The GTA IV demo we've just sat through is possibly the most theatrical and well rehearsed we've ever experienced. Speaking later with fellow game journalists who have witnessed the same spectacle, it appears each character movement, pause in the action and camera position has been reproduced identically for each showing of the game. The effect is an astonishingly cinematic introduction to the most anticipated game of the year.
There's atechnical reason for this -we're privileged enough to be witnessing GTA IV at a remarkably early stage in development andnot positioning the camera in a particular way, would have exposed unfinished textures and scenery - not something you want to be drawing attention to in a game demo.
However, even thoughthis may be a very early look at the game, one thing is very clear -this is not the GTA we knew before. It's even more adult (if that's possible), deals with serious issues, has a less 'cartoonified' art direction and a cityscape that looks stunningly beautiful and feels more naturalistic then we've seen in any next-gen console game to date. Furthermore, central character Niko Bellic's gait is now that of a human, not a caricature. You can see this in the way his head moves when he walks, that he climbs steps rather than gliding up them, that his hands grip objects and weapons. It's a world (and about 2,500 miles) away from GTA's last major outing in San Andreas.