I’m glad that Grand Theft Auto doesn’t render itself within the confines of a real city (yes, I realize that there was a GTA:London game, but let’s stick with the GTA3 dynasty). Instead, it chooses an abstracted approximation (and spoof) of a real metropolis for its setting. Cities that seem familiar and have recognizable structures and architecture, but are still different and fresh. Cities that are the constructs of level designers rather than city planners.
Not because of any social criticisms or gameplay effects or anything of the sort, but because of the fact that, well, real cities are boring. Or, at least, simulations of real cities.
(Note: I have not played The Getaway or Streets of LA)