"Life is complicated. I killed people, smuggled people, sold people. Perhaps here, things will be different."
Grand Theft Auto IV is the fourth full installment of the Grand Theft Auto series and the first one to appear on a seventh generation console. It was also, thanks to a famous slip-up by Sony over renewing their previous contract with Rockstar for exclusive publishing rights, the first entry to get a simultaneous Multi-Platform release, as well as the first to have downloadable content. The game certainly takes advantage of the new hardware to the fullest - character models are much more detailed and animated along with just about everything else.One of the biggest changes from previous installments is IV's ability to take advantage of the Internet connectivity that virtually all next-gen consoles have built in. A number of multiplayer game modes are offered, including classic deathmatch and team deathmatch along with team-based co-op missions. There's even a simple open sandbox mode so you can run around Liberty City doing whatever you want with your friends or complete strangers.Set in the late 2000s, the story follows Niko Bellic, a beleaguered foreigner who comes to Liberty City to escape the skeletons he left behind in east Europe, attracted by his cousin Roman's tales of money and women as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately, life in Liberty City turns out to be anything but, forcing Niko to delve back into his past life of violence to get by.Before the game's release, Rockstar signed a $50 million deal with Microsoft to produce two downloadableexpansion packs exclusively for the Xbox 360 in 2009. Of course, this was a major flashpoint in the Console Wars. The first of the two was released in March, while the second one was released at the end of October. PS3 and PC owners could rejoice as these previously exclusive expansions came out for their formats in April 2010. They have their own pages, and are as follows. If you have tropes for the Episodes from Liberty City (as their compilation release is called), put them on their respective pages.
Accidental Misnaming: Subverted with the cashier of the internet cafe in Broker. Someone who calls Niko "Roman's cousin" probably isn't too great with names, but she does call him Niko after he tells her his name.
Played straight with Bernie Crane, who's name was changed from Florian Cravic.
Action Girl: Averted with Michelle/Karen, who despite being a government agent isn't exactly the action type.
Adorkable: Michelle, until she's revealed to be Karen, at any rate, and even then.
Niko is seen as this by his various girlfriends and even by (shudder) Brucie.
Adventure Duo: Niko's interactions with cousin Roman fit this dynamic, especially early in the game. His moody cynicism and lack of familiarity with Liberty City is repeatedly contrasted against Roman's light-hearted optimism and experience.
Heck, the "Yankee" truck is only available in "beater" form, (though the degree of wear and decay varies; the "Liberty State Delivery" variant is in relatively decent shape, aside from the graffiti and some mild oxidization, while the "Sprunk" variant wouldn't look too out of place in a game like Fallout 3).
The Lost and Damned adds a new open-bed variant of the "Yankee" that's in even worse shape. The body work is permanently dented, it appears to have been painted with house paint which wasn't allowed to dry properly, the mirrors are falling off, the wheels are beginning to rust, and the bed appears to be taken from a much older vehicle, though it''is''faster than the normal Yankee due to the cargo box being replaced with a much lighter open bed.
The Lost and Damned also adds one other beater variant, the "Gang Burrito" (based on the Burrito), and three cars with no non-beater versions, namely the Regina, Slamvan, and Tow Truck.
One of the Dummied Out vehicles from The Ballad of Gay Tony, the "policew" also counts, it appears to be a Police Interceptor that was crashed, then dumped in the ocean, and fished out several years later. It is somehow still drivable, though it probably isn't supposed to be (it is a beta vehicle after all), it was probably only intended for use in a cut scene.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: In the police database, there is a woman named Mary Valvona listed as the head of the Pavano crime family. Conventional wisdom would dictate that the Mafia would never let a woman into the organization, let alone allow her to become the boss of one of the Five Families. Yet this news article proves otherwise. Though it may be worth noting that the Italian mafia and the American mafia are two seperate organizations, and the American mafia probably wouldn't allow a woman to be in charge of one of the families.
Packie who seems a little too interested in talking about Prison Rape with Niko.
The U.L. Paper contact who mentions to Niko after reuniting him with Bernie that he knows what it's like to "get close to a man."
Talbot mentions that Bernie "likes to be called Florian... at certain moments.", Later he says "I try to block walks of shame from my memory" and "I was high last time I went here" when he arrives at Bernie's apartment, suggesting that he had a relationship with Bernie. Ray Boccino refers to Talbot as a "fanook" which is Italian-American slang for homosexual.
Ambiguously Jewish: Brucie. Not that heavily hinted at, but come on...the guy's freakin' last name is Kibbutz.
Confirmed in TBoGT. Brucie's older brother Mori spent time in Israel, serving in the Army (allegedly).
Anti-Hero: Niko is something of an Unscrupulous Hero. Niko came to America to escape the horrors of his past life but also seeks to find and kill those who betrayed him years before. However, he sports an indifference and lack of morality towards anyone who would seek to use his talents to carry out dirty deeds, throwing some Nominal Hero into the mix.
Arms Dealer: Unlike the previous games in the series, where the guns came from perfectly legal firearm stores, all the weapon shops in this game are underground back-alley operations due to LC's Mayor having enacted strict gun control laws. This is also what Little Jacob does for a living — if he likes Niko enough, he'll even deliver a car full of weapons to the player's location on demand (for a price, but a lower one than the dealers).
Pedestrians aren't much better, often rolling in the wrong direction to dodge your car and ending up directly under your wheels.
Attack of the Political Ad: Two candidates in a campaign race for governor, John Hunter and Michael Graves, take out surreal attack ads accusing their opponent of some of the most bizarre things imaginable.
"You may value your privacy, but John Hunter doesn't. He wants to install a camera in your bedroom so every time you jerk off you have to pay five dollars!"
Automatic New Game: This game, as well as a few other titles developed by Rockstar, uses the trope.
It also does its logical counterpart, the Automatic Continue Game; if save-files are found, it will automatically load the latest one. This can get highly annoying if you have multiple different saves and will always have to endure an extra Loading Screen before being allowed to choose which one you actually wanted to load.
Autosave: The game, aside from the manual saving that is allowed at Save Points, autosaves after completing missions. The manual saving at Save Points allows several savegames, the autosave uses only one file that is replaced each time.
Awesome but Impractical: The counter-finishes. In a fist/melee fight, they look really cool and kill a guy at half his health instantly, but are fairly difficult to pull off and depend largely on timing. Pulling out a gun (which can be obtained fairly easily) is a much easier and effective tactic.
Badass: Niko, as is to be expected of a GTA protagonist. This is underlined in the museum shootout mission. You clear out the entire museum of bad guys, which is pretty normal, again, for a GTA protagonist. Then you revisit the mission as Johnny in The Lost and Damned and come across the score of bodies that Niko left at the staircase to the ground floor of the museum, causing him to comment "This guy's fucking dangerous". And how.
It's also a really bad idea to accuse Niko of being disloyal. The only person in the game who does it and lives to talk about it is Roman.
Beef Gate: Attempting to go to any island before it has been formally opened results in an automatic 6 star wanted rating. Unlike previous GTA games where it actually takes some effort to do this, in GTA IV you can set off the wanted rating by simply walking across a bridge footpath with no obstacles.
Betty and Veronica: Subverted. Because Michelle, the Veronica, betrayed him, Niko continues the romance with Kate "Betty" McReary.
