Prior to the 2001 release of the final game, several modifications were made on Grand Theft Auto III. The changes were apparent as several promotional materials had previously displayed features that would be absent in the final version of the game. While cuts and changes are frequent during game development, the changes in GTA III were of note as they were made around the time when the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred; this led some gamers to speculate that at least some of the changes were motivated by the attacks. Although little was disclosed about the types of changes to be made and when they were conducted, Sam Houser, the president of Rockstar Games (based in Manhattan, New York City), was quoted September 19, 2001 in mentioning a review would to be undergone for GTA III, in addition to confirming the delay of the game’s release by three weeks (the original, rough release date was suggested by Houser to be on October 2, 2001):
“ …our biggest games, including Grand Theft Auto [III], have been delayed slightly. This decision is based on two factors, firstly it has been a little difficult to get work done in downtown Manhattan in the last week since basic communications infrastructure has been intermittent at best, and secondly we felt that a full content review of all our titles was absolutely necessary for us in light of the horrifying event we all witnessed in NYC last week. As for Grand Theft Auto [III], since the game is so huge the review is no short process. So far we have come across certain small contextual references that we were no longer comfortable with, as well as a couple of very rare game play instances that no longer felt appropriate to us. We [apologize] to you and all the people waiting for this game to ship for the delays that have now ensued, but I’m sure you can understand our reasoning.”
[Thanks to Solidshake for these images!]
The only change on the game that has been suggested to have been made shortly after 9/11 was of the police cars’ paint scheme; the new colour scheme of the LCPD is modelled in a panda-like black-and-white design similar to the LAPD, while the old color scheme of blue with white stripes (seen in previews and the manual map) resembles that of the NYPD. Pre-release screenshots in the game’s official website depicting police cars had also undergone modifications, around a week after September 11. The NYPD-like paint scheme would eventually be reintroduced in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, but uses black instead of NYPD’s blue colour.
Another cut is that of Darkel, an in-game character, for the final version of the game. Mentioned in several early video game publications and websites, Darkel was to be a revolutionary urchin who vowed to bring down the city’s economy. One mission involved stealing an ice cream van, using it to attract pedestrians, then blowing it up (this mission would eventually be given by El Burro instead in the final version of game to kill a group of gang members). Darkel was also originally expected to give out Rampage-like missions, and even had his voice recorded for this part. Rockstar later decided that they would like to go back to the original system of giving out rampages as featured in Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2. Although Darkel and his missions were removed indefinitely, the character remains listed in the manual’s credits, as well as having a character texture retained in the game’s data files.
Another reminisce of Darkel’s existence is an abandoned tunnel in the city, associated with the character in the official website, and includes four homeless people in a group wielding Molotov cocktails. Both the tunnel and the four homeless people are retained in the final version of the game.The Dodo airplane, the only drivable aircraft in the game, was also a point of discussion; the wings of the vehicle were significantly short, while an uncontrollable full-winged version has been seen flying around the city.
However, the plane has, for months before 9/11, had a short wingspan, as evidenced from a preview in Game Informer (Issue #95), which indicated that the plane was to be used in a (now abandoned) mission to loft the plane high enough in its brief flight and reach new areas of the city. The Dodo is considerably difficult to control, usually resulting in short flights (although it is possible to fly the plane continuously around Liberty City when properly trained). Mods exist to give the Dodo a wider wing, though the outer sections are not solid.
Otherwise, the aircraft would not be able to fit into the import/export garage at the docks in Portland Island.Other changes included stopping the selection of certain character models when using cheat codes in, removing the aforementioned ability to blow limbs off non-player characters in only the PlayStation 2 version of GTA III, elderly pedestrians with walkers, school children as pedestrians and a school bus.” The airport was also in located in staunton island and the callahan bridge was called the westport bridge, due to signs in the game calling it that.
GTA 3 was also meant to be released on the sega Dreamcast, but it couldnt be relased on the console because of the game’s hardware requirements (Source, Game informer).
[Info from Wikipedia]
Official Beta Portland L-Train Station
In both screens, it doesn’t show the subway entrance, so the station might have been in place of the subway in early alpha and beta stages.
Bonus: Beta train interior:
Thanks to Patrick Drozg for the contribution!