Software Review: Freedom to kill in Liberty City

Instead of just hijacking cars by opening the door - as in previous versions of 'Grand Theft Auto' - the main character smashes the windows with his gun.

GTA 4 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
GTA 4 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Grand Theft Auto IV, a DVD-ROM by Rockstar Games, distributed with an English-language user's manual by Hed Artzi Multimedia for PCs, age 18 and above, NIS 219 Technical rating: ***** Moral Rating: 0 stars Freedom to kill in Liberty City Gamers generally buy disks to play on their computer, but Grand Theft Auto IV has such high software demands that you're more likely to need a new computer to play this game. As it didn't work on my own, I had to find a brand-new one to avoid being told after installation of a "fatal computer error." The ninth entry of the best-selling third-person shooting series that has sold more than 10 million copies and the first of its fourth generation was first released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360; the company then got around to PC users in early December. But the story line is the same for all: Niko Bellic, an illegal immigrant to the US and Bosnian war veteran, comes to the fictional city of Liberty City, which is based on four of New York City's boroughs and retains their flavor. He wants to make good (and a fortune), but has been misled by a friend who hints that dollars grow on trees. Hitting reality, Bellic aims at getting rich in an underworld existence populated by criminals, racketeers, prostitutes and gang leaders and the policemen trying to catch them. Instead of just hijacking cars (and motorcycles, boats and helicopters) by opening the door - as in previous versions - Bellic smashes the windows with his gun or foot and starts the engine without a key and fights those who oppose him with a armory of weapons or his bare hands. Although no explicit nude sexual act is shown, the game does broadly hint how Bellic spends his spare time with and his money on prostitutes. The excellent graphics engine and the nonlinear style that enables gamers to go anywhere in town (thanks to a an enclosed printed Liberty City map and "Survival Guide") will undoubtedly appeal to high-testosterone males, as will Bellic's advanced mobile phone, in-car computer and radio-broadcast music. Players can choose between two endings - either striking a deal with a heroin dealer that involves a series of complications or taking revenge on the buyer. Either way you go, the only "ethical" choices are whether to shoot people now or later. A primer for evil doing and debauchery, this game should be kept away by parents from their teenage kids. Adults will have to decide on their own if this is for them.