phenomenal achievement from Rockstar, every single one of the 200 people who worked on this game should be congratulated.

Joel: Is there any part of this game that Rockstar didn’t put energy and love into? The missions themselves are very well put together and easy to follow. And from what we can tell so far the story-line is simply pure genius.

GTA IV is a work of art, it is an incredibly huge environment that will take weeks to fully explore, with a tremendous range of people and vehicles. GTA IV will provide you with an enormous amount of playing time, and the only thing that seems to be lacking so far are the taxi/fire/ambulance missions of old. The police missions are still there, and can be accessed through a police computer, but it seems strange that these have been left out when they were such a distinct feature of past titles.

Aylon: There is only so long I can go around running over innocent people without getting bored, so I figure I’ve got another 80 hours left in me easy! GTA IV is here and I am glad to say it is exactly what I was expecting; I doubt anyone will be let down. If you enjoyed the GTA games of old you will feel very much at home in GTA IV. While it is extremely similar to the other GTA games (not a bad thing mind you) it is in the details where this game truly stands out.

It’s not really anything new, it is exactly like the previous GTA games, just bigger, more detailed and taken to a whole new level. It is easily the greatest game in the series, and possibly one of the best games ever made. There is so much I haven’t even mentioned; the variety of radio stations and songs, watchable TV shows with funny commercials (the game has a great sense of humour), the use of the internet, the various mini-games, the use of a cell phone to launch missions and communicate story in particularly is genius. There is also multiplayer, but we didn’t get to try this out yet. Bottom line, I cannot wait to get back into Liberty City, steal someone’s ride and check out more of the sights!

I'm off to sleep now, I think two hours should be enough. After all, there are people to shoot, cars to steal and buildings to blow up.

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For a look at the multiplayer side of the game, be sure to read our GTA IV - Multiplayer special review.