A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Needless-to-say, this GTA is like the others, allowing players to lead a graphic life of crime. Provides escapism into the underworld of crime and glorifies it by rewarding violence, misogyny, and mayhem.
Positive Role Models
You play as a gangster who has no regard for society's rules. You can cause mayhem and violence wherever you go. You can hire hookers, use them, and then kill them. You can shoot police officers.
Ease of Play
This is a wide open world to explore, with adequate controls.
Violence & Scariness
As with past GTA games, players can kill other humans, including police officers, or drive into pedestrians on sidewalks and parks. There is gang warfare, beatings, drive-by shootings, and bloody deaths all shown in gory detail.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
This is a game that earned the ESRB rating of "Strong Sexual Content." While the game doesn't show women completely nude, it gets close, with women appearing in pasties, g-strings, and the like. You can get a lap dance at a gentlemen's club, where the woman is shown with her legs over her head spread eagle. You can gain "health points" by having implied sex with a prostitute in your car, where you hear what is happening and watch rhythmic actions of the couple from a distance, but don't actually see the act. Two scantily clad women can "entertain" you, and before they climb onto your lap, they gyrate provocatively and mimic the motions of having intercourse with each other. You can also have sex with your girlfriend at home, where you can hear but not see the specific act.
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Pushes the envelope for graphic language including many instances of "mother f--ker," "f--k," sh-t," "assh-le." You can hear prostitutes offer to "suck your c--k real nice," as well as other explicit sexual references.
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Products & Purchases
Game offers more than 100 songs in the GTA IV soundtrack (heard over the in-game radios) and they can be tagged within the game by using the in-game cell phone. If the player is registered at the Rockstar Socil Club, they will then be offered a link to purchase the song from Amazon.com.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Players can get drunk (and drive) in this game, but their vision will be blurred. They can drive around with pot-smoking characters.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this game isn't for kids in any way. This new version is as controversial as its predecessors, letting you lead a life of crime, shoot police officers, drink and drive, and have sex with prostitutes. It features pole dancers and lap dancers at a men's club and is laced with profane language that pushes the envelope (much of it peppered throughout the over 100 songs played on car radios in the game). The star rating given to this game is based on the quality of the gameplay within the context of adult gaming and isn't an endorsement of the violence within the game.
Is It Any Good?
For the first time in the series, Grand Theft Auto IV offers high-definition graphics, including smooth animation and lip-synching, varying weather effects, and a new physics engine that models everything authentically. This sequel also adds more hand-to-hand combat and optional in-car GPS to help you better navigate this city. Without question, though, the biggest new feature is something gamers have been asking about for years: multiplayer. In Grand Theft Auto IV, up to 16 gamers can play online in a host of game head-to-head modes, like "Cops & Crooks," or cooperative missions like "Hangman's NOOSE." Xbox 360 gamers will also be able to download bonus missions and other content later this year, via the Xbox Live service.
Of course, the controversy this game will garner is unavoidable. As with past GTA titles you can shoot at cops, drive into pedestrians, or request "services" from a prostitute and a lap dance from a stripper. This sequel is also laced with plenty of foul language and you can drink and drive, though your cousin calls you a "bloody idiot" for doing so. Again, take heed of the "M"-rating. Aside from a slightly choppy frame rate at random times, where the action stutters for a bit, and hard-to-read green GPS directions on your mini-map, there is little to complain about with the gameplay mechanics of Grand Theft Auto IV. Adult gamers will find a single-player story that can easily last a month, not to mention the ability to hop online and play with friends. In short, this highly-polished sequel will gratify adults who will get a long "bang" for their buck. But don't let your kids anywhere near it.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.