Weather is an fundamental aspect that has been existing throughout most of the Grand Theft Auto games; Grand Theft Auto III being the first to have multiple weather changes viewed in a 3-Dimensional form. It plays a crucial role by complementing to the vibes and atmosphere of the game such as a pink setting sky to suit the Vice City's 80's vibe and a dull, plain sky to suit the Liberty City atmosphere. The weather in the game is controlled by a time cycle which controls certain weather types to occur at a particular time. Anonymous types of weather occur at rarer times than others. In places such as San Andreas, A certain type of weather only occurs in a particular climate or area such as sandstorms in the desert of Bone County, Las Venturas. Thus, some time cycles of weather are included exclusively for a Grand Theft Auto game depending on the area's real-life climate. The games can also simulate transitions between weather types. For example; it may be cloudy, then a slight drizzle may fall, followed by rain and then a thunderstorm. This is a perfect example of the wide varieties of weather mixtures the game is capable of doing. Thus only the main core, standalone weather types are listed below rather than thirty different combinations. The games can also simulate wind, which can realistically result in trees swaying back and forth and planes pushed at random directions.
Types Of Weather
Rain occurs in most GTA games from every 3-5 days though sometimes it can vary depending on what climate you are in. For example, in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, rain may occur in Los Santos, San Fierro, and in the countryside, but never in Las Venturas and the desert. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City first introduced realistic rain drops forming on the player's screen as if they were literally in the protagonist's shoes. The GTA III era first introduced car's headlights reflecting the rain on the road which instantly resulted in senses of realism, making the game more 'alive'. The rainfall can vary depending on how clear the skies are. Heavy rainfall results in occasional thunder and lightning, causing the console version's controller vibrate rapidly, again as a sense of realism.
Sunny weather occurs quite often in most cities, ranging from 2-4 days in the III era; especially if you are flying in a helicopter or plane above the clouds to see you could view it pretty much nearly everyday. The GTA III era first introduced players to visualise heatwave when the sun reaches blazing heats however does not affect the player's health in any way. It brings a cheerful atmosphere and reputation to areas such as Vice City and most areas in San Andreas. The sun causes short shadows to appear behind objects such as lampposts and buildings. A clear sky implements a similar reaction.
Cloudy weather is probably the most common occurring type of weather in GTA out of the lot as well as clear sky. Cloudy weather has been featured in every single GTA game out of the current franchise and does not bring a particular vibe or atmosphere to the game. It is described as a 'default' weather due to how common it occurs. It can be seen pretty much everyday at some point, except in some places such as the desert, where overcast conditions may never take place. Cloudy weather does not have much of a visual difference, as the sky is still brightly lit (during the day, of course) unlike foggy or rainy conditions, and visibility is still high.
A sandstorm is an unique weather available in GTA San Andreas. They arise when a gust front blows loose sand and dust from a dry surface. It occurs regularly only in the desert or near Las Venturas as it suits the climate. It clearly mimics aspects of the Nevada desert in Las Vegas. When sandstorms occur, visibility is severely restricted. Clouds of dust can be seen blowing and the sky's color changes to a dull brown. Sandstorms also have a physical impact on flying vehicles (such as fixed-wing aircraft), blowing them hard towards random directions, which can make flying treacherous. Additionally, Police Mavericks do not spawn during a sandstorm.
Watching the sunset or sunrise in GTA makes this undoubtably one of the most beautiful types of weather in the game. The colour of the sun when it sets or rises depends on the city. In places such as San Andreas and Liberty City, the sun varies from orange, yellow and red whilst Vice City's sky is usually pink or purple to suit the 80's Miami atmosphere. The colours of the sky play a vital role in bringing up the atmosphere of a city. The shadows off objects and pedestrians become longer however the process of the sun setting only lasts around 2 to 3 hours (Game Time).
- Broadcasters in GTA San Andreas and GTA IV in some radio stations announce the weather forecasts in the local area. The Internet in GTA IV also announce weather forecasts.
- Since the introduction of a weather system in GTA III, the game engine can realistically simulate weather transitions. For example, it may go from sunny to cloudy to rainy and then back to cloudy, rather than rain starting to fall from a clear sky. This makes the weather more realistic.
- There is a glitch in which Tierra Robada uses the countryside's weather patterns, despite being a semi-arid region. Thus, it may rain but sandstorms would never occur.
- Mods and cheats are available to tweak the weather time cycle.
- Foggy weather is included in Vice City but is extremely rare. In most occasions, players would have to resort to cheats to enable fog/mist.
- Rain was noticeably rare in the original PSP release of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories. Rain/storms generally occurred less often than they did in preceding games, and clouds were less commonly seen. This was rectified in the PlayStation 2 port; rain and storms occurred more regularly, and clouds were also seen more often in the sky, making the weather more similar to past games in the series.
- On some modestly powered computers, rain can significantly reduce the frame rate of the game, sometimes making it very low.
- Snow was originally supposed to be included in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto IV, however, it was cut for unknown reasons. In GTA Liberty City Stories, snow is however shown only once at Level 9 of the Car Salesman side missions (PSP version only).
- In Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, during heavy thunderstorms, traffic lights will flash yellow. This would suggest a power loss, as flashing yellow lights usually occur when traffic lights have been shut down. During this, cars will no longer stop at any traffic light. However, flashing yellow lights can also mean "proceed with caution".
- In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV, during heavy rain or a heavy thunderstorm, pedestrians and vehicles spawn less commonly.