Can you remember 1997? Those of you who can might also recall the hysteria, outrage and above all critical acclaim festooned on one of the most iconic and original video games of the time – Grant Theft Auto.
It seems bizarre nowadays that a small amount of pixellated blood, top-down 2D viewing angles and the odd car chase could cause such a reaction – but it did. Since then there have been a steady stream of console and PC releases as well as a handful of handheld efforts to boot.
Those of you who live, breathe and sleep Liberty City are in luck. Here are some killer resources for your favourite crime ‘em up.
So, the best use for Google Street View technology thus-far goes to… the guys over at GTA4 who have spent two long months recreating GTA4’s Liberty City as an interactive, clickable world. That’s right – the whole city is available for your perusal, as well as all the information you’d expect regarding pickups, activities and other challenges.
This really is a monumental achievement. 78,494 screenshots were required, totalling over a million files with a total file size of 125GB. Now that’s a lot of work, and it’s easy to appreciate the beautiful outcome once you’ve started clicking around.
Streets are labelled correctly, locations can be marked and the screenshots are beautiful. It’s like a real-life living city, and testament to Rockstar’s ability to create immersive worlds. There are also a selection of cameos and other points of interest dotted around, like this one – don’t forget to share your findings in the comments!
Community Modding, Mapping & Custom Models
Here’s where the PC gamers have the advantage – the overwhelming number of modifications available for each and every GTA release. Fancy trying to survive in a zombie-infested Liberty City? What about playing through GTA: San Andreas on GTA4’s RAGE engine? New cars, missions and graphics? Oh yeah, it’s been done!
Currently in beta, but functional – this is GTA: San Andreas on the GTA4 engine. The developers are currently appealing for testers to submit information about known bugs and issues, but really it’s there for anyone to play around with.
Included is the full map and original vehicles with improved graphics, sound, Euphoria physics and an advanced replay tool.
This is where you’ll find a healthy portion of the latest customizations and third-party add-ons for GTA. Hosted efforts include the fabulous iCEnhancer graphics mod, epic compilations, new weapons and vehicles as well as some great tutorials in case you were thinking of creating your own customizations.
Part of the Grand Theft Auto Network (the same guys who brought you the Liberty City Street View map) comes probably the most active community when it comes to all things GTA.
Not only are there the usual “what do you want to see?” and “I have problems with my graphics” posts but a whole section dedicated to showcasing mods, which makes it fairly easy to find what you want (like this realistic driving mod). Check out the mod showroom section for a decent list of what’s on offer.
Another collection of awesome downloads, with a fairly regularly updated news section that highlights the community’s latest and greatest work. There are a good number of vehicles (air, land and sea) on offer here.
GTA4’s RAGE engine is a dynamic tool – so much so that it has been used in many videos, and to great effect. Here is a very small selection, be warned adult themes and language are used (after all, GTA is an adult game).
GTA4: Project Cooper
The Bad Assassin (Also: Part 2)
Niko’s Dance Party
Liberty City Terrorist Attack
Finally if you’re ready to take a trip down memory lane, both GTA and GTA2 are still available for free from Rockstar Classics. You’re probably going to need to fiddle around with compatibility settings to get these running on a modern Windows Vista or 7 system, but it’ll be worth it just to shout “Gouranga!” and re-live the 2D days of yore.
Hopefully there’s enough GTA meat here to get your teeth into. If you’ve played through the game on a console but have a capable PC, picking up a cheap copy of GTA4 or Episodes From Liberty City might be worth it for the wealth of modifications and add-ons spawned by the community. Of course, you’ll also get to try your hand at a couple of movies too!
Have you tried any GTA mods? Any particular favourite game in the series? Have you made any movies? What are your thoughts on the next installment? Let us know in the comments.