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Video Game / Grand Theft Auto III

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"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 on your ex-girlfriend/partner in crime Catalina, who shot you and left you for dead after a bank robbery. 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 the first of the series to actually feature a full-fledged 3D graphics engine that took advantage of the state-of-the-art hardware of its time to render an entire city, basically setting the roots for the Wide Open Sandbox genre as we know it.


Distinct tropes of this game:

  • 100% Completion: As you progress through the game, your completion rate in the Stats sub-screen increases, however a large bulk of the game's percentage also lies within the game's many side-missions. Players aiming to complete the game 100%, however, may want to use more than one save slot since certain missions can be permanently lost forever if certain characters are killed off before finishing their set of missions.
  • 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!"
  • The Alleged Car: More like Alleged Plane. The Dodo is the only airplane you can take control of in the game, but its wings are clipped, which severely hinders its flying capabilities. Hasn't stopped some players from successfully piloting it.
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  • 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.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Cartel. Unlike all the other gangs, these guys are hostile to you from the beginning, and their leader, Catalina, is the one who (literally) fired the first shot.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: This game has several implemented:
    • After you whack Salvatore, some of the missions with shotgun-toting Mafia members are nerfed to 9mm pistols in the missions "Big'n'Veiny" and "Espresso-2-Go!". On another mission for D-Ice of the Red Jacks, despite the objective being in Saint Mark's, the Mafia will outright ignore you because of the Infernus being very easy to destroy. Another is where you're required to kill Kenji in the PC version: some of the Yakuza guards which had assault rifles in the PS2 original now wield 9mm pistols.
    • During the Taxi Driver, Paramedicnote , Firefighter and Vigilante missions, you do not have to do most of them in one sitting. With the exception of infinite sprint at Level 12, you can do these side missions in as many sittings as you want. You just have to get to a certain number total to unlock bonuses at your safe houses.
    • On missions that require a Cash Gate, it only pays you on the first attempt only. Subsequent retries do not have you repay the boss every time you have to retry. This is very useful because these tend to be the game's hardest missions.
    • On the mobile version, it implements in-mission checkpoints. On other versions, there are none.
  • 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:
    • The obviously insane Marty Chonks is a man in financial difficulty and has grievances with many people because of it. But he took care of these grievances by killing those who were the cause of the grievances and turning them into dog food.
    • Catalina, full stop. She lashes at Miguel for the slightest provocations and she also sports a mean streak.
  • Bad Humor Truck: A mission by El Burro requires Claude to blow up an ice cream truck near a group of members from the Forelli's mafia.
  • 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. Each island is loosely based off of the boroughs: Portland is based off of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Staunton Island is the game's counterpart of Manhattan. Shoreside Vale is a mix of Staten Island, parts of eastern New Jersey and Long Island fused into one.
  • Big Bad: Catalina serves as the game's main antagonist.
  • Big Fancy House: The Cartel mansion, which they stole from Donald Love in Liberty City Stories.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: Armor adds an extension to the player's Life Meter.
  • Bound and Gagged: Just the former offscreen, but from what's said, it's really obvious that Asuka tied Maria up, and for fun instead of for kidnapping.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The German version of the game heavily censored the game's violence, and its changes were also applied to the French version as well. All instances of the blood has been removed, resulting in Bloodless Carnage throughout the game, and peds can't lose limbs or their head when shot with some weapons. Peds also can't be kicked or be beaten with a bat while they're down, which also negatively impact gameplay, and they also don't drop money upon death (blowing stuff up however still gives you money). All Rampage Missions were removed outright, along with the counters for Rampage Missions and people wasted from the Stats sub-screen (although 100% completion is still possible despite these changes).
    • The Australian version retains the game's level of violence. However, the game removes the ability to have sex with prostitutes (they'll run away if you attempt to pick one up) in order for the game to get by with a rating of MA-15+ by the Australian Certification Board since it was initially banned in 2001 due to sexual violence.
  • 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. Doesn't quite explain why the subway entrances are closed off, though.
  • Brooklyn Rage: A large portion of the cast, including the protagonist.
  • Camera Lock-On: GTA III (and later 3D era games) feature a camera lock-on targeting for combat when using firearms, and the player's view becomes fixed to their locked target until the let go of the lock-on button or get too far away. The PC port however gives players the option of using lock-on targeting or free-look option.
  • 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.
  • Cash Gate: There's two storyline mission that require certain amounts of money to be unlocked. Those are "Bomb Da Base Act II" and "The Exchange", which requires $100,000 and $500,000, respectively.
  • 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.
  • Continuing Is Painful:
    • Dying or getting arrested deprives you of all your weapons, and whatever mission you were in the middle of will fail on the spot. Collecting hidden packages will mitigate this to a slap on the wrist with free weapon pickups appearing at your hideout, but you'll still have to drive back to the mission's starting point to retry it.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Donald Love serves as the leader of Love Media, and he will do anything to obtain power in Liberty City, even if it goes as far as instigating a gang war with the Yakuza and the Colombian Cartel to raise real estate prices.
  • Covers Always Lie: A lot of the imagery found in both the game cover and the loading screens seems to run contradictory to the game itself.
    • Misty's character drawing shows her holding a pistol and wearing a rather menacing expression on her face. In-game, she's portrayed as one of the nicer characters and is never shown wielding a gun.
      • She's also featured in the manual as one of 'the people who run this town'. In actuality, despite being fairly close to Joey, she's just a local prostitute working for Luigi.
    • One of 8-Ball's character drawings shows him holding an M-16. 8-Ball's hands were crippled prior to the events of the game, and he mentions in “Bomb Da Base: Act II” that he can’t hold firearms while his hands are healing.
    • That bearded guy at the bottom-left corner of the game cover? That's El Burro, a minor character whose face you never see in-game.
    • Half of the characters' manual/loading screen drawings look nothing like their in-game models. Salvatore Leone is missing his mustache, Asuka Kasen doesn't even have the same hairstyle or clothes, and several charactersnote  are shown sporting completely different outfits and/or hairstyles from the ones they wear in-game.
    • Catalina, the game's Big Bad, is nowhere to be found on the game's cover. She's also missing from the manual.
      • What's even more bizarre is that her partner Miguel is featured in the game manual and in loading screens, despite him being the less important character out of the two of them.
  • Crapsack World: Liberty City, whose representation of the organized crime is largely based on The Sopranos. Furthermore, backstabbing and betrayal are very common themes in the game, and the characters include a corrupt mayor, and a Corrupt Corporate Executive whose master plan is setting off a gang war between the Yakuza and the Colombian Cartel to cut down real estate prices for the city. The playable character is shot and left to die in the opening scene, to set the tone of this game.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Players who have played the game on consoles may feel somewhat awkward about the physical controller layout in the mobile version. While most of the controls are based on the PlayStation 2 version's default layout, however, Down on the D-pad acts as the change camera button in the mobile version, which is already mapped to Back button which also moves Claude downwards, the Right Bumper does not lock-on to nearby anymore as this version uses an auto-targeting system, and Left Bumper does not pan the camera behind you, yet the Right Bumper can also be used for the hand brakes and the Left Bumper can still be used to change radio stations. While driving, the buttons to sound the horn and activate a special vehicles' side-mission are also swapped (originally on Left Stick and Right Stick Buttons respectively in the previous versions). Unfortunately, unlike the console versions, there are no alternate control set-ups.
  • Darker and Edgier: Easily one of the darkest GTA games of the entire series. New generations of gamers who come to this game after playing the series' later installments might be surprised by how this game is less sentimental and less funny. As for the storyline, the entire plot is about a remorseless, callous killer looking for the psychotic woman who betrayed him. Furthermore, there's a gritty atmosphere, dirty streets, dreary weather around the city. It certainly doesn't help the fact that most characters are sociopaths, unpleasant or hostile towards you. The ending, however, is more ambiguous in tone, with the protagonist actually getting everything he wants, compared to both of IV's actually-sober endings where Niko's left heartbroken upon losing a loved one.
  • 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.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist:
    • The player can be taken down as many times in a variety of ways yet they'll always be brought back and out of the hospital doors of the area they are in, but they'll lose some of their money along with all of their weapons on hand.
