You may have already played your first multiplayer game in Grand Theft Auto IV now that the game is widely available. But if you haven't, choosing to spend your "sick day" or all-nighter grinding away at the single player campaign, you might feel overwhelmed by the variety of multiplayer options that await you. Even if you've only dabbled in Deathmatch, you may want to check out our impressions, based on many, many hours of online hands-on time to see what you should play next and what you should skip.
Remember, GTA IV multi is all about making the most money, not necessarily the most kills. If you're going it alone, wasting your peers in Deathmatch may be all you need. But if you've got a reliable crew, you're going to want to know which mode suits you best.
With fifteen multiplayer game types, three of which are for co-op freaks, there's a lot to absorb. If you're looking to grab some cash to deck out your online avatar, check out our impressions of GTA IV multiplayer after the jump.
DEATHMATCH (2-16 Players)
Description: Kill the other players as many times as you can. The player with the most cash when the game ends wins. Remember to graciously loot the cash dropped by dead players.
Impressions: GTA IV's meat and potatoes deathmatch mode is probably your best introduction to the online component. It's fairly stock stuff, but the allure of carjacking an SUV, then crumpling some chump in Nebraska with the front end is hard to resist. Having the option to feature select weapons—say rocket launchers only—or limit them to classes adds welcome variety. We'd highly recommend setting your Deathmatch games to have "blips" turned off for a better experience. Also, turn your headset off, as this is the mode that seems to be packed with the most potty-mouthed douchebags.
Best For: Noobs. And those looking to make money out of making corpses out of noobs. Play it first!
MAFIYA WORK (2-16 Players)
Description: Doing the Mafiya's orders is a cut-throat business. Complete contracts before the competition does and get the rewards. The player with the most cash at the end wins.
Impressions: Probably the mode that's most "true" to the GTA single player experience, as you'll be competing against the clock and other players to get the job done. This is frantic stuff, as you'll race to checkpoints to deliver contraband or take out roving biker gangs to please the Mafiya. Tense!
Best For: Short attention spans and multitaskers.
CAR JACK CITY (4-16 Players)
Description: Steal whatever car the boss wants. Pay will depend on the condition of the car, unless it's stuffed with drugs. Whoever makes the most money wins. It's America, for beginners. Vehicles are represented by blue markers on the radar and the drop off points as yellow markers.
Impressions: A more focused version of Mafiya Work with a twist, as you'll have to strategically plan your car thievery. Is it worth it to hoof it to the "safe" car heist that everyone else is ignoring or take down whomever is going for the car with the drugs? Driving skills help, as you'll score more cash for cars in better condition.
Best For: Fast drivers who know the streets of Liberty City.
RACE (2-16 Players)
Description: Race to the finish, passing through each checkpoint in order. Hold Y to respawn your vehicle on the last checkpoint passed.
Impressions: Choose from super cars, muscle cars, vans, service, trucks, helicopters and more as you race through a set track on one of Liberty City's islands. We stand by our claim in our GTA IV review, in that the game's racing engine stands on its own. However, we definitely think you'll have more fun playing GTA Race, in which weapons are a factor. Helicopter and boat races add welcome variety, but they're not the main draw here—super cars are!
Best For: Improving your driving skills.
GTA RACE (2-16 Players)
Description: Race and fight your way through the checkpoints in order and then hit the finish. You can only hold one drive-by weapon at a time, hold X to drop your currently selected weapon when in a vehicle.
Impressions: Sexy vehicular combat that's even fun if you're in last place. Why? Just get to a rocket launcher, get out of your car and grief the other players. Muahahaha! Rockstar's take on Mario Kart and WipeOut, the very reason why guns plus cars is such a good idea.
Best For: A quick, get in, get out adrenaline rush. Also good for professional pains in the ass.
TEAM DEATHMATCH (3-16 Players)
Description: Take the other crew down. The crew with the most cash at the end wins. Remember to loot the cash dropped by deceased players. That's the way to get ahead.
Impressions: Not as frenzied (or fun) as lone wolf Deathmatch. Still, if you're looking for a quick way to cash up and have some trusted Team Deathmatch buddies, you can't really go wrong here.
Best For: Power leveling your pals and perfecting your head shots.
TEAM MAFIYA WORK (3-16 Players)
Description: You're a member of a crew doing contract work for the Mafiya. Complete contracts before the competition does and get the rewards. The crew with the most cash at the end wins.
