Last modified on 21 February 2013, at 03:45

Closed Bridges

The remnants of the damaged Callahan Bridge in the early stages of GTA III.

The closing of bridges is a method used to prevent the player from accessing the entire map in the early stages of many Grand Theft Auto games. In these games, the explorable location is divided into several islands connected by bridges which are closed at the start of the game. The bridges are progressively opened, thereby unlocking new areas, as the player completes certain missions. The entire map generally becomes explorable approximately half way through the storyline.

The explanation for the closing of bridges is different in each game. Some players have found ways to access the locked areas without completing the appropriate missions, both with and without cheats such as cars float on water.

GTA III Era

GTA III and GTA Liberty City Stories

GTA III

Grand Theft Auto III was the first game in the series to incorporate closed bridges, and many players believe that it used the most creative explanation. The game starts in the island of Portland, Liberty City, which is connected to Staunton Island by the Callahan Bridge and the Porter Tunnel. At the start of the game, construction the Porter Tunnel is not complete, and during the first mission, the Callahan Bridge is destroyed by a bomb used by the Colombian Cartel during a police convoy that was crossing the bridge at the time. The Cartel attacked the convoy in order to kidnap one of the prisoners it was transporting, and unwittingly set Claude and 8-Ball free as well. The closing of the bridge and incompletion of the tunnel prevent the player from leaving Portland. The repairing of the bridge coincides with the partial completion of the Porter Tunnel, both of which are opened after the mission Last Requests, thereby unlocking Staunton Island. The subway system, which also provides access to Staunton Island, is also inaccessible from the start of the game until Last Requests, although no explanation is given for this.

Staunton Island is connected to Shoreside Vale by the Shoreside Lift Bridge and another segment of the Porter Tunnel. When the player first gains access to Staunton Island, the Shoreside Lift Bridge non-operation due to a mechanical failure. In addition, the Porter Tunnel has only been partially completed, linking Portland to Staunton Island, but not yet linking either of those to Shoreside Vale. It is revealed in GTA Liberty City Stories that the segment of the Porter Tunnel connecting the two Shoreside Vale exits is already operational, but has not yet been connected to the other segment of the tunnel. The mechanical failure of the bridge and incompletion of the tunnel prevent the player from accessing Shoreside Vale until both are opened after the mission A Drop in the Ocean.

The Callahan Bridge under construction in GTA Liberty City Stories.
GTA Liberty City Stories

In GTA Liberty City Stories, the only portion of the Porter Tunnel that is completed is the segment that connects the two Shoreside Vale exits - The segment connecting to Staunton Island is still under construction, and the digging to Portland has not even begun. These segments of the tunnel are never used in this game. In addition, both the Callahan Bridge and Shoreside Lift Bridge are under construction. There is a ferry service operating between Portland and Staunton Island, but this is non-operational at the start of the game due to the ferry staff striking in protest to the construction of both the Callahan Bridge and the Porter Tunnel, which could make the ferry system obsolete. The strike ends after the mission Driving Mr. Leone, when newly-elected mayor Miles O'Donovan assures the workers that the ferry system will continue remain operation. The ferry system is eventually shut down however, with the Portland terminal demolished to make way for the Portland exit of the Porter Tunnel. The Callahan Bridge is never completed during this game, but after the same mission that the ferry strike end, a ramp is positioned in place to make it possible to jump the gap with a vehicle. Construction of the Shoreside Lift Bridge is completed after the mission Love on the Rocks, making the entire city accessible.

Accessing Restricted Areas Prematurely

in GTA III, it is possible to jump the damaged Callahan Bridge on foot, even before completing the first mission. This allows the player access to both Staunton Island and Shoreside Vale, as at this time the Porter Tunnel is not fenced off between these two islands. It is also possible to travel towards Portland to reach the back of the fence that blocks the tunnel. Vehicles and pedestrians are active within the restricted islands. Strangely, the other end of the bridges are not blocked off in any way, probably due to Rockstar Games not expecting any players to witness those areas. Vehicles and pedestrians will however, never traverse the bridges. Although the game usually transports the player to the nearest police station or hospital when they are busted or wasted, these facilities are not operational in the restricted islands, leading to the player being taken back to Portland instead. Safehouses however, are operational, allowing the player to save in order to easily return to these areas.