Roman and Vlad to Mallorie. Since Vlad is such a dick and ends up killed early on, the Betty wins again.
Big Applesauce: Liberty City is such an excellent representation of New York that many reviewers and gamers considered it one of the game's finest points. Also, in fitting with the New York-centrism theme of the trope, Alderney, the game's stand-in for northern New Jersey, has been folded into Liberty City. Staten Island, New York's Butt Monkey, does not appear (The dev team has stated that they considered basing an in-game location on it, but ultimately concluded that players would find it boring).
The Big Rotten Apple: The Continuity Reboot still hasn't saved Liberty City from being a Vice City. This aspect has been toned down compared to the III-continuity, since IV translates New York City after the Giuliani era, though that means the game also takes some vicious stabs at the gentrification the city's undergone since then.
Big Screwed-Up Family: The McReary family. The entire Irish mob is just one family tied together by a history of crime, alchohol, and abuse.
Bilingual Bonus: One of Brucie's tattoos reads "人妖", which is slang for transvestite in Chinese. It seems Brucie got the tattoo only because it looked cool.
Bonus Feature Failure: The reward for exterminating all the pigeons (and this is one of the few sidequests that gives the player an explicit reward other than money and/or contributing to the 100% Completion percentage) is an Annihilator attack helicopter that spawns on top of a certain building. Said helicopter won't spawn when the roof is accessed from the ground, requiring the player to use another helicopter to get to it. Also, it spawns at three other helipads that can be accessed from the ground, all of which are available without completing the pigeon sidequest, defeating the whole point of the "reward".
Indeed, compared to past GTA games, the rewards for side quests, frankly, are not worth the effort. Most have no monetary award, nor do they create weapon spawning points as in the previous games. Some only reward trophies/achievements (and the early release of the PS3 port does not even give trophies). Finally, the reward for actually jumping through all the hoops and getting 100% completion is unlimited ammo capacity for weapons ... but you still have to buy/find the ammo yourself (i.e. no infinite ammo), plus a trophy/achievement, compared to past games that rewarded cool vehicles and tons of (virtual) cash.
It's possible Rockstar took criticism of GTAIV's reward system to heart because the two DLC packs saw the return of "traditional" rewards such as weapon caches spawning at safehouses after completing certain side missions.
Book Ends: The game begins with Niko getting off a boat named "Platypus". During the mission A Dish Served Cold, you revisit that boat, now being used as part of a drug deal that Dimitri and Pegorino have set up.
At the end of "A Revenger's Tragedy", Niko greets Dimitri with same phrase Roman used when he first arrived in Liberty City. "Welcome to America."
Both pistols lack the rate of fire, power, range, or ammo capacity other guns have, but they make up for it with pinpoint accuracy and the largest default ammo pool out of all your weapons. The Combat Pistol veers into Simple Yet Awesome territory, because it uses the same ammo pool as the stock pistol, but deals enough damage to match higher-tier weapons.
Broken Bridge: The bridges and tunnels are closed due to a terror alert, and they are slowly reopened as you progress through the game. This is covered (often hilariously) on the in-game news sites.
The Caligula: Well and truly personified by Mikhail Faustin, the game's leading figure in the Russian Mob, who is completely batshit insane. He shoots his own men for no particular reason, orders hits left and right on the merest of whims, and explodes at everyone around him, including long-time friends and family. Is it any wonder why Dimitri had him killed?
Cassandra Truth: Niko becomes this in relation to the three optional girlfriends who can be found online. They are initially unaware of Niko's connection to organized crime, and when he reveals this to them in their conversations, this is either brushed off or mocked as false.
Check Point Starvation: There are no Check Points during missions, regardless of mission length. If you fail the mission, you have to start over from the beginning. This includes driving to the mission's start point. Normally, you can use a taxi to spare yourself the drive, but there are some missions where you are required to drive to the mission location, such as "Catch The Wave."
Actually, there are 2 missions where this does not apply: A Revenger's Tragedy and Out Of Commission. Once you get to Dmitri/Pegorino's hideout to begin the shootout, if you fail the mission, when you agree to the text message asking if you want to redo the mission, you don't start from the beginning of the mission. You skip the car chase and end up in the cut scene where Niko and Jacob (and Roman in Commission) drive down the embankment toward the hideout.
Collection Sidequest: Brucie's car thefts, the pigeon extermination, Stevie's car thefts, stunt jumps.
Veers into Gotta Kill Em All for the aforementioned pigeons; you have to shoot and kill them in order to "collect" them. Also, the Most Wanted sidequest has you locating 30 criminals across Liberty City and assassinating them.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Implemented very subtly in the interest of Gameplay and Story Segregation. If you are supposed to kill someone who flees in a car, but they will lead you somewhere that will advance the plot, the game will always keep them slightly out of your reach during the chase. You can shoot at them all you want, they'll never take any damage. An obvious example of this is chasing Ivan early in the game. Niko is trying to kill him, but you won't be able to during the chase because the encounter after he crashes serves as the melee disarming tutorial.
Actually, you can kill Ivan while driving to the building site, but the car won't stop until it gets there, even after Ivan falls out of the car dead.
The above is averted in most other chase sequences; as long as you don't lose the target the game is scripted so that eventually the target will crash or otherwise stop the chase at some point, allowing Niko to catch up and finish the mission in question.
Enemy characters will also have near pin point accuracy when it comes to shooting you through the windows while you're inside a car, preventing you from using the car as a shield.
Crapsack World: Rockstar collected pretty much the worst aspects of American society (über-capitalism, xenophobia, Trigger Happy-ness, poverty, Hollywood History, hypocrisy, militarism, racism, idiocy) and made an entire fricking city out of it. And boy, now take a look at Dystopia beneath... Half of the time its not even played for laughs anymore.
Cuckold: Niko Bellic discovers his cousin Roman's girlfriend has been sleeping with a small-time gangster in exchange for protecting Roman. Roman is clearly upset by the revelation, but he relents in order to avoid making his situation worse. Niko, however, is horrified by his cousin's failure to act and flat out kills the gangster for what he did.
Curb-Stomp Battle: If you are properly armed, and are prepared for it, most gunfights in the game can qualify as this from Niko's perspective.
In particular, however, the "random encounter" fights with Eddie Low and Clarence are curb stomps for Niko if he arrives armed with a half-decent gun, especially as Eddie attacks Niko with a knife. Interestingly, if you take the knife away from Eddie, he will run away, so you have to chase him and kill him to get the 100%.
Damn You, Muscle Memory: players familiar with the driving and control scheme from the GTA III-era games tend to be completely thrown by the new controls of GTA IV. Fortunately (at least in the PS3 version), an option is provided to change the controls to the "classic" configuration, although some differences remain, such as controls related to drive-by shooting.
Darker and Edgier: May seem hard to do, but IV was a definite shift away from the more lighthearted predecessors; the Crapsack World goes from being Played for Laughs to Played for Drama. Even on the radio, the humor is much more toned down, and the actual missions themselves seem to involve almost no laughing moments. Even the radio satire is a lot less funny and more outright stating what is wrong with America. It seems like Rockstar just picked targets and let 'em have it with both barrels. Even the game physics are Darker and Edgier. Shit, the car's on fire, I'll just leap to safety and- oohh, ouch, that looked painful... curse you, conservation of momentum! And then there's getting thrown through the windscreen in head-on collisions...
