The pre-launch days of Grand Theft Auto IV were interesting to say the least. Even more so for Australians and Kiwis who, much to their chagrin, discovered they'd be receiving a censored version of the game. NZ recently earned the right to make use of its R rating and sell the unmodified game, but Australia is still living with the consequences of its silly classification system.
We heard all sorts of stories about what was removed from our version - everything from guns and anuses, to stuff not involving guns and anuses. Regardless of what was real or not, Rockstar couldn't be bothered telling us exactly what to expect.
That's why we have people like reader Mick, who went to the trouble of comparing the Oz GTA IV with an uncut copy to find the differences. I can tell you, they'll definitely come as a surprise.
Firstly, when picking up a hooker in the Australian version you'll notice that you're unable to select your services (i.e. hand job, blowjob or standard intercourse) and the sex animations for these services have been completely removed. You'll merely see the car bounce from a locked rear-view. Although there are glitches one can perform to get a front view of the action, the animations are still non-existent. Therefore as in previous GTA games you're only able to see the hooker and Niko sitting side by side doing absolutely nothing. In the uncut version you're able to select your services after driving a hooker to a secluded location by cycling through the three different services. For which ever you choose the hooker will begin performing the act on Niko and you're be able to rotate the camera to see the action as you see fit.
Secondly, in the Australian version no blood pools appear beneath a dead person after shooting or stabbing them to death. Although there are blood splatters, there are no blood pools. In the uncut version blood will slowly ooze out from under a body and you're able to create bloody footprints by walking through it or bloody tyre-tracks by driving through it.
Finally, when Niko or other NPCs are injured in the uncut version light blood patches appear on their bodies which basically represent bruises/bullet wounds. After having played through both versions of the game I can confirm that no other alterations have been made. Although the changes to the sex scenes come as no surprise one must wonder why Rockstar censored blood pools and body injuries. These elements are present in numerous other games which have been released totally uncut in Australia.
So Rockstar, why couldn't you tell us this yourself? Minor alterations that, if made public before the sale of the game, probably would have seen a lot less people importing. Ah well, we can only hope it's a lesson learned by the publisher... but my fingers aren't crossed.
[Big thanks to Mick]
UPDATE: Mick adds "there have been reports that the bloody tyre tracks and footprints ARE present in the censored version, albeit harder to initiate." He's also provided some side-by-side screenshots for comparison: