Darren Waters

Grand Theft Auto steals the show

  • Darren Waters
  • 28 Apr 08, 10:38 GMT

It's out on Tuesday, is being showered with 10 out of 10 reviews like a bride with confetti at a wedding and is on course to be the biggest video game of 2008.

Grand Theft AutoMore interestingly, perhaps, the game's release feels more like a cultural event than a marketing event. And I don't think the same was quite true of Halo 3's launch.

Cultural events which hit the mainstream are pretty rare in gaming, which makes Grand Theft Auto's release all the more important.

In the UK I've heard some grumbling from journalists who had to trek down to Rockstar's offices to play the game, rather than be handed copies. But I imagine the company is feeling pretty sensitive right now after the long, drawn-out and painful process that saw Manhunt 2 finally released in the UK.

On the marketing side, Microsoft has done its best to try and make the game's release feel like an Xbox exclusive - with lots of adverts tying the two products together.

Sony has settled for releasing a GTA IV PlayStation 3 bundle - and I can see the sense in that; GTA IV is the game many PlayStation 2 owners have been waiting for to justify the purchase of the more powerful console.

It will be very interesting to see a breakdown of sales across the two consoles.

All the signs are pointing to GTA IV being hailed a masterpiece - and I'm looking forward myself to playing the game on Tuesday, even though I've never really fallen in love with the franchise.

I've always admired the technical brilliance of the titles, rather than the narrative, or derived true pleasure from the gameplay mechanics.

I also think it will be very interesting to hear just who goes out and buys the game and who ends up playing the game.

More than 8m sales are predicted. And I predict a fair chunk of that audience will be below 18, the age rating in the UK and 17, the rating in the US.

The US classifier has already issue a reminder to parents about game ratings in the light of GTA's release and in the post-Byron UK retailers had better be very careful about who they hand the game to.


  • Comment number 1.

    I've been following the development of this game fairly closely, and reading all the information out there on the internet with excitement.

    I won't be buying it though (yet). GTA IV is one of the many reasons that I *really* want to get a PS3... I'd probably buy that and GT5+steering wheel when it comes out and those would be the only two games I'd be bothered about, not being a massive gamer myself.

    Not a massive gamer, but since GTA3 I've been a massive fan of the GTA franchise.

    Hopefully by the time I get round to obtaining a PS3 (ideally for free, as a free gift or something... with a wedding coming up I need to save money :(.....) the price of GTA IV will have come down... and I'll have finished San Andreas too! (I went and lived abroad for a year without my Xbox so that's why I'm so far behind).

  • Comment number 2.

    What a month for gamers..
    Gran Turismo 5, Mario Kart, Call of Duty Variety Map pack, Wii Fit and GTA IV!
    Just need more time to play them all.

  • Comment number 3.

    I've pre-ordered it for 360
    i think it will be interesting to see the percentage of sales on each platform. I guess it will actually sell better on the 360 due to xbox live and the downloadable content microsoft have secured.

  • Comment number 4.

    What is it that makes it feel like a cultural event? If we're talking broad non-standard gamer appeal, I would expect Rock Band to have more of that when it makes it over here, certainly if my peer group is any indicator (which of course they're not, but then whose is :) )

  • Comment number 5.

    If this is such a cultural event, why do the BBC still feel the need to cover gaming content in the Technology section? Surely it's entertainment? Would you cover Disney Pixar's latest CGI movie in Technology?

  • Comment number 6.

    As a loyal Sony fan i am quite annoyed that they are releasing it across the PS3 and 360 at the same time, and providing 360 gamers with downloadable content when GTA would be nothing without the Sony fans.

    I have however managed to avoid reading any info on GTA4 and have no idea about the story or characters (other than the guy you play whose name escapes me at this time!) This is purely a decision so not to be disappointed! Too many games get hyped way too much and by the time they are released you feel let down. I know this wouldn't happen in the case of GTA but it does mean that everything is going to be a treat for me when i finally get time to sit down and play the game. Can't wait!

  • Comment number 7.

    I will be getting for the PS3, but why are Microsoft the ones who are advertising this and not Sony?

    In fact, I cannot remember seeing a single PS3 advert at all in all the time that it is has been on sale. Considering how much better the Sony machine is I believe this is massive mistake by them. So many people are not going to know that this isn't a Xbox 360 exclusive as Microsoft are very close to suggesting.

    Sony wake up!

  • Comment number 8.

    re: "Loyal Sony fan"


  • Comment number 9.

