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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 GTA III and Liberty City Stories lack major landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Grand Central Station, Brooklyn Bridge & 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. Many districts such as Harlem, Queens and The Bronx were also added, unlike it's 3D Universe counterpart. Vehicle brands were added, and detail was added to interiors of vehicles, as were logo and name badges. The player still had phones, but they could now access them besides answering calls. The player could 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 go into multiplayer sessions. Mission cutscenes were expanded, and in GTA V and Online, different jobs can be done within missions, such as hacking a terminal to unlock it. In GTA IV Pay'N'Sprays would give three hour intervals between intervals. This was removed in GTA V, due to the introduction of Los Santos Customs. In GTA V, animals including dogs, sharks, cougars, deer and coyotes, however it is absent in Online. Police departments also have more than one patrol vehicle as opposed to the 3D Universe. In GTA IV, there were two, a Crown Victoria based cruiser and an Impala based patrol and pursuit vehicle. In TBoGT's multiplayer three new vehicles were added including a high performance sports sedan, a Charger based pursuit vehicle and a bike. In GTA V, a new high performance Interceptor 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 Online.

In the next generation launch of GTA V, wildlife will be added such Hammerhead sharks and cats. New dog breeds will be added to the selection in GTA V.

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. In August 2008, Rockstar announced that they were going to publish GTA IV for PC. 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 that very closely resembles New York City, much more than previous renditions. The protagonist is Niko Bellic, a 30 year old war veteran from the Balkans.

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 the protagonist is Johnny Klebitz, Vice President of the Alderney Chapter of The Lost Brotherhood.

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 the main GTA IV storyline, as well as TLAD. The protagonist is Luis Fernando Lopez, and the story follows him and his boss Gay Tony, who is losing his proprietorship in his clubs in the city. This game completes this time period of the HD Era.

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 Triads, and protagonist Huang Lee, the twenty-five year old nephew of Lee Family head Wu Lee. The game's storyline does not intertwine with those of GTA IV and its episodes, nor is it part of the trinity that connects them.

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. The protagonists are Michael De Santa, Franklin Clinton, and Trevor Philips. This is the first game to have more than one protagonist at a time. GTA V was released on September 17, 2013 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Grand Theft Auto Online

Grand Theft Auto Online, like GTA V, is set in San Andreas. It is the online multiplayer mode of GTA V released on October 1, 2013, 14 days after the main game. For the first time in the series, GTA Online allows you to create your own character. Although it is only playable through Grand Theft Auto V and technically part of the game, Grand Theft Auto Online is considered a standalone title by Rockstar Games and is treated as such.


  • 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.
  • Until GTA V, every game in the HD Universe has featured Liberty City as a playable location. GTA IV and its DLC also feature Alderney, while Chinatown Wars does not.
  • Excluding GTA V, Departure Time is the only mission where you enter a plane.
  • The game's logo has been updated to look more detailed.

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