Grand Theft Auto: Criminal Russia is a modification for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which was started in 2004 by a group of people, located mainly in Russian Federation. This ambitious modifications aimed at replacing the whole GTA world with a custom map, new vehicles and a new storyline. The development process was frozen for some time but at the moment team is working on a new version of the mod, with few demo-versions already available and one due on 23rd of February.
History and the effect
It all has started in 2004 when a person known as Labukh, Ukraine, set up a small team whos aim was to create a small Russian town for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. In notime the project became popular and many other people, considered as the best modellers on RuNet, joined the team. Unexpected success gave the developers faith, and the next important stage of the project was the decision to replace the whole map.
Summer 2005, GTA San Andreas came out for PC and that was another important stage. The team has decided to change the platform from VC to SA due to the large amount of new features, endless possibilities regarding the map and the weather conditions as well as many other things. Since then and until October 2007 the team worked hard to achive its ambitious targets.
During 3 years of development there were enough models produced to replace at least half of San Andreas map. However, the main problems that the team encountered was that many developers were too busy with their private life; did not find the project successfull or were in deep conflict with the manager of the project, who, on a number of occasions, has expressed his concerns regarding Ukraine and Russia's today's and past relationship. Every time the developer left, the team lost its models, which sometime made up over the half of the map. One of the most discussed moments was when Predator, Lioshenka and GexoDiver left, nearly at the same time, leaving the team with no map at all. Another problem was that at that stage there was no person in the team left who knew how to convert models into SA. The team had only couple of months to finish off the promised demo-version and they have successfully managed to do it, although not without some troubles. Developer ED, who has done most of the modelling for demo-version, has done the impossible, learned to import models and made a new town basically from scratch.
It would be unwise not to mention that the team hasn't influenced the GTA modding community. For its 3-year old history the team had almost all well-known Russian modellers working for them, who, despite the fact they left, brought even more public attention to the project. The countries, where the modellers came from include, but are not limited to: Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belorussia, Kazahstan, Moldavia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Armenia, UK, USA, Germany and Austria. The team has build the confidence and faith in itself and the project is considered as one of the most successfull of all time like GTA: Myriad Islands, GTA: United and GTA: Gostown. It is the only global Russian mod that reached the successfull demo-version stage.
Location and storylineAccording to the project's brief the game was planned to be located in Russia and Ukraine with slight variations depending on the amount of team members willing to participate. Timewise it was year 1991-1993 - the time, when CIS countries were at their worst stage ever regarding crime and corruption.
The map includes 3 large cities (a capital in Russia, a small city in Russia and yet smaller city in Ukraine); over 100 new missions, Russian vehicles (including aviation, railway transport and boats), new pedestrians and characters, new and improved Russian wireless stations.
The beta-version was due to be released in Autumn, 2006, however it was released on the last day of 2006 as a New Year present for all its fans across the globe. As planned it included some map and vehicles changes. Second beta was due to be released in Spring 2007, but instead a number of patches were released for the original version which was proved to be very unstable and glitchy. Final version was expected to hit the Web at the end of 2007, which did not happen.
The demo-version which received warmest greetings by CR fans included:
- Palomino Creek replaced with the town of Ehdovo (pronounced as Eh-doh-voh with the emphasis on the first syllable). It was called so by the name of the one of the developers - ED, who has done most of the work to finish the demo by the deadline.
- Many cars replaced by Russian ones
- Russian militia
- A Russian radio station
- New weapons
- New user interface, menu, loading screens, intro videos
- Auto-installation using a custom made installation wizard
Although the demo was a very successfull start with over 90 000 downloads from the official site within a year, many users have expressed their concerns about the games performance; one of the issues was the usage of memory (around 120 Mb when launched and over 800 Mb 30 minutes later). The team has released few patches and a final demo-version which, unlike the original one, had radio, cars and town all in one package rather then three different archives.
See the full list of modified vehicles at /Vehicles.
