The launch of "Grand Theft Auto 4" is expected to be the biggest entertainment event of the year, with first-week sales forecast to be up to $400 million, beating those of last year's "Halo 3" from Microsoft Corp .
At a GameStop store in midtown Manhattan, excited fans like John Alba and Enmanuel Lorenzo had been standing for hours in a line that nearly reached the end of the block to get their hands on the game.
"It gives you the opportunity to escape reality," Alba said. "This game has everything -- sex, drugs, cars, money ... anything you want."
"Grand Theft Auto 4" casts players as an Eastern European immigrant who runs drugs, shoots cops and beats up prostitutes after falling in with a crime syndicate -- stuff that has drawn fire from family groups and politicians.
Avid fans like Lorenzo seemed drawn to the excitement -- but only in game play. "Violence is like sex. It sells," Alba said outside the GameStop shop. "I like violence in games, it's cool. Not in real life."