Weather is a fundamental aspect that has existed throughout most of the GTA games; Grand Theft Auto III being the first to have multiple weather changes viewed in a 3-Dimensional form. It plays a crucial role by complementing to the vibes and atmosphere of the game such as a pink setting sky to suit the Vice City's 80's vibe and a dull, plain sky to suit the Liberty City atmosphere. The weather in the game is controlled by a time cycle which controls certain weather types to occur at a particular time. Anonymous types of weather occur at rarer times than others. In places such as San Andreas, a certain type of weather only occurs in a particular climate or area such as sandstorms in the desert of Bone County, Las Venturas. Thus, some time cycles of weather are included exclusively for a Grand Theft Auto game depending on the area's real-life climate. The games can also simulate transitions between weather types. For example; it may be cloudy, then a slight drizzle may fall, followed by rain and then a thunderstorm. This is a perfect example of the wide varieties of weather mixtures the game is capable of doing. Thus only the main core, standalone weather types are listed below rather than 30 different combinations. The games can also simulate wind, which can realistically result in trees swaying back and forth and turbulence while flying aircraft.
Types Of Weather
RainRain occurs in most GTA games from every 3-5 days though sometimes it can vary depending on what climate you are in. For example, in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, rain may occur in Los Santos, San Fierro, and in the countryside, but never in Las Venturas and the desert. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City first introduced realistic rain drops forming on the player's screen as if they were literally in the protagonist's shoes. The GTA III Era first introduced car's headlights reflecting the rain on the road which instantly resulted in senses of realism, making the game more 'alive' and increasing the atmosphere. The rainfall can vary depending on how clear the skies are. Heavy rainfall results in occasional thunder and lightning, causing the console version's controller vibrate rapidly, again as a sense of realism. Rain also affects the performance of many road vehicles, and can degrade handling and braking power due to slippery roads.
Sunny weather occurs quite often in most cities, ranging from 2-4 days in the GTA III Era; especially if you are flying in a Helicopter or Plane above the clouds to see you could view it pretty much nearly everyday. The GTA III Era first introduced players to visualise heatwave when the sun reaches blazing heats however does not affect the player's health in any way. It brings a cheerful atmosphere and reputation to areas such as Vice City and most areas in San Andreas. The sun causes short shadows to appear behind objects such as lampposts and buildings. A clear sky implements a similar reaction.
Fog and mist is a common weather in Liberty City in both renditions and the countryside of San Andreas. The weather brings an eerie atmosphere (especially if there is a lack of vehicles) with limited visibility.
Cloudy weather is probably the most common occurring type of weather in GTA out of the lot as well as clear sky. Cloudy weather has been featured in every single GTA game out of the current franchise and does not bring a particular vibe or atmosphere to the game. It is described as a 'default' weather due to how common it occurs. It can be seen pretty much everyday at some point, except in some places such as the desert, where overcast conditions may never take place. Cloudy weather does not have much of a visual difference, as the sky is still brightly lit during daytime, unlike foggy or rainy conditions, and visibility is still high.
A sandstorm is a unique weather available in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. They arise when a gust front blows loose sand and dust from a dry surface. It occurs regularly only in the desert or near Las Venturas as it suits the climate. It clearly mimics aspects of the Nevada desert in Nevada. When sandstorms occur, visibility is severely restricted. Clouds of dust can be seen blowing and the sky's color changes to a dull brown. Sandstorms also have a physical impact on flying vehicles (such as fixed-wing aircraft), blowing them hard towards random directions, which can make flying treacherous.
Sunset/sunriseWatching the sunset or sunrise in GTA makes this undoubtably one of the most beautiful types of weather in the game. The colour of the sun when it sets or rises depends on the city. In places such as San Andreas and Liberty City, the sun varies from orange, yellow and red whilst Vice City's sky is usually pink or purple to suit the '80s Miami atmosphere. The colours of the sky also play a vital role in bringing up the atmosphere of a city and are different for each location, such as a deep, orange sky in Los Santos or a plain blue and yellow sky in San Fierro. The shadows off objects and pedestrians become longer however the process of the sun setting only lasts around 2 to 3 hours game time). To add realism, the lens glare at sunrise usually results in an orangy glow emitting off buildings and such, hindering the player's visibility when facing the sun.
SnowSnow is first introduced in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, most prominently in the mission Saint Mark's Bistro, while the player is in Liberty City. Snow reappears in Grand Theft Auto V, during the events of Prologue and Bury the Hatchet, for in both missions, the town of Ludendorff, North Yankton is covered in snow and is also in the miss of a light snowstorm. It was also turned on in the whole of Los Santos and Blaine County on Christmas Day in Grand Theft Auto Online as a 'Holiday Gift' from Rockstar.
- Broadcasters in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV in some Radio Stations announce the weather forecasts in the local area. The Internet in Grand Theft Auto IV also announces weather forecasts.
- Since the introduction of a weather system in Grand Theft Auto III, the game engine can realistically simulate weather transitions. For example, it may go from sunny to cloudy to rainy and then back to cloudy, rather than rain starting to fall from a clear sky, which looks more realistic.
- There is a glitch in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in which Tierra Robada uses the countryside's weather patterns, despite being a semi-arid region. Thus, it may rain but sandstorms would never occur.
- Mods and cheats are available to tweak the weather time cycle.
- Foggy weather is included in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City but is extremely rare. In most occasions, players would have to resort to cheats to enable fog/mist.
- Rain was noticeably rare in the original PlayStation Portable release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. Rain/storms generally occurred less often than they did in preceding games, and clouds were less commonly seen. This was rectified in the PlayStation 2 port; rain and storms occurred more regularly, and clouds were also seen more often in the sky, making the weather more similar to past games in the series.
- The water levels rise in stormy conditions on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories to such an extent, that low surfaces such as jetties can become slightly submerged and sometimes force Vic into the swimming animation by just standing on them. A minor glitch causes the sea to rise through roads in this weather.
- Rain can significantly affect the frame rate of the game, especially in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV, sometimes making it very low.
- Due to the outdated GPU on the PlayStation 2, the timecycle on the PlayStation 2 version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is rendered differently than that of other versions, and ironically this results in a "better"-looking and unique (but not necessarily realistic) timecycle. For example, midday skies on the PlayStation 2 are often greenish-blue, while on the PC and Xbox versions they are sky-blue.
- In the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, NVidia GPUs are known to render sky colours and the sun's lens flare effects better than Intel or AMD GPUs, and the results are a timecycle that resembles more of the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox versions of the game, respectively.
- In Grand Theft Auto IV, the rain may appear even the player is in the tunnel or the interior.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, many nights in Los Santos feature smog (smoke and fog), which is a common sight in the real Los Angeles.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, lightning bolts are also included, instead of the sky just lighting up. This gives a more realistic feel.