BEST VIDEO GAME TO TAKE A GIGANTIC LEAP BEYOND ITS PREDECESSOR

I’m pretty certain that you guys have heard about a little game called “Grand Theft Auto IV,” but let’s pretend you’ve been living under a rock for the last year or so. GTAIV pretty much stays true to the (lack of) ethics from previous games – a richly detailed city, lots of variety, excellently-drawn characters, driving, carjacking, shooting, questionably legal goals and bloody murder. You know, the usual.

The thing is, everything looks much more lifelike than before. Liberty City’s environs have a closer resemblance to New York City than before, interacting with other people on the street is much more authentic, the police are tougher to deal with, and the driving and shooting mechanics are reworked to be much more enjoyable. It’s clearly the most evolutional leap the series has ever had. Even better is the multiplayer. There are co-op missions, races, deathmatching and more for up to 16 players. This is a first for the series, but the developers at Rockstar North are pulling out all the stops. There’s even a leaderboard at www.rockstargames.com called the Social Club, where you can compare the things you did in the game with other gamers. There’s no stone unturned.

Grand Theft Auto IV hits the Xbox 360 and PS3 next week, just in time for summer vacation. The Xbox version will even get exclusive downloads later on in the year, so stay tuned.

$60 / Xbox 360, PS3 / Release Date: April 29