For our readers who are not into videogames, what is the wildly popular Grand Theft Auto IV: Liberty City all about? Time magazine gives a summary. When the game came out last year, it sold 3.6 million copies in one day. By the end of the week, sales were up to 6 million, for a total take of about $500 million. Grand Theft Auto IV owns the biggest opening of any entertainment property in history. Time says that people who don’t play the games series think of them as the epitome of mindless virtual violence; in fact, the magazine says, they are “more and more radical and sophisticated experiments in storytelling.”
The story, in brief: Niko, a haunted veteran of an unspecified, nameless East European conflict washes up in Liberty City looking for a new life. (Liberty City is darker version of New York City, with satirical flourishes. The Statue of Liberty is the Statue of Happiness, which holds aloft a coffee cup instead of a torch.) Niko slugs, shoots, and carjacks his way up (or maybe down) the ladder of the criminal underworld. He gradually realizes that his new life is no less senseless and violent than his old one. America was Niko’s last illusion. “You watch it shatter at high speed and in high definition,” Time says.