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One feature of Grand Theft Auto IV which is being paraded around the media by Rockstar Games is Liberty City's Subway, a distinct and realistic network of stations, both over and underground linking a few of the boroughs together. Central to the whole city is Algonquin Island, a narrow strip of land where it's rude to start bidding on property without using the word "million" in your offer. This is the central hub of the game and it's only right that it includes the most stations. However, you'll often need to make your way to areas like Bohan, Broker and Dukes and getting there is easy. Just hop on one of the frequent subway trains and you'll be taken there in no time - a sharp contrast to the gridlock on the streets above.
The Liberty City Transport Authority, more commonly referred to as LTA, is the body responsible for maintaining the network and ensuring its smooth operation. The public opinion of the Subway is divided and Deputy Mayor Bryce Dawkins' campaign was almost ruined by his policies on transport. Fighting aside, you'll find that moving between stations on the network is decidedly easy. You'll have two options when you board the train - you can either sit and watch it make its way along the tracks, something which may get a little boring if you're underground in Algonquin. Alternatively, you can simply skip the trip and you'll be thrown back in control as Niko leaves the train at the next station. Unlike Carl Johnson in San Andreas, Niko just isn't confident enough to pilot the train himself, so you're stuck as a passenger for your time in Liberty City. Now, onto the two main loops on the network:
Algonquin -- Bohan
The yellow and blue subway line links Algonquin with Bohan, Liberty City's Northernmost borough. There are rails in both directions around the loop, with trains designated as yellow travelling on the inner ring in a clockwise direction, and blue trains following an anti-clockwise route. There are two major interchange stations on the route - Easton and Frankfort (High and Low). Getting off at any of these stations will allow you to switch to the red and green line, which offers services between Dukes to Algonquin to Broker.
While on Algonquin Island, the yellow and blue line follows a much more central route and it is this that gains it the nickname "the tourist trap" among residents. Many of the entire city's major landmarks are within close walking distance of stations and you'll never be far from a theater or restaurant if you're travelling on this line.
The line also makes a short move south, where you'll be able to sample the delights of City Hall and Suffolk stations. If you're travelling down here, expect to see plenty of businessmen moving to and from their place of work in the Downtown Financial District. If you're looking for a helicopter tour and you're stuck on the yellow line, get off at City Hall and walk southeast. It might take you a short while, but it sure beats travelling back to Easton to change trains.
Alighting at Frankfort Avenue will give easy access to the main theater district around Burlesque. You'll find that this is the most elaborate station on the entire Subway network thanks to its prime location near Star Junction. It's a stunning piece of modern art and its signage literally sizzles with electricity.
A main draw to this line is its route around the perimeter of Middle Park. There are no less than three stations near the biggest public space in Liberty City and you'll find that tourists and the geriatric are often seen boarding trains at West Park, North Park and East Park stations when walking around just gets too much for them.
Moving into Bohan requires crossing the most northerly bridge in Liberty City. Once you're there you'll notice that there are just two stations on this island, San Quentin Avenue and Windmill Street.
Dukes -- Algonquin -- Broker
The green and red subway line links Algonquin, Dukes and Broker. Thanks to an extension, the line now includes Francis International Airport, Liberty City's most significant transport hub. It's located at the city's Easternmost point and the subway is used by tourists and workers alike to get from this distant area to the hustle and bustle of downtown Algonquin. The airport sits within the borough of Dukes and thanks to its late arrival here, it's constructed above the ground rather than beneath it. Finally while you're sitting on board a carriage you'll be treated to the sun, or more likely, the famous Liberty City showers.
Once you've found a place for your bags on the train (good luck!), you'll move from the Airport to Lynch Street, a station popularized by the visit of the World's Fair to Dukes many decades ago. Now that this has come and gone, you'll have no reason to depart here unless you're going to visit a local resident. A short ride further is Huntington Street, the last station in Dukes. If you're feeling like a walk around Algonquin's massive Middle Park would be too much for you, then alight here and walk a short distance north to find Meadows Park. Its unusual shape and paved roads make it an ideal location for running races and it's also home to Dukes' most famous landmark, the Monoglobe.
If you're a typical passenger, then you'll be eager to reach the West coast of Dukes for your first view of Algonquin's skyscrapers and bright lights. You'll cross the Algonquin Bridge, one of the only major spans in the world which sees trains and cars sharing. You won't get too good a view as you'll be stuck on the lower deck of the bridge, allowing those who were smart enough to book a taxi from the Airport to get the best glance at the sights.
The first stop on Algonquin Island is Manganese East. Get off here if you're willing to walk a little to reach Middle Park or the many boutiques which call the streets around the park their home. Further up the East coast is Quartz East. If you're interested in visiting Charge Island or seeing the East Borough Bridge then this is the stop for you.
As the train moves to the north of Algonquin, it stops at Vespucci Circus before moving to the next major interchange on the line, Frankfort High and Low. Thanks to its location and as the first stop in Algonquin on the other line, it's one of the busiest stations on the network. With three stations, the Northern part of Algonquin is well covered by the Subway network and many Alderney residents are unhappy that there are no stations on their island. Indeed, constructing the infrastructure required to gain access to these areas would be costly and is not something being considered in this time of economic recession.
There are still people who want to visit Alderney though, and their best bet is to leave the train at either Vauxite or Quartz West. The latter station offers easy access to the Booth Tunnel connecting Algonquin with Alderney, and leaving here will afford a good opportunity to catch a cab to your onward destination. Further down the West coast, the train stops at Hematite, most notable for its prime location near many of the piers. A common saying among locals is that he who cannot afford a home on Algonquin maintains a boat instead. You'll find plenty of people who simply can't suffer the traffic jams making their way to Hematite by Subway for access to their floating vessels without the stress of trying to commute between the boroughs in traffic.
The next stop is Feldspar and it's from here that you'll gain the easiest access to the city's most notable landmark, the Statue of Happiness. Presented to the USA by France in 1886, it marks 100 years free from British food and spelling. Unfortunately for many seasick tourists, the Statue stands alone on Happiness Island, which can only be accessed by boat. Tickets are sold not far from Feldspar, so if it's a warm day and you're not getting off here, you'd be well advised to stretch out on your seat to prevent it from being taken by someone who'll probably drip their ice cream on your legs.
A popular stop for businessmen is up next - Castle Gardens. It's located right on the edge of Downtown and you'll find that the train is awash with greasy, newly hired graduates early in the morning and in the late evening. Castle Gardens is also the closest stop to Heli Tours, so if you're tired of the train now, why not get off and take to the sky?As the train makes its way North again, it soon arrives at Emerald, a station which is only notable for the publicity it receives when gangsters use it as an underground arena for deathmatches.
The final stop on the loop of Algonquin is Easton. This is a major interchange station, so if your hotel is uptown or you're looking to travel to Bohan, alight here. More significantly, if you're interested in seeing Liberty City's many skyscrapers, including the world famous Rotterdam Tower, then you'd be best to get off here too.
If you're missed your stop then you're in for a very long ride back, as the train now crosses the Algonquin Bridge and makes its way to Broker for the first time. This borough is the starting point for many immigrants who sneak in on boats which dock in its harbor. Like Bohan in the north, Broker features just two stations - Hove Beach and Schottler, before the train makes its way back to the Airport in Dukes. If you're in Liberty on vacation, a great trip can be made by leaving the train at Hove Beach and then sampling the delights of the theme park at Firefly Island. Once you're done, you can return to Algonquin by walking across the Broker Bridge for a great view of all of the island's skyscrapers.
By Neil Christie
4 April 2008
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