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Previews

GTA IV: The First Mission Pt. 1

Preview: CVG walks you through a full in-game mission - first-hand

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Now that we've got some fire power, Little Jacob takes off in his car and Niko's off to the local internet café to execute the second leg of the mission. The internet plays an integral part of today's modern life so it's no surprise to see it also playing a key role in GTA IV.

The sun's starting to come up now and the shadows of buildings and objects stretch across the street. Niko walks out of the shady alleyway and flags down a cab with a typical Manhattan whistle.

Cabs are another example of the polish and detail that's gone into the fourth instalment. If this were GTA III we'd get a glowing marker and a destination menu, but Niko's cab ride is far more visceral. The camera jumps into first-person and the driver leans over the seat to ask Niko where he's off to. Using the fare machine you can mark exactly where on the map you want to go.

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Once we've marked out the internet café on our map (which, in typical Rockstar fashion, is called TW@) it's simply a case of sitting back and enjoying the ride. Paying a double fare will cause the cabby to put his foot down, and you can skip the whole journey if you wish, but Rockstar fancies giving us a good look at the Liberty City streets.

Graphically it's comparable to a grittier Saint's Row, but the magic really is in the detail. The road is no longer just a flat texture; there are random pot holes that dip and manipulate vehicles in a realistic way. The number of cars on the road at any one time has been massively increased, and each has its own characteristics. And dents.

The variety in buildings is impressive. In previous GTAs you could instantly tell between the useless 'filler' buildings and the places that actually require your attention. In GTA IV every building looks as though you could walk straight in to it - although obviously you'll only be able to enter a selection of Liberty City's real estate.

Taking it inside

And that's the most impressive part of GTA IV that we saw. Arriving at the cheekily named TW@, Niko pays his fare and walks straight inside the building. No loading times, no glowing markers, just a seamless progression from exterior to interior, which is wonderfully detailed. The café is littered with desks, computers, chairs, plants - even coffee mugs. The interiors of GTA IV don't look to have suffered at all graphically from being in a massive, free-roaming world.

Back on topic and we're here because Niko has decided that the easiest way to get up close and personal with his lawyer target is to apply for a job interview. "I always wanted to be a lawyer," he jokes. GTA IV's virtual web browser lets you surf a whole number of pages written by the same team who scribe the rest of Liberty's City's comedy billboards, shop fronts and radio stations. Using Liberty City's homepage Niko navigates his way onto Goldberg, Ligner and Shyster's (the Target's law firm) to submit his dodgy-looking resume (which you can read in full!).

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Everything online is place holder for the moment so there's not much point going into detail, but it's immersive and we're promised there'll be plenty of fun things to do in the final game. Will it tie into Xbox Live and PSN though? A Swift "no comment" but the possibilities are massive.

Read part two of our massive GTA IV preview

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