It'd be a damn, dirty lie to say that the next-gen Liberty City didn't look great, but in our recent demo we quickly settled back into our comfort zone and everything felt very GTA again.
That said, Rockstar has hit the nail on the head where the real estate is concerned; for the first time GTA's locale looks, feels and sounds like a realistic city, and not just streets of copycat buildings mixed in with the occasional shop or landmark.
Even if it's nothing but a fancy piece of scenery, each building looks just as unique and significant as the next, and the respectable number of cars and pedestrians on the street helps conjure the feeling of a bustling city, well above anything we've seen in previous GTA games.
But the most impressive feature of GTA IV is its interiors and how they fit into the gameplay. Loading times are absolutely nonexistent, and the insides of shops and houses are just as detailed as your average linear action game.
What excites us the most is how this seamless progression from free-roaming city to intimate, indoor environments gets rid of the horrible feeling of disconnection GTA III had when it teleported you from the busy streets to a totally separate empty cube with a cash register. It's like the epic presence of an MMO has been mixed with the fluid action of a shooter.