"Grand Theft Auto 4" hits the streets
By Aarthi Sivaraman and Phil Furey
NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Grand Theft Auto 4" went on sale on Tuesday, with fans lining up to grab the first copies of the criminal action game hailed as a brutal and satirical masterpiece equal to films like "The Godfather."
Retailers such as GameStop Corp and Best Buy Co Inc took advance orders for the game weeks earlier and many outlets threw open their doors at midnight to accommodate fans eager to be among the first to play.
The launch of "Grand Theft Auto 4" is expected to be the biggest entertainment event of the year, with first-week sales forecast to be up to $400 million, beating those of last year's "Halo 3" from Microsoft Corp.
At a GameStop store in midtown Manhattan, excited fans like John Alba and Enmanuel Lorenzo stood for hours in a line that nearly reached the end of the block.
"It gives you the opportunity to escape reality," Alba said. "This game has everything -- sex, drugs, cars, money ... anything you want."
The game casts players as an Eastern European immigrant who runs drugs, shoots cops and beats up prostitutes after falling in with a crime syndicate -- stuff that has drawn fire from family groups and politicians.
GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive Software Inc said it would release initial sales data later this week or early next week. Strong early results could help the company's bargaining position as it faces a $2 billion takeover offer from rival Electronic Arts Inc.
Take-Two management has rejected EA's offer as too low and has insisted on waiting until after the game's launch before entering discussions. Continued...