GTA III Bridge Jump on YouTube

GTA Vice City and GTA Vice City Stories

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City starts on the Vice City Beach island. A radio announcement during the first mission reveals that a hurricane threat has forced all bridges in Vice City to be closed to traffic for safety reasons. Strangely, the bridges to Prawn Island and Leaf Links Golf Course are opened from the start of the game despite the hurricane warning, leaving said islands accessible. In addition, Starfish Island is closed only by a gate on the island end of the bridge, leaving the bridge itself traversable. The gate to Starfish Island is opened earlier than the rest of the bridges, after the mission The Chase. The hurricane warning is cleared, allowing access to Vice City Mainland after the mission Phnom Penh '86.

GTA Vice City Stories also uses a hurricane warning to explain the closed bridges, although in this game the player is initially restricted to the Vice City Mainland instead. The hurricane warning is cleared after the mission From Zero to Hero, opening the bridges and making the entire city accessible.

Unlike GTA III and GTA Liberty City Stories, which attempted to make the other end of each bridge physically inaccessible, the bridges in these games are simply blocked by road barricades, utilising invisible walls to prevent the player from traversing them. The only exception is the bridges to Starfish Island, which are closed using large gates.

Accessing Restricted Areas Prematurely

In GTA Vice City, there are boats located at a dock on the Vice City Beach island. Although a fence prevents the player from reaching these boats, it is possible to drive an Ambulance partly over the water, exit it, and then push it completely into the water, allowing the player to jump onto it to get around the gate. Any boat can then be utilised to access the Vice City Mainland. Any helicopter found on this island can then be utilised to access Starfish Island. Like GTA III, vehicles and pedestrians are active on the other island, but police stations and hospitals are not operational, leading to the player being transferred back to Vice City Beach in the event that they are wasted or busted. Unlike GTA III, no safehouses are unlocked by default, but the player can purchase Skumole Shack for $1,000. If the player doesn't have $1,000, they can raise it by doing stunt jumps. Also like GTA III, the other end of the bridges is not blocked off, although no vehicles or pedestrians will traverse them.

GTA San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas starts in the city of Los Santos, San Andreas. Flint County, Whetstone and San Fierro are made accessible after the mission The Green Sabre. Tierra Robada, Bone County and Las Venturas are made accessible after the mission Yay Ka-Boom-Boom.

Unlike other games in the GTA III Era, it is still physically possible to traverse the closed bridges in this game, but doing this, as well as accessing the restricted islands in any other way (such as swimming), results in an immediate four-star wanted level, making it difficult to explore the restricted areas.

Accessing Restricted Areas Prematurely

Due to an apparent glitch in the game, the Gant Bridge, from north of the southern suspension tower, can be accessed immediately from the beginning of the game without triggering the usual four-star wanted level. By flying a narrow stretch of the water between San Fierro and Tierra Robada, the player can reach the Gant Bridge without attracting the attention of the police.

GTA IV Era

Grand Theft Auto IV starts in the combined island of Broker and Dukes, Liberty City, with the bridges closed due to fears of a terrorist attack. The bridges are blocked by police vehicles, with heavy police presence. It is still physically possible to traverse the bridges, but doing this, as well as accessing the restricted islands in any other way (such as swimming, by boat or by helicopter) results in an immediate six-star wanted level, making it difficult to explore the restricted areas. The bridges are opened progressively throughout the game, by completing the following missions:

No areas of Liberty City are restricted during GTA IV's two episodes: The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. Strangely, the storyline takes place at the same time as GTA IV, with some missions occurring at times when, according to GTA IV's timeline, the protagonist shouldn't even have access to the venue of the mission.

Similarly, no areas are restricted during Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, although the state of Alderney is absent from the game.

GTA V

Rockstar Games has stated that in the interest of allowing the player to have full control of what they do in Grand Theft Auto V, the entire city of Los Santos will be accessible from the start of the game. Some people have rumored that the city will consist of a single island - Bridges can, however, be seen in the trailers.

Trivia

  • In addition to closing bridges, the games restrict access to boats, planes and helicopters until all of the map is unlocked. How this is achieved varies by game, including simply not spawning these vehicles, blocking access to them using gates, or not having any located on the particular island at any point during the game.