    • Killing a pedestrian with non-explosive or non-inflammatory weapons will eventually draw the attention of medics whom will resuscitate them on the spot, assuming they haven't been decapitated or had their limbs shot off. There's also certain pedestrian who claims that he was revived 240 times.
  • Delicious Distraction: El Burro hires to you lure out the Forellis with a Mr. Whoopee truck.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • "You weren't supposed to be able to get here you know" - though it's actually quite easy to go there legally.
    • 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 model who wears headphones. If you stick close enough to him, you can hear very faint music leaking from them.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Dodo. It's the only airplane in the game you can control, but its wings are clipped and the controls are wonky as hell, making it nearly impossible to fly. "Nearly" being the operative word. If you can master the unintuitive mechanics, not only will you actually be able to fly all you like around Liberty City, but you'll be able to see things you couldn't otherwise and go into places you were never meant to enter.
  • 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 serves as this, and slaying him means you're persona non grata from Saint Mark's for the rest of the game.
  • Disc-One Nuke: Subverted. While it's possible to get an easily accessible Rhino in Portland by completing the emergency crane vehicles side-mission rather than beating the game's final mission to access the one from the military surplus in Staunton Island, by the time you can attract a six-star wanted level to get the military's attention, you're already about 2/3 of the way into the game.
  • Double Entendre: "Give Head Radio a listen this weekend, it'll blow you away."
  • The Dragon:
    • Miguel to Catalina, before she kills him due to his uselessness.
    • 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.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Being the first 3D game in the series, several things are different in this game compared to future entries:
    • This is the only 3D game developed under the DMA Design name. note 
    • There's an option for a top-down perspective akin to the 2D games, which Vice City onwards removed.
    • No map is shown in the pause menus.note 
    • You cannot buy property in this game, being restricted to a single safehouse per island instead.
    • Claude is the only silent protagonist in the entire series.note 
    • There were still instant monetary awards for street crimes, once again akin to the 2D games.
    • Everything was 10x more expensive in this game.note 
    • No Pay n' Spray and Ammu-Nation icons are on the radar.note 
    • You can't move the camera while driving.note 
    • Rather than using actual textures, photographs and decals serve those roles.
    • There are no motorcycles in this game.note 
    • Despite the "Strong Language" label featured on the game's content ratings, not a single F-bomb was dropped in the entire game, which is quite a glaring difference when compared to the later games in the series. A few milder profanities are being used and some characters use "shit" and a few variations of it. However, there is one pedestrian who nearly said the F-word just before getting cut short.
    • This game is the only one in the 3D era where real life locations are exclusively used outside of Liberty City. No mentions of Vice City are used, instead, the game uses Miami. While Vice City uses real life locations too, it doesn't get to the level that III does.
    • Your health is not restored after saving the game. Starting with Vice City, your health is replenished after you save your game.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After wrecking half of Liberty City, Claude finally kills Catalina, massacres her Colombian 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-III, 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 streets of Liberty City read "Zombie Elvis Found". The same drifting newspaper was reused for the PC port of 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.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Given no one takes the moral high ground in the game.
  • 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.
    • Claude may have one when he kills Asuka's brother and starts a war with the Cartel. His possibly killing Maria may also qualify.
  • Fake Band: Almost all of the artists who appear on Head Radio and Lips 106 are fictional.
  • 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.
  • Film Noir: With its pessimistic atmosphere, dark tone, moral ambiguity and muted colors, the game has many elements of this trope.
  • Foreshadowing: If the player makes a careful observation with the Leone Family Mafia, they're the only gang in Portland to only wield pistols. This is a subtle hint that they'll turn hostile later on in the story. After Claude whacks Salvatore, they now carry shotguns along with pistols. Traveling in Saint Mark's after "Sayonara Salvatore" is ill-advised, because the shotgun blasts will kill Claude in a heartbeat.
  • 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  This bug also occurs in the PC version as well, but it can be fixed via the fan-made SilentPatch.
    • Dying when importing or exporting an emergency vehicle will prevent you from getting 100% completion because the crane is stuck and you can't import/export any more emergency vehicles.
  • Game Mod: The PC port has seen a large number of community-made mods, ranging from custom vehicles, skins/models, unofficial patches, and total conversions.
