The game was developed by Rockstar North and was published and released by Rockstar Games for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions were released worldwide to widespread hype on April 29, 2008. GTA IV has subsequently been awarded the Gaming World Record of the Most Successful Entertainment Launch of All Time, and has received numerous other awards and accolades. The PC version was released on December 3, 2008. GTA IV and Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City were released for Xbox One via backwards compatibility on February 9, 2017.
The very first dialogue by Niko in the very first trailer for the game sets up the first notable protagonist to be from another country other than the United States, Niko Bellic, to enter the United States of America and make more critical analysis of American culture than previous main characters have done. Grand Theft Auto IV's deeper meaning circulates around Niko's own philosophy, and his clear, blunt critiques of American culture and life in general make the deeper ideas much easier to see and understand. Niko is normally shown to be in the right, but is also proven to be overly cynical, leaving interpretation open to the viewer. The game and its very complex plot deals with several themes:
As read on the packaging of the game, Rockstar Games asks "what does the American dream mean today?". Niko is cynical about America, saying "capitalism is a dirty business" and only people who are extremely greedy and/or born into wealth have any opportunity. Mikhail Faustin also laments before he dies that "America made him (Dimitri Rascalov) greedy! ...This American greed takes everyone! It is like a disease!". Niko mocks American stereotypes like "strip malls and clinical obesity" (as do the makers of the game by hilariously parodying concepts like post-9/11 hysteria and celebrity obsession). On the plus side, Roman Bellic, as well as other characters (Brucie Kibbutz, Bernie Crane, Ivan Bytchkov, and Hossan Ramzy among others) are optimistic about America and life in general, tend to do very well for themselves financially, and try in vain to encourage Niko to be more optimistic.
Grand Theft Auto series
1997 – Grand Theft Auto
1998 – Liberty City Stories
1999 – Grand Theft Auto 2 ( )
2013 – Grand Theft Auto 2 ( )
The American Dream is also shown not to be promised to anyone, not even when they already live in America. Social circles all the way from Playboy X and Elizabeta Torres to Patrick McReary all have trouble making and responsibly saving money, not restricting it to any one nationality. Early on, The Beat 102.7 explains that their listeners "don't know how to manage their money yet!". Gerry McReary describes his family's spending habits as "Never any fucking focus! Never! ...Oh yeah, wine and women as quick as possible, and remain a slave forever". Packie eventually says after a mission "Well, Niko, that was a whole lot of effort for no fucking reward. Story of my life." to which Niko replies "It is the story of a lot of lives, Packie. I'm getting used to hearing it". A very interesting part of the in-game media is a reality TV show called I'm Rich, which documents the most outrageous displays of gluttony by the world's wealthiest people, enough to make anyone feel inadequate.
Grand Theft Auto IV has an extremely complex plot with a very long list of characters. It is also the first game in the HD Universe that allows the player to change the plot by making choices, which all have consequences. This creates an atmosphere where Niko is haunted and shadowed by his past actions wherever he goes. He tells Roman: "There is no such thing as a new beginning, Roman. With every day we live, we pick up new baggage, baggage we must carry with us for the rest of our lives. There's no dropping it and pretending we are fresh and clean, just because we get off a boat in a new place." Prime examples include his numerous encounters with Ray Bulgarin, most of the random characters, and working alongside Johnny Klebitz or Patrick McReary while he had, either by not having met them yet or circumstances beyond his control, killed someone close to them. In the finale, Niko feels the coffin of Kate or Roman, depending on the player's choice, on his conscience because of his criminal lifestyle, saying they "never should have gotten close to me". He is deeply depressed about being trapped in the criminal lifestyle (by a need of income), telling Kate McReary and others that he wishes he could leave it behind, but often adds that he knows he can't.
