As was the case with the previous games in the series, activist groups, police, politicians, and surviving victims of violence criticised Grand Theft Auto IV on Wednesday, a day after the game was launched in the US.
The Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) protested the game, saying, "drunk driving is a choice, a violent crime... [it] is not a game, and it is not a joke."
Grand Theft Auto IV gives players the option to drive drunk after consuming digital alcohol, but the game suggests taking a cab after drinking with in-game buddies.
Nevertheless, MADD has called upon the Entertainment Software Ratings Board to reclassify Grand Theft Auto IV as an Adults Only game, effectively banning the game from sale in the US since neither Sony nor Microsoft allow the sale of AO games on their respective consoles in America.
Nearly 13,500 people die in drunk driving crashes each year, with another half million injured in alcohol-related crashes, asserts MADD.
Regarding the game's violence, the NYPD association president Pat Lynch told the New York Daily News on Wednesday that, "being involved in a shootout in a video game has no consequences and that is the wrong message to send to young people."
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and the mother of a killed NYPD officer echoed similar sentiments in the same report, saying GTA IV "doesn't exactly teach the kind of things that you'd want to teach your kids," or more descriptively put, "teaches children to kill."
Before launching the game, developer Rockstar said it fully expected the mainstream backlash, saying that video games will continue to bear the blame of societal challenges, including crime, acts of violence, and degenerate youth.
In just four days, Grand Theft Auto IV has quickly become one of the highest-rated games of all time, fuelling its commercial success to rival that of Halo 3\, which currently holds the highest single day sales of any video game.
According to a report published on Monday, Rockstar spent an unprecedented $US100 million to develop GTA IV, enough to surpass Shenmue's $70 million as the most expensive game ever made.