    • The Xbox Version HD mod, a total conversion for the PC version that features the enhanced assets and effects from the Xbox port with remastered HD-quality textures.
    • PS2 Feels Edition, a total conversion similar to the Xbox Version HD mod, but aims to recreate how the game was originally presented on the PlayStation 2 for those that prefer a native PC experience rather than emulation.
    • GTA3D, a total conversion that aims to recreate elements and visual style of the game's beta version.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation:
    • Even though the Yardies and Colombian Cartel eventually become allied, they will attack each other on sight if they see each other.
    • Despite the Red Jacks and Purple Nines are rival gangs in-story, attacking either one will have both factions shooting at you.
  • 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.
    • A set of payphone missions are not marked in-game at all, although you may hear the phone in question ring when near Joey's garage.
  • Grand Finale: Grand Theft Auto III is actually the chronological end point of the main GTA 3D era.
  • Handbag of Hurt: Be very careful of the scrawny old ladies carrying handbags. They may look frail, but they can pack a wallop with those things, and they won't hesitate to use them if you get violent around them.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility: Five of the seven gangs will turn hostile after certain missions. However, the Colombian Cartel will always be hostile towards you, no matter what.
  • Heroic Mime: Even if Claude isn't quite a hero. And apparently he's a literal mute, too, as even when he returns in a prequel, he never says a word.
  • High-Pressure Blood: When pedestrians are decapitated with a headshot or have one of their limbs shot off, a torrent of blood will shoot out from where their head or limb used to be before falling to the ground.
  • 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.
    • Marty Chonks kills people by inviting them to his warehouse. Eventually when his wife's cheating boyfriend discovers this, he kills him when he is about to be invited.
  • I Never Told You My Name: Parodied when Toni Cipriani calls in to Chatterbox FM. He claims his name isn't important, but then accidentally refers to himself as Toni. Lazlow starts his response by calling him Toni, which immediately makes him suspicious and hostile, threatening to murder Lazlow and insisting his name is not Toni, only to go on unintentionally referring to himself by his real name.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: The Cheetahs you face from the Turismo mission. They're bulletproof, fireproof, and explosion-proof, the only thing they are not immune to is crashing. Unfortunately you can't just hijack the car at the start of the race as they have their doors locked... but if you can flip one over that it blows up and have the patience to push the wreckage all the way into your garage, it will be repaired back to new and becoming usable. You still need to be careful of crashing too much and being dragged out of the car, but otherwise it keeps its immunity against the 3 things above.
  • 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. It isn't the first time he escaped punishment, either.
    • Donald Love, as if he didn't cause enough mayhem in 1998, presumably escapes punishment from being the mastermind behind a bloody gang war between the Colombian Cartel and the Yakuza, in which Asuka, Kenji and Miguel have been killed.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Can literally be done by melee attacking pedestrians and enemies, and shot down with a weapon as well.
  • Kill 'Em All: Except for Claude, of course. The jury is still out on Maria.
  • Lag Cancel: A quirk with the shotgun is the reload animation between shots can be canceled by simply switching between locked on targets or simply engaging and disengaging lock-ons quickly, allowing Claude to mow down a horde of goons with ease.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black:
    • As terrible of a person Claude is, the crooks he opposes, namely those dealing in SPANK, are even worse.
    • This extends to the gangs and criminals as well. All the crooks and gangs that Claude is ostensibly allied with are staunchly opposed to the drug trade and are working to get SPANK off the streets.
  • Left Hanging: Both the disappearance of Donald Love and the ambiguous fate of Maria after the ending, in which she may be or may be not have been Killed Offscreen. Both aren't even answered in future games either.
  • 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.
  • Money for Nothing: Other than the two story Cash Gates, money is very easy to get and you'll be in the millions at the end of the game. It's no surprise that future Grand Theft Auto games attempted to fix this problem.
  • 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 in Grand Theft Auto 2'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 2. 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".
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: There are a few in-game billboards that feature movies staring actors with names like "Arnold Steelone" and "Chuck Schwartz".
  • No Fair Cheating: Don't even think of inputting the lower wanted level cheat on the Decoy mission - it just resets back to the maximum of six stars.
  • No-Gear Level: The final mission starts with all your weapons gone.
  • 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".
