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The complete history of Grand Theft Auto

Why is the latest entry GTA IV? Take a quick headcount - it just doesn’t add up

It’s not that Rockstar can’t count. But technically, this should either be GTA VI or - if you’re being totally completist about it - Grand Theft Auto XIII. There may be some surprises in there, but even the most casual observer will know there have been two games between III and IV, those being the not inconsiderable Vice City and San Andreas. So why is this game number ‘four’?

It’s an indication of how Rockstar sees it. More than that, it’s an indication of how it’s seen its progression all along. As you may know, the very first GTA featured three cities, namely Liberty, Vice and San Andreas. GTA III turned the series into 3D with Liberty City, while the Vice City and San Andreas games simply finished off the process - almost in the manner of expansion packs - with that generation of technology. This new game, Rockstar is saying, is the first true sequel since that original 3D effort in 2001. Vice City and San Andreas were simply extensions of GTA III all along.

Of course, to call games as vastly ambitious as Vice City or San Andreas mere ‘expansion packs’ seems childish, but nevertheless, the downloadable content (DLC) coming for the Xbox 360 version of IV has repositioned those games in just this way. DLC so far has meant the odd new car, jumper or bit of horse armor, but GTA IV is set to completely redefine the idea with expansions that are to GTA IV what Vice City or San Andreas were to GTA III. Yes, Rockstar is clearly hinting at new downloadable cities; and the chances of them being London, Vice or SA again are slim to none. So that’s new as in brand new. GTA IV’s Liberty City is the beginning. Think about that. And be excited.

Apr 24, 2008