"Sorry, babe, I'm an ambitious girl, and you— (BLAM) ...You're just small time."
In Liberty City, a Fictional Counterpart to New York, you play a silent, namelessnote later games reveal his name to be Claude protagonist who escapes from a prison transport and climbs the city's criminal ladder. You are hoping to get revenge your ex-girlfriend/partner in crime Catalina, who left you for dead after a bank robbery gone bad. It won't be an easy journey. Some will backstab you, and others will think you are in the way. But if you fight the good fight, this will be one hell of a ride.This game burst onto the scene in 2001, completely overhauling the series by bringing it into a 3D environment, popularizing the Wide Open Sandbox genre and turning Rockstar Games into its namesake. Although further games would add polish, few sequels deviate too much from this winning formula.Released on PlayStation 2, then on the Xbox and PC, and eventually got released on iOS and Android.
Distinct tropes of this game:
Action Bomb: In the mission "Kingdom Come", the player is ambushed by drug-crazed madmen spawning from mook-making vans, complete with weird random chatter such as "Come to daddy!" and "I got a present for ya!"
Black and Grey Morality: Claude is prone to fits of random violence, but the majority of the story missions are him working his way up the ladder and destroying various criminal organizations as he hunts down Catalina.
Broken Bridge: Played literally. The bridge to Staunton Island was blown up in the opening cutscene (thus justifying it in that case), the drawbridge mechanism on the bridge to Shoreside Vale was broken, and the tunnel connecting all three islands was still under construction.
Brooklyn Rage : A large portion of the cast, including the protagonist.
The Cartel: Arguably the main antagonists of the game.
Central Theme: Betrayal and revenge drive not only the plot, but also the missions. Claude is apparently motivated by his desire for revenge against Catalina. Salvatore Leone is paranoid about his underlings betraying him (and rightly so). Donald Love gets the player to betray Kenji.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Catalina, of course. This also applies to Claude, given the sheer number of times he shifts allegiance from one gang to another.
Crapsack World: "The worst city in America" indeed. Gangs turning hostile towards Claude, one of which is already hostile (and only two gangs won't attack him on sight by the time the game is completed). Liberty City also houses a corrupt mayor, backstabbing mobsters and a dreary environment.
Deadly Game: Liberty City Survivor, which is advertised on the radio in III. The ad, complemented with fan footage from IV, can be listened to here.
Drought Level of Doom: The last level/encounter is supposed to be like this; the character is stripped of his guns and left to chase the Big Bad with only a machine pistol stolen from a mook. However if one has been diligent in collecting the bonus packages, a nearby safe house will have a related number of weapons for the grabbing, if you can get to them fast enough.
Earn Your Happy Ending: After wrecking half of Liberty City, Claude finally kills Catalina, massacres her Columbia allies, and rides off into the sunset with Maria. Whether her whining gets her killed or not at Claude's hands is open to debate.
Elite Mook: Of all the GTA protagonists post-3D Claude is the closest we ever get to one as he seems to have no ambition whatsoever beyond getting paid. He will kill anyone and do anything he is told to by any man/woman with a deep wallet without the slightest argument and is ultimately loyal to none of them. Fact is he really wouldn't seem out of place as a random henchman in one of Michael De Santa's heists.
Every Bullet is a Tracer: At the very least, they're smoke trails. Smoke trails that stay exactly in one place, but still smoke trails.
Face-Heel Turn: About a third of the way through the game, Salvatore Leone sends Claude to pick up a car that he's had rigged with a bomb in an effort to kill him.
Fan Nickname: Due to being ordered around for the entire game, before his real name was revealed, Claude was referred to as "Fido". Also, Maria refers to Claude as "Fido" when he is ordered by Salvatore Leone to be her driver.
Game-Breaking Bug: The original PS2 version has the infamous Purple Nines glitch, in which a rival gang is exterminated after the D-Ice mission "Rumble." The problem is that completing the mission eliminates the Purple Nines from all save files on that memory block, preventing all other new and existing saves from loading the Nines. This becomes a problem because D-Ice's first mission involves performing drive-bys on this gang, making that mission impossible to complete on all other saves.note Thankfully, it can be avoided if one starts a new game without the affected Memory Card inserted, thus avoiding the affected save file from being loaded up.
Guide Dang It: A few of the missions are tough as hell unless done a certain way, and the game gives no hints to those methods.
"Espresso-2-Go" requires intimate knowledge of the city streets, at the very least.
"Heroic" Mime: Even if Claude isn't quite a hero. And apparently he's a literal mute, too.
Hey, It's That Voice!: The first GTA game with a name-actor voice cast, each one known from cult crime movies and TV shows, including Frank Vincent (Goodfellas), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs), Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos), Robert Loggia (Scarface), Debi Mazar (Goodfellas), Michael Rapaport (True Romance) and Kyle Maclachlan (Twin Peaks).
Karma Houdini: The King Courtney. Besides being quite hostile with Claude, he betrayed him, allying with Catalina and never received a deserved punishment.
Kill 'em All: Except for Claude, of course. The jury is still out on Maria.
Lost Forever: Some Portland missions need to be done before you leave. Also, Kenji will get killed at a certain point, so you need to complete his missions before then.
Mafia Princess: Maria, although this is her at the tail end of that life.
No Pronunciation Guide: While for the most part, the voice actor for Tony Cipriani pronounces his name Sipriani, there is one instance in one of his missions where he messes up and pronounces it Kipriani.
Pretty in Mink: Maria's tiger skirt, and she mentions she knows a lot about leopard skin furniture.
Cartel members often say "You want the chainsaw, gringo?" during firefights, a reference to a particularly memorable scene in Scarface.
Small Role, Big Impact: Nothing in the game would have happened were it not for the "Old Oriental Gentleman" and the Cartel freeing him from the police transport, which also allowed you to get free too.
Shrug of God: Did Claude shoot Maria? "No one knows for sure what happened there" is the official line.
The Sociopath: Catalina, Claude too if you choose to go on a rampage.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: One of the late Mafia missions has you tailing a person of interest when gets into a taxi. If you manage to hijack the taxi that's parked outside the club before the target appears or take a taxi for yourself and park in the same area, the person will get into your taxi and you get to escort him to his destination. Of course, driving like a maniac will still spook him and make the mission fail.
Title Drop: A notoriously difficult mission, where you must steal 3 cars and deliver them to the Yakuza within 6 minutes and without a single scratch, is called "Grand theft auto".
Too Soon: After 9/11, Rockstar North changed the paint jobs on the police cars so that they didn't resemble those of the NYPD. Some pedestrian dialogue was also changed. There was insufficient time between the disaster and publication for extensive alterations.
The Unintelligible: The Yardies. Good luck interpreting their accents with subtitles turned off.
The Voice : The leaders of three gangs each situated on one of the three islands in the city call you via pay phone and have you run errands for them. At no point in the game do you actually get to meet them.