The introduction video that came with the demo originally had a different soudtrack. It was influenced by Young Maylay's rap and was later replaced with the extract from Korobeiniki by OZMAon request by Labukh, but because the video was made for a different song, Korobeiniki ends on a half-note.
Closure of the project
October 2007 became the black month for all CR fans. It was officially announced that "GTA: Criminal Russia" is frozen until further notice and that the Full Beam (lorry driver simulator) will be made instead. The new game uses its own engine and it was promised that after Full Beam the team will fix bugs and glitches, improve the engine and use it for GTA-like game which will be also called Criminal Russia. At the moment it seems that they have done quite a lot of Full Beam, but the lack of information provided to fans is times less compared to GTA: CR development. Many have occused the team of unfair treatment of the fans and the project seems to be rather unpopular.
The site hasn't been updated for 2 years since last patch was released. Official Russian forum is abandoned at the moment - but a new forum available at new address. He also announced, that the site is going for rent and even can be sold if our requirements are met. However, many people knew CR Team for the wonderful GTA: CR mod and they were hoping that eventually the team will return to what everyone was waiting for - live breathing Russian map for GTA or on its own engine.
New GTA: CR - URM
New life, new people
It was annonunced by Labukh in the beginning of 2008 that it would be a shame if the mod was discontinued. After talks with Yegorchik, another modeller who was developing his own mod, he became the owner of GTA: CR brand. He started new city, but became known for a very slow production rate, ignoring people comments and wishes, also it is often mentioned that his models do not satisfy the standards set by CR. There are few more Russian modifications for GTA that had their threads on the same forum and in Summer, 2008, few of them have successfully agreed to work together. Yegorchik turned down any offers, explaining that he is capable of doing it himself and claiming that his team has done quite a lot but doesn't show screenshots. The United Russian mod has gained some popularity over the next few months, while Yegorchik's CR was still in its early development stage.
On 14/07/2008 Labukh expressed concerns on Russian forum about new Criminal Russia's development. He said, that after talks with United Russian mod developers he has decided to hand over original CR's models to them if the team maintains its steady progress.
On 29/07/2008 Labukh has handed over 200 Mb worth of old (but never seen) CR models to United Russian mod, and added that more models will be given in the meantime.
He also said, that he is not going to discontinue New CR mod yet, but stressed, that he is more interested in helping United Russian mod as New CR failed to produce any strong evidence of its development.
In late July, 2008, Labukh officially announced that United Russian Mod will be released under the name of GTA: Criminal Russia, with Yegorchik's team joining the development.
New CR includes people from many mods, such as GTA: Arzamas, GTA: Batyrevo, GTA: Lytkarino Stories, GTA: GTT, GTA: CR as well as some models from GTA: La Mystique de Russie. GTA: Kyshtym's leader who originally helped new CR with the high-quality madels of monuments and statues has left the team on 01/10/2008 due to the agressive and overreating behavior of one of the leading team members.
New mapNew map was released shortly, and combines all finished towns as well as some planned areas. Some towns bear the real name of their prototypes with few changed letters. Some are very common in Russia, and some can be translated into English e.g. Yuzhnyi - South city. The map is constantly updated, although no more villages are planned.
Second Official Beta
In late December, 2008 it was announced that the new beta can be expected in February, 2009. Later it was confirmed that the date would be 23rd of February - official state holiday in Russia, Day of Fatherland's Defender - meaning it would be a present for all GTA fans (most of whom are male and celebrate this holiday).
The second demo version was released in Spring 2009 and had few patches released after to fix bugs. It had a number of villages and cities, road system, 3 new wireless stations, few new pedesrian models, almost all vechicles were replaced by new ones. Empty area between towns was filled with fields and forests, which were generated by script.
The mod was locked and adding new cars or modifying the map remains impossible until the release of special application which will allow that. The beta appears to be a great success for the team. In June there was an MTA server launched which proved to be very popular, and at some points had over 15 people playing at the same time. At the moment the server is down but it is believed it will be started again soon.
The next upcoming beta is believed to have most of the map finished, including the countryside. It will contain all cities and towns as planned.