10 Cities That Deserve A 'Grand Theft Auto'
10 Cities That Deserve a Grand Theft Auto
GTA 6 is reportedly coming sometime between 2018 and 2020, but we may get a GTA title before then.
In the immortal words of Eminem, “it’s a f*cked up world we live in these days.”
Which is exactly why Grand Theft Auto is one of the most awesome video-game series on the planet.
However, aside from the very first GTA’s expansions, featuring a 1960s London, the game has remained exclusively Stateside.
GTA producer Dan Houser has been quoted as saying “GTA is America” when asked about the chance of another GTA: London, so it doesn’t appear likely the geographic setting will change. There’s nothing wrong with that, the US is full of cars, guns and women, but just for fun, how might the bane of every parent’s living room look gone global?
10) Bangkok, Thailand
Trafficking drugs can be punishable by execution in Thailand.
With the second deadliest roads in the world, Thailand has GTA written all over it.
A neon jungle famed for extreme sentencing in overcrowded prisons, Bangkok would add a splash of colour to GTA, with a more modern flavour than Vice City. In regards to traffic safety, the World Health Organization accused Bangkok of “a lack of key safety standards and poor enforcement of laws”. Methamphetamine abuse is widespread, and the most common injury in the city is dog bites from the estimated 300,000 rabid strays. All ideal scenery for GTA: Bangkok.
Thailand’s Institute of Justice have listed at least 22 separate organised crime gangs of foreign descent, and police corruption is vast. There is potential here for a storyline that believably infiltrates politics, business, law enforcement and organised crime. Plus, a Trevor-like character realising his lady of the night isn’t quite a lady is a classic cut-scene in the making.
9) Moscow, Russia
In 2015 it was reported inmates of Russian prisons were rejecting Western-style improvements, as they preferred Soviet-style work camps. Hard. Core.
Winter in the Red Square could serve as the setting for a very slick GTA.
Perhaps delving into the mysterious background of GTA IV’s Niko Bellic, Moscow could deliver a more organised, suits-and-briefcases crime vibe, as opposed to an eclectic network of hillbillies, meth-dealers and gangbangers. Combined with oligarchic politics, shady oil deals, nuclear weaponry and armies of riot police, I can envision a GTA that’s message is working-class criminal versus the system.
GTA has never been scared to pull from modern history either, and the stakes could be heightened by placing the game in the Cold War (with a Havana Stories expansion?). Niko’s oppressed father trying to get by with a young child, in the atmosphere of the Cuban Missile Crisis, or the JFK assassination, but through Russian eyes, makes for a compelling narrative. All of course complimented by ex-KGB agents, an undercover American spy or two, and an extreme military response when you hit 5 stars on the run.
8) Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg was levelled and improved 4 times in 100 years.
Johannesburg’s in a period of relative prosperity, but apartheid only ended in 1994, and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The city’s slums and gangland elements are well documented, never more prolifically than around the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The danger for tourists and teams alike was on every news channel in the world, in a nation where around 47 individuals are murdered per day.
A gritty, street-level, melee-focused GTA could thrive in this environment. The game could be set amongst the economic and social struggles immediately following the 1994 election, or in a fantasy alternate timeline where the centre of the map is the ruins of the World Cup Stadium. South Africa grants great opportunities for driving out on safari and chasing down poachers/American dentists too. Johannesburg itself is known for an issue with smog, but not on the scale of our next entrant…
7) Beijing, China
For only 10 days in 2014 was Beijing air quality considered ‘good’.
The most populated city on our list, Beijing’s smog problem makes for atmospheric visuals.
Triads, Triads and more Triads. Sleeping Dogs attempted the far Eastern organized crime scene, but it simply wasn’t the game GTA is. The Triads are largely in the background, or officially exiled, from China itself today, but in their hey-day they were highly influential, even fighting in wars.
A modern post-Olympics Beijing, cloaked in noxious fumes. An outcast young Triad trying to rebuild the organization, and honour his grandfather. Less baseball bats, more chain whips. China is notorious for traffic jams that last for days as well. I see a big all-weapons-cheat fire-fight with the police, where they can’t get their vehicles close to you, and you can all duck and hide behind dozens of cars.
6) Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is the most bicycle-friendly city on Earth…unless you plough through them with a tank.
Despite being famous for its tolerant vice laws, Amsterdam still has a big underground criminal scene.
