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Grand Theft Auto IV (commonly abbreviated as GTA 4 or GTA IV) is a sandbox-style action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North. It is the sixth 3D game in the Grand Theft Auto series. Grand Theft Auto IV was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in Oceania, Europe and North America on 29 April 2008, and in Japan on 30 October 2008. A Windows version of the game was released in North America on 2 December 2008 and in Europe on 3 December. Two episodic packs have been developed for the Xbox 360, the first of which is entitled The Lost and Damned and was released on 17 February 2009. The second episode is called The Ballad of Gay Tony and was released on 29 October 2009.

The game is set in a redesigned rendition of Liberty City, a fictional city based heavily on modern day New York Citymarker. It follows Niko Bellic, a war veteran from an unspecified country in Eastern Europe. He comes to the United States in search of the American Dream, but quickly becomes entangled in a seedy underworld of gangs, crime, and corruption. Like other games in the series, GTA IV is composed of elements from driving games and third-person shooters, and features "open-world" gameplay that gives players more control over their playing experience. GTA IV is the first console game in the series to feature an online multiplayer mode, which contains fifteen game types.

As the first game of the critically acclaimed series to appear on seventh generation consoles, Grand Theft Auto IV was widely anticipated. A major commercial and critical success, it broke industry records with sales of around 3.7 million units on its first day of release and grossing more than $500 million in revenue in the first week, from an estimated 6 million units sold worldwide. As of 11 March 2009, the game has sold over 13 million copies. Grand Theft Auto IV also received overwhelmingly positive reviews, becoming one of the highest-rated games of all-time on aggregated review websites such as Metacritic and GameRankings.


Grand Theft Auto IV is structured similarly to previous games in the series. The core gameplay consists of giving the player a large, open environment in which to move around. On foot, the player's character is capable of walking, running, swimming, climbing and jumping, as well as using weapons and basic hand-to-hand combat. Players can steal and drive a variety of vehicles, including automobiles, boats, helicopters, and motorcycles. Grand Theft Auto IV takes advantage of Natural Motion's Euphoria engine, which combines artificial intelligence, bio-mechanics and physics to make NPC behaviour and movement adaptive and more realistic.

The open, non-linear environment allows players to explore and choose how they wish to play the game. Although storyline missions are necessary to progress through the game and unlock certain parts of the map and content, they are not required, as players can complete them at their own leisure. When not taking on a storyline mission, players can free-roam, giving them the ability to do activities.

It is possible to have multiple active missions, due to the fact that some missions will run over the course of several days and will require the player to wait for further instructions, etc. The player can also partake in a variety of optional side missions. For the first time in the series, Grand Theft Auto IV features "morality choices" at several points throughout the game. The game has two different endings, which are determined by deciding which of the two missions to complete. The player can choose between a revenge mission or a deal mission, each leads to a different ending.

Combat and police response

Combat in Grand Theft Auto IV has been reworked to include a cover system.
The gunfight combat system has been reworked to a third-person scheme. The player can slide to cover, lock on, blindfire, and free aim. When locked on, the target's health is indicated by eight segments inside the target circle. Additionally, if the target is wearing body armour there will be an additional armour circle inside the health circle, showing the target's armour status. Niko can also perform "cinematic executions", only possible with a pistol to certain characters/situations when the target circle blinks red. Players can target individual body parts using the revamped targeting system. Niko's health is represented by a green semicircle on the left side of the mini-map, while a blue semicircle on the right represents armour.There are more hand to hand combat moves than in past games in the series, namely punching, kicking, "alternative" punching, dodging/blocking, disarming an opponent, and counter-attacking.If Niko is injured, he can recover health by eating, drinking soda, sleeping, using medical kits, using his mobile phone to call for paramedics, calling one of his girlfriends for medical advice, or using the services of a prostitute. Health is generally reduced by physical injuries, such as being hit by vehicles when walking, going through the windscreen of a vehicle when crashing, and gunfire or explosions and stab wounds. Body armour is gradually damaged by gunshots and explosions. If Niko's health level reaches zero, the action stops, and he re-appears at the nearest hospital having lost 10% of his total wealth (up to $10,000). Niko is able to retain his weapons after re-spawning at a hospital, a feature previously only available in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories and in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

The Wanted level system operates differently from previous GTA games. The game retains the six star levels of previous iterations of the series, with increasing resistance on each level. However, the law enforcement agencies which come after the player with increasing wanted levels has also been changed from previous GTA games, with the focus on making them more realistic. As the wanted level rises in previous games, the police are replaced by SWAT teams, who are in turn replaced by the FBImarker (Secret Agents in GTA 2) and finally Army. In GTA 4, the Police are assisted by NOOSE (National Office of Security Enforcement) (parody of DHSmarker) officers at a three-star wanted level, who in turn are again assisted randomly by either NOOSE's Tactical Response Unit (parody of NYPD ESU) or FIB (Federal Investigation Bureau) (parody of FBImarker) at a five-star wanted level and beyond. Like previous GTA games, a police helicopter pursues the player at a three-star wanted level, but this is replaced by a helicopter gunship at the five-star wanted level, though like the previous helicopters it also utilises sharp-shooters rather than its mounted gatling guns.

