The year is 1998. There’s an evidence board hanging on the wall of an LCPD detective’s office. A mess of red string weaves between black and white photographs of the fiercest and most feared crime families in all of Liberty City. And they’re all there. The Leones, the Ciprianis, and the Forellis. The Triads, the Yakuza, the Yardies, the Cartel and… the Sopranos? You may not have realised it at the time, but GTA: Liberty City Stories – the spin-off prequel to 2001’s GTA 3 – and David Chase’s multi-award-winning HBO crime drama is the mobster mash-up you didn’t realise you needed… until now.
“I’ve always been a fan of The Sopranos, and a fan of GTA Liberty City Stories, which is the only Grand Theft Auto game that’s fully focused on a mob story that’s La Cosa Nostra-related,” explains prolific GTA roleplayer, creator, and modder Anershady, who also goes by the pseudonym, OGMoney. “GTA 3 involved Italian American crime families, but the story wasn’t centred on that. I thought that refreshing the game with new characters based on The Sopranos characters, depending on their personality, would be a cool way to replay GTA Liberty City Stories, and roleplay within it.”
Woke up this mornin’
Creator Anershady is no stranger to twisting the baseline formula of older GTA games. He’s currently helping DeltaCJ bring GTA 1991 to life, for example – a project that could be the San Andreas Stories prequel we always wanted – and while this venture is more modest in scope, it is breathing new life into a game now almost 17 years old in the coolest of ways.
As a prominent member of the San Andreas roleplaying community, Anershady has been crafting his own mods for the last decade, and has been part of an Italian-American roleplaying crew in Multi-Theft Auto (opens in new tab) for some time. During a stretch of pandemic-driven quarantine last year, he and his girlfriend watched The Sopranos from start to finish for a successive third time, and it was after this that the creator became set on bringing the likes of Tony Soprano, Uncle Junior, Big Pussy Bonpensiero, Paulie Walnuts, and Ralphie Ciffareto to the streets of Liberty. As an added bonus, he’s also created two random “easter egg” pedestrian models who share the likeness of Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci as they appear in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. Better still, Anershady promises that “more are on the way”, hailing the modability of older GTA games as the main reason the roleplay scene still thrives in games pushing 20 years old.
“The GTA roleplaying community is really a huge community, you have FiveM, RageMP, SAMP, MTA, even Red Dead Redemption 2 RP, if you consider it GTA-ish. It’s a big thing, players develop amazing characters while roleplaying, they create factions based on real life organisations adding their own twists, but always following each server’s rules to maintain true to their spirit,” Anershady adds. “GTA 5 RP is where most people play nowadays, the game mechanics and systems are better than the old ones, but the old games still hold weight in the scene. The old GTA 3D Universe-era games (GTA 3, Vice City, San Andreas and their respective ‘Stories’ offshoots) are the most modifiable games in the entire series, so the amount of opportunities to modify them in order to get what you want from roleplay is near limitless.”
Anershady says nostalgia combined with an abiding love for The Sopranos and 3D Universe-era Grand Theft Auto are what grounds the project – loosely billed as ‘The Ciprianis’ at present, complete with a neat intro video (opens in new tab) stylised in the same way as the TV show – and his meticulous attention to detail regarding each character’s clothes and likeness is what drives it forward. Add his penchant for video game roleplay into the mix, and it’s easy to see why Anershady is so passionate about his work.
He adds: “I grew up playing GTA my entire life, and the 3D-era games were my treasures back in the day. I loved these games’ storylines, their characters, and just the general vibe they gave us. I’m not hating on the newer games, but, storywise, GTA has never been my thing. Maybe the newer games are aimed at a new generation of players. To be fair, when I was younger, what I found most fun about GTA games was the random violence, the pursuits, the killings, and the chaos – but as I’ve gotten older, I find myself far more focused on things like story, where you play the game like a movie, pushing the boundaries of storytelling, and I think that’s where projects like this come in.”
Got yourself a mod
In the pursuit of movie-likeness, I ask Anershady if he’d ever consider voice acting to support the likeness of his Sopranos characters in-game. “That would be really cool to be honest,” he says, laughing, “I thought about it a few times but it’s really hard because all these guys have unique voices and tones, so I don’t think anybody could do it better than the real actors themselves. I could do a mediocre Tony Soprano impersonation with a clip on my nose, but it would be an insult to the late legend!”
Before starting out on this project, Anershady once created a GTA-styled character model of US musician The Game – which received the thumbs up from the Hate It or Love It rapper himself after it was shared with him on social media. To this end, Anershady says he wouldn’t be against reaching out to ex-Sopranos cast members for voice work. Given the fact Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa maintain a vocal relationship with fans in the wake of their Talking Sopranos podcast, how cool would fully-voiced iterations of Chrissy Moltesanti and Bobby Baccalieri in a modded version of GTA: Liberty City Stories be?
I might be getting ahead of myself, but Anershady is firm on what comes next for The Ciprianis project. “First off, my main goal is to finish the The Sopranos-based GTA: Liberty City Stories stuff before the year ends, and I would really like to start a new project based on Scarface using GTA Vice City. But I have tons of ideas, so who knows. I’m even thinking about a biker story in San Andreas with The Lost MC, and with a character based on Stone Cold Steve Austin. I just like to create everything that I think about just to have in the vault for whenever I need it.”
The thought of Stone Cold handing out Stunners in Los Santos is pretty mind-blowing, but it is something Anershady reckons his GTA 1991 total conversion mod partner Delta CJ is capable of making a reality. WIth that in mind, does Anershady reckon a fully-realised Sopranos-driven total conversion mod for Liberty City Stories is possible? “That’s really a good question. I wish I could do that, but you need a big team, with hardworking and motivated people and that’s hard to find. A bit like the mob!”
“I don’t know almost nothing about scripting so I only could write the storyline and provide good skins, but, definitely, that would be amazing, Liberty City could be easily converted/adapted to The Sopranos environment, a few spots and shops here and there and that’s it. If you think about it, the game already has it all, Salvatore’s mansion, the Saint Mark’s Bistro, Shoreside Vale which mirrors New Jersey – you wouldn’t need to change much to get that vibe.”
I don’t know about you, but even with that speculation, I am in. Fully in. As committed as a blood oath to the Omerta. In lieu of a full-blown total conversion mod, more on Anershady’s Sopranos-styled GTA: Liberty City Stories project can be found here (opens in new tab). You should check out the intro trailer (opens in new tab) too, which took the creator three days to make. In the absence of free camera mods for LCS, is pretty damn impressive.