A replay, or instant replay, is a minor feature that allows the player to review the last minute of gameplay. Primarily exclusive to PC version of Grand Theft Auto game, replays are simply reconstructed using certain available data from the latest round of gameplay, such as player actions, locations of surrounding vehicles and pedestrians, time, and weather. As a result, the replays are not necessarily accurate recreations of actual scenes, and are considerably crude when first introduced.
The feature was first introduced in the PC port of Grand Theft Auto III, and was carried over to the PC ports of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Replays are also available for the PC port of Grand Theft Auto IV, and may be edited using an editing software dubbed the Replay Editor. The first system employed in the first three games remained roughly unchanged, while GTA IV's replay system has been significantly revamped.
GTA III — GTA San Andreas
The replay system employed by GTA III, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas basically reproduces the latest moments of gameplay that range from a minute to 20 seconds long. The length of a replay depends on the density of traffic and pedestrians; as more cars and pedestrians are recorded, the replay becomes shorter.
Replays are activated by tapping the F1 key on the keyboard anytime during gameplay, showing a rough recreation of the surrounding where the player character is, without a HUD other than the flashing "Replay" text. By default, viewpoints employed during a replay is based on where the player was looking at that moment, including where the player was viewing on foot and first person view if the player is free aiming using a rifle, rocket launcher, or sniper rifle. Moving the mouse in a replay allows the player to move around the player and view the player character's surroundings.
Because replays cannot be saved in these games, the feature has very little use other than to allow the player to review recent gameplay. However, minor refinements were made to improve the presentation of replays and to reduce its buggy animation, although the general quality of these replays is not considered to be good.
For the PC port of GTA IV, the replay system is managed very differently and is a vast improvement over its predecessors. In the game, the player is offered a specialized replay editing software called the Replay Editor, which allows the player to edit, direct and upload replays saved during gameplay.
During gameplay, the player may press the F2 key to create a recording of recent activities in game. Like its earlier predessecors, the length of save replays depends on the activity of the recorded scenes, resulting in replay lengths that range from 20 seconds to more than a minute. A recorded replay is saved in
My Documents\Rockstar Games\GTA IV\Videos\Clips, and its file is usually around 100 megabyte large.
Once replays are saved, they can be processed by the Replay Editor. In order to access the Replay Editor, the player must access their mobile phone and select the "Replay Editor" option at the bottom of the menu. Access into the Replay Editor will cancel any ongoing missions, and eventually send the player back to the nearest available safehouse when the player leaves the Replay Editor. When in the Replay Editor, players can view saved replays of their choice, as well as editing the recording using a video editor to produce rendered videos for personal use, or upload them to the Internet (i.e. via Rockstar Games Social Club or other video hosting sites). The videos are rendered as Windows Media Video (WMV) files and saved in the
My Documents\Rockstar Games\GTA IV\Videos\rendered directory, and the Replay Editor offers several choices of video resolutions for rendered videos.