Source: The forums of modder-friendly mecca Modmywhat.com.
What we heard: When Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City went on sale on October 29, the game was already at the center of a hype storm. However, the game soon was sucked into a speculation maelstrom, courtesy of a very small--and very fake--advertisement on one of the last pages of its manual.
The ad in question was for a nonexistent film, Liberty City, It's Over, a parody of the anthology New York, I Love You. In its center, the ad shows the cover art from Grand Theft Auto IV inside a torn-asunder heart--a sign some are taking to mean that the Ballad of Gay Tony is the last title of this GTA generation set in Liberty City. Then, below the title, are the words "Next Stop" above a rip in the poster--which shows another image underneath, as though the Liberty City, It's Over poster had been pasted over it.
The image inside that rip has become the subject of fierce debate. Is it a blue-gray and yellow hillside from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? Or does it bear the pastel color palette of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City? Now, Modmywhat.com user "Lysergio" claims to have solved the mystery by producing a screen of a fake poster from Vice City. Modmywhat.com moderator "Gunner" went one step further, overlaying the two posters in an animated .gif to show an exact match when the parody poster is mirrored.
True to the hard-M-for-Mature ratings of the series, the suggestive poster uses a volcano surrounded by two tree-covered hills to advertise an erectile dysfunction drug. It was apparently on the wall of a porno shop in the game, or possibly the adult movie studio InterGlobal Films. The porn studio was at the center of several Vice City missions, which saw mobster protagonist Tommy Vercetti (voiced by actor Ray Liotta) assist erotic filmmaker Steve Scott (Dennis Hopper) and adult-film actress Candy Suxxx (real-life porn star Jenna Jameson). It is unclear if any of those characters would return, were Vice City to be remade using the Grand Theft Auto IV engine.
The official story: Rockstar reps had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.
Bogus or not bogus?: Though the existence of the Vice City poster could not be confirmed firsthand as of press time, the comparisons are awfully compelling--or an elaborate hoax. However, analysts are already predicting only a two-year gap between 2008's Grand Theft Auto IV and a full-fledged sequel--twice that between 2001's Grand Theft Auto III and 2002's Vice City. With the alleged teaser/fake film ad mentioning the month of March, news of the next GTA could be less than five months away.