Quick GTA IV Impressions

For those of you that were living under a rock this week, Rockstar and TakeTwo released the very first trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV, the next installment of their so-called prostitute-slapping, murder simulator (or so I’ve heard from those nutty politicians). I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, as the Intranets nearly exploded when the trailer was first released. You can check it out again at

But there was one thing that got me thinking. A comment on one of the Digg articles brought up the issue of flying planes into buildings. You can see all throughout the trailer that Rockstar has faithfully recreated New York City, with glimpses of the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and the Empire State building. It maybe called Liberty City, but it’s basically NYC with a new name.

So, if you add in the fact that the GTA series has let you fly planes and jets in previous installments, and that we’re going to be traveling around an extremely realistic-looking NYC locale, we might have a recipe for a media disaster on our hands. In a post-9/11 world, the very idea of planes hitting a building would make someone shit a break, let alone giving someone the ability to actually re-enact one. Just know you will hear about this again at some point.

The politicians are already in a tizzy that their safe and sound city is going to be showcased in a crime-ridden GTA game. (So wait, no one’s seen The Godfather, the Sopranos, or any other gangster movie? Why are games singled out in this situation?).

I think Rockstar put themselves between a rock and a hard place when realistically depicting NYC in video game form. The media is going to have a field day over this. And yes, even though True Crime: NYC already did this, no one really cared about that game. Everyone knows about GTA, though.

I also heard on the IGN Gamescoop podcast that a developer cannot deform or deface a real-life building in a video game. Ubisoft came into a problem like this with Rainbow Six: Las Vegas. You can’t even have a bullet hole show up, as the buildings are privately owned. This may help solve the pseudo-9/11 problem, as the buildings will still stand there when getting hit by a plane, but the idea is still there.

It’ll definitely be cool to travel around a NYC-style setting, but it’s going to suck if Rockstar takes away the ability to fly a plane. That was one of the best rewards in San Andreas, and it would be a step backward for the series if they forgo that ability.

The game comes out in October, so we still have a long wait ahead of us. But just know we are going to hear about how GTA has ruined everyone’s lives constantly in the upcoming months, making the wait feel a lot longer.

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17 years ago

I think the deforming of buildings problem is easily solved.  In R6:Vegas you can blow the hell out of everything you see.  Of course none of the casinos are exactly the same as the real-life ones (like the Calypso instead of the Mandalay Bay, or the Vertigo Spire instead of the Stratosphere).  So I can see Rockstar making a city with a couple of landmarks that are exact recreations and then letting the player go wild on the rest of the generic buildings … although none of the other installments had any damage modelling on buildings – just on the cars and hookers.  I’m not really too excited about this game as it is.  For next-gen console graphics they look to be pretty far behind the curve, and as wide open as the previous games were they got boring fast.

17 years ago

I’m gonna be the only one in the world to say this, but I was really hoping to see GTA cel-shaded, just like in Killer7. The cover art for the games are drawings, and they show off a lot of style. There’s a character in Liberty City Stories that looks really cool when in the cartoon art. It would have been awesome to see that. It would add a lot to the presentation, I think. And it would probably get a lot of politicians off their backs, making it a cartoon rather than something realistic. But, I’m the minority on this one, I’m sure.

17 years ago

Do you have a link to that gamescoop podcast?  I’d be really interested to hear the explanation of how someone can prevent you from modeling a fictious harm to their real-world property , and how so many indie movies manage to get around that restriction, and show landmarks and private buildings either exploding or devistated by war.

17 years ago

I read another interesting issue that Rockstar is going to have.  The gross violence of GTA games has never been very realistic, but this fit with the 2d graphics of the older games, and the blocky, simpler look (I don’t want to say cartoony) of the 3d games.  GTAIV is much more realistic and gritty looking, and the same amount of wanton violence isn’t going to float well with a lot of people.  Essentially, some gamers are wondering if IV is going to try and be a little more moral, to discourage violence unless it is needed, or at least make you think twice before cutting down civilians.