Collector’s Cabinet: Grand Theft Auto IV Special Edition

There’s nothing quite like owning physical goods, but they can be expensive, and shelf space can come at a premium.  Every Wednesday Hardcore Gamer picks a premium collectible from our cavernous swag vaults and tells you whether it’s worth a spot in your Collector’s Cabinet.

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When Grand Theft Auto IV launched in 2008, fans and critics alike adored it. There were some complaints about the driving, which felt very different from the PlayStation 2 iterations, but most were enamored with Niko Bellic’s rags-to-riches story and the incredibly detailed world of Liberty City. The games that followed set the bar higher and higher for driving physics, and GTA IV now faces near-universal derision for its vehicle handling. But even with attention focused on the superb current-gen iteration of GTA V, IV is still worth playing, and its Special Edition is still remarkable.

Grand Theft Auto is one of the few big series that didn’t see any regular collector’s editions until the last generation. The Grand Theft Auto IV Special Edition cost $90 at release. It was a bit higher than most editions of its day, but it seems like an outright bargain in our current climate of $150 big boxes. The PS3 edition features artwork of a woman licking a lollipop, while the 360 box offers promotional art of Niko Bellic, but that’s just packaging. The actual game cases are indistinguishable from the game’s regular release.

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The shape and size of the package might seem a little odd, but that’s because the focal point of the edition is a black, GTA-branded safety deposit box. The metal box includes a functional lock, although the actual lock and key seem incredibly cheap. The Grand Theft Auto IV logo etching on its cover is very well done, at least. Inside the box are all the other parts of this edition including the game, an art book, a music CD, a Rockstar logo keychain, two keys for the lock box, and a Rockstar-branded duffel bag.

The Music of Grand Theft Auto IV CD is nothing to write home about. Sure, the soundtrack is excellent, but a 16-track CD sampler is common as a free pack-in for games these days. Rockstar didn’t even have the decency to give the disk a jewel case, instead sliding it into a flimsy cardboard sleeve. The Art of Grand Theft Auto IV fares a bit better as a cloth hardback book with some 20 pages of text, concept art, and game models. It’s fun to look through at least once, although it really just makes you want to see something more akin to a documentary on Rockstar’s creative process.

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Although a duffel bag doesn’t inherently have anything to do with Grand Theft Auto IV, it is thematically appropriate. The Rockstar logo is sewn in white against the all-black bag and looks slick. The inside is lined in the same yellow as the company’s distinctive logo, with tons of little Rockstar logos printed on it. The bag itself feels sturdy, although the zipper likely won’t withstand a lot of use. In any case, Rockstar fans should find it appealing. The same is true of the keychain which, as a solid chunk of metal, is just about the sturdiest thing in the package.

There were a few retailer-specific bonuses available with the special edition as well. Anyone who pre-ordered through Amazon received a life-sized “Liberty City” license plate, whilre orders made through the now defunct Blockbuster Video came with framed artwork of protagonist Niko. All in all, the Grand Theft Auto IV Special Edition was not bad for the price, though there’s more in it for fans of Rockstar in general than there is for devotees to the series itself.

For Hardcore Fans Only