|Grand Theft Auto IV|
Rockstar Toronto (PC)
Cyberfront (Japan PC)
29 April 2008
29 April 2008
The game was developed by Rockstar North and was published and released by Rockstar Games for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions were been released worldwide to widespread hype on April 29, 2008. GTA IV was subsequently been awarded the Gaming World Record of the Most Successful Entertainment Launch of All Time and has received numerous other awards and accolades. The original version made even more success than its expansions. The PC version was released on December 3, 2008.
The very first dialogue by Niko in the very first trailer for the game, this sets up the first notable protagonist to be from another country, Niko Bellic, to enter the United States of America and make more critical analysis of American culture than previous main characters have done. Grand Theft Auto IV's deeper meaning circulates around Niko's own philosophy, and his clear, blunt critiques of American culture and life in general make the deeper ideas much easier to see and understand. Niko is normally shown to be in the right, but is also proven to be overly cynical, leaving interpretation open to the viewer. The game and its very complex plot deals with several themes:
As read on the packaging of the game, Rockstar Games asks "what does the American dream mean today?". Niko is cynical about America, saying "capitalism is a dirty business" and only people who are extremely greedy and/or born into wealth have any opportunity. Mikhail Faustin also laments before he dies that "America made him greedy! ...This American greed takes everyone! It is like a disease!". Niko mocks American stereotypes like "strip malls and clinical obesity" (as do the makers of the game by hilariously parodying concepts like post-9/11 hysteria and celebrity obsession). On the flip-side Roman Bellic, as well as other characters (Brucie Kibbutz, Bernie Crane, Ivan Bytchkov and Hossan Ramzy among others) are optimistic about America and life in general, tend to do very well for themselves financially, and try in vain to encourage Niko to be more optimistic.
The American dream is also shown not to be promised to anyone, not even when they already live in America. Social circles all the way from Playboy X and Elizabeta Torres to Patrick McReary all have trouble making and responsibly saving money, not restricting it to any one nationality. Early on, The Beat 102.7 explains that their listeners "don't know how to manage their money yet!". Gerry describes his family's spending habits as "Never any fucking focus! Never! ...Oh yeah, wine and women as quick as possible, and remain a slave forever". Packie eventually says after a mission "Well, Niko, that was a whole lot of effort for no fucking reward. Story of my life." to which Niko replies "It is the story of a lot of lives, Packie. I'm getting used to hearing it". A very interesting part of the in-game media is a show called I'm Rich, which documents the most outrageous displays of gluttony by the world's wealthiest people, enough to make anyone feel inadequate.
Grand Theft Auto IV has an extremely complex plot with a very long list of characters. It is also the first game that allows the player to change the plot by making choices, which all have consequences. This creates an atmosphere where Niko is haunted and shadowed by his past actions wherever he goes. He tells Roman "There is no such thing as a new beginning, Roman. With every day we live, we pick up new baggage, baggage we must carry with us for the rest of our lives. There's no dropping it and pretending we are fresh and clean, just because we get off a boat in a new place." Prime examples include his numerous run-ins with Ray Bulgarin, most of the random characters, and working alongside Johnny Klebitz or Patrick McReary while he had, either by not having met them yet or circumstances beyond his control, killed someone close to them. In the finale, Niko feels the coffin of Kate or Roman, depending on the player's choice, on his conscience because of his criminal lifestyle, saying they "never should have gotten close to me". He is deeply depressed about being trapped in the criminal lifestyle (by a need of income), telling Kate McReary and others that he wishes he could leave it behind, but often adds that he knows he can't.
- Niko Bellic: The playable protagonist, through whose eyes the player sees the world of the game. He is morally upstanding and logical despite his criminal life, but is often shown to have authority issues. He is also more cynical and pessimistic than is good for him. He seems to sort people into three categories:
- Roman Bellic, Little Jacob, Brucie Kibbutz, Kate McReary and Bernie Crane: The optimists, people Niko likes because of their positivity, and they all try in vain to encourage Niko to be more optimistic. Many are foolish and could be mistaken for comic relief, but they do offer pearls of wisdom about life and success, a realization that Niko must make at the same time. Other interesting cases are Ivan Bytchkov, and Hossan, both immigrants like Niko but with much more confidence in the American way of life.
- Packie McReary, Gerald McReary, Derrick McReary, Dwayne Forge and Phil Bell: The pessimists, people Niko likes because they have angst that he instinctively responds to. Packie and Dwayne especially become friends of Niko because of their shared struggle; Niko confides in Dwayne remarkably early in their relationship when he says "you remind me of me". It's also notable that he relates well to Jon Gravelli and his bleak sense of humor, despite an enormous age gap, other lifestyle differences and Niko's traditional dislike of his bosses.
