The excitement is mounting. It’s now less than two weeks (11 days, in fact) until Grand Theft Auto V is released on the world. With new details revealed every day and nothing but positive reaction web-wide, you might be forgiven for thinking this could be one of the biggest games of all time. Any way you look at it, it’s kind of a big deal, right?
Go back to 2008 – 18th April 2008, to be precise – and you’ll see a very similar situation. The 18th was 11 days before Grand Theft Auto IV hit stores. What did we think? What were we talking about? What information were Rockstar trickling out?
I wanted to find out.
Grand Theft Auto IV Goes Gold
Take Two announced, 11 days before launch, that Grand Theft Auto IV had gone gold. This was marked by an interview on the Opie and Anthony show with writer Lazlow Jones, better known for his appearances on a variety of GTA radio stations. He spoke about the GTA IV’s 100 adverts, about the depth of the in-game internet and about how being shot in specific areas will affect Niko in different ways. His example was being shot in the leg causing Niko to limp…
Recording dialogue took a huge amount of time for Grand Theft Auto IV. Ten hours a day, five days a week for many weeks. It shows. The radio stuff in GTA IV is excellent, and, with a boost in focus on audio design for GTA V, I can only imagine things have been as busy again in the last few months.
The day before saw the launch of the Rockstar Social Club, a feature that had a few bugs to begin with but which, in the report linked above, seems to have been positively received. Skip forward a few years and it seems people groan a little about having to use it.
It Doesn’t Have Split-Screen
Stephen Tolito, still writing for MTV at the time, needed to stress that you wouldn’t be able to play Grand Theft Auto IV with a friend via split-screen.
Considering some of the things we’ve seen since GTA IV launched, perhaps it wasn’t entirely true that Liberty City, as it exists in the multiplayer mode, couldn’t have had two players playing it together. It’s also funny, considering the state of GTA IV’s multiplayer at times, that anybody would have ever called it an easier alternative.
You Don’t Have a Copy of GTA IV
Everybody on the internet was claiming to have a copy of GTA IV. EVERYBODY. If you were on a message board that at all had anything to do with GTA IV, you’d have come into one of the many fakes that ended up on YouTube.
The phenomenon became so widespread that GamesRadar’s Chris Antista ran a story about a particular case on their forums. He probably wishes he hasn’t.
Within five pages of the post above, you see a harmless joke explode into something else entirely. Ah, the internet of 2008. Completely different to that of today.
Microsoft Were Confident with their “Episodes”
March 2008 saw the Xbox 360 outsell the PS3, and part of the reason for that, Microsoft claimed, was because Xbox 360 was the place to play Grand Theft Auto IV.
From a post on GamesIndustry.biz:
Still, it seems to have worked.
Grand Theft Auto IV: Downloadable Cities
This is just a rumour, but did you know Rockstar are adding an entirely new city to Grand Theft Auto IV?
From CVG’s Grand Theft Auto IV Collectors Magazine (via Softpedia):
The expansion packs did end up redefining Liberty City in many ways, but those changes were firmly set within the confines of the city. Where this one came from, well… we may never know.
Can We Catch STDs in GTA IV?
Some people wanted to see working petrol stations, others wanted to be able to spend actual time in jail. One person at GamesFAQs was desperate to catch herpes. Apparently there are things you really can’t do on your own.
Ricky Gervais To Make an Appearance
Back when Ricky Gervais was described as a “British comedian” and Karl Pilkington needed a wikipedia link so that people knew exactly who he was, Gervais let slip that he was involved in the new GTA game. Ars Technica covered the story on the 18th.
Give it up for ZiT
What a small world it is. Back on April 18th 2008, Steven Van Eekeren found something he liked the sound of. ZiT Music is such an odd service out of context as you’re playing, although it makes a little more sense when you learn its connection to MP3s.
Things You Could Do Instead of Install
Microsoft weren’t only confident about the Episodes in 2008. There had been some negativity surrounding the PS3 install time for GTA IV and Microsoft PR decided to take advantage of the situation.
They sent out the following email, made public by VG24/7. For an extra interesting read, check out the comments. 2008 was a time when Xbox 360 was winning.
· Steal your first dozen or so cars and test out the improved vehicle handling?
· Check out the cool features on your mobile phone?
· Rack up a 5 Star Wanted Rating?
· Have a blast of your first MP game on Xbox LIVE?
· Ditch the tracksuit chic and buy some new clothes?
· Unlock your first GTA IV Achievement and boost your Gamerscore?
….Or just start downloading a film from Xbox LIVE Video Store to watch later – check out the latest batch of arrivals this weekend!
The OXM Review Hit Streets
There was a lot of news, 11 days before the official release of Grand Theft Auto IV, but there was also a pretty long-awaited review. OXM gave Grand Theft Auto a 10/10 (“naturally,” one of the few original write-ups says). Utterly stunning in every respect might be fair, but I’m thinking the comparison between GTA IV’s choices and Bioshock’s might go a little far…
I’ve been playing Grand Theft Auto IV again in recent weeks, and it’s amazing to play it knowing how close we were to the cusp of a digital revolution. Jokes about phones that can take pictures and how agonizingly slow text messaging is… They still remain funny, but only because you can place them into the context of 2008. The world has changed so much in five years, but the denizens of the internet have not. They still get excited about every new piece of information, they still discuss and debate over every little thing and Microsoft and Sony fans will never just be able to get on.
Reading through all of this is also quite worrying. To see the feverish defence of any little complaint in comment sections. Knocking Grand Theft Auto IV is pretty widely accepted now, and I wonder how much of this excitement will remain when the flaws in Grand Theft Auto V inevitably come out. Will the excitement remain long enough to make GTA V another best seller or will, like Bioshock, Tomb Raider and The Last of Us before it, that same excitement give way to honest critique and even slight disappointment.
With only 11 days to go, it won’t take long for us to find out.