Beginners' Guide to Grand Theft Auto IV

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So, you've decided to indulge yourself with one of many masterpieces created by Rockstar Games. As of right now you're a newb but don't worry because we'll give you a small kick to start you on your way through the wild streets of Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto IV.

Story Overview

GTA IV follows Niko Bellic. He is an Eastern European refugee who fought in a war - losing many close friends and fellow soldiers at one point. That incident appears to have been a setup by one or two surviving men so Niko travels to America in order to track down these men for revenge while escaping many other people for various reasons.

Niko's contact in the USA is his cousin Roman who lives in Liberty City. Roman says he is living the American Dream but Niko quickly finds out that isn't really true. Roman owns a small taxi service while living in a small apartment.

Between Roman's antics with mobsters and Niko's own ambitions, the two work their way around the city making new friends and enemies along the way. There are many twists and turns throughout the story with some decisions coming down to you.

The City

Liberty City is based on present day New York City, USA. There are five parts of the map with each based on real locations. Four are based on NYC boroughs and one is based on New Jersey. That part is technically a separate state like real life but shares police, fire, and EMS services.


  • Broker: Brooklyn, NY (unlocked at start)
  • Dukes: Queens, NY (unlocked at start)
  • Bohan: Bronx, NY (unlocked at start)
  • Algonquin: Manhattan, NY (unlocked during "Blow Your Cover")
  • Alderney: Northern NJ (unlocked after "Three Leaf Clover")

We start out in Broker in the southeast portion of the map and work north then west throughout the story. Initially the bridges to Algonquin are closed due to a terrorist threat and accessing the far islands result in a wanted level.


Like previous GTA games, vehicles and guns are the main focus of gameplay. There are plenty of vehicles to choose from and a limited selection of weapons compared to previous games in the series.


Like all GTA games, the very first mission will guide you through a driving tutorial. You'll be shown the controls which are similar but different from past GTA games. You'll also be introduced to the radar in the lower corner of the screen. New in GTA IV is turn-by-turn navigation which highlights streets to your destination. You are not required to follow the exact route and can find certain shortcuts through alleys or even across open areas of land.

Vehicles are found everywhere. There are cars, trucks, emergency services, helicopters, and many other special vehicles to choose from. Aside from jacking vehicles driving around, there is plenty of parking along the streets of the city for regular vehicles and certain locations for the special or rare ones. Most of these locations are obvious such as police cars at police stations or helicopters at the airport.

If you find a vehicle you wish to keep, you can park it at your safehouse. There is a special parking area outside that can save two vehicles for you. These replace the garages of past games.


Weapons can be found scattered around the city hidden behind things or bought at gun shops in Bohan or Alderney. You'll need to unlock them first. When you run out of ammo, Niko will toss the weapon aside and automatically switch to another weapon. Weapons found or dropped by dead cops or enemies will have a red-orange glow for visibility. Simply walk over them to pick them up or gain ammo.


Weapons are kept in categories for example "handguns" or "thrown". Most weapons in GTA IV have two weapons per category but you are only able to carry one weapon per category. For the guns there is usually a basic model (pistol) and a better model (combat pistol). If you have a weapon in a certain category but come across another in that category, you are able to swap them if you wish. Better weapons are unlocked during the story.


Of course in order to advance in the game you need to do missions. Missions are given by different people met during the story. Simply drive to an icon on your map or radar and enter the yellow chevron marker to begin. Cutscenes provide insight to what is going on and what you are being asked to do. During the mission the game will also tell you exactly what to do by using colored text corresponding to icons or blips on your map/radar.


From the beginning Niko is given a phone which can be brought up using the "up" button. This provides another way for Niko to take on missions or other side quests such as building friendships or dating. People may call or text message you depending on the situation. You are able to call people in your contact list when available. The phone also acts as an in-game menu providing access to multiplayer among a few other functions. Certain missions have calendar or time reminders and a couple utilize the phone's camera. Unfortunately photos taken are unable to be saved for export.


Internet & Email

Because the game is set in present day, the internet is alive and well. Your best access is from one of three "TW@" internet cafes located in Broker, Algonquin, and Alderney. There are tons of websites to look at with some being interactive. Some websites are useful while others are just for laughs. Niko has an email account which allows him to communicate with some people for missions or side quests. Of course to be an accurate reflection of real life there is some spam mail leading to various websites too.


TV sets can be found in your safehouses. Television does not provide much in terms of gameplay since it is just something to watch but quite an effort was put into the many channels and shows. Check out the familiar Republican Space Rangers or Princess Robot Bubblegum. You can also catch Weasel News or learn about local celebrities.

Friends & Girlfriends Activities

Since Niko is new to the city, cousin Roman is more than happy to show him the sights. He'll invite you to see shows, go bowling, or get something to eat. You are able to initiate the activity by calling him instead. Completing these activities builds likeness between friends. Getting the likeness high will yield special benefits from that friend.


Throughout the game you'll meet a few different friends. You'll also be introduced to two girlfriends. There are three additional girlfriends to be found on internet dating websites. Girlfriends are similar to regular friends. Completing activities (dates) builds fondness. High fondness means better chance of "hot coffee" when you try your luck at the end of a date.

Of course this isn't everything but hopefully it's enough to get you going in Grand Theft Auto IV. Also be sure to check out the following:

Feel free to ask questions or add your own pointers for newbs in the comments below! You can also start or join discussions in the GTA IV forums here.