With more and more indication that some kind of announcement from Rockstar Games will be coming soon, based on yet another call to investors from Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take-Two Interactive Software, there is quite a bit of buzz in terms of speculation going on.
However, when there is a chance that a Biker themed DLC is incoming, it is hard to keep people focused on a topic that has been hanging in the air for so long. This is hardly the first time a call to investors spoke of Rockstar’s new project, however some unconfirmed leaks suggest that maybe the single most requested update since the initial release of GTA Online might be coming. While it is true that the discoveries were published by two reputable leakers with a history of sharing valid info, it is important to remember that anything other than official news is to be taken with a grain of salt.
While Rockstar has been teasing a new project for years, Take-Two’s other main developer, 2K, is churning games out with a fervor. In fact, one of their upcoming forecasted blockbusters, Mafia III, is very similar to GTA 5. Even so, there are a handful of reasons why Rockstar doesn’t need to fear the creation of their “brother”.
One of those reasons happens to be the massive head start GTA 5 has in terms of popularity. We’re talking about a kind of popularity that manages to propel the game ahead of anticipated new releases to the first spot on the UK game sales charts. This happening to a three year old game is entirely unprecedented.
GTA Online is known to be one of the causes of the game’s continued longevity. The constant DLC updates for it keep up interest, resulting in a steady stream of new buyers. However, you don’t need to wait until the next big content update if you’re looking for tweaks. This week, the payment system for Premium Races has been revamped, adding new tiers and the long-lived and much hated crew emblem transparency bug was fixed.
However, no matter how dynamic the events surrounding GTA 5 are, the eyes of the public will be ever turned towards 6. Today, we’ll be looking at yet another potential setting for the game, in the face of:
Yeah, we might have railed on Oklahoma a bit due to its naming methods, but this takes the cake. See, the states of Kansas and Missouri happen to be right next to one another. Can you guess which of the two houses Kansas City? Both. As in, there exist two cities named Kansas, one in Kansas State, and the other in Missouri. Physically, they are the same city, just cut in half by a state border.
The city we’re looking at today – nicknamed the Heart of America – falls on the Missouri side of the border, but just. Kansas City proper is actually just part of a much larger metropolitan area cut in half by the state border. I can only imagine the kind of administrational nightmare a massive settlement cut into slices by various state and county borders, wherein even the names are mixed up, is.
Kansas City downtown is centered around the point where the Kansas and Missouri rivers (to complicate things further) meet. The actual “high density of large buildings with a general financial or business purpose” downtown area is larger and stretches across cities and states, but the official Kansas downtown business area is encircled by a freeway loop.
The economy in Kansas City, Missouri is primarily based on the various administrational bodies of the federal government stationed there. Over 30,000 employees working for the government make up 2.91% of the city’s workforce, surpassed only by the public school system. The IRS, GSA, NNSA, SSA, MAMPSC and many more organisations have large offices in the city. One of two locations processing paper tax returns is in the city. One of the Federal Reserve Bank headquarters are also in Kansas City, as well as one of the major manufacturers of non-nuclear atomic bomb components.
A bunch of notable companies are also headquartered in, or around the metropolitan area. Ford and General Motors operate factories on the outskirts, and the pharmaceuticals industry rivals the federal government with several medical companies, most notably Sanofi-Aventis, maintaining major facilities.
Geographically, Kansas City isn’t exactly a shining example of a GTA map. Granted, there are two rivers which meet in the city center giving you three cake-slices of map to section off based on story progress, but the utter lack of large bodies of water make the creation of a sea-border improbable.
Granted, the many and varied neighborhoods, as well as the state border in the middle of it all do help in terms of setting up concrete regions. There are several large areas of wilderness about, however 99.9% of them are cornfields, which doesn’t exactly provide a thrilling game experience. There are a number of other, smaller settlements nearby though, which is a plus.
This is another area in which Kansas City doesn’t win many points as a GTA setting, though that is much to the relief of the locals. KCMO (another one of the city’s nicknames) is only 18th on the list of cities with populations over 100k in terms of crime. Efforts to revitalize and improve public safety in the city have been stunning successes, with the Kansas City downtown area being among the safest such districts in the whole country.
There is some measure of organised crime and gang activity in the eastern side of the city, which also houses the lower-income neighborhoods, however it is nowhere near as pronounced as in other cities. Granted, the typical big-city rules of locking your doors and not dallying in poorer areas after nightfall apply, but come on, who doesn’t follow that?
Even though the city has some history with organised crime, including a somewhat large mob-war during the 70s, but Kansas has washed itself clean of this legacy by now.
Kansas City isn’t looking good as a GTA setting so far, and I’m afraid we’re going to have to dock some more points in this regard. Kansas City just really isn’t iconic. Chances are most foreigners don’t even know it exists, and most Americans don’t know what it looks like. While it is a pretty important city in the history of Jazz music, it isn’t much of a tourist attraction. The skyline isn’t particularly well known. The Liberty Memorial, Crown Center and Union Station are probably the most known buildings.
Kansas City provides yet another blank slate setting, allowing the writers at Rockstar Games to craft their own GTA storyline. However, lacking prominent gang activity, one of the most obvious and straight-forward routes for a storyline are absent.
Then again, they might pick the route of having a story where the protagonist is the member of some prominent organised crime syndicate in another city where said organisations are more common and prominent. As the right hand man of the boss, they are sent to the GTA version of Kansas City to establish a foothold in an otherwise “untapped market”.
As the story progresses, the players could witness the peaceful city descend into chaos. For the first handful of missions, the player would be pretty much the only criminal seen and the police would be prominently present, while progressing through the story would gradually increase random acts of assault and robbery on the streets, and the rival gangs would also grow in number, sending more and more of their street thugs after you.
Pros: Large areas of wilderness and other settlements nearby
Cons: Aside from the above, geography is poor, low crime rate, no story potential, low recognition
All in all, Kansas City doesn’t really fit the bill of a GTA map. If just doesn’t tick any of the boxes needed for this kind of game and wouldn’t be able to support the game with the needed attributes. Maybe a throwback game set in the 70’s would work with the mob-war as a framing device, however it is rare for a GTA game to go back in time.
Which city would you like us to review next week?
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