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HD Universe

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The HD Universe (also known as HD era and formerly the Grand Theft Auto IV Era) is the third canonical universe of Grand Theft Auto series, after the 2D Universe and the 3D Universe.

The HD universe was introduced in 2008 with the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, and is named for the high definition graphics the game featured. The game was followed by two DLC packs called The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, both occur in the same time as GTA IV, and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, which is set one year later with a stand-alone story; all games were released in 2009.

The universe was known as the GTA IV Era until the announcement of Grand Theft Auto V, which revealed that games within the series are set in different universe based on their graphics (2D, 3D and HD), contrary to the previous belief that each "numbered" title started a new era.

Differences to the 3D Universe

Mainly, the graphics were largely improved due to the release of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. As opposed to earlier games, cities such as Liberty City and Los Santos resemble their real life counterparts more than their 3D Universe counterparts. For example, Liberty City in Grand Theft Auto III and Liberty City Stories lack major landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Station, Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building. However, they were present in GTA IV's HD Universe rendition as the Statue of Happiness, Star Junction, Grand Easton Terminal, the Broker Bridge and Rotterdam Tower respectively. Many districts which were not present in the 3D Universe counterpart such as Harlem, Queens and The Bronx were also added. Vehicle Brands were added, and detail was added to interiors of vehicles, as were logo and name badges. The player still had cell phones, and the phone's usage was expanded beyond simply receiving calls, as the player could now change the ringtones, backgrounds and receive text messages. In GTA IV (PS3 only) the player can launch the Six Axis Tutorial. This allows them to practice movement involving moving the controller whilst on bikes, reloading weapons, steering boat and controlling helicopters. In The Ballad of Gay Tony the player can replay missions through the phone. In GTA IV, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, the player can begin multiplayer sessions. Mission cutscenes were expanded, and in Grand Theft Auto V and Online, different jobs can be done within missions, such as hacking a terminal to unlock it. In GTA IV, using a Pay'n'Spray would now advance the time by three hours. In GTA V, Pay 'n' Sprays were replaced by Los Santos Customs garages. In GTA V, animals, such as dogs, sharks, cougars, deer and coyotes are introduced for the first time, but are not featured in Online. Police departments also have more than one patrol vehicle as opposed to the 3D Universe. In GTA IV, there were two, a Police Cruiser (based on the Ford Crown Victoria) and a Police Patrol vehicle (based on the Chevrolet Impala). In TBoGT's multiplayer, three new vehicles were added, including a Police Stinger, a Police Buffalo (based on a Dodge Charger) and a Police Bike. In GTA V, a new high performance Cruiser vehicle replaced the Impala from IV and a newer Crown Victoria replaced GTA IV's model, and the Charger and bike returned from TBOGT's multiplayer.

In the enhanced version of GTA V, new species of wildlife have been added, such as Hammerhead Sharks, Cats, and new dog breeds.

Locations in the HD Universe

State of Liberty

State of Alderney

State of San Andreas

State of Florida

State of North Yankton


Chronological release list

Games in the HD Universe

Grand Theft Auto IV

Grand Theft Auto IV (2008) is set in Liberty City in 2008. It was the first GTA game to be released simultaneously for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, and was released on 29 April 2008. In August 2008, Rockstar announced that a PC version of GTA IV would be released later in the year, and the PC version was released on 3 December 2008. GTA IV's game engine is the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (also known as RAGE) used in Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis and the Euphoria physics engine. The game takes place in a redesigned Liberty City, which bears a much closer resemblence to New York City than its 3D counterparts. The protagonist is Niko Bellic, a 30-year-old Yugoslavian war veteran.

Grand Theft Auto: The Lost and Damned

The Lost and Damned (2009) is the first of the two episodes for GTA IV. The DLC version of TLAD requires the original GTA IV to play and is also available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. It is included in Episodes from Liberty City, which does not require GTA IV. TLAD's storyline runs alongside the main GTA IV storyline and ties in with the main story on a number of occasions. The protagonist is Johnny Klebitz, the 34-year-old Vice President of the Alderney Chapter of The Lost Brotherhood Motorcycle Club.

Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony

The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009) is the second episode released for GTA IV. Like TLAD, the DLC version requires the original GTA IV to play, but it is also included in the standalone Episodes From Liberty City. TBoGT's storyline also ties in with both the main GTA IV storyline and TLaD's storyline. The protagonist is Luis Fernando Lopez, the 25-year-old personal bodyguard of Anthony Prince.

This is the final game of the GTA IV trilogy.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (2009) is set in Liberty City based on the GTA IV rendition, in the year 2009. It is the first Grand Theft Auto game to be released on the Nintendo DS, and was announced at the E3 Nintendo Press Conference on July 15, 2008. This game has several new features, such as touch screen mini-games. It is also available on the Sony PSP and Apple iPhone/iPod Touch. The PSP version features drastically improved graphics.

The game focuses on the Algonquin Triads, and protagonist Huang Lee, the 25-year-old nephew of Lee Family head Wu Lee. The State of Alderney does not appear in the game, and the game's storyline does not intertwine with those of GTA IV or its episodes and is not part of the connecting trilogy.

Grand Theft Auto V

Grand Theft Auto V (2013) is set in southern San Andreas. It is the first game in the HD Universe not to be set in Liberty City. For the first time in a single Grand Theft Auto game, Grand Theft Auto V features three protagonists: Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton, and Trevor Philips. GTA V was released for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on 17 September 2013. An enhanced version was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on 18 November 2014, and for the PC on 14 April 2015.

Grand Theft Auto Online

Grand Theft Auto Online, like Grand Theft Auto V, is set in San Andreas, and takes place several months before the Grand Theft Auto V storyline. The game is the multiplayer version of GTA V and was released on 1 October 2013, 14 days after the main game. For the first time in the series, GTA Online allows the player to create their own playable protagonist. Although it is only playable through Grand Theft Auto V and is the multiplayer version of the game, Grand Theft Auto Online is considered a standalone title by Rockstar Games and is treated as such, and the storyline does not interwine with the Grand Theft Auto V storyline.


  • All of the protagonists can swim.
  • In all HD Universe games, the car engine sounds seems to be derived from the Midnight Club series, another Rockstar game.
  • The HD Universe is the best selling era of the GTA series, with over 225 million copies of its installments sold.

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