When the police are in pursuit of Niko, a search radius appears on the map in which the police will be looking for him. The size of this radius increases with the player's wanted level and re-centres itself on Niko's location if he is spotted by the police. The player can evade the police by both escaping the search radius and hide from all law enforcement units until the search is aborted. The wanted levels can also be lost either by driving into a "Pay 'N' Spray" (unless seen entering by police) or clandestinely changing vehicles in empty areas such as parking garages. The player has the option of attempting to escape arrest before being handcuffed, at the cost of increasing the wanted level by one star. Additionally, pedestrians with cellphones can report crimes they witness in the surrounding environment.


During car chases, the player can focus the camera on the target vehicle by holding the cinematic camera button And also do drive bys. Every vehicle in the game uses the in-game minimap as a GPS device, and additional voice directions are provided in luxury cars (but can also be activated in all cars or disabled in the options menu). "Waypoints" can be placed on destinations on the map, outlining the fastest legal route between Niko and the destination on the minimap. The ability to hail a taxi cab allows the player to travel to destinations without having to drive, and the entire journey may be skipped, allowing them to arrive at their destination instantly. The player cannot pilot fixed-wing aircraft, as was possible in previous games, but can still pilot helicopters.

The Bullet physics engine along with the Euphoria animation system causes Niko to react differently to every bike crash, instead of using a predefined animation. Niko can lose health or die if he crashes or smashes through the windscreen of cars during high speed collisions. Unlike previous games, vehicles will not explode if they are flipped over, however they may catch fire and eventually explode if the engine is repeatedly damaged via collisions, or if the vehicle is damaged via firearms. Explosions can sometimes render nearby vehicles unusable, or cause them to catch fire. Car engines can also break down, rendering them unable to start. Vehicles can also physically deform unlike in previous games, sometimes rendering them undrivable. When driving or riding in a car, Niko is able to smash the window, free-aim, and fire out of the vehicle with several different one-handed weapons. The player may also drop grenades or Molotov cocktails. In certain areas of Liberty City, Niko can stop his car alongside a prostitute, honk his car horn and let her in. He can then engage in three different sexual activities with the prostitute at different costs.


The use of the mobile phone has been expanded to perform multiple actions. When selecting the mobile phone, a zoomed-in version of the phone interface pops up in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. The phone allows the player to view text messages and appointments, as well as arrange to meet friends for activities. Retrying a failed mission can be done by accessing the menu and responding positively to a certain text message. The player can take photos with the mobile phone and upload them to the police computer during certain missions. Niko can dial 911 to call emergency services, who promptly arrive to his location and will respond to a situation, or lack thereof, occurring there. The police will arrest felons, and paramedics are able to restore Niko's health. The phone also allows access to the game's multiplayer mode, online in a free mode. The player can also call other players to talk to them, or ask for a service that that character can provide, like transport or a reduction in wanted level.

The game also features several different in-game databases that Niko can make use of. An in-game version of the Internet can be used by accessing the Internet café chain, "TW@", located throughout the city or by accessing a computer in a safehouse. There are over 100 accessible fictitious websites within the game, and Niko can also send and receive email (including junk mail) and set up prospective dates. Although the Internet café was seen in Grand Theft Auto III, it did not give the player the option to browse. In a police vehicle, Niko can use an in-car computer to access Liberty City's criminal database, discover information about various criminals in Liberty City and even track them down for a reward. The game also features in-game television programming, with several viewable channels featuring programmes and advertisements. The television shows cover a wide variety of genres, including a history channel, reality shows, card games, and cartoons.


Grand Theft Auto IV includes online multiplayer, with 15 modes of play available. The multiplayer supports up to 16 players (32 players in the PC version) and allows players to explore the entire city. Players use a customisable character in a majority of the modes, and cash earned during play translates to a level at which more clothing is available for their character, depending on the level. Hosts of the games can control many variables, such as police presence, traffic, and weapons. The online games are split into ranked and unranked matches. The reward for the ranked gameplay is cash, which determines players' ranks. The game does not feature any split screen or LAN multiplayer modes on console, but the PC version does have LAN support.

There are several different game modes available. Team based gameplay modes include Team Deathmatch, where 2–8 teams compete to accumulate the most kills in a traditional deathmatch; Team Mafiya Work, in which 2–8 teams compete to complete contract work for the "mafiya", such as escorting/killing targets or stealing cars; Team Car Jack City where 2–8 teams compete to steal cars and earn money for keeping them undamaged; Cops n' Crooks, featuring a team of cops who must compete against a team of crooks (which features the "All for One" variation – requiring the cops to kill the crooks' "Boss" before he is escorted to the extraction point – and the "One for All" variation – requiring the cops to kill all of the crooks before they reach the extraction point); and Turf War, involving two teams who compete to take control of designated areas of the map and control them for as long as possible.

The game also includes a variety of racing and cooperative modes, which include Race, in which players race through checkpoints in a traditional automobile race; a GTA Race variation, where players race through checkpoints in an automobile race, with the ability to combat their opponents; Hangman's N.O.O.S.E., a co-op mode that requires players to collect a person from the airport and safely escort him to the extraction point before the cops kill him; Deal Breaker, a co-op mission that requires players to assault a construction site captured by enemies, then chase a group of enemies before they escape; and Bomb da Base II, a co-op mission that requires players to clear out a ship, then destroy it with explosives, referencing the mission title Bomb Da Base: act II from Grand Theft Auto 3 which featured a similar objective of destroying a ship with explosives. The game also features a Free Mode, in which players have the entire map open to explore, with no end goal or mission to complete.

