Taking Liberties With My Memories

At the end of last year, I returned from a holiday in New York City. It wasn’t my primary destination, I was actually attending a friend’s wedding; I’d already crossed Branson’s hands with silver so I made the most of my transatlantic flight. I’ve always loved NYC ever since my first visit many years ago: midwinter crunching around in a vibrant city filled with snow. In the handful of times I’ve visited since, I’ve always travelled there in the winter.

Visiting the city this time around, my reaction took me by complete surprise; I felt like I was meeting a lifelong hero for the very first time. Bearing in mind that this was my fifth visit to the city in over a decade, it still felt like the very first time I’d been.

The surprise I felt when I realised the cause of my renewed excitement was tangible – I was walking around the real Liberty City.

Before my holiday, I’d been playing Grand Theft Auto IV every Monday night for nearly two years but I hadn’t visited NYC since the game was released. Having now done so has raised my respect and admiration for the designers and developers at Rockstar by an incredible amount.

It wasn’t the obvious city landmarks that had been lifted into the game that bowled me over but the small nuances that really make NYC unique. It’s a testament to Rockstar when I say that travelling on the Metro right down to the conversations I overheard whilst walking through the city didn’t just remind me of Liberty City but practically embodied it.

It’s a reasonable expectation to be able to escape into games but it was a mind-blowing first to have real life experiences make me nostalgic about a software environment.

Throughout my trip I was visiting many landmarks that I’d seen before but all the while I was taking photographs of places that reminded me of Liberty City and I wanted to share them. I know many of the stalwarts of our GTA IV Monday nights will recognise the captions below and as we finally switched our Monday night regular game after so much time, it’s particularly poignant.

Driving Range
I've landed golf balls on people strapped to chairs

Liberty Island
I've raced boats around that island

Statue of Liberty
I hear there's a beating heart inside

NY Yellow Cabs
Now, should I hail them or jack them?

I've base jumped from that middle building

NY Metro Station
I remember sniping Ready Uppers from here

I hope some of you recognise the places and activities that I was so heavily reminded of but either way, I doff my cap to Rockstar who has completely shifted my mind’s eye. I’m pleased to say after so many years, I don’t think I’ll ever see NYC in quite the same way again.






4 responses to “Taking Liberties With My Memories”

  1. Celeste avatar

    Awesome. Just awesome.

  2. Tony avatar

    Have you photoshopped that picture of the Statue of Happiness? She looks to be holding a torch, rather than a cup of takeout coffee?

    I must visit Liber… erm, New York at some point. I’ve always fancied a look around.

  3. Anthony avatar

    When I saw the netted golf driving range I nearly fell off the boat.

  4. Simon avatar

    It’s always been part of the GTA IV magic for me, I must admit.

    Mind you, I had an argument last year with my New Yorksr cousin. She was convinced that Alderney represented Staten Island. It’s New Jersey though.

    People always pull me up on GTA Night for calling Broker, Algonquin etc by their real names….but it’s easier to remember them that way.

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