- Niko Bellic: The playable protagonist, through whose eyes the player sees the world of the game. He is morally upstanding and logical despite his criminal life, but is often shown to have authority issues. He is also more cynical and pessimistic than is good for him. He seems to sort people into three categories:
- Roman Bellic, Mallorie Bardas, Little Jacob, Brucie Kibbutz, Kate McReary, and Bernie Crane: The optimists, people Niko likes because of their positivity, and they all try in vain to encourage Niko to be more optimistic. Many are foolish and could be mistaken for comic relief, but they do offer pearls of wisdom about life and success, a realization that Niko must make at the same time. Other interesting cases are Ivan Bytchkov, and Hossan, both recent immigrants like Niko but with much more confidence in the American way of life.
- Patrick McReary, Gerald McReary, Derrick McReary, Dwayne Forge, Phil Bell and Jon Gravelli: The pessimists, people Niko likes because they have angst that he instinctively responds to. Packie and Dwayne especially become friends of Niko because of their shared struggle; Niko confides in Dwayne remarkably early in their relationship and tells him "you remind me of me". It's also notable that he relates well to Jon Gravelli and his bleak sense of humor, despite an enormous age gap, other lifestyle differences and Niko's traditional dislike of his bosses.
- Vladimir Glebov, Dimitri Rascalov, Mikhail Faustin, Ray Bulgarin, Francis McReary, United Liberty Paper, Manny Escuela, Elizabeta Torres, Playboy X, Ray Boccino, Darko Brevic and Jimmy Pegorino: The corrupt, people Niko doesn't like (and/or forced to take orders from) because of their greed or immorality. He had to take orders from all of them, considers killing most of them at least once, and inevitably kills about half of them himself. This, combined with his dislike of capitalism, shows that Niko has authority issues and can't stand corrupt people in power. With the exception of United Liberty Paper and Elizabeta, and only if spared Darko, Playboy and Francis McReary, all of the corrupt end up dead.
- Michelle, Kate McReary, Carmen Ortiz, Kiki Jenkins and Alex Chilton; girlfriends Niko can date. Michelle and Kate are unlocked in the story mode; the other 3 must be met by the internet. Each girlfriend has their own opinions on what car they would like Niko to drive, what type of clothes he should wear and what type of places they should go to together. The 3 online girlfriends can give Niko a special ability once he pleases them enough in quality and quantity of date.
- Niko Bellic - Michael Hollick
- Roman Bellic - Jason Zumwalt
- Brucie Kibbutz - Timothy Adams
- Dimitri Rascalov - Moti Margolin
- Mr. McReary - Doris Belack
- Francis McReary - Thomas Lyons
- Gerry McReary - PJ Sosko
- Packie McReary - Ryan Johnston
- Kate McReary - Mary Catherine Donnelly
- Little Jacob - Coolie Ranx
- Real Badman - Seeborn
- Elizabeta Torres - Charlie Parker
- Jimmy Pegorino - Tony Patellis
- Ray Boccino - Joe Barbara
- Phil Bell - Frank Bonsangue
- United Liberty Paper - Milton James
- Angie Pegorino - Sharon Angela
- Mallorie Bardas - Elena Harvey Hurst
- Anthony Corrado - Robert Furano (incrorrectly credited as Bobby Funaro)
- Vlad Glebov - Misha Kuznetsov
- Darko Brevic - Michael Medeiros
- Manny Escuela - Berto Colon
- Bernie Crane - Timothy J. Alex
- Jay Hamilton - Daniel G. O'Brien
- Gordon Sargent - David Conley
- Playboy X - Postell Pringle
- Derrick McReary - George Feaster
- Mikhail Faustin - Karel Roden
- Ilyena Faustin - Marcy McGuigan (incorrectly credited as Marcy Maguigan)
- Michelle/Karen - Rebecca Henderson
