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The games' narratives are only loosely tied together and are not in chronological order, but it is a trilogy, featuring our distorted look at the East Coast around the time of the millennium, followed by our reinterpretation of '80s Miami, and lastly, our look at early-'90s California.

The 3D Universe is the official name given by Rockstar North via the Rockstar Games Newswire[1][2] to the fictional world where the second-generation games of the Grand Theft Auto franchise take place. Before being officially named by Rockstar, this universe was previously known as the Grand Theft Auto III era and less commonly referred as the PlayStation 2 era.

This universe's continuity, including brands, vehicles, characters, in-universe celebrities, events and locations, are shared with Rockstar North's Manhunt series, as part of a shared universe.

Description[]

This generation consisted of six titles released from 2001 to 2006. A game pack containing all "The Definitive Editions" of GTA III, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas (entitled Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition) was released on November 11, 2021.

The 3D Universe is known by this name because it introduced fully three-dimensional game graphics, as opposed to the previous 2D Universe. However, one of the games set in it, Grand Theft Auto Advance, uses 2D graphics.[1]

It was succeeded by the HD Universe following the series' reboot in 2008, which also uses fully 3D graphics, though improved and running on Rockstar's own game engine, RAGE.

Setting[]

The 3D Universe interlinks characters, businesses, locations and storylines. Its main settings are the cities of Liberty City, Vice City, and the State of San Andreas, which encompasses the cities of Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Venturas, all located in the United States of America. Its protagonists are Claude, Tommy Vercetti, Carl Johnson, Mike, Toni Cipriani and Victor Vance.

Relation with Other Rockstar North Series[]

Manhunt series[]

The Manhunt series is explicitly connected to the 3D Universe of the Grand Theft Auto series, with both games taking place years after the events of Grand Theft Auto III, including a former San Fierro-based doctor as one of the protagonists.

Both Manhunt and Manhunt 2 share the same businesses, cars, and other environment aspects and props. The main setting of Manhunt, Carcer City, along with the city's own police chief Gary Schaffer, were first mentioned in Grand Theft Auto III, released two years and set two years before the first Manhunt game title.

Daniel Lamb, the protagonist of Manhunt 2, graduated from the University of San Fierro in 1985 with a degree in biochemistry.[3] The most notable tie-in to the GTA series is the use of a Sprunk Can as a lure item during the gameplay of both Manhunt games.

Many businesses from the city of Cottonmouth in Manhunt 2, however, including almost all adult entertainment businesses, the Majestic Hotel in the Maibatsu Plaza, and some of the Project's products (such as the H4PP1 pills and Hingmyralgan), were later introduced or mentioned in the HD Universe continuity in Grand Theft Auto IV.

Errors in Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition[]

While the story narrative of the original GTA Trilogy (GTA III, GTA Vice City, and GTA San Andreas) are kept untouched in Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition, many elements and other features cause major inconsistencies to the 3D Universe lore, mostly due to reused GTA V assets. For example:

All of these changes in The Definitive Edition are considered non-canon to the 3D Universe timeline, and are treated as oversights by Grove Street Games.

Chronological Release List[]

Chronological Plot List[]

Games in the 3D Universe[]

Grand Theft Auto III[]

Grand Theft Auto III (2001) was set in Liberty City (loosely based on New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago and Pittsburgh [4][5]) in 2001. This game brought a third-person view to the series, rather than the traditional top-down view of earlier titles (although the view is still made available as an optional camera angle). Graphics were also updated with a new 3D game engine. While not the first of its kind, the gameplay engine had expanded the explorable world, doing away with a traditional game structure where the player faces a "boss" at the end of the level and moves onto a new level, opting instead for more realistic mission-based approach. Multiplayer was discarded (third party mods were later released, allowing for multiplayer gameplay) but GTA III improved in many other areas such as voice-acting and storyline (before, there was speech only in short animated cutscenes between levels, other communication was simply subtitles running on the bottom of the screen). Pop culture is also cemented into GTA III, drawing many aspects and ideas from popular films and shows such as Scarface, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos.