  • Off with His Head!: Doable with headshots, especially with high-powered weapons such as the M16.
  • One-Hit Kill: Any pedestrian who is knocked down can be killed in one hit with the baseball bat.
  • Permanently Missable Content: 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.
  • Point of No Return: Downplayed with one notable exception. There are several missions that make gangs hostile to you, which makes doing main/side missions more difficult on their turf. Fortunately, this usually amounts to being a minor annoyance since most gangs stick to their handguns as Claude obtains more advanced weaponry. However, angering the Mafia by assassinating Salvatore turns about half of Portland into a no-go-zone guarded by eagle-eyed, shotgun-wielding murder machines, making all remaining content on their turf borderline impossible to beat.
  • Press X to Die: At a certain point, you'll learn that a car you were supposed to pick up has been rigged with a car bomb. You can still go get the car, which predictably ends up with it blowing up with you inside.
  • Pretty in Mink: Maria's tiger skirt, and she mentions she knows a lot about leopard skin furniture.
  • Prolonged Video Game Sequel: GTAIII expanded on its predecessors by including three islands, various mission threads in addition to the main story, and collectible packages.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Catalina, who callously betrays Claude and sides with the Colombian Cartel whom are pushing a new drug across Liberty City.
  • Regional Redecoration: In Grand Theft Auto III, a massive construction site sits where there was a neighborhood in Liberty City Stories. Why? Because Toni set off a massive explosion under it under orders from Donald Love.
  • 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.
  • Scenery Porn: Begins the GTA tradition of featuring intricate and detailed cityscapes that can be explored in-between missions.
  • Secret Keeper: As much as Miguel tries to plea his innocence, Asuka is adamant that his Cartel assassinated her brother and tortures him in front of Claude, who was the one who actually dealt the hit disguised as the Cartel.
  • 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, and Claude too if you choose to go on a rampage.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Violent gang activities + Double Clef channel = This.
  • Spare a Messenger: You fail the mission where you kill Kenji Kasen if you kill everybody else since you need someone alive to report that the assassination was carried out by the Colombian Cartel. Interestingly, the victim previously gave you a mission where you do something similar and you fail if you do leave anyone alive.
  • 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.
  • 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 the typical "3D."
  • The Unintelligible: The Yardies. Good luck interpreting their accents with subtitles turned off.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • The PC version added some extra details to certain places of Liberty City, a few of which were based of the beta version of the game, along with custom soundtrack support via MP3 files, higher resolutions, greater draw distances, and if your system is powerful enough, faster loading times. It also has a new control style to accommodate mouse and keyboard controls.
    • The Xbox port of the game features revamped graphics, improved character models with animated hands, real-time reflections on vehicles, and the ability to use custom soundtracks with music stored on your Xbox's hard drive.
    • Celebrating its 10th anniversary, it was re-released on mobile platforms as Grand Theft Auto III: 10 Year Anniversary Edition which featured adjustable visual settings, improved loading times, customizable controls, a checkpoint system for missions, an accessible map of Liberty City, and some visual improvements similar to the Xbox version.
  • Video Game 3D Leap: A leap so huge it created a whole new genre.
  • Villain of Another Story: Donald Love is probably the single-most most vile person in Liberty City, but he's only tangentially involved with Claude's quest for revenge. He's ultimately just a white collar criminal Claude does a few jobs for that just so happen to help Claude get closer to his goal.
  • Villain Protagonist: Claude is probably the most evil protagonist of the series.
  • 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 Friends: Claude and Catalina used to be lovers until she shot him and left him for dead.
  • 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, unless if you're on a part of the area where a sports car can spawn.
  • 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 Claude finds that box; it can be assumed that he's on it.
  • Wretched Hive: This version of Liberty City might very well be the worst city in the series. It's dank, it's dirty, it's home to at least nine feuding gangsnote  alongside other small-time crooks, a highly addictive drug called SPANK is being pushed in the streets, the police force is corrupt and brutal, and the resident media billionaire is building his own criminal empire. And knowing how the GTA-verse works, the government is also buried in corruption when it's not being incompetent.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Parodied. 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.
  • You Have Failed Me: Catalina murders Miguel at the very end of the game after she finally has enough of his uselessness.


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