This is not the world’s most efficient subway system.
In a few short weeks, on April 29, one of the year’s most anticipated video games hits the shelves. That game, as many New Yorkers know, is the latest installment in one of the most polarizing and controversial video games of all time: Grand Theft Auto.
While a discussion of a video game may seem out of place on Second Ave. Sagas, this time around, Grand Theft Auto has a New York tie-in. GTA IV takes place in Liberty City, a fictionalized and stylized version of New York City and the surrounding environs. When Rockstar Games revealed this location last year, New York politicians were expectedly up in arms about it. No politician likes the glorified violence these GTA games bring to video consoles across the country.
For the subway buffs among us, seeing one of the most graphically-advanced and obsessively-detailed video games set in New York was something of a pop culture dream come true. Sure, GTA: San Andreas featured the Los Angeles subway, but who rides that? With Liberty City, GTA has a chance to show us what the video game’s graphics rendering capabilities really are. Could it handle a 722-mile, 468-station subway system with 22 lines and various underground, at-grade and aboveground subway tracks?
Well, based on leaked maps obtained by the video game blog Kotaku from a Webshots user, the answer seems to be a disappointing no. Liberty City’s Transport Authority’s subway system pales in comparison to one run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority we currently enjoy. The maps — one is above and one is at right (click it to enlarge it) — show a small subway system with few lines and few stops that bear little relation to New York’s iconic subway map.
When the game hits, I bet Liberty City’s subways will look awfully similar to New York City’s subways but for another era. If the idea is that Liberty City is a crime-filled town where everyone’s jockeying for now power, they’re not going to be doing that while riding antiseptic R160s around town. Instead, we’ll be catapulted back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when the dirty, dingy subway were crime-filled and covered in graffiti.
With these maps a disappointing sneak peak at the game, it’s been a rough week for the New York City subways in our popular culture. With the announcement that James Gandolfini will be in the remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, the subways are seemingly getting a short shrift lately. The remake of Pelham sounds like it’s taking itself too seriously while the subway maps from GTA4 seem to suggest that Rockstar isn’t taking our subways seriously enough. Alas, what’s a subway fan to do?