- Superb character-driven story
- Liberty City feels alive
- Multiplayer modes that let 32 players go wild across the entire city
- Genuinely funny radio and TV shows, comedy acts, and character dialogue
- Customizable radio station and video editor are great additions for PC.
Stepping off a boat in the shoes of illegal immigrant Niko Bellic as he arrives in Liberty City at the start of Grand Theft Auto IV, you can tell immediately that Rockstar North's latest offering is something quite special. Yes, this is another GTA game in which you'll likely spend the bulk of your time stealing cars and gunning down cops and criminals, but it's also much more than that. GTAIV is a game with a compelling and nonlinear storyline, a great protagonist who you can't help but like, and a plethora of online multiplayer features in addition to its lengthy story mode. The PC version adds a customizable radio station and a video editor to the package, and also ups the multiplayer count from 16 to 32 players. It's not all good news, though; the game suffers from some noticeable performance issues even on rigs that far exceed the unreasonably high recommended system specifications, and you need to be signed in to Windows Live to save your progress in the single-player game. This should have been the best GTA game yet, but it's inferior to its console counterparts.
One of the many things that set GTAIV apart from its predecessors is Liberty City, which is more convincing as a living, breathing urban environment than anything you've seen in a game before, and which bears little resemblance to its namesake in 2001's GTAIII. Liberty's diverse population believably attempts to go about its daily business, seemingly unaware that several criminal factions are at war in the city. Niko has no such luck. He's compelled to start working for one of the factions shortly after arriving, when he learns that his cousin Roman has some potentially fatal gambling debts. Niko's military experience makes him a useful freelancer for employers in the business of killing, and though his reluctance to carry out their orders is often apparent, he does whatever is asked of him in the hope that completing missions for other people will ultimately give him the means to complete his own.