Grand Theft Auto IV is an action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles on 29 April 2008, and for Microsoft Windows on 2 December 2008. It is the eleventh title in the Grand Theft Auto series, and the first main entry since 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Set within the fictional Liberty City (based on New York City), the single-player story follows a war veteran, Niko Bellic, and his attempts to escape his past while under pressure from loan sharks and mob bosses. The open world design lets players freely roam Liberty City, consisting of three main islands.
The game is played from a third-person perspective and its world is navigated on-foot or by vehicle. Throughout the single-player mode, players play as Niko Bellic. An online multiplayer mode is included with the game, allowing up to 32 players to engage in both co-operative and competitive gameplay in a recreation of the single-player setting.[b] Two expansion packs were later released for the game, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, which both feature new plots that are interconnected with the main Grand Theft Auto IV storyline, and follow new protagonists.
Development began soon after the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and was shared between many of Rockstar’s studios worldwide. The game introduced a shift to a more realistic and detailed style and tone for the series. Unlike previous entries, Grand Theft Auto IV had no strong cinematic influence, as the team attempted an original approach to the story. As part of their research for the open world, the developers conducted field research around New York throughout development and captured footage for the design team.