Impressions: One of the more strategic online game types and one that requires a solid posse with reliable wheelmen. Having a dedicated driver, a couple sharpshooters and one player working to set up and maintain waypoints, as well as analysing the Liberty City map, will do wonders for you.
Best For: Experienced players looking for a post-100% game completion thrill. Play it for forever!
TEAM CAR JACK CITY (4-16 Players)
Description: Your crew has to get hold of whatever cars the boss wants. Pay will depend on the condition of the car, unless it's stuffed with drugs. Whichever crew makes the most money wins. Simple. Vehicles are represented by blue markers on the radar and the drop off points as yellow markers.
Impressions: Like Team Mafiya Work, a good crew can make Team Car Jack City, just as a bad one can break it. Strategy is key here, with accomplished car thieves complemented well by a couple buddies hounding your opponents while they're en route to their own pick ups.
Best For: Experienced drivers and folks who don't mind riding in the backseat.
COPS 'N' CROOKS (4-16 Players)
Description: The crooks need to look out for each other while they escape. The cops have got to take the crew down. There are no second chances, so make your first one count.
Impressions: Almost two modes in one, as All For One follows the assassination game type, in which one player is the target and One For All makes it every man for himself. You'll switch sides after the first round is over, so be ready to hunt or be hunted.
Best For: Sharpshooters looking for some rapid fire variety.
TURF WAR (4-16 Players)
Description: Turf generates cash for a crew while they have control of it. So get control of it. Take some turf by occupying it for a period. The more members of your crew on that patch of turf, the quicker you will gain control. If the rival gang is near a patch of turf, you can't take control.
Impressions: Capture point style gameplay meats Team Deathmatch as you fight for control of one of the boroughs. Turf War can bog down if you're on guard dog duty, but when a full complement of Russians come after the Jamaican safehouse you're watching over, you'll know what pain is. Constant communication is key.
Best For: Those looking for a more low-key team based mode.
DEAL BREAKER (2-4 Players)
Description: A major deal is going down. Head over there with your crew and rip both parties off. Get hold of the merchandise and get out of there. No one can know that Kenny Petrovic was behind this, so get rid of all witnesses.
Impressions: An oddly set up co-op mission in which you must climb to the top of a multi-story structure, recover some drugs, then beat feet downtown after the leftover scum. Some randomness will probably add to the replay value, but after running through Deal Breaker on hard and not working up much of a sweat, you may never play it again. Still, the money's good.
Best For: Grabbin' loot.
BOMB DA BASE II (2-4 Players)
Description: A rival export business has a ship sitting in the docks w aiting to be loaded. You must steal the explosives gain access to the ship and plant two bombs, one on the bridge, the other in the hold. Make sure you're not on the ship when she blows. Those are Mr. Petrovic's orders.
Impressions: Like Deal Breaker, it's GTA IV doing four-player co-op. You'll play on a level that you might not see in the single-player campaign, depending on your ending, so be warned that it's potentially spoiler-esque. You may only feel the need to play through it twice, despite its thrilling carjacking, helicopter piloting and heavy gun play.
Best For: Showing off your 'copter and sniper rifle skills. Play it last!
HANGMAN'S NOOSE (2-4 Players)
Description: The authorities have surrounded Francis International to take down Kenny Petrovic. Escape with him and the rest of your crew before the NOOSE tightens. You'll need to get some transport first.
Impressions: Fight your way through a sea of SWAT... err, NOOSE officers. You only have a handful of lives and the NOOSE won't stop, so you better have a handle on gunplay and you better find cover. Think Cops 'n' Crooks but with much higher stakes.
Best For: Four damn good cop-killers.
FREE MODE (2-16 Players)
Description: Kick back. Liberty City is your playground, only your playmates ain't so nice. Have fun out there.
Impressions: If you just want to mess around, make your own rules—Make a six-star wanted level a group effort! Group stunt jumps!—this is the mode for you. If you're really in the mood for some GTA improv, Free Mode (and maxed out private slots) can keep you busy for hours. Makes you pray for a saved film feature.
Best For: Anyone and everyone. Play it for forever! And beyond!
For more hands on impressions of GTA IV's multiplayer, check out Crecente's in-depth hands-on. Be warned, some spoilers abound.