A Global Positioning System (GPS) refers to a navigation system in the Grand Theft Auto series introduced in the HD Universe games and later implemented in The Definitive Editions of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, that guides the player to a specific waypoint, whether it is related to a mission or plotted by the player themselves, by providing directions to said waypoints. For GTA games prior to Grand Theft Auto IV, players have only their knowledge of the city and road systems to reach a waypoint.
The feature can be toggled on or off in both Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. It is voiced in GTA IV and its episodes, but not in Grand Theft Auto V, but will give a route, similar to GTA IV, marked purple.
The GPS/Satnav system functions by calculating the shortest legal route to a waypoint; as such, closed roads and alleyways are not taken into account, and may not be the most efficient route as far as the player is concerned - a route with many turns, for example, might be slower for players using sports cars that excel in driving down long, straight roads, even if the latter means more distance travelled.
While missions automatically plot waypoints, players may also enter their own waypoint by way of the city map in GTA IV, its episodes, GTA Chinatown Wars and GTA V (player-defined waypoints have been present since Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas). After a waypoint has been plotted, the route will be illustrated in both the map and the radar; yellow routes and waypoints are mission specific, while green (in GTA IV) or purple (in GTA V) routes and waypoints are player-defined. Waypoints in the middle of a body of water will not be routed. Waypoints are also crucial if the player needs to reach a specific location in a Taxi; players can select the waypoint's location as one of the taxi's destinations.
Manual-enter waypoint (green) might pick a route different than automatically plot waypoint (yellow).
Certain luxurious cars in GTA IV may also come equipped with voiced GPS, being primarily capable of informing the player of the distance to their next turn. The system may utilize the voice of a woman or a man, but are generally similar in behavior. The audio menu offers the options "selected cars" (default), "off" and "on" for GPS speech (when "on" is chosen, all cars will have the voice feature). The two GPS Voices speak with different pronunciations; the female voice uses British English, while the male voice uses American English.
The voiced GPS system in GTA IV comes equipped in the following vehicles:
Grand Theft Auto IV
- One of the common issues in the waypoints is that it will mark the route incorrectly when placed on overpasses and underpasses. For example, if the player desires to go to the Pay 'n' Spray under the Plumbers Skyway, the route mark will likely indicate to go over the skyway. It is preferable to place the waypoint where no other road overlaps and as close as possible to the desired location (in this case, close to the Pay 'n' Spray but avoiding the skyway).
- Voiced GPS systems in GTA IV normally sound a "bing bong" notification when the player is about to approach a turn. On rare occasions, however, the feminine version of the system itself may actually say "bing bong" instead. This happens more often when there are many turnings in the route.
- Two sound files in the game named "bing_bong" and "bong" symbolize this notification heard in game.
- Before Rockstar released the map of Liberty City, a user at GTAForums analyzed the second trailer of GTA IV and found a partial map of the city on the GPS in a Predator.
Grand Theft Auto V
- Voiced GPS systems were not included in GTA V. The reason for this omission is unknown.
- The GPS in GTA IV takes 3-5 seconds to recalculate its route if the player goes off it, especially on vehicles with the voiced GPS system (the voice will say, "Calculating route"). In GTA V, the GPS will automatically recalculate itself once the player goes off-route.