Rockstar boss Dan Houser has said Grand Theft Auto has always been about looking "lived in", and is upset that some feel graphics have not been its strongest point.
"The thing that I probably get the most upset about is when people go, 'Well GTA's not about the graphics,'" Houser told IGN. "I don't agree with that point. It's not about hi-res graphics (as hi-res as they can be) but the worlds always looked - and maybe I'm deluded in this - but they always looked lived in, in a way most people can't achieve."
Graphics will be one of the areas improved for Grand Theft Auto IV, but the visual aspect is apparently just one of many ares worked on to make it "feel" like a next-generation title.
"Video games are tactile by their nature, and for it to feel next-generation it had to feel better," continued Houser. "We wanted to redo all the targeting, redo everything mechanical, how missions flowed into each other - all of that side of things."
The "cinematic or narrative experience" was also focused on, and Houser believes the cut-scenes add up to about twice the length of a regular film. But probably the biggest area was creating a real world.
From the "idiotic level of detail" brought about by enormous teams of researchers studying everything from photos to censuses, to more structured spare time activities like bowling and dating, Houser believes the end result was worth it.
"Those kind of three ideas, the world, the story, and the pure videogame guts of it all - we thought if we improved all those and stayed consistent, we'd have something pretty special," he said.
"We've always loved doing open world games, but that was something we really felt this time... We can really bring it alive in a way people haven't really seen before."
Grand Theft Auto IV is due out on PS3 and 360 on 29th April. You might have heard of it.