Grand Theft Auto IV: Exceeds Every Expectation

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

Hopping online is as easy as cell-phoning your way out of a solo game and into ranked or casual Liberty City-live meet-ups. In addition to conventional deathmatch modes and predictable two- to eight-player tourneys in which you'll have to competitively steal, escort, or kill for profit, GTA IV introduces clever alternatives like Cops n' Crooks, a team-based brawl wherein the "cops" try to thwart the "crooks" attempting to get their boss to an extraction point. Or try GTA Race, an any-way-you-like hot-footer that's about getting from A to Z using vehicles or weapons at hand. And you can even partially counter my criticism of Liberty City's factional superficiality in Turf War, which sets two teams scrambling to hold select areas of a map for as long as possible. It's Free Mode, though, is probably the future of this game, with all of its vast, untapped potential -- if you're willing to put together a disciplined group and pre-stage things such as weapons, vehicles, and positions, the possibilities for play-style innovators are virtually limitless.

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