Due to similarities between both renditions' first names, manner of attire, and physical appearances, speculation may occur regarding whether Claude Speed and Claude are the same character. There is no official indication as to whether this is true, however.
Little is known about the main character of GTA2. The plot of the game basically involves him being freed from prison and awakened from cryonic sleep with a bad case of amnesia. The storyline then shifts to his goal of becoming the "King of the City" by any means necessary.
DMA Design, the primary producer of the GTA series, had released a promotional movie for the game (which was also compiled into the opening cinematic of the game) depicting a live-action rendition of Claude committing several criminal acts, similar in all Grand Theft Auto games. In the movie, Claude is seen performing jobs for several crime bosses, but has been seen to show no apparent loyalty to any gang as he is seen driving a rival gang of gunners to a hangout of another gang, where a firefight would occur. By the end of the movie, Claude is shot in the back three times by an assassin from the Zaibatsu Corporation (whose van and merchandise were previously stolen by Claude), as he attempted to break into a sports car. Claude collapses, implying he is killed.
The movie's version of Claude shares a few physical appearances with the Claude in Grand Theft Auto III canon, including slicked hair and his attire — black jacket, collar-less undershirt, and long pants. The movie version, however, was also depicted speaking and displaying an array of emotions, a characteristic not seen in either the GTA III or the GTA:SA versions.
Scott Maslen played the movie rendition of Claude Speed.
Claude's last name is never disclosed in GTA III or GTA:SA, thus it remains unclear whether the GTA III and GTA:SA renditions of Claude is in fact the same individual as the GTA2 rendition. However, GTA III shares a few elements with GTA2 (among them, the mention of "Zaibatsu Pharmaceuticals" that is similar to the Zaibatsu Corporation gang in GTA2, the Head Radio station, and the distribution of districts in Liberty City). Although Rockstar Games have never fully clarified a connection between the two characters, Rockstar president Sam Houser—discussing the development of GTAIII in an interview with Edge magazine—said: "...there’s been a lot of debate about these things—like whether [the GTAIII lead character's] name is Claude Speed, or whether he’s this or he’s that—and it was a lot less planned out than that."
After leaving for Liberty City, Catalina phones Carl at certain plot points. One phone call seemingly indicates Catalina was intending to speak to Claude, mentioning Claude's first name; another has Catalina in mid-orgasm, screaming the same first name.
Claude's second chronological appearance takes place in October 2001. Catalina betrays Claude by shooting him shortly after a successful bank robbery in Liberty City, and leaves him for dead. After his arrest by the police, Claude is en route to prison when his prison transport is ambushed by members of the Colombian Cartel (who kidnap an oriental prisoner). Claude escapes with the help of 8-Ball, who takes advantage of the ensuing chaos, and works his way into the favor of the Leone family of the Liberty City Mafia to help fight against the Triads and Forellis.
He eventually helps destroy a large freighter of SPANK, a drug that Catalina and her new accomplice Miguel are pushing around the city with the help of the Colombian Cartel. His help to the Leone family at the beginning of the game is rewarded with a death trap (due to Maria starting rumors of an affair with Claude), from which he is saved by Don Salvatore Leone's adulterous wife, Maria. She introduces him to Asuka Kasen, who is the co-leader of the Yakuza. To prove that Claude has completely severed ties with the Leone family in favor of the Yakuza, Asuka allows him to kill Salvatore.
Following the successful assassination, Claude works his way up the Yakuza ladder, gaining the favor of the waka gashira of the Yakuza, Kenji Kasen. He also assists a corrupt cop named Ray Machowski and the Media millionaire Donald Love. He is eventually asked to kill Kenji by Love, and to frame the Colombian Cartel for the job, by driving a Cartel Car. With Kenji dead, Asuka takes over the Yakuza, and becomes obsessed with revenge against the Cartel. She sends Claude on a number of missions to slow down the spread of SPANK in Liberty City.
Eventually, Asuka is killed, and Maria is kidnapped, with a note from Catalina left behind. Claude confronts her, kills her after a lengthy battle, and saves Maria, if only to (apparently) kill her after having to deal with her whining.