Grand Theft Auto III sold very well and became the first blockbuster game in the series, setting the precedent for subsequent GTA titles to be very successful. GTA III also attracted heavy criticism for its violence against police and its indifference to innocent bystanders, making future games in the GTA series synonymous with violence. Following the success of GTA III, the rest of the games in the 3D Universe are stand-alone prequels, as all take place before GTA III chronologically.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City[]

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002), was set in Vice City, Florida (based on Miami) in 1986. Influences for the game include movies such as Scarface, Carlito's Way and the TV series Miami Vice. In fact, the basic storyline of the game is an homage to Scarface, including the climactic gunfight in the main character's mansion at the end. GTA Vice City was an improvement on the scale of GTA III, although featured very little in the way of terrain.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas[]

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004) was set in 1992 in the state of San Andreas (based on California and Nevada) consisting of three cities: Los Santos (Los Angeles), San Fierro (San Francisco), and Las Venturas (Las Vegas). The player is also able to return to Liberty City during one mission. Inspiration came from movies such as Boyz N the Hood and Menace II Society, and early 1990s west coast gangsta rap culture and groups such as N.W.A.

GTA San Andreas expanded on previous RPG elements, adding the ability to dress the player's character, exercise, and tattoo him. These elements also have an effect on gameplay as other characters would comment on the player character's physique or clothes. The character could also swim (something missing from previous games).

GTA San Andreas also attracted heavy controversy when it was discovered that a sex minigame that was cut from the game could be enabled (See Hot Coffee). As a result, GTA San Andreas was pulled from a number of retail outlets and was re-rated from "M" (Mature) to "AO" (Adults Only) by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) - the first game in the series to be given an AO rating. Rockstar has since released an edited version of the game for the PC, Xbox, and PlayStation 2, and has reclaimed the "M" rating.

Grand Theft Auto Advance[]

Grand Theft Auto Advance (2004), originally intended to be a top-down conversion of GTA III for the Game Boy Advance, eventually developed its own storyline, set roughly a year before GTA III. The game was set in Liberty City again. The storyline appears to stand alone in the series, as certain aspects of the game contradict those in GTA III.

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories[]

Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005), a PlayStation Portable GTA III prequel set in 1998 Liberty City. A PlayStation 2 port was released by Rockstar Games on June 6, 2006. The game is a direct prequel to GTA III, being set three years earlier and featuring several characters from the original game. The storyline further links the events of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City to GTA III.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories[]

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (2006), the second PlayStation Portable game, was released on October 31, 2006. It is set in Vice City in 1984 and is a prequel to the events of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (being set two years earlier). A PlayStation 2 port was released by Rockstar on March 6, 2007. This was the last game in the 3D Universe to be released, but it is, by chronological order, the first game of the 3D Universe, being set at the earliest point in the timeline.

Locations in the 3D Universe[]

State of Liberty[]

State of Florida[]

State of San Andreas[]

Unidentified State[]

Rust Belt Region[]

Dixieland Region[]

Differences to the 2D Universe[]

  • The 3D Universe counterpart of Liberty City is based on several US cities (while also having hallmarks of locations in Rockstar North's native Scotland), such as New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore, but with no overall inspiration from one city in particular, [6] while the other counterparts of the city (2D and HD Universes) are based on New York City only.
    • Liberty City in this universe was established on a different date than the other universes' counterparts.
    • This universe's New Jersey counterpart, Shoreside Vale, is a mix of New Jersey and Bronx. Also, unlike New Guernsey and Alderney, Shoreside Vale is not a separate state.
  • The city of San Andreas, the 2D Universe equivalent of San Francisco, is now called San Fierro, while San Andreas is now the name of the state where it is located.
  • El Burro's counterpart is not homosexual nor killed in the 3D Universe. He is still alive four years after the date of his original counterpart's death in the previous universe.

Trivia[]

