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As stated, the city is modeled after the real-life city of Oakland, California, and reflects the city's character (albeit being condensed for gameplay reasons). Like its real-life counterpart, the main industries of Oakland are shipping, transportation, manufacturing, and food processing.
Oakland is a highly diverse and multi-ethnic city, having African-American, Hispanic, and Asian communities. However, Oakland has disproportionately higher poverty rates compared to other parts of the Bay Area, and districts that are particularly plagued by poverty include Elmhurst, Prescott and Woodland. Oakland also has a higher crime rate relative to the United States, and it is implied that CTOS 2.0 was installed to combat its social problems.
Nonetheless, Oakland has much going for it, becoming an attractive destination for young people moving to the Bay Area (and California in general); it boasts the beautiful Lakeside Park (mimicking Lake Merritt), and has a relatively prosperous Downtown area with many businesses and shops. Jack London Square is another popular area for tourists and locals alike. The City of Oakland is also home to the successful Oakland Ohlones basketball team as well as the Oakland Brigands (parodies of the real life Golden State Warriors and the Oakland Raiders respectively). Many areas of Oakland are also undergoing the process of gentrification, which is referenced throughout the game, and is met by cynicism and disdain by local residents.
Oakland was one of the first cities after Chicago to implement CTOS 2.0, starting in 2014. However, as time progressed, it became apparent that the system may have been doing more harm than good, by falsely accusing people such as Marcus Holloway of crimes.
Oakland has a mild and warm climate, and tends to be warmer than San Francisco. Since the game takes place during the late-spring/early-summer time, Oakland is quite warm and is usually sunny, with long days and short nights. The city occasionally experiences cloudy and rainy weather, as well as some fog.
Oakland is separated into five main districts:
- Oakland Outskirts
- North Oakland
- Uptown Oakland
- Downtown Oakland
- South Oakland
There are eighteen landmarks in the Oakland area:
- 16th Street Station (16th Street Station)
- Alameda Creek (Alameda Creek)
- Blume Arena (Oracle Arena)
- Christ the Light (Cathedral of Christ the Light)
- Jack London Square (Jack London Square)
- Lakeside Park (Lake Merritt)
- North Hill (Oakland Hills)
- Oakland City Hall
- Oakland Superior Court
- Pacific Renaissance Plaza
- Port of Oakland (Port of Oakland)
- Regwell Gun Range
- Shoreline Park
- Starter Oil Company (Dutra Materials)
- The Theater (Fox Oakland Theatre)
Oakland is primarily traveled via vehicle (rather different from its real-life counterpart since the BART system is not in the game), and is served by a major highway stretching through the west of the city (based on the I-880) and is serviced by 3 major bridges: the Bay Bridge, the Richmond San Rafael Bridge, and the Dumbarton Bridge, which all connect Oakland to the rest of the Bay Area.
Within Oakland itself, streets tend to be shorter and narrower, with a few streets being one way; the player should take note as this may occasionally be difficult to traverse, especially in seedy areas of the city. The main road that services Oakland is in the east of the city, stretching from Prescott all the way down to Jack London Square (loosely based on the real-life International Boulevard).
Aside from vehicles, Oakland is also serviced by other methods of transportation. Oakland has a bus system, and is serviced by Rapid Cab. There are also a few bodies of water which allow the player to explore the city via boat.
Crime and Law Enforcement
In real life, Oakland has gained a reputation for having one of the United States' highest crime rates, with crime peaking in the 1980s and early 1990s. In-game, Oakland is plagued by a number of street gangs, such as the 580s, the Auntie Shu Boys, the Bratva, the Sons of Ragnarok, and the Tezcas. Oakland is a hub for both drug and human trafficking, with all of the gangs participating in such ventures. In addition, other crimes include assault, carjacking, drug dealing, homicide, petty theft, prostitution, robbery, and vandalism. It is not uncommon for shootouts and drive-bys to occur, and the player should especially be careful when traveling the city during the night.
Oakland has its own police department in the Oakland Police Department, and operate separately from their San Francisco counterparts. The OPD is notorious for its corruption and scandals, and have allegedly cooperated with different crime factions in the city. It is not uncommon to see police engage gangs, and often have to call in for backup (including SWAT units) to deal with larger sets.
Apart from street crime, the city also has a cyber-crime scene, with DedSec having rivalries with other Oakland street gangs who are also engaging in cyber-crime and exploiting the CTOS system for their own gain. Prime Eight are also vying for control of the city's cyber-crime scene.
As stated above, Oakland is home to the Oakland Ohlones (a parody of the Golden State Warriors) and the Oakland Brigands (mimicking the Oakland Raiders); it is implied that a rendition of the Oakland A's also exists, though the Oakland Coliseum is not depicted in the game.
There are four ScoutX locations in Oakland:
- Crazy Preacher: found by Christ the Light
- Flask Mob; found by Oakland Superior Court
- Guadalupe in Woodland; found by Woodland
- Masked Musician; found by Jack London Square
- There is a cul-de-sac in the Elmhurst district of Oakland which resembles Grove Street from the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
- Oakland has the highest density of gang hideouts and restricted areas compared to the rest of the Bay Area.
- If the player observes carefully while driving on the highway, there is an interstate sign which directs to Richmond, which is odd since Richmond is not represented in the game; this might indicate that Richmond (and other areas of the East Bay) were slated to appear, but were cut from the game.
- Oddly enough, the Oakland Fire Department are not depicted in the game, as the San Francisco Fire Department will respond to emergencies in Oakland; this is likely a developer oversight.
- Throughout Oakland, there are artworks depicting the Oakland A's cap insignia.
- In real life, a fourth bridge called the San Mateo Bridge connects from Oakland to the rest of the Bay Area; however, it is absent in-game.