Everything we know about GTA IV to date

• Rockstar began work on the game in November 2004.

• The game introduces a new 'wanted' mechanic. If Niko does something to warrant a wanted level, a search radius appears on the mini-map. The higher the wanted level, the wider the radius. Niko must avoid the LCPD completely to stop the search radius being reset to the last location where he was spotted.

• Niko’s mobile phone - called the Whiz - acts as the 'hub' of the game, receiving information and threads for missions. This useful device has four main functions: Phonebook, Messages, Organizer and Camera. Most importantly, Niko can use it to call contacts, allowing him to instigate missions and arrange meetings.

• If Niko fails a mission, he receives a text message on his cell phone asking if he wants to restart the mission. Niko is then plonked back to the point directly after any mission intro cut-scene and is ready to start again without any annoying backtracking.

• All cars will feature standard GPS, while luxury models will be fitted with voice-navigation GPS.

• GTA IV uses Rockstar's own proprietary game engine, RAGE (previously seen in Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis), while also employing NaturalMotion's 'euphoria' animation engine to create dynamic real-time character movement.

• Niko can steal locked cars by smashing the window and - in some instances - hotwiring them.

• Niko's cousin Roman runs a taxi depot in Broker - the initial base of operations in the game - and will provide the incentive for the early missions. He's lied to Niko about having a perfect life in Liberty City, when actually he's massively in debt and in trouble with vicious thugs. He and Niko are constantly strapped for cash, a situation which forces Niko into working for some of LC's criminal players.

• Pedestrians are aware of their surroundings, and you'll see lots of different faces doing lots of different things: smoking, sitting, talking on the phone, reading etc. And if Niko starts shooting, they'll do whatever they can to get out of the way.

• Physics play a huge part, with Niko's movements affected by the world around him - his walk, for instance, is influenced by the slope of the pavement, or any rubble on the ground.

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