9/11 Changed Everything, Including Grand Theft Auto III

9/11 Changed Everything, Including Grand Theft Auto III

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After years of dodging rumors on how it had to alter Grand Theft Auto III following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, Rockstar Games has decided to come clean.

You recall the events of 9/11, right? A group of terrorists hijack a bunch of planes, fly them into New York City's World Trade Center towers, killing thousands and kicking off both the last decade of xenophobic American foreign policy and a mad rush by all sorts of creative types to remove any and all references to the towers in their upcoming works. Most notably, an early trailer for the 2002 Spider-Man film that showed Spidey capturing a helicopter by building a web between the two towers was buried by Columbia Pictures, despite having been shown to audiences prior to the attack.

Videogames were not immune to this phenomenon, and for years after its release, fans believed that Grand Theft Auto III -- a game which debuted only one month after 9/11 -- had lost a host of content following the attack. Given the game's release date, and it being set in a fictionalized version of New York City, that made a lot of sense for an open-world crime simulator where players are given the opportunity to fly planes.

In an effort to commemorate the game's tenth anniversary, creator Rockstar Games has decided to host an official question and answer session, inviting fans to finally get some kind of closure on the mystery.

And what did Rockstar say when asked, point blank, about the effects 9/11 had on the content of the game?

We removed only one mission that referenced terrorists and changed a few other cosmetic details - car details, a couple of ped comments, lines of radio dialogue etc - the game came out a very short time later. The biggest change was the US packaging which remixed the previous packaging into what became our signature style - because the previous packaging [which was released as the cover of the game in Europe] was, we felt, too raw after 9/11. All of the more extreme rumours are amusing but impossible to have been achieved in such a short period of time.

The very next question asks if Rockstar might ever release the content that was cut from the game, but the developer dismisses the idea immediately. "No, it really was not very much stuff - just one mission and other than that some superficial and cosmetic details," it responds.

So there you have it. 9/11 did move Grand Theft Auto III's developers to cut content from the game, but it was apparently only a paltry amount. The huge sandbox game Rockstar was creating was still almost entirely intact when it hit the PlayStation 2 in October 2001, despite the best efforts of militant religious extremists. If it wasn't for all the dead hookers, I'd say this is a beautiful metaphor for America itself.

Source: Rockstar Games

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I'm honestly not very surprised that so very little content was removed before the game was put out. After all, since it only came out a month after the attacks they wouldn't have had much time to do any major changes without the game feeling drastically different and potentially unfinished.

GTA III never felt that way to me, though, so again I'm just not surprised it was only a mission and a few superficial things.

Now i'm wondering just what kind of car details one would've felt the need to remove because of 9/11.

Earnest Cavalli:
If it wasn't for all the dead hookers, I'd say this is a beautiful metaphor for America itself.

Not beautiful maybe, but certainly accurate.

Earnest Cavalli:
Given the game's release date, and it being set in a fictionalized version of New York City, that made a lot of sense for an open-world crime simulator where players are given the opportunity to fly planes.

That would be ONE plane, the Dodo. And if you could get that damn thing to fly long enough to purposely fly it into a designated target, you're a better person than me.

OT: I had heard these rumours around the time of release as well. There are a group of hobos standing in a circle around a barrel inside an abandoned tunnel on Portland island and it was said that they were part of a mission that was cut. Apparently one of the hobos was a mission giver and the mission was something to do with terrorism. I don't know how much truth is in that.

"...xenophobic American foreign policy."

That's quite the charged statement.

And I agree.

And I'm an American.

Incidentally, if you're curious what the original cover looked like, presumably it looked like this, but with the full title instead of just "gta III".

Proverbial Jon:

Earnest Cavalli:
Given the game's release date, and it being set in a fictionalized version of New York City, that made a lot of sense for an open-world crime simulator where players are given the opportunity to fly planes.

That would be ONE plane, the Dodo. And if you could get that damn thing to fly long enough to purposely fly it into a designated target, you're a better person than me.

OT: I had heard these rumours around the time of release as well. There are a group of hobos standing in a circle around a barrel inside an abandoned tunnel on Portland island and it was said that they were part of a mission that was cut. Apparently one of the hobos was a mission giver and the mission was something to do with terrorism. I don't know how much truth is in that.

then i am a better man than you. haha. but no seriously, i devoted myself to learning to fly that thing. my record was over 4300 seconds (as that's how it kept track in the stats) and even then, i only 9/11'd because i was sick of flying it. the hardest part is when the storms roll in. if you can weather that, you're gold.

DVS BSTrD:
Now i'm wondering just what kind of car details one would've felt the need to remove because of 9/11.

Earnest Cavalli:
If it wasn't for all the dead hookers, I'd say this is a beautiful metaphor for America itself.

Not beautiful maybe, but certainly accurate.

i thought long and hard about this, and think i've come up with a plausible answer.

first, look at america on 9/10/01. dissent was more accepted, and even americans would burn flags in protest. the next day, any amount of dissent was viewed as unpatriotic (stupid.) and labeled you a terrorist sympathizer.

So, onto the vehicle. I'm willing to bet that it was the Diablo (the car with the flame job) that perhaps originally featured the flames on the end of a burning flag paintjob instead of just a red/yellow mass.

i mean, it was a vehicle designed and operated exclusively by career criminals who fought against order and control, so when fighting a standing police force, you'll fight their flag too.

I have no idea why they would change anything, it's really not going to be an issue to someone backing over people and laughing.

Randomly killing people wasn't bad enough? Eh, it was fairly plain anyhow.

So 9/11 was the main reason why flying the Dodo was made impossible?

Also, I'm now beginning to think if the world thinks of us as a xenophobic world police...

Well I guess Rockstar apparently has some taste after all.

Kevlar Eater:
So 9/11 was the main reason why flying the Dodo was made impossible?

Also, I'm now beginning to think if the world thinks of us as a xenophobic world police...

I agree. My guess is that the "cosmetic" thing was to chop the wings off the plane and re-name it the Dodo.

DVS BSTrD:
Now i'm wondering just what kind of car details one would've felt the need to remove because of 9/11.

Earnest Cavalli:
If it wasn't for all the dead hookers, I'd say this is a beautiful metaphor for America itself.

Not beautiful maybe, but certainly accurate.

Old hookers and fisherman never die, they just smell that way.

 

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