The Setting in a GTA Game
More so than in any other games, location is immensely important for Grand Theft Auto. Because of the format of the franchise; giving you free reign to explore and not be tied to a storyline, the city that you are given to explore must be convincing and sufficiently diverse. The setting of the game also provides the basis for the game's storyline, its characters, and its missions. The city and the story have to be connected, in order for the game to immerse you and provide a believable world inside a videogame.
Why New York?
Even though New York City was already the setting for Grand Theft Auto 3, it is said that the Liberty City of GTA 3 did not bear much resemblance to New York. Sure enough, the city was split into three districts, faintly reminiscent of New York's boroughs, yet the city itself failed to come alive. Rockstar's accomplishment of recreating Miami in GTA Vice City is considered a much greater feat. Rockstar have decided to re-visit New York since the scope of possibilities they have now are much greater than what they had in 2001, when the original Liberty City was designed.
The aim of the original Grand Theft Auto was to depict life in America as seen by the British (hence all the crazy stereotypes) and so it makes sense for all the games in the series to be set in America. And what better place to do it than New York - one of the world's capitals, and arguably the biggest symbol of America. Rockstar has prided itself on creating the cities of the GTA3 trilogy with subtle British humor about the nuances of American culture. Rockstar has amused for years with their game design and portrayal of America. We can undoubtedly expect to see the same in GTAIV.
New York, New York...
We can expect the city to be divided into distinct areas, just as New York City is divided into Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island. Each area will have its own characteristic look and feel, and harbor its own architecture and people. The areas will be connected by bridges and tunnels, just as the real New York is.
A game set in New York wouldn't be complete without all of New York's landmarks. GTA IV will feature the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the MetLife building (renamed by Rockstar's comedians to GetALife), Times Square and St. Patrick's Cathedral. All of the landmarks that we have confirmed so far, are from the GTA 4 screenshots that we have at our disposal.
We will see an appearance from gangs such as the Russian and Italian Mafia. The Russian Mafia is a name given to organized crimine which appeared in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. Rockstar aims to portray how this has expanded to America through drug trafficking and illegal weapons smuggling. They have been involved in numerous battles with the Italian Mafia, Chinese Triads and the Yakuza. The most populated area for Russians in new York is Brighton Beach in Brooklyn.
Before We Knew..
Various tidbits of news, such as Rockstar's registration of domain names with 'gta' followed by locations such as 'bogota' led many to make wild assumptions about the setting of future GTAs. While a domain registration may mean nothing, it does provide food for thought. In anticipation of a long debate over the setting of GTAIV.
Compliments of GTA4.net