An Island Restriction is a feature common in most Grand Theft Auto games, which restrict the freedom of the player to explore the game map until a certain part of the storyline is reached. These restrictions usually appear in the form of transport restrictions, such as bridge closures or other blockades.
Grand Theft Auto III
- The initial restriction in Grand Theft Auto III is due to the destruction of the Callahan Bridge, linking Portland and Staunton Island in Liberty City, after it was destroyed by a bomb, and also due to delays in construction of the Porter Tunnel. This restriction remains in place until Last Requests, following which the bridge is repaired. The Portland-Staunton section of the Porter Tunnel also becomes accessible.
- Once the player reaches Staunton Island, they are unable to access Shoreside Vale as the Shoreside Lift Bridge is inoperative due to a malfunction leaving the lift permanently raised. This restriction remains until A Drop in the Ocean, following which the bridge is repaired. The Shoreside Vale section of the Porter Tunnel also becomes accessible, and all subway stations become accessible for the first time.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Vice City Stories
- The initial restriction in Vice City is the closure of bridges due to hurricane warnings (Hurricane Hermione in GTA VC and Hurricane Gordy in GTA VCS respectively). These respective warnings are lifted after Phnom Penh '86 (VC) and From Zero to Hero (VCS), with the hurricanes bypassing the city.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
- The initial restrictions on transport in GTA: San Andreas are due to destruction caused by an earthquake in the state, with several road bridges damaged and awaiting repair. The first section of the restriction is lifted following The Green Sabre, allowing access to Flint County, Whetstone and San Fierro. Following Yay Ka-Boom-Boom, the restrictions on accessing Bone County and Las Venturas are lifted, granting full access to the map. Entering these areas while they are locked will result in an automatic 4-star wanted level.
- A further restriction is placed on Carl Johnson early in the game, with C.R.A.S.H. officer Frank Tenpenny warning him not to leave Los Santos. This restriction is lifted following The Green Sabre. Despite this, the player can still go into Red County.
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
- The initial restrictions in Liberty City Stories are due to industrial action by the city's ferry workers due to construction of the Porter Tunnel and Callahan Bridge threatening the ferry service between Portland and Staunton Island. This restriction is lifted following Driving Mr Leone after the ferry strike ends and a ramp is placed on the incomplete Callahan Bridge.
- Following the end of the ferry strike, another picket is set up on Staunton Island, with the protestors blockading the entrance to the Shoreside Lift Bridge. This restriction is lifted following Love on the Rocks, when new mayor Miles O'Donovan assures the workers that the ferry service will continue. Full access to the map is also achieved with the opening of all the city's subway stations.
Grand Theft Auto IV
- When Niko Bellic arrives in Liberty City, his cousin Roman informs him that the city's bridges are closed due to a terrorist threat, and police cars are stationed on the bridge, restricting transport (more so for Niko because he does not have a visa). Restrictions are gradually lifted during the storyline, with full access to the map being granted following Three Leaf Clover. If Niko crosses the bridges while they are closed, he will obtain an immediate 6-star wanted level. He will also obtain a 6-star wanted level if he attacks any officers at the roadblocks.
Episodes From Liberty City
- Because the storylines of these games begin midway through the Grand Theft Auto IV storyline, they are not subject to the same travel restrictions, with all regions open, despite early missions in The Lost and the Damned being explicitly set prior to the mission that unlocks the bridges in the main GTA IV game.
Grand Theft Auto V
- Grand Theft Auto V does not feature any initial restrictions on travel, the first game in the series to do so.