IV is seen as being so much darker and edgier than the III-era games that reportedly its sequel, GTA V, has been designed with a conscious push in the opposite direction.
Dating Sim: You can date various women, who (except for Michelle and Kate, who you have to date for story reasons) give you the added benefit of their special abilities (instant healing from the nurse, getting cops off your back from the lawyer, clothing discounts from the socialite). In addition, you can go on "dates" with your male friends, who also give you bonuses if they like and respect you enough (Little Jacob sells you weapons out of his trunk, Roman sends a cab for you, Packie gives you car bombs, etc).
The girlfriends tend to be slightly higher maintenance than other characters, as Niko has to be dressed a certain way and drive a certain type of car (as well as pick the right type of venue) to impress the ladies. And each girlfriend has her unique tastes. Fortunately, however, this is not taken to the extreme levels seen in GTA: San Andreas (you no longer need to have a different fitness level for each girl, for example).
Deconstruction: Of its own series. Rather than show a glamorized portrayal of criminal life like the previous games did, it portrays it realistically, with most of the characters being poor, sociopathic, psychotic, greedy, or otherwise unlikable. Even Niko himself is a hypocrite.
Deadpan Snarker: Niko. Deconstructed to some extent, as the way he casually mouths off to hardened killers just helps illustrate how little he cares for his own life.
Niko will also make snarky comments if a friend calls on the phone wanting to do something while he's on a mission. For example, in mission where you have to take a female hostage to a new hiding place, someone may call you to ask if you'd like to go to a strip club. Niko will reply that he's currently with a woman and that it would be a bad idea to bring her along.
A hilarious moment comes when Niko is driving a truck rigged with explosives and Roman calls him asking if he wants to get drunk with him.
Death by Irony: Manny, after doing several missions for him to help "Clean Up The Mean Streets" He confronts one of the bigger drug dealers in the area (Who was already in a mental breakdown now that the cops were closing in on her), And is promptly killed for it, Niko is unsurprised at the death and lampshades the irony in it.
Devil in Plain Sight: Michelle isn't fooling anybody... except the actual in-game characters, of course. Niko is suspicious towards her, demonstrated when he notices that all of Michelle's furniture still has tags, how closed off he gets when she insists he can tell her anything, and when he thinks she might have drugged his drink on a date.
If you're riding around in a fairly crappy car and listening to the radio when you receive a call, you'll hear interference on the radio before your phone rings.
Since shooting out tires is the easiest way to win street races, plenty of enterprising players surely tried to do so before the race starts while the opponents are nice and stationary. This cancels the race on account of "sabotage."
Disc One Nuke: The inventory of the gun dealers is limited based on how far you've progressed in the game...but if you know where to look, you can find everything from the Combat Pistol to a Rocket Launcher as soon as you begin.
Drunk Driver: The drinking mini-game usually results in this. Well, not always the "driver" part, if you prefer, maybe due to your conscience, or maybe because you gain one wanted level when you pass by any police unit while driving drunk. Or maybe because it's really hard to drive drunk, and even with this being a video game you crash so much that you're likely to kill yourself or your companion. The game doesn't help by making walking (and, therefore, getting into a hailed taxi cab) virtually impossible.
"Pisswasser! This is beer! Drive drunk off a pier!"
Police officers are allowed to draw a weapon on someone for hitting another person, refusing to pay highway toll, flank roadblocks or trespassing on government property (hell, even shoot them if they feel like it, which would be the case at most times).
As mentioned in the police recruitment trailer, the police are allowed to shoot into crowds of peaceful protesters for strolling outside the "Free Speech Zone" (already the fact that "Free Speech Zones" exist is a slap in the face). Furthermore, they are protected by law for - as well as are totally fine with the fact of - running over bystanders to catch even one perpetrator.
The police shut down a city the size of New York by erecting road blocks on every major water crossing, having little more motivation than "fucking terrorists".
Terrorists (whether they exist or not) are the highest priority for the police. And not, say, heavily-armed bank robbers and sociopaths.
Any personality who isn't Republican, right-wing, capitalist, straight, Francophobic, xenophobic, an American citizen, an American supremacist (or at least a white supremacist) or a gun owner is basically declared anything along the lines of "Dirty Commies" in public.
Early-Bird Cameo: Both Johnny and Luis show up in the main story before their respective DLCs, as does Gay Tony himself.
You can also find their records in the police database.
You can even find records for Chinatown Wars characters, including Huang Lee.
In previous installments besides San Andreas, gang cars were self-contained vehicles that unfailingly spawned in their respective gangs' home areas. Here, gang cars are randomly-spawning, modified versions of civilian vehicles, distinguished by unique paintjobs and accessories, to hint at their often-enhanced performance. They are rare in areas where their unmodified civilian versions are common, so be prepared to go on a Self-ImposedFetch Quest or Pixel Hunt if you want one in your parking space.
Subverted for civilian-only cars that randomly spawn with rare paintjobs and accessories (see The A-TeamShout-Out entry below for examples). While they look cool, they don't sport enhanced performance.
End of an Age: It's made quite clear that the glory days of gangsters are a thing of the past. Most of Niko's employers end up dead or in prison, Packie and Gerald McReary long for decades past when their family ruled the roost, and the law's coming down hard on the whole business. As Michelle/Karen puts it, "Feds are all over it. Crime is done."
Erudite Stoner: Little Jacob is always ready to impart a few nuggets of Rasta wisdom to Niko as he simultaneously fills the car with pot smoke.
Escort Mission: Most notably the co-op mission "Hangman's NOOSE." The police can't keep up with you if you just fly a helicopter, one spawns roughly 1500 yards from where you start, and the NPC is relatively smart. It's the easiest and fastest way to get multiplayer ranks, which means its one of the few Escort Missions ever that players seek out repeatedly.
Every Car Is a Pinto: Subverted. If you smash up your car too much in this game, it'll simply stop running, though it may catch fire and explode on occasion.
Evil Pays Better: Subverted by the choice between killing Playboy X or Dwayne Forge. If you kill Playboy X, you get his apartment, Dwayne as one of your friends (whose special ability is to send out some of his fellow gang members to help you), and a bonus outfit that is a Shout-Out to III, while killing Dwayne instead only gets you money. Also, sparing the lives of some people will earn you some bonus missions later on. Played straight in the choice between killing Francis or Derrick, where killing Derrick will earn you a special ability with Francis that will allow you to cancel your wanted level.
When it comes to killing Francis or Derrick, you can phone Francis before shooting anyone. Niko will tell Francis he's having second thoughts and Francis will offer Niko a bonus/raise (which ends up being $20,000) to kill Derrick.
Expansion Pack: The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony are helping to popularize this on consoles.
Expy: The U.L. Paper contact wears horn-rimmed glasses, works for a mysterious shadowy organization, and uses a paper company as a front. Does that sound strangely familiar to you?
Also, Niko himself, who very much resembles the sniper Sasha from Behind Enemy Lines.
Face-Heel Turn: Dimitri betrays Niko to Mr. Bulgarin, a human trafficker that Niko used to work for who believes that Niko stole money from him.
