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Saturday, 16 November, 2002, 10:34 GMT
Grand game plan hatched in Scotland
Screenshot from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (courtesy Rockstar Games)
The game's graphics and playability have improved

In keeping with Scotland's record of churning out inventors, it seems apt the new Grand Theft Auto (GTA) video game was created by designers based in Edinburgh.

For gaming enthusiasts across the globe, GTA: Vice City is something akin to utopia at their fingertips.

It is designed by Rockstar North, formerly DMA Design, which occupies spacious offices in the resurgent Leith area of Scotland's capital.

In partnership with its American parent company Rockstar Games, the designers have created a game that encourages players to steal, shoot and connive their way to the top of the gangster tree - and wreak havoc all the way there.

It focuses on the assorted mayhem set in 1980s Miami, and the trials and tribulations of gangster Tommy Vercetti.


There's also a lot of humour in the game that takes a lifestyle revolving around cold, snow and haggis to properly evolve

Aaron Garbut
Rockstar North

Before Vice City's launch, the GTA phenomenon had generated six million sales worldwide.

Rockstar North's Aaron Garbut told BBC News Online Scotland he was confident the fourth instalment of the game would build on that success.

But what was the thinking behind having the creators of one of the world's biggest ever games based in Scotland?

"It's cold, dark and rainy so we tend to stay in the office longer," Garbut said.

"There's also a lot of humour in the game that takes a lifestyle revolving around cold, snow and haggis to properly evolve.

Full stream ahead

"But we all spend time in the cities the games are based on, collecting research material and soaking in the atmosphere before returning to the wilds of Edinburgh to create it."

The game stretches the Play Station 2 (PS2) capacity to the limit and boasts a number of hidden treasures which improve on its predecessor GTA3.

Garbut said: "There are a lot of clever things going on. We stream almost everything off the DVD so we are now at the stage where we can add almost limitless detail.

"We no longer rely on the memory of the PS2 to store everything we would like to throw at it.

"This, combined with some clever techniques, allow us to show the city receding miles into the distance and still have things as detailed as cigars in ash trays or bottles of beer in bars.

Screenshot from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (courtesy Rockstar Games)
Tommy Vercetti wreaks havoc in the city

"If you want to see this at its best, fly around the city in a helicopter. The sense of detail and scale is difficult to beat."

GTA3 was an instant hit and remains the 10th best-selling game - despite being released more than a year ago.

Vice City features 80 different tracks from bands including Judas Priest, Blondie, Flock of Seagulls, Kool and the Gang, Hall and Oates, Grandmaster Flash, and Cutting Crew.

Voices are supplied by former Miami Vice star Phillip Michael Thomas, Ray Liotta, Dennis Hopper and Burt Reynolds.

Garbut said: "The 80s were a very interesting time. Obviously being the 80s success, money, fame and sheer indulgence is the perfect framework to build a game around.

"It is possible to depict the decade with just a pair of socks or a colour."

'Flat out'

He said the creators believed the only way to satisfy demand was to make each new game bigger, faster and better.

"There's generally so much new stuff in there, the chances are you will still be playing it when we have the next one ready for you."

The game, not for the faint-hearted, looks set to create another record by eclipsing Metal Gear Solid as the fastest selling PS2 game in the UK.

Garbut revealed the designers were busy creating the next edition.

"We are already thinking of the next project as we finish off the last," he said.

"We had the conceptual outlines of what we wanted to do with Vice City as we finished GTA3. It's been exactly a year from GTA3's release and we've worked flat out ever since."

See also:

09 Nov 01 | Entertainment
09 Apr 02 | Science/Nature
17 Feb 98 | Americas
08 Nov 02 | Technology
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