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Parents' Guide to

Grand Theft Auto IV

By Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 18+

Murder, sex, drugs, drunk driving. Not for kids.

Game PlayStation 3 , Xbox 360 2008
Grand Theft Auto IV Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 126 parent reviews

age 10+
age 14+

Mature, interesting crime game has strong mature elements

Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) is a crime video game set in the fictional Liberty City following Niko, a mysterious criminal with a dark past. Throughout, expect lots of language, violence, sex and drugs. VIOLENCE: SEVERE Throughout gameplay, players can punch, shoot or stab innocent civilians and cops accompanied by sprays of blood, bullet holes and realistic blood pools. This is graphic, but never gory. People can be run over with vehicles. During story missions, Che actors can be executed in slightly more graphic ways, this includes a man being shot in the face squirting blood everywhere, a man being shot 12 times, a man is shot in the chest, a man falls from a long height and dies, a man is slashed with a hacksaw twice. The violence isn’t as shocking or graphic as GTA V, and it appears less frequently in this game. The violence overall isn’t very strong, gory or intense, but the realistic tone gives it higher impact. LANGUAGE: SEVERE 421 uses of “f*ck” in story missions, however the word can be heard at any time over the radio, by civilians or even screamed out at any given time. Use of “sh*t”, “c*ck”, “t*tties”, “pr*ck”, “b*tch” d*ck”, “hell”, “damn”, “goddamn”, “asshole” and “f*g”. The language, although quite strong, appears less frequently than other games in the franchise. Although the amount of swearing is high, the game takes around 30 hours to complete, as opposed to a movie lasting around 2 hours. DRUG CONTENT: MODERATE Players can become drunk, people are shown taking drugs like cocaine and smoking weed. Implied heroin use. SEXUAL CONTENT: MODERATE Although no nudity is shown in the game, the player can take part in 3 sex acts with a prostitute. In one the prostitution is shown getting on top of the protagonists crotch and bouncing up and down while moaning and making sexual comments, in the other the prostitution is shown giving the player oral sex and in the third she is shown moving her hand up and down the players crotch. No nudity, but this is graphic. This is at the players choice, and doesn’t have to be done. The strip club can be visited where clad strippers are shown dancing. The player can receive a lap dance as well. Fully optional. Sexual comments about masturbation, “t*tties”, “threesomes” and more can be heard throughout. The sexual content would be severe, however the fact that all onscreen sexuality is optional makes it moderate. 14+

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (126 ):
Kids say (238 ):

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.

Game Details

  • Platforms: PlayStation 3 , Xbox 360
  • Available online?: Available online
  • Publisher: Rockstar Games
  • Release date: April 29, 2008
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • ESRB rating: M for Intense Violence, Blood, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Partial Nudity, Use of Drugs and Alcohol
  • Last updated: November 4, 2015

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