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Video Game / Grand Theft Auto III

I see nothing but good things for you, my boy...
"Sorry, babe. I'm an ambitious girl, and you... You're just small time."

In Liberty City, a Fictional Counterpart to New York, you play a silent, nameless note  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.

Released on PlayStation 2, then on the Xbox and PC, and eventually got released on iOS and Android for its 10th Anniversary in 2011.

This game was often banned in Malaysia during Muhammad Idris' ruling against the whole series.

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!"
  • All Part of the Show: Spoofed with one of Lazlow's callers, along with The New Rock & Roll. A staunchly anti-video game mother claims that her very young game-addicted son witnessed his dog get run over in real life, only to look around for a reset button.
  • Anti-Hero: Claude. He's not even close to being a good guy, but his enemies are usually worse.
  • Asian Drivers: The Old Oriental Gentleman is not an easy person to protect, particularly since he keeps slamming through traffic and mumbling, "Geddoudda da weh!"
  • Armed Blag: An early mission, and a Portland docks side quest.
  • Ax-Crazy: Catalina.
  • Batter Up: The baseball bat is the only melee weapon available in this game.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: Liberty City is based off of New York City.
  • Big Bad: Catalina.
  • Big Fancy House: The Cartel mansion, which they stole from Donald Love in Liberty City Stories.
  • 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.
  • Bound and Gagged: Offscreen, but from what's said, it's really obvious that Asuka tied Maria up, and for fun instead of for kidnapping.
    • Just bound, really; Maria is shouting that she knows she's been a naughty girl, but she really needs to pee.
  • 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 Cameo: The Zaibatsu Corporation from the previous game are mentioned in a radio commercial advertising their latest medical product, Equanox.
  • The Cartel: The Colombian 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. You can hardly blame him for that, since almost every faction he works for eventually decides to get rid of him. It's an entire world of CBD!
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Asuka does this. At first she just hits the guy repeatedly, and it seems like it won't get any worse than that. Then, after Maria gets involved, it becomes a lot worse.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Donald Love.
  • 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.
  • Darker and Edgier: Well, for the 3D era, anyways. The gritty atmosphere, dirty streets, rains and cloudy time, and funny moments are quite attenuated even compared to the following sequels. Beside that, the protagonist himself is a remorseless killer without any of the moral compunctions put in place in most later protagonists.
  • 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.
  • Delicious Distraction: El Burro hires to you lure out the Forellis with a Mr. Whoopee truck.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: You weren't supposed to be able to get here you know.
    • In "Cutting the Grass", the player must trace who is receiving leaked information from a snitch. The player may proceed to carefully trail the snitch riding on a taxi as instructed...or simply commandeer a taxi and pick the snitch up themselves, arousing little to no suspicion.
    • "Sayonara Salvatore" tasks the player with one simple task: Kill Salvatore after he leaves Luigi's club. However, the mission doesn't specify how the player should complete this task, so the mission has been programmed to accommodate different play styles, like a surprise charge that usually results in a chaotic car chase or an efficient sneak attack from a vantage point.
    • There's a pedestrian in the game that wears headphones. If you stick close enough to him, you can hear very faint music leaking from them.
  • Dirty Cop: Ray Machowski. He has plenty of contacts in the Liberty City underworld, and even introduces series staple, Phil Cassidy.
  • Disc One Final Boss: Salvatore Leone.
  • Double Entendre: "Give Head Radio a listen this weekend, it'll blow you away."
  • The Dragon:
    • Miguel to Catalina.
    • Toni Cipriani to Salvatore Leone.
  • 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.
  • Elvis Lives: The newspapers that drift around the ground read "Zombie Elvis Found". The same drifting newspaper is reused for Vice City.
  • 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.
    • Arguably, Claude does one when he kills Asuka's brother and starts a war with the Cartel. His possibly killing Maria may also qualify.
  • False Flag Operation: In a bid to drop real estate prices, Donald Love has Claude start a gang war by assassinating The Yakuza crime lord Kenji Kasen, for whom Claude had previously worked as an enforcer and then framing The Cartel. See Lost Forever below.
  • 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 
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: The two pilots of the police helicopters.
    Pilot: You are surrounde-
    Co-Pilot: Gimme that microphone! EAT LEAD!
  • 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.
    • The locations of the vehicle challenges are quite obscure, with them being out of the way and do not appear to be unique at a glance. The worst however has to be Multistory Mayhem, which actually requires you to drive a Stallion to the inconspicuous starting location, and then re-enter the Stallion to start it.
