Corruption city

By Derek Kucynda

As millions of fans clamored to get a copy of Grand Theft Auto 4 during the week of April 29, the biggest question facing the new game is how it will stand next to its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.


In its first week on shelves, ‘Grand Theft Auto 4’ has sold an estimated $500 million in retail sales globally, according to Reuters.

Rockstar North, the developer of Grand Theft Auto 4, has implemented more multiplayer options to accommodate the online capabilities of next generation consoles, and the game’s setting, Liberty City, also has been updated. With top-notch graphics, gameplay and sound, Grand Theft Auto 4 is a fantastic video game with a few missing pieces to its criminally-engaging puzzle.

San Andreas has certain aspects of gameplay that Grand Theft Auto 4 does not: more clothes, weapons and vehicles. In addition, the hand-to-hand combat is more awkward in Grand Theft Auto 4 than in previous games.

The biggest disappointment of the game is the lack of a two-player, co-operative multiplayer option, where both players occupy the same single screen together. This feature, which was in San Andreas, could have been implemented in Grand Theft Auto 4 due to the sheer power of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, even at the expense of long loading times.

Using the power and processing capabilities of the next generation consoles, Grand Theft Auto 4 destroys the high expectations set by fans and critics alike with every other aspect of the game. In the game, Liberty City is a not-so-clever disguise of New York City with all the familiar landmarks in place, creating an amazingly realistic world for the player. Liberty City’s version of Central Park is called Middle Park, and other notable locations include Hove Beach, based on Brighton Beach, and Star Junction, which is a representation of Times Square. Even four out of the five boroughs of New York City are represented: Bohan (Bronx), Dukes (Queens), Broker (Brooklyn) and Algonquin (Manhattan).

In Grand Theft Auto 4, the city itself is immense and incredibly detailed. Players can make the game’s main character, Niko Bellic, go on dates with various women. With options like bowling, darts, cabaret theater performances or dining at Cluckin’ Bell, a satirical fast food restaurant, Bellic has many options to please a potential girlfriend. Players even have the option of taking a girl to a bar and driving her home after knocking back a few drinks. His drunkenness is replicated in the game as the screen sways left and right and shifts in and out of focus while Bellic drives.

The plot of Grand Theft Auto 4 is as complicated and genuinely engrossing as Liberty City itself. Bellic is a former human trafficker who is a veteran of the Balkan Wars. He comes to the United States in search of the American Dream. There, he finds the dream to be a sordid reality, as his cousin Roman’s life turns out to be a wreck. Roman lives in a run-down apartment with numerous debts to the various criminal organizations in the city, including the Russian Mafia, due to his gambling addiction. Bellic helps his cousin out by beating up and murdering Roman’s adversaries. Later, Bellic sets out to find a person in Liberty City who betrayed him in the past.

The story pokes fun at society as well. At the beginning of Grand Theft Auto 4, a terrorist threat prevents the player from traveling to Algonquin or Broker. Even the culture of politics, corruption and technology in the game is viewed through a compelling satirical lens. Corrupt cops still make Bellic do their dirty work for them, and even cell phones and the Internet play important roles in the game’s overall structure and development.

Visually, Grand Theft Auto 4 is stunning, especially whenever the player dies, during which the screen turns black-and-white in a cinematic fashion.

The biggest addition to the series is the online multiplayer option. Up to 16 players can choose to play 15 different multiplayer modes, with games such as Turf Wars, where two teams compete to take control of a designated area and Car Jack City, where up to eight teams can steal cars and earn money going against ranked players online.

Grand Theft Auto 4 is a criminal masterpiece ingrained in a sharp social commentary of America that boasts a fully realized set of characters and locations. However, with the removal of the nonlinear, cooperative multiplayer mode, gamers might be surprised at what Grand Theft Auto 4 doesn’t have in store for its fans.