When the trailer for Grand Theft Auto IV was released back in March, confused argument briefly flared around the game’s location – was it GTAIII’s Liberty City or real-world New York?
The answer, of course, is that it’s both, a fictional cloak of convenience for a town that in detail and spirit already looks far closer to the Big Apple than any more nominally accurate videogame rendering has managed in the past.
The second question, an obsession for GTA fans ever since Vice City took them back to the cold glamour of 1980s late-night TV, is somewhat trickier: when is it? It has a straightforward answer – GTAIV is set in the present day – but it’s a disingenuous one, because this Liberty isn’t present-day New York. Giuliani never got elected here, the crime crackdown and economic boom never happened; maybe its World Trade Center equivalent was destroyed, or maybe it was never built.