Officials Already Upset with GTA IV

While the few scant details contained within Rockstar's recent Grand Theft Auto IV trailer certainly gave the hype bandwagon a firm push, they also brought out another quality the franchise is known for: controversy. The trailer, which did little more than showcase several in-game environments, has already drawn complaints from New York City officials protesting the game's NYC-inspired setting and the series' penchant for violence. Technically, Grand Theft Auto IV takes places in the fictional Liberty City, but scenes from last week's trailer displayed virtual recreations of several distinctive New York landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

"Setting Grand Theft Auto in the safest big city in America would be like setting Halo in Disneyland," NYC councilman and public safety committee chairman Peter Vallone told the NY Daily News. "It's despicable to glamorize violence in games like these, regardless of how far-fetched the setting may be," noted police commissioner Raymond Kelly. A statement from mayor Michael Bloomberg issued by spokesman Jason Post also focused on concerns regarding violence. "The mayor does not support any video game where you earn points for injuring or killing police officers," he relayed.

This is not the the first time the setting of a Grand Theft Auto game has been based off a real-life location. A previous version of Liberty City, seen in Grand Theft Auto III (PS2, Xbox, PC) and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PS2, PSP) also took inspiration from New York City. Vice City, the featured location in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2, Xbox, PC) and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2, PSP), contained elements of Miami, Florida. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2, Xbox, PC) used fictional renditions of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas, referred to in-game as Los Santos, San Fierro and Las Ventures. An expansion pack for the original Grand Theft Auto on PlayStation and PC put players in London, England circa 1969.

New York City officials join an ever-growing list of both domestic and foreign government officials concerned with the implications of an improper or inaccurate virtual depiction. Officials from Las Vegas, Nevada complained that the terrorist attacks carried out against the city in Ubisoft Montreal's Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas painted the city as unsafe. Members of Venezuela's government have vocally protested Pandemic's setting of the upcoming Mercenaries 2: World in Flames (PS2, PS3, X360, PC) in Venzeuela, fearing it "gives a false vision" and acts as "a justification for an imperialist aggression." Most recently, the mayor of Juarez, Mexico, Hector Murguia Lardizabal, accused the Juarez-based events within Ubisoft Paris and Red Storm Studios' Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (X360) of insulting the intellect of his city's residents and increasing tension between the U.S. and Mexico, after which officials in Chihuahua, Mexico began confiscating copies of the game.

Grand Theft Auto IV is due out on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 later this year.

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