While GTA 6 City of the Week looks at one location in the USA and evaluates it as a possible setting of the next installment in Rockstar Game's popular open-world action adventure franchise every week, Foreign City of the Week, as the name suggests, looks beyond the borders.
Sticking to the southern hemisphere, we've decided to go about this by selecting a city that would likely make a good setting on first glance. Looking back, several dozen articles in this series have taught us that they usually turn out better when the subject is likely to reach a high score in the final verdict. So, without further ado...
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The "Tavern of the Seas" is the second largest city in South Africa, and one of its three capitals. Johannesburg, arguably the most well known internationally is also the largest in the country, however it isn't either of the three capitals. I mean, if you have three, you might as well have a fourth if only to include the largest city, right (obviously, we're joking.)? Anyway, Cape Town was evidently names by a fellow of burgeoning creativity, as it was at one time a town founded upon a geographical formation known as a cape. It has now grown to be a full-fledged city, however the administrational fees of officially renaming the settlement "Cape City" would have probably led to bankruptcy.
Cape Town, or at least part of it, lies upon the southwesternmost point of South Africa. Having been built in and around Table Bay, Cape Town served as the colonial gateway to the rest of South Africa historically, and the famous harbor is still a staple of the city. Over the years, various publications have declared Cape Town both the "design capital" of the world, as well as one of the best tourist attractions globally. The possesses countless landmarks, both natural and man-made which make it a popular destination for visitors. Cape Town, though struggling with many of the same problems, has a greater appeal for foreigners than the larger Johannesburg while not suffering from the same poor reputation in terms of safety.
Cape Town is an economic hub, acting as the third most important financial hotspot in all of Africa and the second in South Africa. The large and busy harbor has made manufacturing one of the biggest industries in the city, however in recent years it took a downward turn while financial services, tourism, logistics, hospitality and, surprisingly, fishing, have arisen as leading sectors. Also among the newest rising industries is IT, which will soon claw its way to the top of the charts if its growth rate does not drop off significantly.
Tourism is extremely active and lucrative in Cape Town. The city is notable for being the hottest of the hot-spots for foreign tourism on the whole continent. I mean, if your beaches beat the freaking Pyramids, then we're talking about some seriously neat beaches. Table Mountain is also a big tourist draw - but we'll get onto that in the Recognition section. Cape Town is pretty varied, with great differences in terms of organisation and architecture mainly along the coast, in the city center and in the inland outskirts, though you could break things down further. GTA players would not be bored even after hours of driving through the city's streets for sure.
In terms of geography, Cape Town is promising. As we said, being the southwesternmost point of the entire continent make turning it into an island not to far out an idea, and the nearby wilderness has some beautiful geographic markers. There are also a number of other, smaller settlements nearby, allowing for the map to be populated with secondary urban locations. While there are only few and small lakes around, there are some nice hills and mountains, as well as a handful nature reserves.
Of the three capitals, Cape Town fills the role of legislative capital, as the National Parliament is located in this city. While Pretoria is generally accepted as the "main" capital, Cape Town is arguably the second most recognized internationally. I'm going to bet that most of you don't know and haven't even heard of the third: Bloemfontein. I mean, no offense, but with a name like that, I wouldn't want it to be famous either.
Well, Cape Town will surely fare well here. We mentioned how the city may not have the mainstream poor-reputation that Johannesburg is known for, however that does not mean crime is a smaller issue in the city. Interestingly enough, Johannesburg is significantly safer than Cape Town. So much for stereotypes, right?
The city has been struggling with significantly high levels of crime for a very long time, with no sign of things getting better. Cape Town recently made it onto a list that no city wants to decorate: the top 10 most violent cities in the world. Hopping over position 10 from the get-go, Cape Town is now number 9 on the list which is otherwise exclusively populated by South American cities.
Violent crime rates are exceptionally high, and usually related to gang activity and drugs. With relatively lax gun-laws, shootings are fairly common, especially in areas with high gang activity. That said, Cape Town has something of a... twisted tradition favoring knives. Many analysts believe that the high crime rate across the country can be attributed to poverty, a dysfunctional criminal justice system and the "normalisation" of violence, caused by the perpetration of crime.
Burglary and vehicle theft join violent crimes as being extremely common in the city, which, while pretty disheartening for locals, makes it a perfect match for GTA. There's everything here a typical GTA game needs: Car theft, weapons, murder, drugs, gangs, organised crime, corruption, assault and a vibrant black market.
And to think that this is the hottest tourist destination in all of Africa!
In case the closing sentence of the previous section didn't tip you off, Cape Town will be faring pretty well in this regard. The city is known for its natural landmarks more than for the man-made ones, though it possesses the latter as well. Table Mountain, notable for its flat top, is a major tourist attraction, as are the beaches of the city. Clifton Beach is the most popular and well known of these. Several hills and mountains around Cape Town other than Table are also notable, such as Chapman's Peak and Signal Hill.
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a long boulevard built encircling the docks, sees the bulk of foreign visitors coming to Cape Town. Another popular destination is the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
As for Cape Town's skyline, don't expect a concrete jungle of skyscrapers. Though it is modernized and has quite a few tall buildings, it is more reserved than the typical American skyline. That said, the style is pretty singular, and when accompanied by the surrounding geographic markers, it becomes an unmistakable sight.
Cape Town boasts all the crime needed for a full fledged GTA tale of indulgence, violence, vengeance and, well... crime. Rockstar has a wide variety of paths to choose from, opening up the possibility for a multiple protagonist approach as seen in GTA 5. How about a low-rank gang member, who fights his way up from the slums into a life of luxury and plenty? A corrupt millionaire who runs the underhanded dealings of the city ousted from his comfortable position as criminal kingpin by a rival? An unwitting civilian who is dragged into the world of crime against his wishes?
It would be interesting to see a setup where, as opposed to GTA 5, the three characters would often perform missions which have consequences for the others, however they don't actually meet in the story, or only do so near the end. It would be interesting to explore the repercussions of your own actions through the eyes of a character later on, and it would also challenge Rockstar's writers with crafting a compelling narrative even though the player knows more than the protagonists.
Pros: High crime rate, good recognition, extensive story potential, great geographic features
Cons: Skyline isn't the most iconic
Overall, Cape Town would serve to be a wonderful setting for a GTA game should Rockstar decide to venture beyond the borders of the USA. With all the right geographic characteristics, a more than sufficient level of crime and great story options, this would be hard to mess up.
Would you like to see a GTA game set in Cape Town?