Niko also considers this to have happened when he learns His girlfriend, Michelle, is actually a drug enforcement agent working to recruit him. Considering the somewhat unsavory (not to mention illegal) acts Michelle's agency forces Niko to undertake, one could consider that she becomes a heel.
Depending on the player's choices, Niko himself can be seen to do this several times in the game, such as when he decides to kill either Playboy X or Dwayne, both of whom are depicted as allies, and later decides whether to continue siding with Francis and kill Derrick, or kill Francis instead.
Fantasy Helmet Enforcement: Wait around a second after getting on a motorcycle, and Niko will don a helmet. Niko may be a mass-murdering thug, but at least he obeys helmet laws!
If you're in a hurry, you can simply jump on the bike and go- you have to be stationary for a while for Niko to don his helmet. If you fall off the bike though, damage taken is slightly higher.
Fiction500 - Cloe Parker's father is said to be worth 950 billion dollars.
Final Speech: Nearly all the people you can perform executions on give these before you kill them. Subverted in that you can cut them short by just shooting them.
Fish out of Water: Played with. Niko doesn't struggle much to adjust to his life in America but then he keeps getting involved with stuff that isn't that unfamiliar to him either. People do poke fun at his foreigner status (as seen below).
There is some middle ground, however, the Ruiner is the least expensive vehicle that the game still considers to be a sports car. Its the Jack of All Stats of the game's sports cars, it performs averagely in its class in most categories, not really excelling in any one category, except maybe handling, which helps make up for its mediocre durability.
The "Super GT" actually subverts this. Its is more of a Glass Cannon than a Fragile Speedster. It has the disadvantage of being front-engined, but has more weight and mass to it, meaning it can dish out some serious damage at high speeds. Still lacks the durability of the mid-engined cars, though.
The sport bikes fill this role, of course, particularly the NRG-900, which is the fastest bike in main game, but is also very light, causing the player to be easily ejected in a crash.
Funny Background Event: More than any previous GTA game, the city depicted is alive with computer controlled NPCs randomly going about their business. If you're not doing anything, stand in a park or on a street corner and you'll see them engaging in realistic-to-bizarre behavior. You might see a hooker hit up a john, two guys get into a fistfight, a cop chasing a perp, people smoking and throwing litter out of cars, jogging, or practicing tai chi on the beach. Granted, a lot of these aren't exactly "funny", but they are still background events that might often pass by unnoticed.
Funny Foreigner: Many characters find Niko's accent and mannerisms to be rather hilarious.
Game-Breaking Bug: The finale mission "The Revenger's Tragedy" — after a very long series of chases and shootouts, Niko will automatically jump and grab hold of an enemy helicopter; the helicopter will shake Niko off, and he will land in the water near a boat. In theory. Unfortunately, the fall will occasionally kill Niko, rendering the mission impossible to complete. Later in the chase, Niko will obtain a second helicopter, but once again a bug will result in the helicopter randomly exploding, killing Niko. Neither of these have anything to do with how the player conducts the mission.
Gameplay and Story Segregation: At no point in the game are you ever required to date Kate. They will acknowledge that she doesn't know Niko that well while they're driving to Roman's wedding but it doesn't change the gravity to which her possible death is treated.
Gang Up on the Human: Used against the player with alarming regularity. Sometimes it's justified, such as when you're robbing a bank, or recklessly running over/shooting random civilians, other times its ridiculous. It seems whenever an NPC commits a crime, the cops are really slow to stop them, and hilariously can't seem to catch up to criminals fleeing on foot. But the instant you lightly bump into that officer's car, they begin the manhunt, and several other cops within the vicinity who apparently have nothing better to do or no other crimes to stop will drop what they're doing to bring you to justice.
Genre Shift: This entry marks a pretty sharp step away from the over-the-top action and wandering of the previous games.
The Ghost: The LCPD's database has files for most of the leaders of the various criminal organizations in the game. Across three games, there are many of them that you never encounter, such as Giovanni Ancelotti, Willy Valerio, Mary Valvona, Vincent Lupisella, Harvey Noto and Kenny Petrovic (who only appears in multiplayer missions).
Government Agency of Fiction: The Federal Investigation Bureau (FIB) and the National Office Of Security Enforcement (NOOSE) are obvious parody stand-ins for the FBI and Department of Homeland Security respectively.
Guide Dang It: As with past GTA games, achieving full completion of the game (and its rather lame reward) involves completing a number of side-missions and "collectable pick-ups" that are virtually impossible to complete without some sort of map or guide. This includes the locating and shooting of 200 pigeons (aka flying rats), and also locating a number of so-called "random encounters" what involve tracking down individuals located across the map and located only by icons that appear on the radar when the player is nearby (and one, Gracie, doesn't even get an icon and relies on the player deciding to walk - not drive - down a certain street at a certain time). The game slightly averts this by providing maps indicating locations of the pigeons and random encounters on a fictional website included as part of the in-game Internet. However, the website only shows up in an e-mail after you complete the main storyline, and because it's a spam email most players are likely to delete it unless they know beforehand what it is. And the maps provided aren't 100% complete, either. The DLC's rectify the "random encounter" issue by making the icons easier to see on the map and you don't need to be on top of them, either.
In the game, Niko can "date" five different women. While four of them can be found through either missions or clues given within gameplay, the fifth (Alex Chilton) is only found by those who spend the time to explore the in-game Internet, including the Craiglist parody Craplist and happen to find (hidden among many messages) a posting by her that invites response - or who learn of her existence through walkthroughs and guides.
Guilt-Based Gaming: Your friends will call and demand that you play minigames with them, and they'll get huffy if you turn them down or don't call them for a while. It is possible to avoid this friendship decline if you accept their offer and then cancel, but this makes no sense and isn't listed in the manual, and if you initiate the outing and then cancel (as opposed to them calling you), you are penalized.
There are also a number of children's playgrounds visible around the city, as well as a skateboard park, but again, no kids. There are also no buildings in Liberty City or Alderney that are identifiable as elementary or high schools. Given the "kill anyone you want" nature of the game, and in light of things like the Colombine and Sandy Hook shootings, the absence of kids is most likely a major saving grace for the game, though the existence of the playgrounds is a bit eerie.
There's also a yard full of broken down school buses near the Memory Lanes at Firefly Island. There are no drivable school buses however.
The Lincoln Tunnel has been renamed The (John Wilkes) Booth Tunnel. Actually counts as two jokes in one, as John's brother Edwin Booth was an extremely famous New Yorker and naming the real tunnel after him would not have been out of the question.
The Empire State Building has been named the Rotterdam Tower. Rotterdam surpassed New York as the world's busiest port in the 1980's.
Not only that, but Liberty City's original (colonial) name was "New Rotterdam". It's real-life counterpart's original name was "New Amsterdam" (which, just like Liberty City, was founded by Dutch colonists and then taken over and renamed by Great Britain). And for those who don't know, both Amsterdam and Rotterdam are major Dutch (trading) ports.
Also, one street of Liberty City is named after Petrus Stuyvesant. He was the last governor of the New Netherlands (including New Amsterdam) before the aforementioned British takeover.
Stuyvesant has real neighborhoods named after him in New York as well. Stuyvesant Heights is one part of the (in)famous Bed-Stuy.