There are, however, limitations when playing Free Mode. Certain features from the single player story mode are disabled. The disabled features include the mini-games such as bowling, darts, and pool. Also disabled is other content found in the game, including cheats, clubs and the Internet café. These limitations also apply for all other game-types. Also, as the player progress in multiplayer modes, it's possible to unlock new clothing items, and updated apparel. Head gear will also become available at certain points.



Grand Theft Auto IV follows the story of Niko Bellic, an illegal immigrant and veteran of the Bosnian War. After persuasion from his cousin Roman who immigrated to America years prior to the game's opening, Niko leaves Eastern Europe to come to Liberty City, where he hopes to forget his criminal past and pursue the American Dream. After his arrival, however, Niko quickly learns that Roman's tales of riches and luxury were lies concealing Roman's struggles with debt and gangsters. Niko aids Roman in his troubles while hoping to carve out a new life for himself in the city.

It is later revealed that one of the reasons Niko came to Liberty City was to search for the person he blames for the betrayal of his old army unit: Florian Cravic. Niko creates ties with the Liberty City Bratva through Roman's loan shark Vladimir Glebov and later makes acquaintance with a major figure of the Bratva, Mikhail Faustin and his associate, Dimitri Rascalov. Niko completes jobs for Faustin before joining Dimitri's plot to betray Faustin and take over the organization. Niko assassinates Faustin on Dimitri's orders, but is then betrayed by Dimitri himself. It is revealed that Dimitri is actually in collusion with Ray Bulgarin, a former employer of Niko who orders his men to kill him. Niko fights his way through the ambush with the help of Little Jacob, a Jamaican arms dealer whom Niko befriended earlier. Dimitri and Bulgarin escape, however, and Jacob suggests dealing with them later.

Immediately afterwards Niko and Roman are forced to escape to Bohan when their Hove Beach apartment and taxi company are destroyed in an arson attack. At this time Roman reveals his plans to propose to his girlfriend, Mallorie. Desperate for money, Niko slowly obtains new allies and finds work in the various criminal organisations around the city, including the Pegorino Crime Family (Don Jimmy Pegorino, caporegime Ray Boccino and associate Phil Bell), along with their hired muscle, the McReary Irish Mob (mobsters Gerry and Packie, drug dealer Derrick and police deputy-commissioner Francis), Playboy X's gang, Dwayne Forge, Elizabeta Torres's drug ring, and others. After moving to a new apartment in Algonquin, Niko finally locates Florian, but discovers that he has changed his name to Bernie Crane, and Niko soon determines that Bernie is not the person responsible for his unit's betrayal, leaving him one remaining suspect: Darko Brevic.

Towards the conclusion of the storyline, a shadowy government agency (under the name of "U.L. Paper") that had forced Niko to help them in collusion with an aging mobster, Jon Gravelli, locates Darko in Bucharestmarker and arrange to have him brought to Liberty City as a final reward. Niko confronts Darko, who has become a drug-addicted, guilt-ridden wreck. The player is then left with the option of either executing Darko or sparing his life. Afterwards, having dealt with his past, Niko is called to a bar where mob boss Jimmy Pegorino asks him one final favour; to obtain a shipment of heroin for him that he can sell to a buyer: Dimitri Rascalov.


The story features two possible endings depending on the choice made by the player at this point in the game. In both endings Niko sees Pegorino as an enemy for allying so closely with Dimitri, and both antagonists die in nearly identical battles. The major difference in each ending is that either Roman Bellic or Kate McReary dies.

If the player chooses to exact Revenge, Niko ambushes Dimitri on his tanker while he is supervising a shipment of heroin. A gunfight ensues within the hull of the tanker and Niko kills Dimitri. In the aftermath, Roman and Mallorie's wedding takes place and Jimmy Pegorino, who is furious after the betrayal, commits a drive-by outside the church killing Niko's love interest, Kate McReary. Niko, Roman and Little Jacob follow some of Pegorino's men, who lead them to an abandoned casino in Alderney. Niko attempts to kill Pegorino, but he escapes via boat to Happiness Island. Niko, Roman and Jacob pursue in a helicopter, and Niko eventually kills Pegorino before lamenting on the supposed "American Dream" to Roman and Jacob.

If the player chooses to strike a Deal, Niko meets Phil Bell at the docks to make the exchange. Dimitri sabotages his side of the deal but Niko and Phil eventually retrieve the drug money regardless. Niko receives a congratulatory call from Pegorino who has now allied himself with Dimitri. Kate, however, who was against making the deal, is disappointed with Niko and refuses to attend Roman and Mallorie's wedding. The wedding takes place and an assassin sent by Dimitri to kill Niko inadvertently shoots and kills Roman during a struggle. A devastated and vengeful Niko teams up with Little Jacob and they go to an abandoned casino in Alderney to kill both Dimitri and Pegorino. In the casino, Dimitri betrays and kills Pegorino before escaping to Happiness Island via helicopter. Niko and Little Jacob pursue, and then kill Dimitri. The story ends with a parting shot of the Statue of Happiness, with Niko concerned for the well-being of his soul.


GTA IV's rendition of Liberty City is more heavily based on New York City than in previous GTA games.