  • Liberty City appears in all 3D Universe games except for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. It is the setting of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, and Grand Theft Auto Advance, and briefly appears at the beginning of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and the Saint Mark's Bistro mission from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Liberty City is also featured in the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas prequel film The Introduction.
  • None of the games set in this universe featured expansion packs.
  • All vehicles in this universe can be easily pushed by the player character.
  • Every 3D Universe game has been released on handheld systems, and most of them are also on mobile devices.
    • Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition, which includes remastered versions of GTA III, GTA Vice City, and GTA San Andreas, was ported to the Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android.
    • GTA Advance is exclusive to the Game Boy Advance.
    • GTA Liberty City Stories and GTA Vice City Stories originated on the PSP and were ported to the PS2.
    • GTA III, GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas, and GTA Liberty City Stories were also remade for iOS and Android, with much improved graphics.
  • Carl Johnson and Victor Vance are the only GTA protagonists in the 3D Universe who can swim.
  • When the protagonists in this universe (except Mike and Carl Johnson) run with a one-handed weapon (such as a Pistol), they hold the weapon near their face.
    • Also, when the player taps the button to look back at the protagonist, the protagonist will turn their head and look behind them. Carl Johnson, however, does not do this (Mike cannot look back either since GTA Advance lacks a movable camera to begin with).
  • Victor Vance is the only protagonist to have a confirmed death (he is killed in introductory cutscene in GTA: Vice City).
  • GTA: San Andreas is the only game in the 3D Universe not to receive a Stories prequel, as a short film was released explaining the build-up to the GTA: San Andreas storyline.
  • On September 18, 2009, Rockstar Games stated that the 3D Universe is not necessarily over.[7]
    • Eventually on October 8, 2021, a Definitive Edition for the first three games was officially announced.
  • Vehicles in the 3D Universe have a maximum possible top speed of 250 km/h (156 mph). The Infernus tops out at 240 km/h (150 mph).

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1
    ...the “universes” are the worlds interpreted at different definitions, 2d, 3d and high definition, so we felt brands and radio / back ground characters would exist in both, but 3 dimensional characters would not. This is the logic (as far as it could be considered logical) behind it – so no, we don’t believe any GTA3 characters could exist in the GTA4 universe.
  2. The Grand Theft Auto III timeline is not necessarily over - but it is a different world to Grand Theft Auto IV - only the branding and certain radio personalities exist across both worlds. The reason for this was that we felt Grand Theft Auto IV was a high-definition experience and required different kinds of characters. That - and the fact that most people from the previous world are dead.
  3. Instruction Manual for Manhunt 2: Page 5
  4. "Asked & Answered: Max Payne 3 and Grand Theft Auto V" - Rockstar Newswire, July 12, 2012
  5. That Liberty City was not particularly meant to be New York. That was meant to be a hybrid of a generic American city: Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, New York, Philly. An old, post-industrial American city. [GTA III] was America, whereas Vice City was clearly Miami.
  6. "Asked & Answered: Max Payne 3 and Grand Theft Auto V" - Rockstar Newswire, July 12, 2012
  7. Asked & Answered – Re: Vice City, Red Dead Redemption and Chinatown Wars

See also[]

Navigation[]

[ ve ]Grand Theft Auto series
Grand Theft AutoProtagonists | Liberty City (and New Guernsey) | San Andreas | Vice City | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: London
London 1969Protagonists | London | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
London 1961Protagonists | London | Manchester | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto 2Claude Speed/GBC Protagonists | Anywhere City (Downtown | Residential | Industrial) | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto IIIClaude | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Vice CityTommy Vercetti | Vice City | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasCarl Johnson | State of San Andreas (Los SantosSan FierroLas VenturasRed CountyFlint CountyWhetstoneBone CountyTierra Robada) | Characters | Missions | Gangs | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto AdvanceMike | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Soundtrack | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City StoriesToni Cipriani | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City StoriesVictor Vance | Vice City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto IVNiko Bellic | Liberty City | Alderney | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Episodes from Liberty City
The Lost and DamnedJohnny Klebitz | Liberty City | Alderney | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
The Ballad of Gay TonyLuis Fernando Lopez | Liberty City | Alderney | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown WarsHuang Lee | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto VMichael De Santa | Trevor Philips | Franklin Clinton | Southern San Andreas (Los Santos (County) | Blaine County) | State of North Yankton (Ludendorff) | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Weapons | Vehicles | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto OnlineGTA Online Protagonist (Crews | Organizations | Motorcycle Clubs) | Southern San Andreas (Los Santos (County) | Blaine County) | The Caribbean (Cayo Perico) | Missions | Jobs | Gangs | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Reputation (Arena Points | LS Car Meet) | Content Updates | Events | Achievements/Trophies | Awards
Grand Theft Auto VILucia | Unnamed male accomplice | State of Leonida (Vice-Dale County | Kelly County | Leonard County) | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Collectibles | Multiplayer | Modifications | Controversy
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