Liberty City is where it all started for both the 3D and HD era GTA titles, which makes its evolution truly remarkable.
Throughout the years, Liberty City has undergone major changes to its landscape. GTA 3 was a revolutionary time for sandbox games. Although primitive by today’s standards, back then it was an open-world experience like no other.
It was a fully explorable city that pushed hardware limitations.
GTA 4 was a next generation title that saw a return to its classic roots. With an updated engine and better graphical capabilities, Liberty City truly stands the test of time.
GTA 3 walked so GTA 4 could run – there have been several changes to this video game counterpart to new York City.
Five major changes in Liberty City from GTA 3 to GTA 4
#5 – Pedestrians are far more detailed
In fairness to GTA 3, Rockstar Games did not have the technology to implement advanced pedestrian AI. Most of them mind their own business, walking or driving without a sense of direction.
Later 3D era games would improve on the AI pathing for more behavioral variety. However, the HD era took it up a notch.
GTA 4 is a living and breathing location. Notably, police will capture other criminals. Pedestrians go about daily activities, such as taking grocery bags out of their vehicles.
Sometimes there is somebody who sweeps the streets. Liberty City never sleeps, and neither do these pedestrians.
Thanks to a significant increase in model randomization, GTA 4 pedestrians no longer use one specific appearance. Instead, there is variation in their age, physical features, and clothing items.
#4 – The New York influence is far more pronounced
When Rockstar designed Liberty City in GTA 3, they used a combination of several major cities from the United States. New York is the obvious one, but there are also influences of Boston, Detroit, and Chicago (among others).
It can feasibly belong anywhere in the country.
With GTA 4, there is no denying how influential New York City is to the location. Libery City is a faithful recreation, especially in regards to the physical layout. Everything from the streets to the transportation system is identical to their real life counterparts (for example, Rottendam Tower to the Empire State Building).
There are several historical landmarks that bring out the New York atmosphere. This includes the Statue of Happiness (Statue of Liberty), Middle Park (Central Park), and Star Junction (Times Square).
These are recognizable areas that make GTA players feel like they’re in New York.
#3 – There are more burroughs to explore
There are three main areas in GTA 3, which are industrial Portland, commercial Staunton Island, and residential Shoreside Vale. They are loosely based off various locations in New York and New Jersey.
By the time of GTA 4, Rockstar had decided to reimagine Liberty City as a video game replica of New York. There are five main burroughs now; Broker (Brooklyn), Dukes (Queens), Bohan (Bronx), Algonquin (Manhattan), and Alderney (New Jersey). They are true to life to their respective counterparts.
Notably, the only New York City burrough not represented in GTA 4 is Staten Island. There is also an unvisited location near Liberty City known as the Carraways. This is a reference to the fair-weather Hamptons.
#2 – Rockstar got rid of the mainland
Unlike other games in the series, GTA 3 has the special distinction of Liberty City connecting to the mainland. Instead of a series of islands, Liberty City is part of another landmass. The residential area of Shoreside Vale is what connects Liberty City with the rest of the state.
By comparison, GTA 4’s rendition of Liberty City is an island unto itself. During the development of GTA 3, Rockstar intended the mainland to give players a feeling that there was more to the world.
However, they abandoned the idea in future installments.
#1 – Graphics have been considerably updated
This is the most obvious difference between the two games. Even at the time, the GTA 3 graphics weren’t anything to write home about. Given the system it was on (PlayStation 2), development teams were still trying to figure out ways to improve 3D world graphics.
Instead of the blocky textures of its predecessor, GTA 4 uses updated graphics technology. It even won an IGN award in regards to its graphical capabilities. At the time, GTA 4 had the best graphics of any GTA title.
There is far more attention to detail, such as garbage littered throughout the streets.
Liberty City has more light and shadow effects. As a result, night and day cycles are particularly noticeable (such as the changing shadows of trees in a park). In stark contrast to GTA 3 and its cold blue atmosphere, GTA 4 has an orange glow that permeates everywhere in the day.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s personal views.