Grand Theft Auto IV's appeal isn't only the open-ended offline single-player experience. Like with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, GTA IV for PC will support play in a number of online cooperative and competitive modes, some of which support of up to 32 players. We got a chance to check out a few of the modes recently, in competition against a number of Rockstar employees from their various studios.
Before jumping into a match we checked out the adjustable parameters for creating a game which included a number of things. Police can be toggled on or off, density of pedestrians adjusted, weather and time of day selected, maps and icons can be hidden, along with a variety of other customization settings. In addition there'll be better search options when trying to find a game online, though during the session we didn't get much of a chance to see that as the matches were being set up for us.
To start things off, the 32 players in the server were split into team of four, all with uniform visual appearances, though there'll be options for things like hats, pants, shirts and other character model accoutrements to craft a unique outfit for your avatar. The first round was a standard team-based deathmatch, which basically consisted of the four teams running around a section of city, taking cover against walls and firing at opponents when they came in range. We all started with pistols that aren't particularly accurate, so those who managed to find the uzi pickups floating around the zone of battle had a distinct advantage, as did those who decided to hop into cars and run over the opposition.
Things progressed across another team deathmatch section of the city, this time an industrial park with frequent rooftop battles and fence hopping, then to something a little different with a territorial capture mode. The four teams were split across a map, like in the deathmatches, but had to converge on certain points on the map to capture and earn money for their team. The more teammates present at a capture point, the faster it's converted.
Afterward we played through two GTA Race mode matches, which also supported 32 players. The match host selects a type of vehicle like sports car or bike, then the player can pick a specific model, and a race begins. To denote the path of the race players proceed through a series of checkpoints, but that's not what's required. If you're feeling particularly devious you can park your vehicle in the middle of the track and screw up other people's races or stand on the side of the road and fire at those trying to run a more serious race.
Those aren't the only modes, though we didn't actually get to play any others. Like in the console version players can engage in cooperative modes for up to 4 players like Hangman's Noose, which requires you to move a crime boss to an extraction point against heavy police resistance. In Cops N Crooks for 16 players, one team plays the bad guys trying to reach an escape point while the other team, the cops, tries to stop them. The catch is whereas the cops can see the crooks on the radar, the crooks can only see the escape point. Or, if you don't feel like adhering to any of the rule sets, you can enter a 32 player free mode where anyone can do anything across the city.
Grand Theft Auto IV's PC version also includes a replay editor that lets players save, edit, and uploads clips from the game, as well as a new radio station, Independent FM, that enables you to listen to music off your hard drive when in any of the game's vehicles. The game is scheduled to ship early next week.
For more on the PC version of GTA IV, check out our previous coverage.
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