- Vlad Glebov, Dimitri Rascalov, Mikhail Faustin, Ray Bulgarin, Francis McReary, United Liberty Paper, Manny Escuela, Elizabeta Torres, Playboy X, Ray Boccino and Jimmy Pegorino: The corrupt, people Niko doesn't like (or forced to take orders of them) because of their greed or immorality. He had to take orders from all of them, considers killing most of them at least once, and inevitably kills above one third of them. This, combined with his dislike of capitalism, shows that Niko has authority issues and can't stand corrupt people in power. With the exception of United Liberty Paper, Elizabeta (who ends up in jail) and only if spared Playboy X and Francis McReary, all of the corrupt end up dead
- Mallorie Bardas, Karen, Jon Gravelli, Darko Brevic, Bryce Dawkins, Johnny Klebitz; other characters in the game.
- Michelle, Kate McReary, Carmen Ortiz, Kiki Jenkins and Alex Chilton; girlfriends Niko can date. Michelle and Kate are unlocked in the story mode; the other 3 must be met by the internet. Each girlfriend has their own opinions on what they would like Niko to drive in, wear and go to. The 3 online girlfriends can give Niko a special ability once he pleases them enough in quality and quantity of date.
|Spoiler Warning: Plot and/or ending details are in the text which follows.|
Grand Theft Auto series
The game is set in 2008, the year the game was released. It is specifically between July and October:
- In The Ballad of Gay Tony, whose timeline intersects the original GTA IV frequently, Gay Tony mentions in I Luv LC that "the banks" had been bailed out which was made official on October 3, 2008.
- A Weazel News segment on the radio says that Paper Trail and Entourage were about one month apart.
- Another Weazel News radio cast says that a month after the Platypus captain's body was found, shipmate Dave Bosoy was also found dead - Dave was found around the same time as Undress to Kill.
- Ernesto Lopez mentions to Luis Lopez that his children are in school.
- The entire plot also likely happens in less than three months - a celebrity named Cloe Parker has a three-month-old child, and in tabloid tradition there would have been extensive coverage of her pregnancy.
- The real-life New York City begins to snow around mid November, and it never snows in the game.
- It's never revealed whether John Hunter or Michael Graves was elected governor, which would have occurred in early November.
Grand Theft Auto IV follows the story of Niko Bellic; Before the events of the game, he fought in the Bosnian War as a teenager, was betrayed by one of the members (which got most of the squad killed) and is now obsessed with getting revenge. After fighting in the war, bad circumstances led him to work for Ray Bulgarin in human trafficking, which ended with Niko being blamed for a sinking ship and leaving Europe to escape Bulgarin's wrath and power. While spending the next seven months in the merchant navy he made the decision to move to Liberty City, where his cousin Roman claimed to be living a life of luxury (as well as to hunt down one of the two suspected traitors, Florian Cravic).
The game begins with Niko getting off the container ship "Platypus" and meeting his cousin Roman. He quickly finds out that Roman completely bluffed about his lifestyle, both as a joke and to recruit help, as he is living the average life of a poor immigrant in Hove Beach. Niko spends the next few weeks working at Roman's cab depot (making friends like "Little" Jacob Hughes and Brucie Kibbutz in the process, as well as a girlfriend Michelle) and fighting off his loan sharks - this eventually leads to Niko killing Vlad Glebov, a Russian mobster and one of the sharks, for sleeping with Roman's girlfriend Mallorie Bardas. Immediately after, they are kidnapped by the Russian mob and before they are both nearly killed, Niko wins over the mob's leaders Mikhail Faustin and Dimitri Rascalov to work for them instead. Because Mikhail is a violent, irrational sociopath (even by organized crime standards), he has Niko kill the son of Kenny Petrovic, the most powerful Russian mobster in the United States. After a short while, Dimitri tells Niko that to survive Petrovic, he must kill Mikhail. They successfully kill him and appease Petrovic, but when Niko is to receive payment, Dimitri reveals that he is now partnered with Ray Bulgarin and tries to have him killed. Niko and Roman, whose apartment and cab depot were also burned to the ground by Dimitri, must leave Broker and hide with Mallorie's cousins, north of town in Bohan.
Bohan and early Algonquin
Mallorie introduces Niko to both Manny Ecsuela, a community organizer making a documentary about his good deeds, and Elizabeta Torres, an extremely influential drug supplier (who, in turn, introduces Niko to Playboy X and Patrick McReary). Through Manny, Niko is blackmailed by police chief Francis McReary into silencing people for him, including famous lawyer Tom Goldberg. As the authorities close in on Elizabeta's drug ring, Niko's girlfriend Michelle reveals that she is an undercover agent and Niko will be forced to work for her boss. Elizabeta is arrested and sentenced to 300 years (but not before she kills Manny, for trying to citizen arrest her for publicity). Niko moves on to work for Playboy, who is embarrassed to welcome back his old-fashioned mentor Dwayne Forge from prison. As their views conflict and their friendship deteriorates, Playboy and Dwayne each try to have Niko kill the other. Niko's decision of who to kill is one of seven pivotal choices in the game, left to the player. Niko is paid twenty-five grand to kill Dwayne, who could be framed as suicidal, delusional and ready to die. However, if he kills Playboy, who could be considered very greedy and disrespectful to his mentor, he is rewarded with his penthouse and car (worth much more). Niko also does very secretive work for United Liberty Paper, the front company which Michelle's (real name Karen) superiors cover themselves with. Niko is ironically told to kill other criminals who immigrated from Eastern Europe, for their ties to financing terrorist activity.
