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Details big and small popped throughout the four boroughs of Liberty City and neo-Jersey Aldernay across the water.

IGN Presents: The History of Grand Theft Auto

Rockstar promised and delivered no load screens from start to stop, outdoor to indoor, rooftops to potholes, and none of San Andreas' dead zones. You were in the city at all times and it was alive all around you, beautiful and brutal and unpredictable, just like it should be. A few traditions stayed intact. The new kid in town was Niko Bellic, an Eastern European wiseguy convinced to emigrate by his truth-flexible cousin Roman, hoping for a fresh start on the gold-paved streets of Liberty City.

Naturally, the realities aren't so pretty.

IGN Presents The History of Grand Theft Auto

Roman's jammed up with the local mob and could use an experienced hand to help mitigate circumstances and permanently chill a few skulls out Roman's issues paled when trouble Nico thought he left in the Old Country caught up to him in the New World, though. In the wake of GTA IV's release in early , it was more clear than ever that Rockstar and the Housers were leading the gaming industry Fans couldn't get enough of living out lives of crime from their living rooms, and speculation began to run wild for where GTA would go next.

It seemed a safe suspicion, but the reality was more unexpected — the next release went back, again, to Liberty City. The Lost and The Damned launched for the Xbox as a timed exclusive in February of '09, and would remain playable only on Microsoft's box for over a year. Jones and company settled into the Lemmings business, only dropping two non-Lemming titles in-between to stay fresh.

Before the pattern fully set in, circumstances nudged Jones to break all his old habits.


  1. Back to Los Santos.
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Sony bought out Psygnosis, his one and only publisher, and Commodore's bankruptcy announcement sunk the Amiga, his primary platform. Jones had a new home. He went to work on an exclusive launch title, Body Harvest , DMA's first 3D effort, and it did things a little differently from those other Nintendo games.

IGN Live Presents: GTA V Character Trailers

You played an armed and armored soldier in a free-roaming mission to save humanity from hungry alien carnivores, able to jump into any vehicle you found. Less fortunate humans, whether they fell to invaders, careless driving or over-aggressive marksmanship, died screaming in a haze of bit blood. Mario's creator wanted more puzzles, less gore. The aggressively over-the-top gameplay and open-world environments fit like personally tailored brass knuckles.

It needed more , not different. Body Harvest fell off Nintendo's schedule to be picked up years later by Midway , but DMA was already moving on a newer, better project.

Dropping dimes on a lifetime of girls and guns...and getting away with it.

Programming had an engine that simulated a top-down cityscape, and centering the camera on a moving object gave it a incredible sense of speed. Jones quickly dreamed up a cops-and-robbers chase game around that dynamic, set in a living, breathing city where the player could go anywhere and do anything. Then he got bold: And while Rockstar has yet to detail any specifics of the multiplayer component, the studio has promised a robust evolution of GTA IV's already stellar social options.

The only thing that stands between gamers and Grand Theft Auto V is a seemingly never-ending summer. With the PS4 and next Xbox presumably arriving later on in , Rockstar's urban opus truly feels like a punctuation mark at the end of this console generation.

IGN Presents: The History of Grand Theft Auto - IGN

And with that, we'll have to wait until September 17th, to once-again experience what it's like to live and die in Los Santos. The series has been around for a solid chunk of our medium's lifespan, and yet it only took a fraction of that time for GTA to prove revolutionary. In only its first five years, Grand Theft Auto completely changed gaming, opened it up, made it dangerous, exciting, and relevant to a wider world. It pushed a novel idea, that video games weren't always made or meant for kids, and then made the idea stick.

2001 by the Numbers

Today, GTA remains the champion of the M-rating, ready and willing to satirize supporters and detractors in equally excessive measure. Dozens followed its lead and built franchises of their own — some punked in-game by the master — but none delivered the same raw, visceral experience or dared to take the joke too far. Especially not on purpose, without ever really knowing how people might react. But those are the risks in America. People do what they do in America.