    @jonarob Why is games coverage in the Technology section and not the Entertainment section of the BBC?
    Great question.

    It's for a number of reasons:

    Historic - the Technology section took over responsibility for games industry/reviews some years ago and that has never changed.

    Expertise - We tend to be more knowledgable and passionate about gaming on Tech than our Ents cousins. If that changes, I'll be more than happy to have Ents join the party.

    But overall - isn't it more important that the BBC as a whole acknowledges games?

  • Comment number 10.

    Absolutely! And I'd be inclined to agree regarding Techie-folk knowing more about games than the film buffs, but the BBC is long overdue a dedicated games coverage section.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'm under 18 and have already been promised it as a belated birthday present.

    I've played the games since I was 10 years old and to be honest, you hear worse in a school playground than you do actually in the game.

    I can't wait for it to come out, I mean GTA has always been fun, but now GTA with online play with gang wars is just unbelievable.

  • Comment number 12.

    Jaffa the sony fan obviously doesn't know the full history of the GTA franchise and now knows how us PC gamers felt when Sony stepped in with the big bucks and swiped what was, until then, an exclusively PC platform franchise over to the PS2. PC owners then had to wait many months before they could get their fix for GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas. This is despite the fact that the PC was the only platform that could run San Andreas without the long loading times and stuttering glitches that blighted the PS2 and XBox.

    Rumours are in the wind that PC gamers only have to wait until October this time but considering without PC gamers, the GTA franchise wouldn't have made it to 2 never mind 3 or 4, it's a bit rich for Sony fan boys to complain that other platforms are getting "their" game too.

  • Comment number 13.

    "In fact, I cannot remember seeing a single PS3 advert at all in all the time that it is has been on sale."

    Because Microsoft were so scared that this is the moment most PS2 owners would upgrade to a next gen console that it thought it would pay £$£$£$ to have Microshaft only on the GTA ads!!

  • Comment number 14.

    I've always been suspicious of "exclusive" reviews. They tend to be biased heavily in favour of the game that they've been given exclusivity of. That said, you'll still find me in the queue for GTA4 tomorrow.

  • Comment number 15.

    "I've always been suspicious of "exclusive" reviews. They tend to be biased heavily in favour of the game that they've been given exclusivity of."

    Problem being if you want independent reviewing from people that won't kow-tow to the publishers you'll have to wait for the PC version. PC Gamer refused to bow to some PR demand for one of the last two games, as a result they didn't get the code for an extra month.

    Not that I care about waiting, I haven't finished Vice City or even bought San Andreas yet, so I have time to catch up on both before IV arrives on PC. It'd be idiotic to not have the game on PC before Christmas, that would be another money printing machine for Take Two.

  • Comment number 16.

    i guess im have to wait til th pc version comes out as i dont have 360/PS3

  • Comment number 17.

    Ok, so were the reviews right? As I was dragged along by a very excited friend to get the game with him late last night, I would in fact have to agree.

    GTA has always worked towards the art of being a seamlessly real life experience without being too confusing to handle quickly and easily. The controls for one are designed competently with ease of control in firefights for one.

    The city itself is massive by comparison to previous episodes, and really does show the work put in since the GTA III series, beautifully rendered as you would expect from a seventh generation console and with no loading between sections of the city at all, nor indeed when moving from the inside to the outside and vice versa.

    On the point of it being a cultural event, the Cardiff store of HMV sold out of Xbox 360 copies 45 minutes after opening. This was as well as the Game store open at the same time. Compare that to the flat reception that the PS3 received, and I think you'll understand how much this signifies. Brilliant release really.

  • Comment number 18.

    <RICHPOST>We've put up a review, cum commentary, on the game. <BR /><a href="">Read it here. </a><br><BR /><BR /><BR /></RICHPOST>

  • Comment number 19.

    I'd imagine one of the reasons they're delaying the release of GTA IV to the PC is that surely the PC version will be the most easily- and therefore most widely-pirated version of them all?

    So I'd imagine they want to sit and ride high on the profits from the sales of the 360 and PS3 versions, before general sales take a bit of a dip when everyone starts cloning their PC DVD-ROMs.

    I might be wrong - I'm just guessing this without any actual figures.

    I'd sooner have a PS3 version than a knock-off PC copy anyday, though... :)

  • Comment number 20.

    Mighty Morfa says "Considering how much better the Sony machine is" ... what, 'very little'?

