DOUG ELFMAN: ‘GTA IV’ — Death & Dollars

"Grand Theft Auto IV" is an epic, cinematic adventure, like "Titanic" or "Lawrence of Arabia," except that in "GTA IV," everybody dies by getting shot in the head, neck, back, legs, chest, eyes, ears, toes, knees, butt and elbows.

You murder, murder, murder and die, die, die and have fun, fun, fun, as long as you can forgive yourself for firing bullets into the faces of virtual women, cops and pedestrians.

The gun-crazy shooter could end up being the best-selling game at launch in history. Some financial analysts think 5 million to 6 million people will buy it this week, grossing $400 million and surpassing the $300 million launch of "Halo 3" last year.

About 1,000 people are listed in the credits of "GTA IV," from designers and programmers to producers and actors. Thespians act out a massive story line in finely detailed sets.

You play as Niko, an angry Serb coaxed by his goofy cousin Roman to move to New York-esque Liberty City.

You play as Niko, triggering guns, bazookas and machine guns at bad guys and good guys to carry out missions that could keep the average hard-core gamer playing for 60 hours his first time through.

All over the country, game stores reopened at midnight Monday to sell the game for $60 to owners of PlayStation 3s and Xbox 360s.

Over the years, politicians have complained you can kill a lot of cops in previous "GTA" titles. So in the online version of "GTA IV," game maker Rockstar has added a mode called "Cops ‘N Crooks," in which you play as cops or robbers.

No one in line at an EB Games at Maryland Parkway and Twain Avenue seemed interested in portraying police.

"I’m out to get ’em" — meaning virtual cops — said Tim Trujillo, 22, who vowed to play from midnight "until tomorrow (Tuesday) night, when I gotta go to work."

This EB Games is one of the quieter game stores in town. So only about 40 people lined up to claim their preordered "GTA IV" games.

There were almost no females in sight, but for one. Somewhere down the line, someone smelled like pot.

But to a gamer, they just seemed like focused adult players, such as David Lamb, 30, who once broke "every bone on the right side of my body" by riding a motorcycle at 110 mph, and he had the scars to prove it. So now he hijacks Harleys in "GTA" games and rides those at 110 mph.

And there was Jamie Brown, 23. He bought a $90 special edition "GTA IV" — it comes with a duffel bag, lock box and CD — for his PlayStation 3 because he’s burned through four Xbox 360s, which all have died or been struck by a dreaded technical issue called the "red ring of death."

"The next hardware they put out — they better make it right," Brown said.

Yoshi Cooper, 20, said he and a friend played "Halo 3" again the other day, and it kind of sucked.

"’Halo 3′ is dead to me," Cooper said. "We were so bored!"

But now here’s the next big thing to keep him playing all night.

"The sun’s gonna come up and go down" before it’s time to take a break from ‘GTA IV,’" Cooper said.

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