THE makers of worldwide hit video game GTA V have turned their guns on Edinburgh’s long-delayed and massively overspent trams system.
Rockstar North, whose Edinburgh offices have been hit by tram-related roadworks, released the game to international acclaim just after midnight on Tuesday.
But it has now emerged that the Scots team take a vicious sideswipe at the trams project in GTA V.
The fictional US city of Los Santos even features a tram system with the same white-with-red-stripes colour scheme as Edinburgh’s.
A radio news bulletin in the game says their $16bn trams scheme will “shut down busy streets for years”.
The news comes as it was revealed trams to Edinburgh Airport will be more expensive than the existing bus link with a return fare costs £7.50 compared with £6 for the bus.
GTA V sees players control three characters as they carry out violent heists in a sprawling version of Southern California.
When a character enters a car, they can chose from one of 15 radio stations in the game, which feature songs and fictional news bulletins from the world of Los Santos.
One bulletin describes a proposed scheme for new trams which “aims to get average speeds in the city up to 3mph”.
Players are told “they’ll cost $16billion and shut down busy streets for years” in the bulletin.
Rockstar’s offices are on Greenside Row, at the top of the city’s Leith Walk, which saw heavy disruption from tram works.
A video games professional who worked on GTA V, and asked not to be named, confirmed: “It’s a not so subtle dig at Edinburgh tram works.”
The head of Edinburgh Council’s Conservative group said the trams project deserved getting the GTA V treatment.
Cameron Rose said: “They deserve a dig because the project has been a shambles.
“I congratulate the makers of Grand Theft Auto for bringing a successful product to the market.”
Rockstar North have already snuck in references to Scotland: an area of Los Santos shares its name with the Borders town of Hawick and the in-game stock exchange is called the BAWSAQ.
Players on social media also Tweeted about the jibe.
Ross McClymont, from Edinburgh, Tweeted: “Nice little dig at the Edinburgh Trams on the radio in #GTAV: “They’ll cost $16billion and shut down busy streets for years.” @RockstarGames
Twitter user @billpzc said: “Oh wow theres a jab at the Edinburgh Tram Project in #GTAV Thats intresting“
Edinburgh’s tram works began in 2007, and saw Edinburgh’s main thoroughfare Princes Street completely closed for years.
The project was hit by numerous delays and changes to its route, and has caused congestion in the city as vehicles are routed elsewhere. .
The total cost comes in at £776m overall – admittedly less than the $16billion project outlined in Grand Theft Auto.
Edinburgh council today (wed) defended the price of tram fares, saying they were “fast, comfortable, convenient and reliable.”