Honey Trap: Michelle, aka Karen, although it's implied that the "honey" part is not her intention, and it's possible to progress her storyline without actually having "coffee" with her.
Hummer Dinger: Given that most of the game's environment is composed of city streets, any off-road vehicle is practically this. Lampshaded by the "Player Image" stat, which describes the player's image based on the cars the player drives most. Should the player's favorite car be any one of the game's 4-Wheel-Drive SUV's, the corresponding image given will be "Soccer Mom".
It should be noted that as in previous games in the series, SUV's start to show their worth in a combat situation. In something of an inversion of Mundane Utility, their size and durability make them excellent protection from gunfire, and their mobility makes them good for getaways. Good to note considering the game avertsIn-Vehicle Invulnerability.
Hypocritical Humor: Vlad calls a begging drug-addict a "dead-beat crack head" only to get in his car a few seconds later and snort a line of coke.
I Fought the Law and the Law Won: While the police in previous GTA games weren't difficult to deal with unless you were deliberately trying to piss them off, the cops in this installment are very aggressive from the get go. You are more likely to be spotted by cops whenever you do any sort of crime in the open because there are more cops walking around and driving compared to the previous games. When trying to elude the police, even if you escape the hot zone, the cops will spawn back up units in your direct path so that they can find you again and resume the chase. Cops will even shoot you on a one-star wanted level.
Insistent Terminology: Packie's brother is working with PE-4, and not C4. PE-4 is the British Army equivalent of C4, and virtually the same thing.
Instant Death Bullet: Averted. A lot of people you shoot on your way will eventually get up after a while.
Unless you scored a head shot, in which case almost everyone plays this trope straight. Elizabeta herself does this during a cutscene.
Instant-Win Condition: Sometimes averted, such as when you kill a key NPC during a mission, then have to evade the cops. Sometimes played straight, such as killing a guy before they get too far away in a vehicle, thereby avoiding the long chase sequence you'd otherwise have to do.
Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Averted in that Niko vaults over obstacles around waist height, and can grab onto the edge of and pull himself up anything higher.
Intelligible Unintelligible: Jacob and Niko. Lampshaded when Elizabeta calls Niko and tells him that Jacob is there and asks him to report to her immediately since she heard that apparently he can actually understand Jacob.
Also Jacob and Badman, who is so unintelligible even Niko can't understand him and needs Jacob to translate.
Interface Screw: Whenever you get drunk. It's so extreme that it's an effort to make Niko take even a single step forward without falling over. To make matters worse, try driving in this state (that is, if you don't mind getting a wanted level for this — and if you think driving is hard, try evasive driving). The game encourages you to hail a taxi in this circumstance, but that's enough of a challenge in itself, and you're just as likely to end up under the cab as inside it.
Interface Spoiler: The achievement/trophy for beating the Libertonian mission is "Impossible Trinity." When Johnny, your partner for that mission, was announced as the lead character for The Lost and Damned, many gamers immediately recognized that Luis would be the PC in the 2nd expansion as he was the only character from that mission whose fate was ambiguous. They were proven correct.
Irony: A very dark variety, as well. If you follow Roman's advice and try to reconcile with Dimitri at the end and take the Deal ending, Dimitri ends up betraying you again and kills Roman. If instead you follow Kate's advice not to take the deal and instead decide to take revenge on Dimitri, Kate is shot in a drive-by.
Ironic Echo: The page quote. Roman greets his cousin with the line "Welcome to America!" At the very beginning of the game. Niko repeats these words to Dimitri, just before you kill him, if you go with the "Deal" mission and Roman gets killed.
Istanbul Not Constantinople: Broker not Brooklyn, Dukes not Queens, Middle Park not Central Park, Algonquin not Manhattannote both are names of Native American tribes in the Northeastern US. Alderney for New Jersey and Guernsey as a nickname for it (Alderney and Guernsey are neighbouring islands to "old" Jersey), the Humboldt River instead of the Hudson, Tudor instead of Elizabeth county (IRL named for a Tudor-era ruler), Booth Tunnel for the Lincoln, Happiness Island instead of Liberty, and the Rotterdam Tower instead of the Empire State Building... is there anything in Liberty City that doesn't follow this trope?
Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Niko himself was eventually revealed to be a war criminal out to kill another war criminal. It is also implied that he had committed more horrific acts before the game started.
Joke Car: The Dilettante hybrid hatchback, which primarily exists to poke fun of compact hybrid cars marketed to America during the late-2000s. In addition to its undesirable outward look, the car's performance and durability are so weak that its $40k price tag seems more like a ripoff.
Karma Houdini: Bulgarin just disappears after the mission Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend and is never seen or fought again in the main game. Eventually subverted when he turn's out to be the Big Bad of The Ballad of Gay Tony. Also Niko himself if you just decided to mass murder. Even if you don't do that, his murders of cops and to a lesser extent gang members would be rather horrendous if they happened in real life.
Michelle even doesn't get punished after she has betrayed Niko
Karmic Death: When Elizabeta's drug ring is about to get busted in the opening cutscene of "Have a Heart", Manny shows up with his TV crew to do what he does best, manipulate the situation to make himself look good. Elizabeta finally snaps and gives Manny and his cameraman a faceful of lead for their troubles.
Lethal Joke Car: The Blista Compact is a tiny, two-door hatchback that is over twenty years old. Its handling and acceleration however, are far better than most other vehicles and even come close to rivaling the capabilities of more expensive, high-end sports cars.
Let's You and Him Fight: On some of the missions, a perfectly acceptable solution is to just call the police and let them shoot the bad guys for you. For example, one Most Wanted mission has you kill a gang that's hanging around an alley with a lot of cover. Unless you are really good at gunfighting, this can be a tricky mission. So, shoot a few cops, take their police cruiser, trigger the mission on its computer, and train the police officers right into the same alley. Alternatively, you can just call 911 and ask for the police. You can summon several cars depending on where you are calling them to.
Once you reach a high enough friendship level with one of the characters, Dwayne, you can ask him to send a couple of gunmen to back you up. Although a few missions disable this feature intentionally, when it comes to the gang shootout mentioned above, and numerous other missions where Niko is outnumbered, the extra firepower can be a lifesaver.
The Huntley Sport fulfills the Hard-Hitting Speedster subcategory, with the fastest speed on an SUV and the ability to make perfect drifts; the gang and NOOSE variants of the Patriot are more of Fast-Moving Big Bruisers, being the largest SUVs in the game; while the Cavalcade fills the middle ground between the two.
The Ballad of Gay Tony introduces the Serrano, a tuned SUV that manages to outpace even the Huntley Sport, putting it on par with some of the game's sports cars.
The better choppers introduced in The Lost and Damned fill this role, particularly Johnny's Hexer and Billy's Revenant, because they possess the speed and acceleration to match the lower-end sport bikes, but pack enough weight to keep the player planted in a crash, or even bat cars out of the way.
Longer-Than-Life Sentence: After she's arrested and judged, Elizabeta Torres is sentenced to 300 years of imprisonment for thirty charges (ten years each) of cocaine distribution. Lampshaded by her voicemail, where she says she can't answer to the messages before the end of her prison sentence, and also by The Liberty Tree which mentions such sentence as a record for the Liberty City crime society.
