Grand Theft Auto: Rave Review City
Grand Theft Auto IV, the latest installment of Rockstar Games’ (TTWO) controversial Grand Theft Auto series, arrived at market today amid a suppressive fire of Entertainment Software Rating Board warnings. “Blood,” “intense violence,” “partial nudity,” “strong language,” “strong sexual content, “use of drugs and alcohol”–it’s all there, along with simulated drunk driving and in-game prostitution, for which the ESRB apparently doesn’t yet have specific designations.
And while the anti-GTA zealots who blame the game for inspiring real-world violence are decrying it, the press is heaping it with praise (of 31 reviews listed on Metacritic.com, 24 are perfect scores). The New York Times calls it “a violent, intelligent, profane, endearing, obnoxious, sly, richly textured and thoroughly compelling work of cultural satire disguised as fun.” Noting that innocent bystanders in the game now groan in agony when murdered, Slate’s reviewer explains, “what makes Grand Theft Auto IV so compelling is that, unlike so many video games, it made me reflect on all of the disturbing things I had done.” MSNBC says simply: “Grand Theft Auto IV will blow you away.”
Which is likely what it’s going to do to sales estimates as well. GTA IV was inevitably going to be one of the biggest games, if not media events, of the year–one that Hollywood executives worry might depress movie ticket sales as GTA fans drop everything to play the game. And though that might sound like so much PlayStation 3 promoting exuberance, it may not be that far off. With $400 million expected in first-week sales, GTA IV’s debut could be the most lucrative launch in entertainment history.