Grand Theft Auto IV takes place in a redesigned version of Liberty City consisting of four boroughs, based on four of the boroughs of New York City. Broker is the equivalent of Brooklynmarker; Queensmarker is Dukes; The Bronxmarker is Bohan and Manhattanmarker is Algonquin. Adjacent to the city is the independent state of Alderney based on Northern New Jerseymarker and is named after a Channel Islandmarker. A Staten Islandmarker-esque area is not featured in the game as the developers believed that gameplay in such an area would not be fun. There are two minor islands present, Charge Island (based loosely on Randall's Islandmarker) and Colony Island (based on Roosevelt Islandmarker). Initially, the city's bridges are locked down due to a terrorist threat, but eventually the armed police blockades are lifted and the player is able to lead Niko across the Brokermarker, Algonquinmarker and Northwood Heightsmarker bridges and explore the rest of the city. The "Francis International Airport" is based on several New York City-area airports, most notably LaGuardiamarker and JFKmarker.

Several adaptations of New York City districts and landmarks exist within Liberty City.

In Broker (Brooklyn):

  • BOABO (Beneath the Offramp of the Algonquin Bridge Overpass) modelled on DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), where one can find the Broker Navy Yards, based on reality's Brooklyn Navy Yardmarker.

  • Firefly Island is based on a combination of Coney Islandmarker and Fire Islandmarker. It features the Screamer roller coaster, modelled on the Coney Island Cyclonemarker as well as a hot dog emporium named Johnson's as a double-entendre, which is based on the real-life Nathan's.

In Dukes (Queens):

In Algonquin (Manhattan):

  • BAWSAQ is a lewdly-titled parody of NASDAQ and has a brightly lit building in Star Junction.


  • The Statue of Happiness is modelled on the Statue of Libertymarker, featuring a Styrofoam coffee cup in place of a torch. It stands on Happiness Island, which is off the southernmost tip of Algonquin Island much as real-life Liberty Island is located south of Manhattan.


The characters that appear in Grand Theft Auto IV are diverse and relative to the respective boroughs of Liberty City they are based in; belonging to various gangs and ethnic groups. The player controls Niko Bellic, a veteran of an Eastern European war. According to Dan Houser, virtually none of the characters from the previous games would return, as "most of the characters we liked were dead," further evidenced by in-game graffiti bidding farewell to these characters.

Unlike previous games in the series, the voice actors of Grand Theft Auto IV do not include notable and high-profile celebrities, instead opting for lesser known actors such as Michael Hollick, Jason Zumwalt, Timothy Adams and Coolie Ranx. However, several high-profile DJs host the various radio stations within the game such as Iggy Pop, Juliette Lewis, Karl Lagerfeld, DJ Premier, Fez Whatley and Lazlow Jones. Saturday Night Live actors Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis appear on the liberal and conservative radio talk shows respectively, with Fred Armisen playing several guests on Lazlow's "Integrity 2.0". Katt Williams and Ricky Gervais also have their likenesses and comedy depicted in an in-game comedy club. Numerous other comedians, including Jim Norton, Patrice Oneal, Rick Shapiro, and Robert Kelly, appeared on the radio and/or as characters in-game.


Like previous games in the Grand Theft Auto series, Grand Theft Auto IV features a soundtrack that can be heard through radio stations while the player is in a vehicle. Liberty City is serviced by 18 radio stations, three of which are talk radio stations. The other stations feature music from a large range of genres. There are notable inclusions to the game's soundtrack, such as tracks from Genesis, David Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins, The Sisters of Mercy, Seryoga, Bob Marley, Don Omar, The Who, Queen, Black Sabbath, Philip Glass, Simian Mobile Disco, Nas, Kanye West, R. Kelly, Lloyd, Miles Davis, Loose Ends, Elton John, ZZ Top, R.E.M., MC Lyte and Barry White. The theme song (intro music) of Grand Theft Auto IV is "Soviet Connection" composed by Michael Hunter, who also composed the theme for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

The game uses a similar music system to that of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In other games in the series, each radio station was essentially a single looped sound file, playing the same songs, announcements and advertisements in the same order each time. With the radio stations in Grand Theft Auto IV, each sound file is held separately, and "mixed" randomly, allowing songs to be played in different orders, announcements to songs to be different each time, and plot events to be mentioned on the stations. Certain songs are also edited to incorporate references to the fictional Liberty City.

Following a partnership between Rockstar Games and, players are able to purchase real world MP3s through GTA IV's in-game mobile phone. Players are able to mark radio songs that they like by dialing ZIT-555-0100 on Niko's phone. They will then receive a text message providing the name of the song and the artist. If a player is registered on Rockstar's 'Social Club' website he or she will also receive a real world e-mail with a link to an playlist where all of the player's marked songs will be listed and available to purchase.


Work on Grand Theft Auto IV began in November 2004, almost immediately after the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Around 150 game developers worked on Grand Theft Auto IV, led by core members of the Grand Theft Auto III team. The game uses Rockstar's own RAGE game engine, which was previously used in Rockstar Table Tennis, in combination with the Euphoria game animation engine. Instead of pre-written animations, Euphoria uses procedural animation to control the way the player moves, enabling character movements to be more realistic. The Euphoria engine also enables NPCs to react in a realistic way to the player's actions. In one preview, a player knocked an NPC out of a window and the character grabbed onto a ledge to stop himself from falling. The game also uses middleware from Image Metrics to facilitate intricate facial expressions and ease the process of incorporating lip-synching. Foliage in the game is produced through SpeedTree.

