Set in Liberty City once more, AKA New York City, the scene of the seminal GTA III, GTAIV is much more than even Vice City or San Andreas - and that's saying something.
GTA IV is all about Niko Bellic. Fresh off the boat from eastern Europe he's after a new life - the American dream - but as this is GTA we all know what he will be in for.
Unlike the last two GTA games, GTA IV is something new and judging from the trailers released so far it looks like it's going to be a stunner and not just in terms of gameplay. GTAIV will be a proper next-gen game. The level of graphics in the GTAIII series was perhaps the only possible complaint with the games. Originally developed for the PS2, even on the PC they were never that great - something the storyline and the sheer playability helped to compensate for.
There have been many rumours about how things will be different in GTAIV. One feature that has been mooted is the ability to carry multiple weapons. Whereas in GTAIII you could carry a baseball bat, a pistol, a rifle, a sniper rifle, a rocket launcher or minigun all at the same time - it's rumoured in GTAIV you'll only be able to carry perhaps two weapons maximum. This would of course make the game more 'realistic' and less 'arcadey' than previous versions. If this is the case we do hope that it doesn't mean you lose the spirit of the previous titles.
One of the main features within all the GTA games has been the way that the story progresses. There have always been missions that you need to do in a certain order along with other sub-plots. In the GTAIV the game will be less linear, but everything that you do will have a consequence on what happens next. And according to some reports there won't be any loading screens either, you will move seamlessly between each part of the city.
The main reason for GTAIV looking so different to GTAIII is that it uses the new RAGE (Rockstar Advanced Game Engine) physics game engine that was developed for Rockstars's table tennis games of all things. This means that the characters' movements are more realistic and fluid and when it comes to the usual GTA carjacking, even that is now different. Gone are the days when your character could just jump into any vehicle and drive off. Now Niko has to break in and then hotwire it. Because of the physics engine, how Niko gets into a car will depend on where he is standing.
As regards other vehicles, in GTAIV you will be able to fly helicopters but not planes, there will be bikes and if you don't want to walk, you'll be able to call a cab.
Getting chased by the police is another mainstay of the GTA games and don't expect a soft ride in GTAIV. The star wanted system though has been modified and will apparently operate in a kind of radius. The more wanted you are, the wider the radius. Also if you want to wipe away all your stars you won't simply be able to drive your car into a paint and spray shop, you'll need to lose the cops and then disguise yourself.
According to Rockstar the map for Liberty City will be the most detailed one ever in a GTA game. It won't be as wide as San Andreas, but it will be more detailed in terms of buildings you can climb and so on. Expect lots of extras such as rampages, hidden packages and the like to sidetrack you in the usual GTA-way.
This all leads to what sounds like one heck of a game and the delay has only helped increase the hype about the title. GTAIV was originally slated for release in October 2007 but was put back until the first half of 2008. Rumour has it that this was because Rockstar had some trouble with the PS3 version of the game. To add some credence to this the trailers are reportedly from the Xbox360 version.
All we can say is that 29 April can't come soon enough and we expect GTAIV to break most, if not all, game sales records.
Also look forward to plenty of controversy, but then, surely, that's what GTA is all about.
Expect the game, like all the other GTAs, to be an 18 certificate. In fact you need to be an adult to watch the trailers online too.