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How 9/11 changed Grand Theft Auto 3

"Very upsetting, very unnerving and overwhelming."

Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar has revealed how the September 11 attacks changed GTA3, which launched just weeks after the terrorist atrocities.

Alterations were made to distance the game's fictionalised Liberty City setting from New York City, and a mission that mentioned terrorists was also trimmed.

"As far as I recall, we changed the colour of the cop cars so they weren't identical to NYPD, we altered the flight path of a plane so that it didn't look like it was flying into or behind a skyscraper, and we removed one mission as it made a reference to terrorists," Rockstar exec Dan Houser told Edge (via CVG).

A few lines of pedestrian dialogue and talk radio were also cut, while the US game box cover was redesigned.

The alterations were less dramatic than initial rumours suggested, Houser explained. "That's a little bit of a misconception [that changes were significant]," he said. "Some people believe we removed an entire strand of missions because they found some reference in the code to a character called Darkel, but he had been cut months before [release] and the missions were never completed."

Due to be launched on 3rd October 2001, GTA3 was pushed back three weeks while Rockstar combed through the game's code.

"Most of the delay in releasing the game, which was only a couple of weeks, was a product of the fact that our office in New York was pretty close to Ground Zero and so any work that had to be done there was made impossible for a period," Houser added.

"The mood in the office... It was very upsetting, very unnerving and overwhelming. It was the same for us as it was for anybody. But we also felt we'd come this close to making this great game and that despite these problems, just as despite the problems of Take Two, it was our duty to finish it."

10 years of GTA3.

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Tom Phillips


Tom is Eurogamer's Editor-in-Chief. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon. Tom joined Eurogamer in 2010 following a stint running a Nintendo fansite, and still owns two GameCubes. He also still plays Pokémon Go every day.