Grand Theft Auto IV sees a shift in the series to a more realistic and detailed style and tone, partly a result of the transition to consoles which offered high-definition graphics and the new and improved capabilities of such consoles. Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser said "what we're taking as our watchword on [GTA IV] is the idea of what high definition actually means. Not just in terms of graphics, which obviously we are achieving, but in terms of all aspects of the design. [...] You know, trying to make something more realistic, more held together, but still retaining the overall coherence that the other games had." Art director Aaron Garbut said one of the reasons they decided to set the game in New York because "we all knew what an amazing, diverse, vibrant, cinematic city it is. [...] And since we were hoping to push the detail, variety and life, for lack of a better word, to such a degree it seemed that basing the game in a city so synonymous with these things was a great fit." Dan Houser added "because we were working in high definition and we knew we'd need a shitload of research, we wanted to be somewhere where we had a foothold." The developers consciously avoided creating a block for block recreation of New York City, Dan Houser said "what we've always tried to do is make a thing that looks real and has the qualities of a real environment, but is also fun from a game design perspective." The Grand Theft Auto IV rendition of Liberty City is far more detailed and is the largest individual city in the Grand Theft Auto series. Although smaller than San Andreas, Liberty City is comparable to it in terms of scope when "the level of verticality of the city, the number of buildings you can go into, and the level of detail in those buildings" are taken into account. The goal for Liberty City was to have no dead spots or irrelevant spaces, such as the wide open deserts in San Andreas. To achieve a realistic environment, the Rockstar North team, based in Edinburghmarker, Scotland, made two trips to New York for research, one at the start of the project (which is done with every GTA game) and another smaller one further into development. A full-time research team, based in New York, handled further requests for information ranging from the ethnic minority of a neighbourhood to videos of traffic patterns.

The story of Grand Theft Auto IV was written by Dan Houser and Rupert Humphries. Unlike previous Grand Theft Auto games which have a strong cultural or cinematic influence, "[GTA IV doesn't] really have any cinematic influences", said Dan Houser, "we were consciously trying to go, well, if videogames are going to develop into the next stage, then the thing isn't to try and do a loving tribute or reference other stuff. It's to reference the actual place itself." Houser also said, "In terms of the character, we wanted something that felt fresh and new and not something that was obviously derived from [a] movie. [...] Maybe [we] could do something ourselves that would live alongside that stuff."

Music supervisor Ivan Pavlovich said "[we had] to pick the songs that make New York today what it is, but make sure they won't feel dated by the time the game comes out." The developers contacted over 2,000 people in order to obtain recording and publishing rights. They even hired a private investigator to locate the relatives of late Skatt Bros. member Sean Delaney to license the band's song, "Walk the Night". Citing sources close to the deals, Billboard reported that Rockstar paid as much as $5,000 per composition and another $5,000 per master recording per track. Developers originally considered letting players purchase music by going to an in-game record shop and for Niko to have an MP3 player, but both ideas were cut. Grand Theft Auto IV's theme song is "Soviet Connection" by Michael Hunter, who also composed the theme for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. People who provide voices for the radio DJs include fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, musicians Iggy Pop, Femi Kuti, Jimmy Gestapo and Ruslana, and real-life radio talk show host Lazlow Jones. DJ Green Lantern produced tracks exclusively for the game's hip-hop radio station The Beat 102.7. Record label owner and record producer Bobby Konders, who hosts the in-game radio station Massive B Soundsystem 96.9, went through the extra effort of flying to Jamaicamarker to get dancehall artists to re-record tracks to make references to the boroughs of Liberty City.

The then Corporate Vice-President of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business division, Peter Moore, announced at E3 2006 that the game would appear on Xbox 360, by rolling up his sleeve to reveal a GTA IV temporary tattoo. Rockstar Games initially appeared to be committed to the original 16 October 2007 release date; however, Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter suggested that Take-Two may choose to delay the release of the game in order to boost its financial results for 2008 and to avoid competing with the release of other highly anticipated titles, such as Halo 3. Rockstar responded by saying that Grand Theft Auto IV was still on track for release in "late October". On 2 August 2007, Take-Two announced that Grand Theft Auto IV would miss its original release date of 16 October 2007 contrary to their previous statements, and would be delayed to their second fiscal quarter (February–April) of 2008. In a later conference call with investors, Take-Two's Strauss Zelnick attributed the delay to "almost strictly technological problems... not problems, but challenges." It was revealed that technical difficulties with the PlayStation 3 version of the game contributed to the delay, along with storage problems on the Xbox 360. On 24 January 2008, Take-Two announced that Grand Theft Auto IV would be released on 29 April 2008. As the release date approached, Rockstar Games and Take-Two marketed the game heavily through various forms, including television ads, Internet video, billboards, viral marketing, and a redesigned website. A special edition of the game was also released for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. At a Take-Two shareholder meeting on 18 April 2008, Take-Two CEO Ben Feder announced that GTA IV had already "gone gold" and was "in production and in trucks en route to retailers". Overall, Grand Theft Auto IV took over 1000 people and more than three and a half years to complete, with a total cost estimated at approximately $100 million, making it the most expensive game ever developed.

Episodic content

The cover art for Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City.

