(Below is the beginning of a report filed at MTVNews.com.)
NEW YORK — You can't get fat anymore. You can take a taxi anywhere on the map. There may be bums lying in front of a car on the street. And, for once, someone other than you might be getting chased by the police.
These are just a few of the details we soaked in Tuesday afternoon during a private 90-minute demonstration of "Grand Theft Auto IV" at developer Rockstar Games' headquarters in downtown Manhattan.
After shooing a black cat from Rockstar's game-demonstration lounge, a company employee sat on a big couch, turned on an Xbox 360 development kit and large flat-screen TV, and played three "GTA" missions set in the game's massive New York replica, Liberty City. The game looked as good as it does in its trailers, with advanced lighting, and a special physics system that makes characters walk, fall and leap in natural and often distinct ways. It had short load times; slightly out-of-sync lip-syncing, which is still getting polished; a line of sight that made buildings 10 blocks away viewable; and a bounty of unexpected visual and gameplay details.
"We just want to get you excited about the game," the third man in the room, Rockstar Games Vice President of Product Development Jeronimo Barrera, told MTV News. He said this game was immense, guaranteed to keep players busy for a long time and promised that its release would be the biggest entertainment event of the year. But mostly, he let the demonstration of the game do the talking. Several times he referred to the game as a "reinvention" of "GTA," and what was displayed demonstrated an exceptional attention to detail and an apparent effort by the developer to address every one of "GTA" players' complaints about the series' deficiencies.