MacGuffin: A bag of diamonds and a large load of heroin drive much of the plot of all three games.
Made of Iron: Due to the more accurate physics of the game, Niko's ability to walk away from some things is pretty remarkable (like being hurled through the windshield in a crash, with the only thing stopping him being wrapped around the post of a gas station awning).
Mad Libs Dialogue: The police scanner constructs sentences from single words, but also has complete pre-scripted speech. Gaps between words are easily dismissed due to nature of radio. There is also a variety of phrases to make chatter sound less mechanical (and plenty of sentences not used for the player, such as running a red light.)
The Mafia: They show up later in the game, and (unlike their depiction in the III' era) are depicted as weak and racked by infighting. Ultimately, Dimitri plays them for fools.
The Mafiya: Mikhail is their top guy in Liberty City.
Mighty Glacier: Pretty much all of the heavy duty trucks, like the Biff, Packer, Phantom, Benson, Yankee, etc.
Even some of the lighter industrial/commercial vehicles like the Steed, Boxville, and Burrito count.
Some of the civilian trucks and SUVs, especially the Bobcat.
Most of the NOOSE/LCPD trucks: Police Stockade, Prison Bus, and Enforcer.
The game's Awesome Personnel Carrier ("APC"), deserves special mention. Despite being an armored personnel carrier, its often refereed to in-game as the "NOOSE Tank," because that's basically what it is. It's a tank shaped like an APC. Also it is definitely a glacier, its top speed is 69, and getting there takes quite a bit of patience, and a whole afternoon's worth of free time.
Also the Dummied Out "Brickade." Its a cross between an APC and an RV. It's a shame they didn't implement it.
Among the bikes, most of the American choppers like the Freeway and the Zombie in particular fill this role, as they trade speed and acceleration for handling and weight, which allows the player to keep mounted in collisions.
Moe Greene Special: A couple of characters go down this way. One is lampshaded by a back-alley organ dealer, who complains about it since eyes can fetch a good price...
Mood Whiplash: Niko Bellic is the most serious and tragic character in the series so far. At the same time the game is still full of juvenile humor. Niko reminiscing about the horrors of war in the Balkans doesn't go well with there being an internet cafe named TW@ around the corner.
Morale Mechanic: The game featured lots of enemies that surrender when reduced to a single segment of health, somewhere between 5% and 10% of their total health.
Morality Pet: Roman and Kate McReary for Niko, to a very limited degree.
Morton's Fork: The deal with Dimitri. Take the deal, and Kate leaves you and Roman gets killed. Instead opt to kill Dimitri, and Kate gets killed in a drive-by. You're screwed either way, and true to the game's Darker and Edgier tone, that's the way it has to be.
Mugging the Monster: Serial Killer Eddie Low, the terror of Liberty City (body count: a dozen or so) attacks Niko Bellic, freelancer "problem solver" (body count: a couple hundred at minimum). This action results in Eddie's swift death.
Sometimes used if you crash into a random civilian's car, and they're stupid enough to run to your car, pull you out, and then attack you. Shooting at them will usually cause them to flee, but some civilians may be armed and will fire back at you. Of course, they're still no match for you.
My Car Hates Me: if you damage your car's engine enough it'll stall and become hard to start (eventually impossible), causing Niko to implore it to start in increasingly frustrated tones.
Mythology Gag: At one point, Vlad greets Niko by doing the gun-finger gesture and going "Bang, you are dead!" This was how Vladimir greeted Max Payne in the first game.
The New Russia and Ruritania: The actual locations never appear in-game, but there are frequent references made to them, and many of the main characters are from there (Dimitri Rascalov and the Faustins are from Russia, Niko and Roman Bellic are Serbian, and the Albanians are one of the major gangs).
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Gubernatorial candidate Michael Graves is a fairly obvious Expy of Fred Thompson - the line about his "many bit parts on television shows" is a dead giveaway.
Tom Goldberg, the lawyer Francis McReary orders Niko to assassinate is roughly based off Jack Thompson, a lawyer and anti-violent video game activist. Goldberg even says Thompson's famous quote: "Guns don't kill people, video games do." when he's threatened by Niko.
No Indoor Voice: Brucie. If he yelled while speaking personally, that might not've been much of a problem, but he yells even while on the phone with you.
No Party Given: Despite the game's extensive mockery of the American Political System, the word "Democrat" is never used, and the only use of "Republican" is in the title of the show Republican Space Rangers. However, it can be inferred that Governatorial candidate John Hunter and Liberty City mayor Julio Ochoa are Democrats, while deputy mayor Bryce Dawkins, Governatorial candidate Michael Graves, and President Joe Lawton are Republicans.
The word "Democrat" is actually used once in game, though it's kind of out of the way. If you search for the site whattheydonotwantyoutoknow.com, you will be brought to a site that shows where all the pigeons, text-order cars, hidden armor, health, and weapons are. Under the comments for the health, one states something to the effect of "The health was hidden by the Republicans for when the Democrats give everyone free health care."
Not So Different: When Niko confronts Darko and asks him why he killed their army unit for only $1,000, Darko turns the tables and asks Niko how much he charges to kill someone. (Early in the game? $500. Though that was per person.)
Darko's physical appearance also resembles that of Niko. It's actually quite creepy.
And the Name: Darko Brevic, Nico Bellic.
Niko essentially says this to Dwayne when they first meet, telling him "You remind me of me."
Seems to be a running theme in the game: Francis McReary says, "I see a lot of myself in you," while his brother Derrick mumbles, "We're the same…"
Not Worth Killing: Played straight when the cutscene first introduces Florian/Bernie. Niko seems to take pity on him instead, and later on befriends him, more or less. Can be played straight with some other NPC's, such as Dwayne's ex, or Ivan in one of the early missions. And later with Darko Brevic, the man who Niko finds out was the real culprit in selling out and getting many of their friends executed. However, you can also kill him should you choose so.
One-Man Army: Par for the course for the series. There's even an achievement called "One Man Army" for surviving five minutes on a six-star Wanted level.
One Steve Limit: Averted. The leader of The Lost Biker gang is Johnny Klebitz and one of Ray Boccino's associates is named Johnny Spaz.
Parking Problems: Very subtly. Cars spawning in a parking lot seldom spawn directly within the lines of a parking stall. The developers could've been too lazy to line the cars up with the stalls, but knowing Rockstar it's more likely an extremely subtle way of mocking American drivers.
Pedo Hunt: "Little Lacey Surprise Pageant" is a Schmuck Bait site which the LCPD uses to lure in people searching for kiddie porn on the in-game internet. Visiting it gives you a 5 star wanted level.
Site warning: Your IP address has been cataloged and an investigator will contact you soon. We See It All. We Know It All.
Pimped-Out Car: The aforementioned changes to the spawning patterns of gang cars in this game means that, occasionally, you'll find extensively modified versions of ordinary cars driven by gang members. However, some of them may slip into Rice Burner territory.
Played very straight by the sport sedans, particularly the Korean Mob's Sultan and The Mafia's Sentinel. Both had excellent top speed, acceleration and handling for their class to begin with, but the gangs' modifications put them on near-sports car level.