- Ashley Butler - Traci Godfrey
- Mel - Larry Fleischman (Incorrectly credited as Larry Fleishman)
- Killer - Jacek Krawczyk
- Johnny Klebitz - Scott Hill
- Dwayne Forge - Devin Richards
- Eddie Low - Victor Verhaeghe
- Marnie Allen - Reyna de Courcy
- Jon Gravelli - Madison Arnold
- Mitch The Cop - Christopher Jobin
- Mechanic/Henchman - John Walker
- Michael Keane - Pete O'Connor
- Priest - Thomas Waites
- Dardan Petrela - Peter Linari
- Charlie - James Yaegashi
- Clarence Little - Jerry Clicquot
- Gracie Ancelotti - Rebecca Benhayon
- Pathos - David Shaw
- Sara - Deborah Yates
- Jeff the Cuckold - Harry Chase
- Brian Meech - Justin Reinsilber
- Cherise Glover - Ja'Tovia Gary
- Ivan Bytchkov - Lev Gorn
- Bledar Morina - Gregory Korostishevsky
- Ray Bulgarin - Vitali Baganov
- Hossan Ramzy - Sean Krishnan
- Albanian - Bujan Rugov
- Alexandra "Alex" Chilton - Samantha Soule
- Carmen Ortiz - Élan Luz Rivera
- Kiki Jenkins - Kim Howard
- Isaac Roth - Modi Rosenfeld
- Luis Fernando Lopez - Mario D'Leon
- Mori Green - Ed Rubeo
- Coked-Up Reveller - Nick Montgomery
- Brucie Girl - Kerry Shaw
- Dave the Mate - Martin Herring
- Mickey the Bartender - Marc Fine
- City Official in Bar - John Brady
- Sergei - Jeff Norris
- Andrei - Sándor Técsy (incorrectly credited as Sandor Telsey)
- Thai Prostitute - Amy Razviwomg
- Joseph Kaplan - Jim Norton
- Eugene Reaper - Michael Bower
- Joe "Tuna" DiLeo - Pete Pavio
- Luca Silvestri - Robert Kelly
- Anna Faustin - Krystyna Jakubiak
- Kenny Petrovic - Richard Pruitt
- Aiden O'Malley - Jarlath Conroy
- Tom Goldberg - Jonathan Hanst
- Jim Fitzgerald - Dennis Predovic
- Maitre d' - Tony Cucci
- Jeff The Cop - Jay Capozello
- Jorge - Greg Johnson
- Yuppie - Peter Adler
- Bobby Jefferson - Tom Tammi
Grand Theft Auto IV is heavily influenced by Russian gangster movies, such as Brother, and its sequel, Brother 2, and Niko Bellic's physical appereance is based on the character of Sasha, a Bulgarian sniper who works as a mercenary for the Bosnian-Serb Srpska paramilitary organization, from the movie Behind Enemy Lines.
Two episodes have been released for Grand Theft Auto IV for the Xbox 360, and then released for PlayStation 3 and PC in April 2010. The Lost and Damned was released on February 17, 2009, and features biker Johnny Klebitz as the player character. The Ballad of Gay Tony was been released on October 29, 2009, with Luis Fernando Lopez as the protagonist. It was simultaneously released with the disc version of Episodes from Liberty City, which features both games. These episodes are set in the same city and time as GTA IV, and have many overlapping storylines, characters, and missions. They add new missions, characters, vehicles, weapons, and other gameplay features.
Grand Theft Auto IV: Complete Edition is the latest release of GTA IV on PC platforms that replaced the original game and its episodes on Steam, released on March 19, 2020 for Steam and Rockstar Games Launcher. The title was revealed by Rockstar Games on February 19th, after a month from GTA IV being removed from Steam on January 18th. Players who owned the previous version of GTA IV or its episodes automatically received GTA IV: Complete Edition with both games.
Rockstar Games reasoning behind pulling the game from Steam was due to Games For Windows Live, which was what was used on the Steam release of GTA IV for DRM and online multiplayer. The Games For Windows Live platform was no longer being supported by Microsoft and therefore wouldn't generate new game keys.
When the Complete Edition was announced, these were the changed stated:
- Episodes from Liberty City (The Lost and Damned & The Ballad of Gay Tony).
