Azeroth and Telon have been missing me the last couple of days.

No, Malgos hasn’t seen the snowy grounds of Northrend in two moons now and with my weekend work schedule, he probably won’t for another two.

Why? Grand Theft Auto 4, of course!

I’ve been waiting for this game for a long time now, subtly grinding my teeth as my friends told me how awesome it was on the PS3 or Xbox 360.

And finally, the game has arrived for the PC. From the minute I was able to fire it up (after an incredibly annoying installation process – seriously, it’s the worst I’ve ever experienced) I’ve been spending my gaming time there.

But this post isn’t about how “uber cool” GTA4 is (and it is).

Actually, playing through some of the beginning missions reminded me a lot of playing an MMOG.

The game is so non-linear. It has the open world feeling of an MMO. On top of that, many of the missions are directly reminiscent of those we’ve experienced in WoW, WAR, and any number of other MMOs.

Take an intimidation mission, for example. One of the early missions in GTA has you go an collect protection money from a local shop owner. In order to do this, you throw a brick through his window and scare him into paying up. In WoW, for example, you track down and beat people up for information.

Or how about an escort mission. In GTA, one of your first missions is to hide on top of a building and make sure one of your associates doesn’t get the shake down. He does, of course, and you have to take care of a couple waves of NPCs. This is similar to pretty much every escort quest in WoW. Watch the mechanical chicken and kill the waves of monkeys that try to gets in its way.

There’s also collection missions. And spying missions. And escape missions. And more.

Now, despite their similarities, GTA takes things to the next level. When you do something, it’s part of a story arc and the mission itself is always far more in depth than WoW’s counterpart. There are usually cutscenes following missions and large scale scripted events. This is what separates the GTA style task from the WoW style.

All genre-differences aside, WoW could learn something for GTA. GTA is one of the most heralded games on the market (and has been for some time) for good reason. Imagine if Blizzard were to take some of the flair GTA features and put it in their game. WoW is already on top but they could still push a lot of limits.

Who knows, they could take the lesson to heart. Personally, I think it’d be one hell of a world event if, for one day, WoW turned into GTA: Azeroth. Freely stealable motorcycles. Gnome helicopters chasing down rampant killers. Tauren pr0stitutes or pink haired gnomes on every street corner. Dream Dust falling from the rooftops and Illusion Dust hidden in seedy places like The Drag. Hot orcish coffee!

Oh, how my mind runs away with me. There are definite similarities between the two top dogs on the market though. And I don’t think that’s much of a coincidence. To condense everything down into a single sentence: non-linear games FTW.