Every time a new Grand Theft Auto comes out, it seems like all we hear about is how much freedom each game gives you to do as you please. And while that's true for the most part, there's usually only one way through a given game's story missions, and it tends to take rampant criminality.
But GTA IV is different. With moral choices and a powerful physics engine that allows for all sorts of creative solutions to problems, it's the first GTA in which being a horrible asshole isn't always the main way to get things done. So to test out exactly how free the experience is, we decided to see how far we could get through the game's story without committing a single illegal act, documenting it every step of the way, (For the purposes of our own sanity, though, we're discounting things like speeding, trespassing, running red lights, public intoxication, reckless driving and accidental damage to property as "crimes." If doing it in front of a cop doesn't get you in trouble, it's not technically illegal.)
Mission 1: The Cousins Bellic
Nothing bad going on here; all we had to do was drive Niko's cousin Roman home without splattering anybody. Which was no easy task in Roman's shitty cab, but we still managed without a major incident.
Above: Don't do this on the first mission unless you're some kind of moron
CRIMES COMMITTED: None
Mission 2: It's Your Call
Although waiting for loan sharks to show up while your fat cousin gambles is wicked sketchy (and also b-o-o-o-o-ring), there's nothing technically illegal about it. Speeding away while being shot at is similarly shady, but again - not a crime. Niko's the victim here, and the cops aren't intervening, so in the eyes of a potential jury, we didn't do anything wrong.
Above: This looks bad, but Niko's not in the wrong here
CRIMES COMMITTED: None
Mission 3: Three's a Crowd
Did this seriously count as a "mission!?" All we had to do was pick up Mallorie and her friend Michelle, and then go and buy something - anything - at the Russian clothing shop. It'd be hard to commit any crime with that to-do list - unless you count the fashion crime of buying a Russian fur hat, HURR HURR HURR.
CRIMES COMMITTED: Just a few sartorial ones
Mission 4: First Date
Michelle was jumpy enough when we picked her up from her apartment; doing anything illegal in front of her would probably be a really bad idea even if we weren't trying to avoid it. Would-be law-abiders can rest easy knowing that they can get through this one withou... wi... YAWWWWN.
Above: Oh isn't this long walk excitizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
CRIMES COMMITTED: Zzzzzzzz