Breaking Down the GTA IV Trailer

Impressions aside, the just-over-a-minute-long trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV provided a wealth of information about the game. IV will be set in Liberty City (i.e. New York City) just as GTA III was, and will sport much more realistic graphics — as opposed to the traditional mix of realism and cartoon-styled visuals. Editorial Director Chris Pereira and writer Kyle Ulrich debate over their respective predictions for GTA IV.

Kyle: First things first, what instantly popped to me was the obvious change in dramatic tone that was present in the trailer. Although the humor/satire was still present in spots, the game clearly has a lot more "presence"… that is, the game seems to be working towards an altogether different goal this time around.

Chris: Absolutely, I think part of the major shift that we’re seeing with IV is with the feel of the game. Rather than have a silly story following the trials and tribulations of a mute, gangster or ex-con, it seems like IV will have more of a focus on character development — as is evidenced by the short monologue by what appears to be the main character.

Kyle: The presentation — not exactly the visuals, mind you — is different than it’s ever been in the past. Everything has weight to it, and the riffing on Koyaanisqatsi proves that Rockstar North can think outside of the Goodfellas/Eazy-E/Miami Vice box. If you’ve seen that film, then you know it’s a hell of a thing to aspire towards — especially for something like GTA. To me, that was the trailers biggest surprise, and the biggest slam dunk.

Chris: I’ll give it to you that it was the biggest surprise, but it doesn’t really shock me to see that Rockstar is capable of more than the cliched storylines its games usually contain. Of course, this was only a one minute teaser trailer, so it’s a little early to imply that IV is going to break that track record. What surprised me most was Rockstar’s willingness to go back to the series’ roots in Liberty City.

Kyle: But what’s with that main character, he looks exactly like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran. I mean, EXACTLY.

Chris: I thought he looked like a bit like the main character from GTA III

Kyle: Political overtones aside, that looks like New York (or is it Liberty City? Could be either) in the trailer. What’s the deal, Rockstar? Statue of Liberty, Times Square — is it time to bring the madness of GTA to the real thing? What I’m really wondering is what punching a whore will look like in HD.

Chris: HD’s got nothing on real life, but that’s neither here nor there.

Kyle: I think we can finally wave "bye bye" to GTA‘s legion of imitators… wonder how Saints Row‘s fans will take to this?

Chris: There’s no chance the clones are going anywhere. If anything, IV will prove that there is a lot of money in this open-world sandbox genre, which will undoubtedly lead to more rip-offs. And Saints Row wasn’t bad, y’know.

Kyle: It’s certainly nice to see GTA‘s trademark humor spread liberally throughout the trailer. Burger Shot, "I Slept With Your Mother" posters, and stuff; I can’t wait to hear what the radio stations will be like.

Chris: That was actually the thing I missed most in Saints Row and Crackdown. While in Crackdown it was entirely absent, Saints Row‘s piss-poor attempt at that style of GTA humor accomplished nothing more than making me cringe.

Kyle: Well, knowing Rockstar North, I don’t think we’ll have anything to worry about when it comes to humor, story, acting and presentation. It’s nice that the visuals have taken a quantum leap, but I want to see gameplay. For some reason, this new tone doesn’t seem like it’ll fit with the whole "take any car you want, kill anything you want, walk around the city with a rocket launcher" vibe. Need I even mention that the company has been downplaying the "Grand Theft Auto" part of the title?

Chris: I don’t think that has anything to do with the gameplay aspect, so much as it’s clearly establishing that the game is going to be entirely different from the current GTA III rehash rut we’re in. We’ve had, what, five games based off of that engine already? And the potential for a sixth in San Andreas Stories? I think the only part that should be downplayed is the traditional "holy crap, this city is HUGE compared to last game’s" reaction most people have when picking up the latest GTA game. The focus is clearly going to be on gameplay and graphics — not increasing the game’s square mileage.

Kyle: Right, but the style doesn’t seem like something that facilitates stealing cars and making stuff bleed. In fact, part of the other games’ charm was the clearly cartoony and slapstick aesthetic. They were unbelievable and impossible to take seriously (unless you’re a politician). This time around, the new presentation might limit the appeal — natch, the satire — that has come to define the series. It just doesn’t seem like it would be a tasteful match to me.

Chris: I guess it’s a matter of opinion, and yours just happens to be wrong.

Kyle: Zing. What about the soundtrack? For some reason, I’m predicting at least one Bruce Springsteen track. Maybe "Born To Run". Or how ’bout some Philip Glass? I won’t be bothered so long as Lazlow has his place in IV.

Chris: It’ll end up a lot like the feel of GTA III‘s soundtrack, I think, with a lot of big names and a focus on hip-hop, techno, and country. I would have my fingers crossed for a Michael Jackson track or two, but then it might be hard for Rockstar to slip in some cracks about ped — nevermind. Grand Theft Auto wouldn’t go there… would it?


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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