Grand Theft Auto IV: Exceeds Every Expectation

Sniper on the edge of forever


To this day, Grand Theft Auto seems almost like a serendipitous fluke to me, a fascinating but improbable tale of two incredibly ambitious brothers almost stumbling into their third-in-sequence megahit by tapping a niche free-form legacy reaching back to David Braben and Ian Bell's seminal 1984 space-trading game, Elite. How Grand Theft Auto morphed from a plotless arcade racer (originally dubbed "Race N Chase") about stealing and selling cars for profit into an epic crime drama, with all the moral subtext of a Coppola or Scorsese blockbuster, is one for the history books. It's also a series that has managed to galvanize -- and, in some cases, rabidly polarize -- people over the ethical legitimacy of its violent and sexually explicit content, which to be fair is probably tamer than a lot of HBO dramas and comedy acts. Wherever you stand, you have to admire the brass of the Houser brothers, from GTA IV's opening nose-thumbing BDSM clips or Niko's requesting sex by asking his girlfriend Michelle for "hot coffee", to the pumped-up TV show "The Men's Room with Bas and Jeremy". "Come to Liberty City," teases Bas Rutten (voiced by the actual superbuff Dutch martial artist) at one point, "and you can get strong in this weak world."

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