  • Grand Finale: GTA III is actually the chronological end point in the main GTA 3D era.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Colombian Cartel unwittingly doomed itself when they kidnapped the Oriental Gentleman, who coincidentally shared a transport with a vengeful Claude.
  • "Heroic" Mime: Even if Claude isn't quite a hero. And apparently he's a literal mute, too.
  • Karma Houdini: The Yardies leader, 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. Ditto Asuka after you take the construction site; you lose the condo missions.
  • Mafia Princess: Maria, although this is her at the tail end of that life.
  • Mistaken for Gay: When Maria calls up Chatterbox, she thinks Lazlow is gay.
  • Moral Guardians: It started up a whole new round of discussions about the dangers of violent video games.
  • Mythology Gag: A few.
    • A New York City stand-in by the name of Liberty City first appeared as the setting of the first GTA.
    • Subway advertisements for Top Down City, a reference to the previous games' Top-Down View.
    • El Burro was a potential employer of the player in the first game's San Andreas.
    • A "Claude Speed" resembling the Claude of III appeared Grand Theft Auto II 's live action intro. He gets shot in both.
    • The Zaibatsu Corporation, here reduced to peddling pharmaceuticals, was an employer in all zones of Grand Theft Auto II. This is possibly Justified, since GTA 2 takes place in 2013 while this game is set in October of 2001, so this was likely either prior to their conversion into the powerful crime syndicate we know in the former game or when they were still small-time criminals whose activities were below even the police's radar.
    • Both of the previous games included a radio station named "Head Radio."
  • New York Subway: The Portland Island El, and the Liberty City Subway itself is based off of the New York City Subway.
  • No-Gear Level: The final mission.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: While for the most part, Michael Madsen (Toni Cipriani's VA) pronounces his name "Sip-riani", there is one instance in one of his missions where he messes up and pronounces it "Kip-riani".
  • Pretty in Mink: Maria's tiger skirt, and she mentions she knows a lot about leopard skin furniture.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Catalina.
  • Retired Badass: You'd never know it just from this game, but just three years before Claude met up with him, Toni Cipriani was every bit as crazy and murderous as him.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: This was the last GTA game where smashing into/blowing up cars earned money on its own.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Squaring off with Catalina's helicopter on the Cochrane Dam.
  • Shout-Out: All on this page.
  • 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.
  • The Sociopath: Catalina, Claude too if you choose to go on a rampage.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Violent gang activities + Double Clef Channel = This.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Immediately after the credits roll. The game resumes with Claude $1 million richer, and a thunderstorm raging over the city below. Mwu ha ha.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Supposedly because the waters of Liberty City are insanely toxic.
  • Take That: Asuka contracting you to kill a "strangely animated undercover cop." Even his car is the same.
  • 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". Later followed by an even more difficult mission involving intercepting an airplane, called "Grand Theft Aero".
  • Third Is 3D: Averted. Although this game brought the series into 3D the title opts for a simple III rather than "3D."
  • The Unintelligible: The Yardies. Good luck interpreting their accents with subtitles turned off.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: A leap so huge it created a whole new genre.
  • Villain Protagonist: Claude, with some Anti-Hero traits.
  • 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.
    • In Portland, you are contacted by El Burro of the Hispanic Diablo Gang.
    • When you reach Staunton Island, you are contacted by King Courtney of the Jamaican Yardies.
    • After unlocking Shoreside Vale, D-Ice of the Red Jacks gives you a call.
  • We Used To Be Lovers: Claude and Catalina.
  • What a Piece of Junk: The Hoods Rumpo XL, the gang vehicle of The Southside Hoods. It is a rusty and defaced van, yet it goes surprisingly fast and handles well. And since it spawns in the poor Wichita Gardens, it is easily the best vehicle you can find in that area.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Donald Love will simply disappear when the mission "Decoy" is finished. The only thing he leaves behind is an empty box.
    • Although you unfailingly see a plane flying away during the cutscene where you wonder where he's gone. It can be assumed that he's on it.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: An Ad Bumper for Head Radio calls the station "the rock of Liberty City for sixty years". This would mean they started out in 1941, Rock & Roll wasn't invented by then.
    • This becomes a Running Gag in Vice City (set in the 1980s), in which Lazlow, there the DJ of the rock station V-ROCK, claims the station has been around for seventy years.