Editor’s note: Ryan Smith is a longtime gamer and freelance writer who lives in Raleigh, NC. A graduate of East Carolina University with a degree in business and marketing, he has written in the past for WRAL Tech Wire and GameArgus.com. He currently plays Xbox 360 and PC as well as Nintendo DS. For story ideas, tips and feedback, he can be reached via e-mail (ryannicksmith@gmail.com)

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Strauss Zelnick of Take-Two Interactive –GTA IV’s distributor- recently released the sales figures for Grand Theft Auto IV, which came out back in 2008. The totals for the highly popular mutli-platform release come to 22 million, upping the whole franchise’s total to 114 million units since 1997’s Grand Theft Auto debut.

At a staggering 22 million copies, you would think it would be the highest selling release of the series. However despite the fact that GTA IV is the highest rated of the series – winning perfect scores from numerous publications and a myriad of awards – Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas holds the highest sales totals at 27.5 million since 2004.

Grand Theft Auto games were at one time a staple in my gaming diet. They allow you to pretty much go anywhere and do anything and just generally cause a ruckus. However there are only so many cars you can steal, so many tedious racing side missions and so many pedestrians who literally jump in front of your car, before you can’t take their formula anymore.

Rockstar Games, the series’ developr, also developed the critically lauded Red Dead Redemption, a game that follows the Grand Theft Auto formula to the T, however it is set in the Old West. Eventually I made it to Red Dead Redemption and played through the whole game and although it wasn’t bad, I didn’t find it to be particularly stunning.

I saw some friends play Grand Theft Auto IV when it came out and they seemed to enjoy it, but I played through GTA III, GTA: Vice City and even GTA: San Andreas before the storyline and side missions of San Andreas turned me off permanently to the franchise. Basically each game follows the exact same formula and although this can be said of many franchise titles, the GTA formula ends up being very shallow.

Shallow storylines with cliché characters and repetitive mission types and atrocious side missions, I couldn’t take it anymore. Supposedly GTA IV comes through in these areas where the previous releases began to stagnate, but I’ll have to see for myself soon enough.

The sales figures don’t lie and almost every review for GTA IV gave it a very high score and even though I swore off the series in 2005, I finally broke down and bought it during Steam’s summer savings special. So eventually I will get around to it and maybe, just maybe, the story is good enough to get me through GTA’s formulaic procedures.

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