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Previews

GTA IV: A New Look

Preview: Impressions of a "virtually complete" GTA IV

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A completely new vehicle combat system is at work too. Niko smashes the window with his elbow and cracks off a few shots at Rivas' car in front. Instead of the old straight left or right aiming of old, IV lets you aim weapons using the right stick. There's even a cursor making things infinitely better, which when all put together should mean we'll be able to have far more hectic vehicle battles in GTA IV. Could the rigid and now dated drive-by mechanics of GTA III finally be behind us?

The pursuit is long and hard. We reach a small flyover and come face-to-face with a massive logging truck, shooting the giant tree cargo crashing on the road and narrowly missing Rivas' path. Lamp posts still have the physics of cardboard totem polls, but when you do send them crashing they smash and spark violently on the ground. Niko hits a few as he pelts Uzi fire into the back of Rivas' petrol take, igniting his ride into flames, marking the mission complete.

Autosaves execute after every mission, says Rockstar, though safe houses are still littered around the city to help you end your game when you need to go outside, eat, sleep or something else equally unimportant.

You don't have to worry about Rivas anymore, Niko tells the typically energetic Brucie down his mobile phone.

Get By...
Constantly through his city cruises in our demo,

Niko's phone rings constantly through our demo. It's his mates, you see, they're calling to see what's up to and, y'know, hang out. It's apparent from even our short slice of GTA IV that the new friendship system is an important part of the game. And that Niko's mobile phone is key to that. At any point in the story you can call a contact. The interface looks and acts just like you'd expect a real mobile to. It even looks better than our Sony Walkman phones.

To demonstrate this Niko pulls up his phone and browses through his phonebook. Highlighting Roman (his cousin) another mobile phone-esque list appears asking what activity he'd like to invite Cousin Roman to partake in. Bowling? Darts? Pool? Eating? Nah, Niko invites Roman out for the old-fashioned pastime of getting drunk.

"Roman, how about we go drink some vodka? Hopefully the booze won't land me like that stuff back home! Get me in the next hour!"

Zoom

Niko heads off to pick up Roman. If you decide you'd rather go and do something else in-game, it's probably best to phone up your playdate buddy and cancel, otherwise they'll get rather annoyed. If you don't maintain you're relationship, your friends will start phoning you up to see where you've gone. We hope there's the 'cancel call, I'm in a meeting' option in there.

Niko rolls up to Roman's and he hops in the car. They're off boozing, and the numerous bars are marked out as wine glasses on the radar (shouldn't that be vodka?). The pair eventually settle on a shady nightclub with a big neon side outside. "You must have plenty of happy memories here, isn't that right cousin?" We're not quite sure why, yet but it's probably got something to do with sexy time.

The screen fades to black and the next thing we see are Roman and Niko stumbling onto the street steaming drunk. It's a scene straight out of Conker's Bad Fur Day. You're completely in control of a plastered Niko, screen shaking, vision blurring and physics engine all working together to help you stack it over the curb.

It's a hilarious scene and is bound to cause many comedy scenario in the final game. Niko (eventually) stumbles into his car (uh-oh, more controversy heading GTA's way?) and calls for Roman to follow suit. No luck though, as said cousin has gone and passed out in the road.

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