Some of the slower, more lumbering SUVs manage to be elevated beyond Hummer Dinger status through gang modifications, despite becoming more ostentatious. These include The Mafiya's Rebla and the North Holland Hustlers' Patriot, which get a much-needed boost in top speed and acceleration.
Unfortunately, some of these modifications are purely cosmetic. Especially disappointing are the Spanish Lords' fleet of cars, which is composed of the Cavalcade and the Primo. The former is already an excellent SUV, but its only modifications are a custom paint job with gold trim and a sound system in the trunk. The latter is a terrible outdated sedan, now equipped with a useless spoiler and body kit.
Plot Armor: If a major character is killed, they are Only Mostly Dead and will later call Niko from the hospital. Rumor has it that minor girlfriends can be perma-killed, as in San Andreas (may be due to a glitch).
Poor Communication Kills: In the cutscene that kicks off the Revenge mission/ending, where Pegorino tells Niko about the upcoming deal with Dimitri, Niko never bothers to explain to Pegorino the dangers of doing business with Dimitri beyond an off-hand remark that "he and I have history." That oversight leads to a chain of events that culminates in Kate getting killed.
Also, some may view the reward for 100% Completion, which is simply removing the maximum limit on ammo capacity as more than a bit of a letdown. Not that it isn't useful, but considering that it's a reward for completing the game, it isn't much. Also, saving and reloading the game causes all the ammo you collected over the original limit to disappear.
On the other hand, Dwayne's ability to provide two gunmen as backup, although not always allowed by missions, is an undeniable life-safer on numerous occasions where Niko has to face off against multiple targets.
Pretty Little Headshots: Played pretty straight. Getting a headshot will result in a spray of blood proportionate to the weapon's damage, but no visible damage to the head itself.
Prison Rape: Lampshaded. Niko claims that the "Prison Bitch" is a uniquely American concept.
Punny Name: The club Mikhail frequents is named Perestroika. As in Mikhail Gorbachev's Perestroika and Glasnost.
Put on a Bus: Appears to happen to Badman, who is introduced as a somewhat major character, and also appears as a "random encounter" but vanishes from the narrative early on. During a friendship outing Little Jacob appears to make some reference to what happened to Badman, but his accent is so unintelligible, it's hard to tell.
Also happens to Michelle/Karen, who vanishes from the story soon after the United Liberty Paper mission strand begins.
The Rashomon: Several of the missions, most notably the Libertonian Shootout which features in the main game and both expansions as you play it from the three playable characters' different perspectives.
Real Is Brown: VERY brown. Sometimes it gets so bad that the entire world gets whitewashed in an ugly grey tone.
If you don't like this, you can turn the saturation all the way up, which adds a good deal of color to the game.
Reality Ensues: The GPS which tells you how to get to your destination is paying attention to which streets are one-way, just like a real GPS would. You'll wonder why its always taking you two blocks out of your way, but when you try to skip directly to your destination you'll find traffic heading towards you.
Reasonable Authority Figure: In the tradition set by San Andreas, the few dealings Niko has with high government officials are the few times he doesn't get screwed over. His contact at U.L. Paper has him do a couple jobs, including a Best Level Ever, and rewards him by finally setting up a meeting with the person he came to America to finally find all along as a farewell present.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mikhail is the hot headed, impulsive Red Oni and Dimitri is the cool headed, plan-making Blue Oni who tries to keep Mikhail from doing anything too stupid and/or ignoring his orders if it would be profitable to do so.
Rule of Cool: One of the stunt jumps requires you to clear the entire Hudson River.
Running Gag: Niko teasing Brucie about his testicles. In one case when he hears Brucie's reaction after he fails an Exotic Export mission, Niko says, "Brucie, are your balls OK? You sounded real mad."
Scarpia Ultimatum: The UL Paper Company man forces Michelle to go undercover and maintain a relationship with Niko on threat of prison.
Scary Black Man: The majority of black men Niko meets are decidedly non-scary (consisting of a Rastafarian pot dealer, a self-absorbed rapper, and a rich and somewhat weaselly player/Playboy), but Ving Rhames ringer Dwayne Forge is quietly terrifying when he's not in the grips of depression.
Lil' Jacob's friend Badman might also qualify, due to being clearly unstable and nearly impossible to understand, especially when he's agitated (which is often).
Scenery Porn: Liberty City is simply gorgeous to look at, with incredible attention to detail, even in areas where missions would never take you. This is one game where spending time just looking around (preferably on foot) is a worthwhile pastime. Some of the most remarkable areas to view include Happiness Island, the observation level of the Rotterdam Tower, and the game's version of Times Square, which is very reminiscent of the real place (do not complete playing this game without visiting Star Junction at night during good weather and checking out all the signs).
It looks even better in the DLC The Ballad of Gay Tony due to that game's richer color palette. Compare the observation deck of the Rotterdam Tower in the DLC with the rather drab version in the main game.
Scripted Event: Several car chases you have to do are scripted to play out the exact same way every time. This means that if a target you are chasing isn't supposed to be killed just yet, their car will be immune to bullets and any car that they smash into will go flying while the chaser's car is perfectly fine since the scripted event isn't finished (this can look silly if the target is driving a sports car and they make an SUV flip over). The enemy driver will also have superior handling and will always stay ahead of you no matter how fast you are going until the game gives the all clear to kill the target. Likewise, other drivers that are a part of the scene will be scripted to drive a certain way every single time and they are movable brick walls, which means they can't get damaged or pushed, but you crashing into them can seriously wreck your car.
Not necessarily so. You can kill the driver that is supposed to lead you to Dmitri or Pegorino in the final mission...of course, you fail the mission if you do.
Searching the Stalls: One mission climaxes with a guy you're chasing running in the bathroom and hiding. You have to shoot open stall after stall to get him.
Serial Killer: Eddie Low. Somewhat parodied in that, despite the serial killer plotline taking up a huge chunk of the game's backstory and in-game news, it actually has no relevance to the main plot other than a couple of short, optional encounters, and Eddie's handful of murders pale in comparison to the hundreds of (relatively) unreported gangland killings caused by Niko alone (the strip club massacre, anyone?).
Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Jimmy Gestapo, the DJ for the punk station Liberty City Hardcore, rants at length about the extremely hard-drinking, hard-partying lifestyle that he feels punk should be. Also, Iggy Pop, the DJ for the classic rock station Liberty Rock Radio, talks about how a lot of the best music was made on drugs, and bemoans the fact that fewer rockers nowadays use them.
Shaggy Dog Story: A lighter example in the form of the sub-plots, namely, the whole diamond debacle, which was a massive waste of time for pretty much everyone involved. Multiple parties attempt to get the diamonds for themselves, and eventually some mook decides to drop the diamonds into a passing dump truck out of spite, so nobody gets it, since he's bound to die anyway. Niko and Packie discuss how it all went to shambles afterwards, and eventually decide the diamonds are probably better off in landfill anyway, since they seem to be incredibly bad luck... However, in a stroke of irony, in The Ballad of Gay Tony, it's Jerry Kapowitz, a local homeless, who manages to get his hands on them and end up with the spoils, even though he was not involved in any way, and never even knew of their existence!
Shaving Is Science: Parodied with ads for the "Excelsior Extreme 9," a razor with nine blades. When seen on billboards, the thing looks like it will chew your face right off.