Late Algonquin and Alderney
Roman is kidnapped by Dimitri's Russian mob once again, after his gambling habit led him to "gambling in their private club". After Niko rescues him, Roman finally becomes a millionaire and purchases a luxury condo for him and Niko. Soon after he is contacted again by Packie McReary, and begins working with his family and friends in the Irish mob (also finding out chief McReary is his brother). Niko becomes a family friend, eventually dating Packie's sister Kate McReary. Niko is introduced to Ray Boccino of the Pegorino Family, who employ Packie's crew as extra muscle. Ray leads everyone involved in a messy, complex diamond deal that pits them against the Ancelotti Family, resulting in Niko and Packie kidnapping the don's daughter to demand back the diamonds that were stolen back from them. The diamonds are lost in garbage during a firefight between Niko/Packie and Ray Bulgarin again, who was the very first owner of the diamonds. Niko is also forced to make a choice of killing one of Packie's older brothers, Francis or Derrick. Francis is a crooked police commissioner, and if spared will reward Niko with $10-20,000 and the favor of calling off a police pursuit. Derrick, however, is a derelict heroin addict and has nothing to offer Niko aside from the satisfaction of killing Francis.
For his assistance, Niko demanded that Boccino lead him to Florian - he successfully tracks Florian down, who changed his name to Bernie Crane. Niko discovers that Florian/Bernie was innocent and a closeted homosexual (leaving Niko to hunt down the real traitor, Darko Brevic). Niko continues to help Bernie as a friend, helping to ward off blackmailers of his boyfriend, closeted politician Bryce Dawkins (the demands, control of construction unions, are from Dimitri and Ray Bulgarin of all people). After his help they have a profound friendship, and Bernie rewards Niko with an Infernus supercar.
Niko works his way up in the Pegorinos, eventually meeting their boss Jimmy Pegorino and working directly for him (eventually, he is told to kill Ray Boccino). United Liberty Paper contacts Niko again to work for Jon Gravelli, the head of the city's most powerful mafia family and now on his death bed. In exchange for his help, United Liberty Paper kidnaps Darko (who lived in Bucharest, Romania) for Niko to confront personally. Darko admits to betraying the group to pay for his drug habit, and Niko must make the personal choice of either killing him or, as Roman encourages him, forgetting revenge and letting him suffer alive.
At the end of the game, Pegorino chooses to do a heroin deal with Dimitri Rascalov. Niko has the choice of whether to comply and follow Pegorino's orders, and be paid a very large sum of money, or to take revenge on Dimitri. In both scenarios, Niko targets both Dimitri and Pegorino (whether or not Niko chooses the deal, in which Dimitri betrays him as expected). In between the incidents, Roman and Mallorie get married when someone is killed at their wedding. Depending on which path is chosen, it is either Roman Bellic or Kate McReary. By the story's conclusion both Dimitri and Pegorino are dead, while Mallorie is pregnant with Roman's child.
During the game, the player makes a total of seven choices based on the morality of the player. They are listed below:
- Spare or kill Cherise Glover (sent to kill her boyfriend by Dwayne Forge).
- Reward: Random character if spared.
- Spare or kill Clarence Little (sent to kill him by Francis McReary).
- Reward: Random character if spared.
- Kill Playboy X or Dwayne Forge (each request you kill the other).
- Kill Francis McReary or Derrick McReary (each request you kill the other).
- Spare or kill Darko Brevic.
- Reward: Nothing for spare or kill.
Two episodes have been released for Grand Theft Auto IV for the Xbox 360, and then released for Playstation 3 and PC in April 2010. The Lost and Damned was released on February 17, 2009, and features biker Johnny Klebitz as the player character. The Ballad of Gay Tony was been released on October 29, 2009, with Luis Fernando Lopez as the protagonist. It was simultaneously released with the disc version of Episodes from Liberty City, which features both games. These episodes are set in the same city and time as GTA IV, and have many overlapping storylines, characters, and missions. They add new missions, characters, vehicles, weapons, and other gameplay features.
There was much controversy over Grand Theft Auto IV, however, the series has experienced trouble throughout its whole time on the shelves. Before it was released, it was almost banned. MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) noted the drunk driving feature and requested it either not released or rated AO. Because of this, Niko says "I'm not sure I should be doing this," whenever he is drunk driving but strangely this is something he never would say if he were to murder an NPC or commit a crime other than drunk driving.