Rockstar Games is releasing episodic content for the Xbox 360 version of GTA IV. The first episode, titled The Lost and Damned, was released on Xbox Live on 17 February 2009. The episode features a new central character, Johnny Klebitz, who is a member of Liberty City's biker gang The Lost, a gang which is featured in several GTA IV missions. Dan Houser, vice president of creative development at Rockstar Games, claims the episode shows "a different side of Liberty City". Jeronimo Barrera, Vice President of Product Development for Rockstar Games, has said that the episodes are experiments because they are not sure that there are enough users with access to online content on the Xbox 360. Take-Two Interactive's Chief Financial Officer, Lainie Goldstein revealed that Microsoft was paying a total of $50 million for the first two episodes..

The content was first announced during Microsoft's 2006 E3 press conference on 9 May 2006. Peter Moore, the then head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business division described downloadable content as "epic episode packs", and not just an extra car or character. A press release during the conference said that the packs would add "hours of entirely new gameplay" to the game.

The second episode, Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony, was released on 29 October 2009. The episode focused on Luis Lopez, an assistant to nightclub owner Tony Prince, aka "Gay Tony" and a petty crook, the conflicts detailed between his friends and family.

Both episodes were also released as a standalone game called Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City that does not require the original Grand Theft Auto IV media to be playable.


Upon the game's release, Kotaku reported that several PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 owners had complained of the game freezing during the initial cut-scene, rendering it unplayable. It was also reported on Kotaku that the online multiplayer was down on release day for most PlayStation 3 users. On 7 May 2008, Rockstar released a patch for the PlayStation 3 version of the game to improve the multiplayer experience. According to Rockstar, the update prevents GameSpy's servers from being overloaded and therefore reduces the impact on those servers that were causing the game to stutter and lock up. Further multiplayer fixes were made available on 23 June 2008.

On 27 October 2008, Rockstar released an update which added Trophy support to the PlayStation 3 version. Like Achievements on the Xbox 360, Trophies may be unlocked by completing certain unique tasks.

On 15 November 2008, another patch (1.04) was released for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

On 12 December 2008, a patch ( was released for the Microsoft Windows version of the game. This patch allows for DirectInput support, enabling non-Microsoft controllers to be used.

On 24 January 2009, another patch ( was released for the Microsoft Windows version of the game. It fixes many performance and graphical issues as well as correcting issues created by the first patch.

On 18 February 2009, a patch was released for the Australian and New Zealand Xbox 360 versions of the game that uncensors the previously censored main game, bringing it in line with the uncensored PC and The Lost and Damned DLC releases.

On 21 March 2009, a third patch ( was released for the Microsoft Windows version of the game. This fixed many major graphic flaws such as headlights on the player's car consuming too much GPU power.

On 19 June 2009, a fourth patch ( was released for the Microsoft Windows version of the game. Rockstar Toronto called it a 'Maintenance Update' and said that it is in preparation for a future patch.Rockstar says this patch "ensures all copies of the game are properly aligned for the next gold master build pressing".

On 4 September 2009, another patch was released for the Xbox 360 version of the game. It was released to patch cheat exploits in Xbox Live multiplayer.

On 10 November 2009, a fifth patch (, not to be confused with the previous one) was released for the Microsoft Windows version of the game. It fixes some minor bugs, improves keyboard mapping and adds the five Achievements from The Lost and Damned.

Community features

The Rockstar Games Social Club is a web site that displays the gameplay statistics of registered users and feature competitions and awards based on player activity within the game. The Social Club web site was announced on 27 March 2008 and launched on 17 April 2008. The main features of Social Club launched on the same date of the game itself 29 April 2008. Social Club will also provide online features for Rockstar's latest Midnight Club game, Midnight Club: Los Angeles. Social Club consists of multiple parts. It initially included the LCPD Police Blotter, The Story Gang, The 100% Club, The Hall Of Fame, The Liberty City Marathon and The Zit.

In an interview with PlayStation World Magazine, Rockstar mentioned that they will "heavily support" Sony's PlayStation Home, a community-based service for the PlayStation Network. Rockstar also mentioned that visitors to their PlayStation Home apartment would receive 'goodies' such as clothing for their avatar and items and decorations for their own PlayStation Home apartment.

Windows version

The Windows version of GTA IV includes a replay editor.
This screenshot shows the Clips interface which is used to capture game footage.

On 6 August 2008, Rockstar announced that a Microsoft Windows version was in development by Rockstar North and Rockstar Toronto. The game was originally announced for release in North America on 18 November 2008 and in Europe on 21 November 2008 but was later pushed back to 2 and 3 December 2008, respectively.

It features expanded features, including traffic density control, draw distance configurations and a replay editor. The replay editor allows players to record and edit game clips, videos can then be uploaded to Rockstar's Social Club website. It utilizes Games for Windows - Live for online play and supports 32 players for multiplayer. SecuROM protection is utilized and a one time online activation is required in order to play the game.

The Windows version of the game was praised for its improved graphics compared to the console versions, but on the other hand there were reports of many customers who were unable to play the game due to incompatible ATimarker Radeon graphics adapters, no SLI, no AA support, texture rendering bugs, DRM issues, and other unaddressed issues, such as the Windows XP Service Pack 3/Windows Vista Service Pack 1 requirement. There have been many complaints that the game was unable to install, due to the fact that the players are unable to get the Vista SP1 to install on their computer. There were also multiple bugs and glitches that were reported. bit-tech went as far as to name the PC version the fourth-"most disappointing game" of 2008.

