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GTA 5 vs GTA 4 map comparison: How different are the maps of the two games?

The GTA series has evolved with each release over the years (Image via GTA5mods, Segmentnext)
The GTA series has evolved with each release over the years (Image via GTA5mods, Segmentnext)
Rahul Bhushan
Modified 07 Jan 2021, 11:57 IST

The GTA franchise has avoided most of the trappings of the AAA genre such as annual releases, half-baked launches and questionable DLC.

Rockstar Games' commitment to quality and attention to detail has ensured that the GTA franchise never runs the risk of becoming obsolete.

One of the many reasons why fans look forward to a GTA game is the fact that Rockstar has pretty much cracked the art of the open-world game.

While the open-world maps and gameplay design aren't something as rich as Breath of the Wild or Metal Gear Solid 5, they are still in a class of their own.

Here's a look at two of the series' most seminal titles and the differences in their maps.

How different are the GTA 5 and GTA 4 maps?

While both games belong to the same franchise and share similar DNA, GTA 4 and 5 couldn't be any more different.

Grand Theft Auto 4 represented a new direction for the series and is perhaps the biggest creative risk that Rockstar has taken to date.

Grand Theft Auto 4


GTA 4 wasn't a callous adventure through the city with a faint, almost audible laugh-track in the background punctuating every big explosion or punchline. Instead, it was a far more somber experience that told an extremely gritty story and dealt with more nuanced themes than its predecessors.

Niko's story in GTA 4 was far darker than any game in the series, and Liberty City was crafted to reflect that.

The map is technically smaller than its predecessor, San Andreas. However, size isn't the only thing that counts in a map design.

Liberty City feels almost suffocating, with its monolithic skyscrapers towering over the player, creating an extremely claustrophobic environment. The color palette also reflects the kind of lifeless decadence that has settled over the city.

The map design isn't focused on simply providing a big playground to the player, but it also reflects the game's themes and tone.

This is why GTA 4's map can feel a bit dry and almost suffocating. However, all of it is by design.

Grand Theft Auto 5


While Grand Theft Auto 4 was a risk that eventually paid off (still the highest-rated GTA game on Metacritic), many fans missed the casual, wanton ways of the games that came before.

Rockstar needed to strike a balance between the two and almost did, with Grand Theft Auto 5 containing nuanced themes, punctuated by ridiculous and over-the-top action sequences. The map, however, doesn't suffer from an identity crisis and is clear on what Rockstar set out to do from the get-go.

GTA 5's rendition of San Andreas introduces new parts of the state, while dropping others (from GTA San Andreas).

Los Santos is a city of excess, debauchery and vanity, and the map reflects that at every turn. The streets are full of life, yet there is something extremely hollow at the center of it all.

The map is rich with geographical diversity, with mountains, cliffs, and even scenic beachsides. Yet, the player will find all sorts of oddities, and most characters will complain about how they want to be rid of the city. This indicates that life in Los Santos can be good, but crime and excess have essentially seeped into all facets of life.

Michael, whose dream was to come to Los Santos to lead a good life, seems to loathe his existence in the city every second and is completely miserable.

The map is extremely large and exudes the kind of Vinewood arrogance that Rockstar Games wanted. Yet, it is perhaps the most perfectly-sized open-world map, balancing gameplay and thematic elements quite carefully.

Published 07 Jan 2021, 11:57 IST
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