Peculiar legislation allowing the sale of cannabis, but not the production, means a good portion of consumers still get their fix on the black market. Despite being one of the most desirable places to live, Amsterdam’s underground is amidst a turf war that’s accounted for around a fifth of all murders.
This makes Amsterdam a good dual setting, parts of the city can be all bicycles, tulips and whimsical cannabis tourism. Meanwhile, a hidden gang struggle consumes the poor areas, and controls the nightlife. Plenty of material for cut-scenes, supporting characters and mini-plots in, probably, the world’s most famous Red Light District as well.
5) Tijuana, Mexico
In 2006, Tijuana police installed one of the most technologically advanced surveillance systems in the world.
Tijuana’s murder rate is back on the rise.
Tijuana almost feels like a viable contender, lying so close to the US. In fact, if San Andreas’ Los Santos is LA, then Tijuana is closer than San Fierro (San Francisco) or Las Venturas (Las Vegas). The Hispanic gang factor would tie easily into Tijuana, in what could easily be titled San Andreas 2: South of the Border.
Cartels, cocaine, tequila, border control. The arid, desert terrain is tried and tested in GTA, and who doesn’t love bombing an ATV through a cactus patch?
4) Belfast, Ireland
Thirteen protesters were killed by the British/Northern Irish army on ‘Bloody Sunday’.
GTA: Belfast, set in the height of ‘the Troubles’ would be a bleak affair.
For those who don’t know, from the late 60s to the late 90s, the opposing republican and loyalists of Ireland were in civil war over a variety of things, a major disagreement being whether to be ruled by England or not. The conflict, in truth, far predates the 60s, and continues today, but the worst years appear to be over.
It was a gruelling, guerrilla conflict based on tit-for-tat acts of terrorism, and sections of the country were under something close to vigilante law. With the IRA’s (Irish Republican Army) harsh stance on car theft, which may result in knee-capping, and their control of the drug trade, this time and era would make for a harrowing edition of GTA.
3) Detroit, USA
Detroit’s violent crime rate is five times the national average.
Detroit is known as both Motor City and the Murder Capital. What else is there to say?
St. Louis, Missouri and Baltimore, Maryland vie for the top (bottom?) spot these days too, but Detroit is still synonymous with a high homicide rate. Blighted by the out-sourcing of the automobile trade, the roots of which were forged in Detroit by Henry Ford, much of ‘the 313’ sits derelict, and in poverty.
This of course suits a game about car theft and murder down to the ground, and with Motown Records and several notable hip-hop artists hailing from the city, the in-car radio station playlists will be a breeze. Mashing ‘8-Mile’ with the ‘Fast and the Furious’, GTA: Rock City is the only entrant on the list within the US, so maybe has some hope of fruition in the not-too-distant future.
2) Kingston, Jamaica
When Jamaica gained independence in 1962 they had one of the lowest murder rates in the world.
Every little thing… will not be alright.
Despite being most famous for Bob Marley’s peace-promoting lyrics, and copious amounts of weed-consumption, The Jamaican’s don’t play nice. In 2005 Jamaica had the highest murder rate on Earth, with 58 people in every 100,000 a victim of homicide. Kingston Town is the epicentre of this wave of murders, and until recently played host to ‘Dudus’ Coke, a polarising Pablo Escobar-like figure who could stand against the police and military, with the support of many of the people.
Sat by the coast, there’s plenty of jet-ski and speedboat carnage to be had in Kingston, and with a reggae/dub soundtrack, exotic foliage, and the Rastafari colours plastered over the stonework, Jamaica provides a stark contrast to the American metropolis.
1) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
‘Cidade de Deus’ (or ‘City of God’) (2002 film) depicts expanding organised crime in Rio de Janeiro.
Helicopter crash into Christ the Redeemer, anyone?
As recent hosts of the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, Brazil are in the global spotlight. It’s not all carnivals and soccer though; Rio takes the cocaine-fuelled energy, and glistening beaches of Vice City, and force-feeds it a fistful of favelas (slums that around 6% of the Brazilian population inhabit, where street crime and drugs are commonplace).
The Amazon rainforest near to hand makes for some exciting side mission possibilities. A gigantic cultural melting-pot, Rio is the right parts classy, cool and criminal for a GTA adaptation, and does at least stay within the Americas geographically.