- Game is compatible with old save files of GTA IV.
- The Games For Windows Live service has been removed.
- Multiplayer and leaderboards have been removed.
- EFLC-exclusive radio stations (Vice City FM, RamJam FM, and Self-Actualization FM) were temporarily unavailable, but they were later patched in. This is the first time these stations could be heard in the base GTA IV game.
Other announced details:
- 55 achievements have been added. (40 for GTA IV, 5 for The Lost and Damned, 10 for The Ballad of Gay Tony)
Although nothing in the game specifically reveals the exact month the events of the game take place, most evidence suggests that it may take place between April and September.
- A number of trees have yellow-brown leaves (though some retain their green colour), hinting at the beginning of the autumn season (September in the Northern Hemisphere).
- Although not a significant indication of the timeline of events, there are a few instances in the game when Niko is idle and the player can see his breath (especially when the weather is overcast or when it's raining). This could either suggest an autumnal setting, or it could be due to the game reflecting the climate of New York City during the very early spring.
- Two calendars in Jimmy Pegorino's house and Luis Lopez's apartment are open on the month of April.
|Date||Award||Category||Recipient(s) and Nominee(s)||Result|
|25 July 2008||IGN's Best of 2008||Best Action Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|25 July 2008||IGN's Best of 2008||Best Graphics Technology||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|25 July 2008||IGN's Best of 2008||Best Use of Sound||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|25 July 2008||IGN's Best of 2008||Best Voice Acting||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|25 July 2008||IGN's Best of 2008||Best Story||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|7 August 2008||G4 G-Phoria2008||Best New Character||Niko Bellic||Won|
|7 August 2008||G4 G-Phoria 2008||Best Action Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|7 August 2008||G4 G-Phoria 2008||Longest Lasting Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|31 October 2008||26th Annual Golden Joystick Awards||BBC Radio 1Xtra Soundtrack of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|31 October 2008||26th Annual Golden Joystick Awards||ARVATO Xbox Game of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|3 November 2008||Time The Top 10 Everything of 2008: Top 10 Video Games||Number 1 Video Game of 2008||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|2 December 2008||The New York Times||Game of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|7 December 2008||IGN AU's 10 Best Games of 2008||Best Game of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|16 December 2008||Spike TV Video Game Awards 2008||Game of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|16 December 2008||Spike TV Video Game Awards 2008||Best Action Adventure Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|16 December 2008||Spike TV Video Game Awards 2008||Best Performance by a Human Male||Michael Hollick as Niko Bellic||Won|
|17 December 2008||GameSpy Game of the Year 2008||Best Story||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|17 December 2008||GameSpy Game of the Year 2008||Character of the Year||Brucie Kibbutz||Won|
|24 December 2008||TeamXbox Game of the Year Awards 2008||Best Action/Adventure Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|24 December 2008||TeamXbox Game of the Year Awards 2008||Best Story||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|24 December 2008||TeamXbox Game of the Year Awards 2008||Game of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|25 December 2008||Giant Bomb Golden Anniversary Year-End Awards Extravaganza Spectacular 2008||Game of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|25 December 2008||Giant Bomb Golden Anniversary Year-End Awards Extravaganza Spectacular 2008||Best Multiplatform Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|26 December 2008||GameSpot Best of 2008||Best UK-Developed Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|26 December 2008||GameSpot Best of 2008||Best New Character||Brucie Kibbutz||Won|
|26 December 2008||GameSpot Best of 2008||Best Xbox 360 Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|31 December 2008||GameTrailers Game of the Year Awards 2008||Game of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|31 December 2008||GameTrailers Game of the Year Awards 2008||Best PlayStation 3 Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|31 December 2008||GameTrailers Game of the Year Awards 2008||Best Xbox 360 Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|31 December 2008||GameTrailers Game of the Year Awards 2008||Best Action Adventure Game||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|31 December 2008||GameTrailers Game of the Year Awards 2008||Best Story||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|5 January 2009||Kotaku's 2008 Games of the Year Awards||Game of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|5 January 2009||Kotaku's 2008 Games of the Year Awards||Best Writing||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|July 2009||Entertainment Merchants Association Home Entertainment Awards – Video Games||Action/Adventure Game of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
|July 2009||Entertainment Merchants Association Home Entertainment Awards – Video Games||Video Game of the Year||Grand Theft Auto IV||Won|
There was much controversy over Grand Theft Auto IV, continuing the tradition of controversy the series has always been associated with. Figures such as George Galloway, Jack Thompson and Hillary Clinton harshly criticised the game; Clinton's likeness would parodied in the Statue of Happiness. New York City officials were also perturbed by the game's New York-inspired setting, though said officials have been accused of hypocrisy as countless crime dramas and action films have taken place in the city years before GTA IV was released.