    Theoretically, the PlayStation 3 might be the most powerful machine around, but so far nothing's significantly better than the best on the 360, and multiformat games are all but identical. Burnout Paradise was slightly better on the PS3; GTA4 will be better on the 360 due to the downloadable content and addition of rumble on the controller. I've no doubt the PS3 might show off its technical superiority in a couple of years, and by that point it'll be much cheaper ...

    If anyone's looking to buy a console just for GTA4, I'd advise them to get a 360.

  • Comment number 21.

    I played San Andreas on my mates PS2 couple of years ago and I got "sucked in". I've never been fan of consoles (because of absolute lack of proper cRPG and MMORPG) so I never bought one. But...
    Last month I bought 360 with only one game in mind - GTA4. I borrowed Crackdown for few weeks just to get use to the pad
    It's a shame I have to be at work till 5.15

  • Comment number 22.

    What many of the commenters here seem NOT to know is that the "exclusive" downloadable XBox 360 content is stuff that they are having cut from the full game so that it can fit onto their bog standard DVD storage media. As PS3 uses blu-ray they have a much larger storage capacity and therefore WE will be getting the FULL game whereas XBox owners are getting a cut down version of it and this downloadable content, that they will probably have to pay for, the PS3 owners will already have!

    As for the non-advertising from SONY, its not their game, so why should they pay to advertise it? GTA doesnt NEED advertising - the franchise sells itself with every new game. There are a loyal group of GTA followers that will buy the game regardless of advertising - like me!!!

    Microsoft are tryin to use this game to boost sales of their platform with all of these "exclusive" promises, wthout telling their customers that the content isnt exclusive at all, only the fact that its downloadable is the exclusive bit.

    Unlucky all of you 360 owners - you should have bought the better platform to begin with!!!

  • Comment number 23.

    I owned my first Grand Theft Auto game on Sony's Playstation One in 1998.
    I was under-age by a long shot, and i am still glad i got to play it at an early age.
    Playing these sorts of games from such an early age (10), gave me a headstart on the majority of my fellow students at school into the gaming world, which i was quickly absorbed into.
    I purchased GTA IV on Microsoft's Xbox 360 system, and i'm posting this while i allow it to cool a while (Don't want the red ring of death now, do i?). I completely believe that with the release of this game, we have entered a new world of gaming.
    I believe we will no longer see "level" based games, instead i believe the majority of future released games will be Sandbox, or open-ended.
    Grand Theft Auto was the first true Sandbox game, and it has inspired plenty of others such as;
    Elder Scrolls - Morrowind (game of the year) and Oblivion
    Saints Row
    True Crime

    However, now i look at the list, it is clearly apparent that the majority of Sandbox games are almost rip-offs of GTA and the series.

    But i believe in the future, the majority of games will be open-ended, with the only exception being Sports games.

    And as for the game being a masterpiece, they are spot on.
    After playing the game for six hours, i can clearly see that this will, perhaps is as we speak, be recognised as the greatest game of all time.

    I for one, truly hope it comes to pc, so that modifiers can create add-ons for the game to add hours of enjoyment to the game for me.

  • Comment number 24.

    To Tim Miller -

    Re my post re dowloadable content No 22.

    With respect to Rumble in yer controller, you obviously dont know much about games consoles or you would know that there is a PS3 controller with a rumble pack, thge Dualshock3, which is not region coded. Most PS3 owners that I know own one of these controllers!

    Therefore you arguement backing the 360 version of GTAIV has now been blown out of the water. Thank you and good night!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    to martyboy35

    You obviously not listend to anything Rockstar have said. They have repeatidly stated that the launch copies are IDENTICAL in content and only a very minor graphical difference between them. The DLC is extra stuff that the PS3 DOESN'T have, and once the exsclusive period is over then the PS3 will get some too!

    Blu-ray's extra space is rarley used, mainly to allow uncompressed textures to make up for the lower read speed, which has nesseitated installs, which attack the put the disc in and play ethos of consoles.

    The Dualshock 3 is a new controller for the PS3 and most people won't own one yet, and will have to shell out for a new controller if they want it.

    The advertisments are MS trying to boost sales of the 360 version over the PS3 version, it would still sell itself on the 360, but MS are trying to shift the sales balance.

  • Comment number 26.

