"Grand Theft Auto" launches to queues, rave reviews

Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:44am EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Grand Theft Auto 4" went on sale early on Tuesday, with fans lining up at midnight to get the first copies of the criminal action video 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 Tuesday 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 had been standing for hours in a line that nearly touched the end of the block, to get their hands on the game.

"It gives you the opportunity to escape reality," Alba said. "This game has everything -- sex, drugs, cars, money... anything you want."

Early reviews over the weekend lavished praise on the latest chapter of the hit franchise.

"Grand Theft Auto 4" 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.

Avid fans like Lorenzo seemed drawn to the excitement -- but only in game play.

"Violence is like sex. It sells," Alba said, outside the GameStop shop. "I like violence in games, it's cool. Not in real life."   Continued...

<p>An advertisement announcing the midnight launching of the "Grand Theft Auto 4" video game sits on display at a store in New York April 28, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>