The initial Australian and New Zealand releases of GTA IV was pre-censored with blood and sex scenes toned down; a patch was later released which uncensored the Australian console versions.
A number of real-world crime incidents were also blamed on GTA IV, namely a crime spree perpetrated by a band of teenagers in New Hyde Park, New York in 2008, and on the same year, an attempted carjacking in Thailand where an 18-year-old student murdered a taxi driver which police captain Veerarit Pipatanasak stated that the student "wanted to find out if it was as easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was in the game", and when a 90-year old woman in Slaughter, Louisiana was shot and killed by her eight-year old grandson after playing the game.
Little Lacy Surprise was criticised by some outlets for promoting paedophilia, though while similar mentions of sexual deviancy was alluded to in the series lore, in no way does the game encourage or put players in the role of a sex offender; visiting the site would merely lead to an instant wanted level, as a possible parody of law enforcement response and raids against suspected paedophiles.
The drunk driving elements also courted controversy, with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) calling for the game to be rated Adults Only, which would have de facto banned the game (as console manufacturers do not allow AO-rated media from being published). Rockstar refuted MADD's accusations, stating "We have a great deal of respect for MADD's mission, but we believe the mature audience for Grand Theft Auto IV is more than sophisticated enough to understand the game's content."
Both the console and PC versions have had numerous updates and patches over the years.
End of Games For Windows Live support
In January 2020, Grand Theft Auto IV and Episodes from Liberty City were temporarily removed from Steam due to end of support of Microsoft's Games for Windows Live platform. As a result, it became no longer possible to generate the additional keys needed to continue selling the PC version of the game.
An updated single player-only release of Grand Theft Auto IV: The Complete Edition was released on March 16, 2020 on Steam and the Rockstar Games Launcher. Besides omitting multiplayer functionality, certain songs were also removed from the game due to expiring licenses.
Existing versions could be optionally patched to update the base GTA IV or standalone Episodes From Liberty City to the all-inclusive GTA IV: The Complete Edition.
- Multiplayer Clothing
- Wanted Level
- Secrets and Easter Eggs
- Unique Vehicles
- Grand Theft Auto IV is the first game in the GTA series to feature ragdoll physics.
- The PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV has a glitch that doesn't allow the game to recognize video cards of 2GB or more, simply restricting the amount of video card memory usage to just under 1GB.
- This was finally fixed on 29 November 2016.
- GTA IV appears to be the last game so far that restricts the player from the full map at the beginning of the game and require one to progress through the game to unlock new areas.
- In the 2018 video game, Marvel's Spider-Man, there is a mission that involves Spider-Man tracking down an Eastern European named Niko who is planning to carry out a heist on a casino. The character mentions having a brother named Roman, a nod to Roman Bellic. Moreover, the mission giver is a Latina woman named Carmen, a possible nod to Carmen Ortiz. It's worth noting this game was released ten years after Grand Theft Auto IV and takes place in New York City, which Liberty City is based on.
- Beta Releases in Grand Theft Auto IV and Episodes
- Glitches in Grand Theft Auto IV and its Episodes
- GTA IV Plot
- Controls for GTA IV