The Australian PC version of GTA 4 is completely uncut, unlike the Australian console version of the game.


Critical reception

Grand Theft Auto IV has received nearly universal acclaim from video game critics. Ahead of its worldwide release, most publications were not sent copies of the game. Instead, reviewers had to play the game on Rockstar premises or in booked hotel rooms.

The May 2008 issue of Official Xbox Magazine (UK) published the first Grand Theft Auto IV review, giving the game the maximum score of 10/10. The magazine also stated that the game has an "amazingly realistic world; stunning action set pieces; genuinely engrossing storyline; hugely entertaining multiplayer;" and that it is "vast in every respect." PlayStation Official Magazine also gave the game 10/10 in their May 2008 issue, describing the game as "a masterpiece that improves on all GTA's best bits." Xbox World 360 gave the game a 98% rating, the highest it has ever given to any game, mentioning the game was "everything we were entitled to expect, and yet somehow impossibly more." GameSpot gave the game a perfect 10, making it the first game since 2001 that GameSpot had rated perfect. The review called the game "compelling," with a "plethora of online multiplayer features" and stated that GTA IV is "undoubtedly the best Grand Theft Auto yet."

Hilary Goldstein of IGN gave the game a 10/10 score, with the game earning 10/10 in each individual category: presentation, sound, graphics, gameplay, and lasting appeal. It is the first game in the publication's history to receive straight-10 subscores across the board. Goldstein called the game "just as big a leap forward as Grand Theft Auto III, albeit in subtler ways", and said it "sets a new benchmark for open-world games", with "no one major weak aspect." Goldstein's only serious criticism was for "the occasional flaw in the cover system", but the review concluded with the statement that "We don't give 10s often—just to games that merit the score."

The British newspaper Daily Star gave it a positive review, praising: "This could be a console defining title, one that in years to come people will remember as the stand-out of the era." The New York Times wrote a favourable review as well, calling it a "violent, intelligent, profane, endearing, obnoxious, sly, richly textured and thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun." The film magazine Empire gave the game a perfect 5/5 in its game reviews section, calling it "damn-near perfect".

Despite the almost unanimous praise given to GTA IV, the game has received some criticism, particularly its Windows port. A review in Ars Technica states that the game "...[is] not perfect. It does not deserve unquestioned, unadulterated praise. In many ways, the slight regression of the series from San Andreas is surprising: there are fewer vehicles, weapons, and story missions, less character customisation, and even the size of the city itself is smaller." GameSpot noted that there are occasional problems with friendly AI and avoiding the police being "a little too easy." There were some minor complaints with the game's cover system, which reviewers noted, stumbled in box-filled environments and the stickiness of cover points being an issue. The occasional presence of noticeable pop-in was also criticised.

Rockstar has come under fire from Grand Theft Auto communities, Gamespot and other websites, due to the game's abnormally high system requirements, as well as for its poor performance, even on systems that exceed the recommended system requirements by a wide margin. The game has also been criticized for its dependencies, such as Rockstar Social Club, SecuROM, and Games for Windows - Live, noting that single player progress can't be saved unless Windows Live is also installed. On 13 December 2008, a patch for GTA IV was released to mixed opinions.

As of 2009, Grand Theft Auto IV holds the second and fifth positions of Gamerankings' highest scores charts for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 respectively.

Commercial success

Shares of Take-Two Interactive gained as much as 3.4% amid positive reviews before the game's launch. Scott Hillis of Reuters said first week sales of the game were expected to reach $400 million. Some observers suggested that GTA IV's success could dampen the box office for the 2 May 2008 release of Iron Man, setting a precedent where movie studios will begin browsing video-game release dates to check for conflicts. Matt Richtel of The New York Times said the game's release was "expected to be one of the biggest video game debuts ever" and said 5 million copies of the game were expected to be sold in the first two weeks. Analyst Michael Pachter predicted the game will sell 11 to 13 million units by the end of 2008. Pachter also expects Grand Theft Auto IV to represent 3.2% of all US and European software sales for 2008 and for lifetime sales of the game to reach 16 to 19 million. Analyst Evan Wilson predicted that Grand Theft Auto IV would have opening week sales of $550 million.

Upon release, Grand Theft Auto IV claimed two entertainment industry sales records, posting the best single-day and seven-day sales totals for a video game. The game sold more than 3.6 million copies on its first day of availability, while also selling 6 million copies in the first week of availability (garnering $500 million in sales). In the United Kingdom, the game sold 631,000 copies on its first day of release, making it the fastest-selling game in a 24 hour period within that region, according to Chart-Track. The previous record holder in the UK, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, sold 501,000 copies within 24 hours. During the first five days of availability, the title sold 1.85 million units on the Xbox 360 and 1 million on the PlayStation 3 in the United States, according to the NPD Group; in the United Kingdom the Xbox 360 version sold 514,000 copies and the PlayStation 3 version sold 413,000, according to Chart-Track. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Grand Theft Auto IV are the fifth and eighth best-selling games of 2008 in the United States respectively. The Xbox 360 version sold in excess of 3.29 million, while the PlayStation 3 version sold in excess of 1.89 million for a combined 5.18 million copies in 2008 in the region. GameStop and EB Games reported that the game led in sales the first week after its release, noting that its stores in Puerto Rico led all districts in pre-release reservations and sales 48 hours after its release. According to GameStop, the Xbox 360 version of the game outsold the PlayStation 3 version by about 2 to 1 in the first week.

