Without question, GRAND THEFT AUTO IV isn't for younger players because of its graphic violence, sexual themes, and coarse language. Yet the game will be extremely popular with adult gamers because this sequel lives up to its hype in the game-play department. Available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Grand Theft Auto IV lets you play as Niko Bellic, a tough-looking character who arrives on U.S. shores from somewhere in Eastern Europe, expecting to live the good life with his American cousin, Roman, who lied to Niko about his posh lifestyle in the New World. In fact, Niko is a scheming loudmouth who owes money to loan sharks because of gambling debts and lives in a cockroach-infested apartment the size of a walk-in closet. Nevertheless, Niko decides to help out Roman with his rundown cab stand and keep thugs off his back until he can figure out how to make money and connections in Liberty City, the same town as 2001's Grand Theft Auto III, modeled after New York City and New Jersey. Plus, you'll discover a few hours into the game there are other reasons why Niko left his homeland.
For the uninitiated, Grand Theft Auto games offer \"sandbox\" play, meaning you can virtually go anywhere and do anything in this fully realized 3-D city with pedestrians, traffic, and storefronts. Played from a third-person perspective, this includes carjacking any vehicle, listening to more than a hundred songs on car radios (as well as very funny DJ banter and commercials), and playing mini-games such as billiards, darts, bowling, or arcade games. Niko can go on dates, swim, surf the Net, and purchase clothing and weapons. But it's the seedy missions that unravel the lengthy single-player story. In-person or on his cell phone, Niko will be asked to perform missions that include escorting Roman's friends, taking out drug dealers, evading police cruisers, racing to one end of the city before someone else, flying a helicopter, or retrieving stolen money. And how you go about a mission may vary, such as carjacking a cop cruiser to gain access to the police computer to look up an informant: you can call 9-1-1 on your phone so a police car comes and then take out the cop; shoot at pedestrians until the police come; or stealthily steal a cop car from the police station.