When I was younger, I didn't really understand the point of "stories" in games. Or rather, I didn't really feel comfortable paying attention to them, especially since I had been playing hand-me-down games like Legend of Zelda or other NES classics, where the story was sometimes there, but if it was, it went over my head. The one thing I did understand about games at the time was exploration and utilizing imagination, and I couldn't get enough of it.
So when I found out that you were actually rewarded for doing crazy things and exploring odd areas of games by means of Easter Eggs, I was instantly addicted to the idea, and it all started with a game that I played almost religiously with my older brother: Grand Theft Auto 3.
Now, let me preface this by saying that I didn't understand a lot of what was happening in GTA. I knew that you could steal cars, but I never really went along with that idea. When you're young and have an overactive imagination, anything could be possible. So I wasn't stealing cars. Instead, I was utilizing abandoned vehicles or just borrowing them to go fight evil. The evil beings were, of course, the invading/mind-controlled forces of the LCPD, which needed to be defeated at any cost.
I never really got involved with the campaign because of my create-your-own-story and my fascination with exploration. In fact, I don't think I ever got past the first garage in GTA3 until much, much later in my life, instead deciding that it was more fun to get to the different islands before the game wanted me to by glitching or cheating.. Really, all I cared about was seeing what Grand Theft Auto 3 had to offer me in terms of what was explorable. So with my wanderlust and imagination at my side, I set off for hours and hours to explore the urban jungle of Liberty City, and here is some of what I found.
You Shouldn't Be Here
One of the first things I learned how to do to get over walls was making make-shift stairs out of piles of cars. Luckily, there was a sign telling me if I took things too far.
If you make it to Staunton Island and go all the way to the southwestern side (here's a rendition of the island, the area being mentioned is at the bottom right side on the picture, just above the "curve"), there should be a parking lot complete with a wall that you can jump over if you stack cars high enough. Usually, you'd need one smaller car as a sort of "step" to get up to a larger car, like a Semi or Garbage truck. After you climb up high enough, you should be able to get inside of the sub-area easily.
After looking around the inside walls of this area, there should be a sign that says "You weren't supposed to be able to get here you know," complete with a ramp far to the left of the sign, which you probably passed on your way over, that will let you back out.
Shoot the Moon
So after a long day of exploring, sometimes you just want to shoot...things. And what would be a better and easier target than the moon?
Much to my surprise at the time, shooting the moon with a sniper rifle actually toggles between different sizes of what the moon looks like in the sky. This Easter Egg has appeared in multiple Grand Theft Auto's since this one, but I don't believe it occurs in Grand Theft Auto 4.
Another video shooting the moon, but not of nearly as good in terms of quality, can be found here.
This one is probably my favorite, as it was something I had heard as a rumor for a while and had to spend ages practicing to actually get there.
For those of you that don't know, a bank heist takes place in Grand Theft Auto 3's opening cutscene which ends with Claude, the game's protagonist, being betrayed. The interesting thing about that cutscene is that it doesn't take place in any actual place in Liberty City, despite Claude being arrested by the Liberty City Police Department.
It turns out, this area can actually be found, but it is not intended to be accessed by any normal means. Instead, you need to fly the Dodo, which you can obtain at the Shoreside Vale airport and is the only flying vehicle in Grand Theft Auto 3, outside of cheating with the tank. Then, take it all the way around Shoreside Vale until you get to the northwest section of it, where a few incredibly flat structures should appear, and the water texture will disappear.
That's the Ghost Town! You can fly around in it for a short while, but the Dodo tends to freak out in the area for some reason and will crash land shortly after unless you're very skilled or very lucky.
Rockstar explains this Easter Egg here, which apparently was never meant to be found.
We didn’t take an island out of the game. There were only ever the three. We think what people refer to as “ghost town” is just the small area of a city we built for the bank heist scene at the very start of the game. It never had a name, but we wanted it to be somewhere separate from the liberty map and so we built these few streets floating in space and assumed no one would ever find them.
You cannot stand on the streets in this area, you'll fall right through them except for a few select props, one of which being a dumpster. There are mods on the PC version to remedy this and to make the island more accessible, but nothing official.
So that's my list of most memorable Easter Eggs from Grand Theft Auto 3, everyone. What were some of yours? Were there any other Easter Eggs in the series that stuck out to you, or maybe you have one from another series entirely?
Just... don't share that notebook that student carried around. Nobody needs to see that.