On 13 May 2008, Grand Theft Auto IV broke the Guinness World Records for "Highest grossing video game in 24 hours" and "Highest Revenue Generated by an Entertainment Product in 24 Hours". It sold 3.6 million copies on day one, which equalled roughly $310 million in revenue. For first day sales it also broke the record of "Fastest-selling video game in 24 hours", previously held by Halo 3 at $170 million,however, its record was broken in November 2009 by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

As of 31 May 2008, the title has sold over 11 million copies to retailers and 8.5 million have been sold through to consumers, according to Take-Two Interactive. According to the NPD Group and GfK Chart-Track, the game has sold 4.711 million units in the US and 1.582 million in the UK, for a total of 6.293 million units as of 1 August 2008. As of 16 August 2008, the title has sold over 10 million copies through to consumers, according to Take-Two Interactive. In its first four days of availability in Japan, the title sold 133,000 copies on the PlayStation 3 and 34,000 on the Xbox 360, according to Media Create.

Sales for the Windows version of the game were considerably less successful. According to NPD Group the game debuted at #7 of their weekly top ten. One week later, the game disappeared completely from the top ten published by NPD Group.

Over 13 million units of Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto IV have been shipped as of 31 January 2009.


Michael Hollick, voice of Niko Bellic, won a Spike TV award for "Best Performance by a Human Male"
Following the critical acclaim it received on its release, Grand Theft Auto IV has received awards from various critics and publications, including several Game of the Year awards and nominations. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions are, respectively, ranked as the second- and sixth-best games of all time on Game Rankings. The following are some of the game's awards (all of which are 2008 awards):

  • IGN has given the game its "Best Xbox 360 Action Game", "Best PC Action Game", "Best Graphics Technology (Xbox 360)", "Best Voice Acting (Xbox 360/PS3/PC)" and "Best Story (Xbox 360/PS3)" awards.
  • GameTrailers has given the game "Game of the Year", "Best Action Adventure Game", "Best Story", "Best Xbox 360 Game", "Best PlayStation 3 Game" and, for the game's trailer, "Trailer of The Year".
  • Spike TV has given the game the awards of "Game of the Year" and "Best Action Adventure Game" in its Video Game Awards. They also gave Michael Hollick "Best Performance by a Human Male" for the voice acting of Niko Bellic.
  • GameSpy has given the game the awards of "Best Story" and "Character of The Year" (for the character Brucie Kibbutz) in its Video Game Awards.
  • GameSpot has given the game its "Best UK-developed game" and "Best Xbox 360 Game" awards, and Bruce "Brucie" Kibbutz won the award for the "Best new character".
  • GiantBomb has given the game its "Game of the Year" and "Best Multi-Platform Game" awards.
  • Kotaku has given the game its "Game of the Year" and "Best Writing" awards.
  • Game Informer has given the game its "Game of the Year" award for 2008


Prior to and since the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, the game had been subject to a great deal of controversy. Figures including George Galloway, Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton have criticised the game, as have organizations including New York City officials and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). MADD requested ESRB to change the rating of the game from "M" for ages seventeen and up to "AO," for adults because of the player's ability to drink and drive.

The version of GTA IV released in Australia and New Zealand was edited to remove content to allow the game to meet the requirements of the Australian classification system. However, the game was resubmitted to the New Zealand OFLC by Stan Calif, a 21-year-old student who was unhappy that New Zealand received an edited version of the game as a result of Australian censorship laws. The unedited version was subsequently given an R18 rating and cleared for sale in New Zealand. The PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV released in Australia is reported to be unedited, identical to that of other international releases, under the MA15+ rating.

There have been reports in the United Kingdom and the United States of crimes perpetrated against people purchasing Grand Theft Auto IV, as well as employees of stores selling the game. One of these incidents, an attack near a Gamestation store in Croydonmarker, was later reported to be an unrelated argument between two groups of people leaving a pub and the story has been referred to as a "media panic."

Six teenagers were arrested in June 2008 after engaging in a crime spree in New Hyde Park, New Yorkmarker, assaulting and robbing several people, and attempting a carjacking. According to police, the teens claimed that they were "inspired" by Grand Theft Auto IV.

The first downloadable episode The Lost And Damned has a brief scene containing full-frontal male nudity, uncommon in video games.

There has recently been some negative online comments regarding the second downloadable episode Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony with regards to the lack of inclusion of the new radio station 'Vice City FM' (hosted by Fernando) and new songs for Vladivostok, K109 and Electrochoc on the XBOX Live downloadable version. This was announced by Rockstar via their Newswire page October 21st, 2009 to be exclusive to the retail version 'Episodes from Liberty City'. This news caused many people who downloaded TLAD to complain that they would effectively be paying for TLAD again in order to have a complete version of TBOGT.


  1. "Grand Theft Auto IV: GamePro is the first to play the biggest game of 2008," GamePro 235 (April 2008): 50–51.
  2. Marbles, Mr. "Wanted" in Gamepro Magazine p. 52 (October 2007)
  3. GamesTM, July 2007, p34
  4. PSM3 Magazine – Issue #98 (February 2008)

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