    To be quite honest, people like "martyboy35" and "ackers2007" quite litterally make my stomach turn with nothing but pitty and embarresment for them, not only are you completly wrong for the exact reasons that "cen4pgb" has stated, you are making yourselves sound so stupid and petty, why is it you only here the "loyal" CUSTOMERS of sony desperatly searching for reasons why the sony console is superior to the MS Xbox 360? I Mean i think anyone who actually knew anything would agree that the PS3 had the upper hand in the power department... but at the moment, its identical... MS Xbox 360 is PROVEN to be the smoother console. BUT as developers get used to working with such technology that the PS3 offers, the PS3 will get better and end up being a phenominal console. I Own an Xbox 360 and a PS3, i study the same games on each console including GTA IV (this is not a past time of mine, Job Related). Lets keep console banter to a minimal hey guys, especially if you dont know what your talking about... wouldnt want to get information wrong now would we!

    Lesane P Crooks

  • Comment number 27.

    Nice to hear the game is out. Quite excited but don't think I will ever get the pleasure to play this game.

    I have been one of the biggest fans of GTA. I got all of them in the series especialy any game came out under Rockstar.

    Always waited for next GTA(especially this one)

    Now that it is out I feel that i won't get the chance to play now.

    Reasons are:

    1. PS3 console is way too expensive .

    2. The game itself costs £40 and even if you wait I don't think it will go below £25 for next 18 months because of its demand and popularity.

    3. There are many games and I am hooked up to World of Warcraft which is already bigger ongoing game (negative point is subscription amount).

    Gaming is becoming more and more expensive than ever.too bad.

  • Comment number 28.

    I'm also interested to see the breakdown of how many sold on the two consoles. Apparently pre-orders for the Playstation 3 version were running at about 3 times the number of pre-orders for the 360. The Zavvi I went to had no PS3 copies remaining on the morning of the launch, but plenty of 360 copies floating around. Luckily I managed to secure their last copy at lunchtime when they were restocked (still plenty of 360 copies floating around).

    Generally reviews have said that the PS3 version has better graphics.

  • Comment number 29.


    This is true, but you wouldnt be able to tell the difference between the two games if they were playing at the same time at 1080p if you didnt know which console was what screen. The things you do notice would be PS3's sharper background effect and the smoothness of the xbox 360 version!

    Lesane P Crooks.

  • Comment number 30.

    Neither game runs at 1080p and I can't think off hand of a single game on either console that does. In fact GTAIV doesn't even run at 720p on the PS3 unlike the 360. It runs at 630p. The visual difference is apparently negligable but it seems to have been necessary in order to get the best performance from the system.

    Both systems have their pros and cons.

    - No install time
    - Exclusive download content (for which Microsoft paid $50m)
    - Slightly more noticable "pop in"
    - Some textures occasionally take a little while to load

    - ~7min installation
    - slightly faster loading times
    - only runs at 630p
    - no exclusive download content

    Both games will sometimes suffer noticable drops in framerate and graphical glitches but it's not going to ruin the experience. But both games are completely identical in content and execution. In the end all that matters is that we've been given a phenomenal game to enjoy.

  • Comment number 31.

    I would just like to point out, for the sake of correct information, that both shipped versions of the game are identical gameplay and content-wise. The 360 has no more or no less content than the Playstation version and the exclusive downloadable content for the 360 will be new and only for that platform.

    Apparently the Playstation 3 has the slight edge over the 360 for graphics despite its lower resolution. That said, most people agree (generally, as well as in this game) that the 360's colour palette looks better.

    It really comes down to personal preference, and with the multiplayer features, where your friends are.

    Please don't make the BBC regret their decision to make blog posts on games by coming in here and acting like a fanboy. It would be so refreshing to read a sensible and well-constructed site reporting on games.

  • Comment number 32.

    I run on it the 360 and i have noticed some random popup. Nowhere near as bad as the PS2 GTA games so this is a relief.

    Beyond that I don't really care about which format plays the best. I don't have Xbox Live for online content. They're identical games on shipping and the bare mnimum of performance on a PS3 Isn't enough to make me spend an extra £150 on a PS3 console for no decent games at the minute. When MGS4 is released I might rethink my decsision on a PS3 but until then i see no difference between the 2 besides the price of the consoles that makes it worth it.

  • Comment number 33.


    you are theone who doesn't have a clue about the history of GTA.

    It was a PSone release in 1997 long before it came out on PC.

    PC gamers nicked it from Playstation owners if you want to go that way.

    Sheesh, as they say.

  • Comment number 34.

    GTA 4

    It actually DOES run on 720p... Depending on the TV... however if your TV is Bigger, it will be stretched and thusfor the resolution wont be as good... But the game is Made on a 720p scale!


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