Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition is here, a mouthful of a title for a fittingly gigantic collection, a bundle of GTA 3, GTA: Vice City, and GTA: San Andreas remasters, three of the most culturally resonating games of the modern era.
These are the games that inspired the modern open world, pushed (and were promptly pushed back from) the boundaries of what was acceptable, and changed video game ratings systems forever. Naturally, we’re feeling a little nostalgic today, and so to mark the occasion we’ve gathered together a handful of our favourite features on the trilogy, from GTA 3 and a sweeping history of the open world phenomenon to the incredible story of the San Andreas “Hot Coffee” scandle.
Born Free: the History of the Open World Game
Grand Theft Auto 3 is often thought of as the origin of the modern open world game. In the immediate years after its 2001 release, open worlds were “GTA clones”, like early FPS games were all seen as clones of DOOM. But GTA 3 is only a part of the story, where open world games are concerned. Dan Whitehead, writing in 2008, takes us right back to the origins of the genre, in a sweeping history beginning with 1979’s Adventure.
Born Free: the history of the open world game – by Dan Whitehead.
How a small group of GTA fanatics reverse-engineered GTA 3 and Vice City without getting shut down
Long before Rockstar came along and announced these big, official remasters, fans were had at work on re-building the original GTA 3 and GTA: Vice City games themselves. Wesley Yin-Poole, writing earlier this year, takes us through the multi-year story of how it all came together. The result was the first fully open-source version GTA 3 and Vice City, with fan-made source code available to all. And somehow, at least at the time of writing, Rockstar hadn’t taken them down.
Retrospective: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Is San Andreas the best GTA game ever? Quite possibly. Dan Whitehead returns with a 2012 retrospective on the series classic, diving into the wonderful voice acting cast and the now-reknowned Rockstar obsession with detail – not just with the cars or the textures, but the texture of the world itself.
Retrospective: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – by Dan Whitehead.
Rockstar’s history of America
What do Rockstar’s games tell us about American history? Spurred on by the inveitable discourse on violence and accuracy with the launch of Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018, Robert Whitaker explores the developer’s obsession with American crime, corruption, and outsider heroes across all of their games, from Red Dead and LA Noire to Vice City and San Andreas.
Rockstar’s history of America – by Robert Whitaker.
The mystery of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas’ mass grave
On Saturday 26th June 2021, at 7.57pm, Eurogamer received a very strange email: “The Mass Grave curse – Grand Theft Auto San Andreas,” it begins. Sahira Raja, writing while on work experience with Eurogamer earlier this year dove into the mystery attempting to uncover the truth, speaking to former Rockstar developers along the way. It’s a weird, riveting story.
The mystery of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas’ mass grave – by Sahira Raja.
Who spilled Hot Coffee?
“Not for the first time that month, Patrick Wildenborg was disoriented. With a one year-old baby in the house he was familiar with the fug of a deep sleep cut short by noise. But this awakening was different. It was prompted not by an infant’s wail but the hysteria of a telephone ringing in the night. Eyes still closed, Wildenborg lifted the receiver.
“Hello, Patrick?” The accent on the end of the line was unmistakably New Yorker. “This is Rockstar. The game developer. We want to thank you for what you’ve done.”
Simon Parkin, writing in 2012, tells the extraordinary story of GTA: San Andreas’ infamous Hot Coffee scandle. Sex, politics, development, drama – the complete absurdity of video games themselves, and the associated moral panic they invoke, is covered here. One of the most remarkable controversies in gaming, this may be the definitive Grand Theft Auto story.
Who Spilled Hot Coffee? – by Simon Parkin.
How the GTA Hot Coffee scandal changed age ratings forever
The ideal chaser after Simon Parkin’s longread, as part of his Here’s A Thing video series Chris Bratt explores the consequences of the controversy, investigating how the game’s hidden content cost its publisher tens of millions of dollars, but also the longer-term impact it had on the ESRB itself.
How the GTA Hot Coffee scandal changed age ratings forever – by Chris Bratt.
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