Shown Their Work: Architecturally and visually, the resemblance of Liberty City to New York ranges from accurate to uncanny. Likewise, the careful attention paid to accurately representing some of New York's more obscure landmarks and neighborhoods, especially in the outer boroughs, takes Liberty City above and beyond as a NYC analogue.
Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Roman's Arab cab driver absolutely despises Niko as a freeloader, and will spend the length of the ride berating you.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The story is ultimately a commentary on the concept of the American Dream. Niko repeatedly points out the corruption in Liberty City and how it contrasts with the idealistic image America usually protrays itself as. But at the same there is an underlying message about how people can get a new life in America and that, while people in America can fail, they can also achieve greater individual success than in other countries, which Niko grudgingly comes to accept, making the whole thing seem optimistic overall. Then the Downer Ending happens and the game goes crashing into the cynical side.
Stuffed into the Fridge: Either Kate or Roman (depending on which ending you chose) in the penultimate mission, to give Niko motivation for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge in the final mission. They really stick it to you. Earlier in the game while driving with Roman, Roman talks about how it would be nice if you settled down with Kate, and he with Mallory. No matter what, you don't get that dream.
Literally, in one of the subplot missions for Gerald McReary. There's an Albanian stuffed into the fridge, whose Clothes, Boots and Motorcycle you need (this is literally the title of the mission) to kill an unimportant Ancelotti, Frankie Garone.
Super Drowning Skills: AI NPCs shoved into the water will tread water for a few seconds, then abruptly drown (despite their heads remaining above water the entire time). Averted, of course, by Niko.
Take That: The entire game is one huge middle finger against elements of America - primarily the right wing, though the developers do get in a few shots against the left as well.
A couple are taken at Jack Thompson, a lawyer famous for his anti-violent video game activism including campaigning against the Grand Theft Auto series. Tom Goldberg, the lawyer Francis McReary orders Niko to assassinate in "Final Interview" is said to be based off Thompson. He even says Thompson's famous "Guns don't kill people, video games do." line when he's threatened by Niko. Another reference to Thompson is made the offices of "Tom Jackson, Attorney at Law" in Alderney which was converted into a video games store.
Take Your Time: In a lot of missions, you can wander away from the action to go buy new guns, armor, and health and then return to continue the fight later.
Inverted, however, by a few missions that have clearly defined time limits and/or fail if you stray too far from the target.
Humorously averted early in the game where you're given a choice between meeting Michelle for a date and saving Roman from some Albanian thugs. If you go to Michelle, you'll get a phone call from Roman, who's livid that Niko chose a girl over his cousin. You'll then have to pick him up from the hospital. Of course, afterwards you'll get another phone call from Roman that he's in trouble again, and you'll be able to do the mission normally.
Theme Naming: The east-to-west streets in Liberty City's version of Manhattan are named alphabetically (from south to north) after various chemical elements or minerals, similarly to how streets are named after letters in NYC. For example, the south-most road is Amethyst Street, the next one up is Barium Street, and this is followed by Calcium Street. This goes all the way up to Xenotime Street.
True Companions: For all Niko's Hurting Hero act and extreme existential depression, he attracts quite a group of crooks who he can honestly call friends, and vice versa. His cousin Roman, the pot smoking Rastafarian Little Jacob, genetically different Brucie, Fighting Irish Packie, and the depressing Dwayne, not to mention the mysterious figure from his past Bernie Crane. All of them can eventually become close enough friends with Niko to offer him their unique services, often tag along during missions outside of the ones they give him, and sometimes Niko even pulls out some of his psychology skills to show them even though they're all pretty screwed up, at least at the end of the day, they have him.
Understatement: When Roman's kidnappers put a gun to Roman's head when Niko comes to rescue him, he points out: "This is not so good, cousin."
Universal Driver's License: Niko can drive cars, boats and helicopters with ease. It's likely that he learned these skills during the war.
The Unintelligible: Little Jacob at first, although you get used to his accent as time goes on. His friend Badman is even worse - even with subtitles he's difficult to understand, and Jacob has to actually translate for him even though he's technically speaking English.
However, even if you get used to his accent, Jacob remains unintelligible in a number of key sequences, including, amazingly one of the finale missions in which Jacob actually explains key plot points but without subtitles there's no way to tell what he's talking about.
Badman is so difficult to understand partially because even though individual words are coherent, most of his speech in game is repetitive, angry, paranoid ramblings about rival gangs. This is also because Little Jacob and Badman are speaking completely separate languages. Little Jacob speaks Rastafarian English, while Badman is speaking Jamaican Patois. While both dialects of English, Little Jacob's dialect is a hell of a lot closer to anything you're likely to actually comprehend.
And of course, poor Niko, whose grasp of English is good, but imperfect, has it worse. He doesn't get to see the subtitles.
Ungrateful Bastard: Clarence Little, a drug dealer that Francis wants dead. If you let him live you can find him in a random character mission later... where he tries to kill you.
Niko also sees Roman as this on occasion due to his penchant for continually getting into trouble forcing Niko to bail him out.
Niko is seen as this by numerous characters to his great sorrow at the end.
Vengeance Feels Empty: The Trope Namer. If at the end of the game you choose to kill Darko (that's what you wanted to do for the whole game), after being asked how he feels, Niko says "empty", as shown in the page quote.
Water Is Dry: If Niko or any other character gets wet. Except for sometimes in the rain his clothes will get a wet sheen and Niko'll shake it off himself.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: Manny Escuela seems genuinely concerned with cleaning up the streets, but at the same time he's homophobic, addicted to publicity and not above manipulating Niko to make himself look good.
Wham Line: For many, Niko's simple summary of his military experience in the Yugoslav wars.
Count on Michelle, too, after introducing to her boss.
What the Hell, Hero?: Roman gives Niko a hell of a heartbreaking one after a series of questionable decisions by Niko leads to Roman's apartment and business being burned to the ground. Niko's done nothing but complain about life in America not being as sweet as Roman made it out to be, and Roman has to spell out to Niko that it took him a year starting from nothing to get a shitty apartment and cab business, making Roman actually successful at the American Dream or at least on his way to genuine success, until Niko came along and ruined everything within a week of being there. This doubles as an extremely successful What the Hell, Player?, as you can't help but feel bad having done the usual GTA thing as soon as you set foot in the city, acting like you owned the place while the people there were leading mostly fine lives until you came along.
Which is rather hypocritical by Roman as basically 3/4s of the plot revolves around Niko having to move Hell and Earth for gangsters all over town because of Roman's gambling problem. If Niko hadn't showed up, Roman would have lost all his property anyway and possibly ended up Sleeping With The Fishes.
Wide Open Sandbox: For the most part. Although IV has been criticized for having things like friends constantly phoning you for dates, and there are numerous missions that are automatically triggered by phone calls when you want to do them yet or not, for the most part Niko is free to roam the city, take in shows, go bowling, get lap dances, have sex with hookers, and go hunting pigeons, at his leisure. Although you still can't avoid mandatory mission phone calls, the game provides a simple workaround regarding outing requests from friends (simply accept the outing, then call back immediately and cancel the plans without penalty).
Or better yet, just put the phone in sleep mode if you just want to roam the city for a while. Unless you use the phone again, you'll be able to roam about without your friends calling you all the time.