For those of you that were living under a rock this week, Rockstar and TakeTwo released the very first trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV, the next installment of their so-called prostitute-slapping, murder simulator (or so I’ve heard from those nutty politicians). I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, as the Intranets nearly exploded when the trailer was first released. You can check it out again at GameTrailers.com.
But there was one thing that got me thinking. A comment on one of the Digg articles brought up the issue of flying planes into buildings. You can see all throughout the trailer that Rockstar has faithfully recreated New York City, with glimpses of the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and the Empire State building. It maybe called Liberty City, but it’s basically NYC with a new name.
So, if you add in the fact that the GTA series has let you fly planes and jets in previous installments, and that we’re going to be traveling around an extremely realistic-looking NYC locale, we might have a recipe for a media disaster on our hands. In a post-9/11 world, the very idea of planes hitting a building would make someone shit a break, let alone giving someone the ability to actually re-enact one. Just know you will hear about this again at some point.
The politicians are already in a tizzy that their safe and sound city is going to be showcased in a crime-ridden GTA game. (So wait, no one’s seen The Godfather, the Sopranos, or any other gangster movie? Why are games singled out in this situation?).
I think Rockstar put themselves between a rock and a hard place when realistically depicting NYC in video game form. The media is going to have a field day over this. And yes, even though True Crime: NYC already did this, no one really cared about that game. Everyone knows about GTA, though.
I also heard on the IGN Gamescoop podcast that a developer cannot deform or deface a real-life building in a video game. Ubisoft came into a problem like this with Rainbow Six: Las Vegas. You can’t even have a bullet hole show up, as the buildings are privately owned. This may help solve the pseudo-9/11 problem, as the buildings will still stand there when getting hit by a plane, but the idea is still there.
It’ll definitely be cool to travel around a NYC-style setting, but it’s going to suck if Rockstar takes away the ability to fly a plane. That was one of the best rewards in San Andreas, and it would be a step backward for the series if they forgo that ability.
The game comes out in October, so we still have a long wait ahead of us. But just know we are going to hear about how GTA has ruined everyone’s lives constantly in the upcoming months, making the wait feel a lot longer.