Excuse me for the messed up post, but I'm not really good with codes
My theory is that Claude Speed and Claude may be the same character, but that's up to a debate. They share a similar clothes, similar faces, similar styles, both betray rival gangs for their own gain, and both have the exact first name. They also appear in two games that came out one after another. And in another two games as well (GTA San Andreas and GTA V).
Some people say that GTA 2 is set in 1999, due to a DJ talking on the radio station about the new millenium. GTA 2 features a futuristic city and vintage cars, as well as some futuristic weapons, so its setting is ambigious (kinda like The Sixth Sense). However, it wouldn't make much sense if the year is 1999, because Claude and Catalina were together at that time, robbing banks all around the country. What's more, Claude Speed can talk as shown in the GTA 2 video. Though, Rockstar didn't come up with GTA III and San Andreas yet, so it's possible that they didn't plan the Catalina and Claude touring the country and Claude being mute parts yet.
Another theory is that GTA 2 is set in 2013, due police records in the GTA 2 website claiming that it's July 7, 2013 (GTA Wiki). That would make more sense, since Catalina is nowhere to be seen in that game. Claude can suddenly talk and he's taking drugs (which he could do in GTA III as well). As I said, there are futuristic weapons as well, so my guess is that Rockstar didn't predict the zombie apocalypse that's taking place in 2013, where people had already become dumber at the expense of their smart phones (at the time GTA 2 was made).
I have two theories, both of which won't make any sense:
Let's take a look to the 2013 version of the story, as it makes more sense to me. Hypothetically Claude and Claude Speed are the same person. Sometime after the events of GTA III, he fleed the city. Eventually he was shot by a hitman hired by one of the many gangs he's betrayed, but didn't really die. He just went into coma until 2013.
In a futuristic setting and an unknown city, Claude was left alone, with no money, and not much memory of what happened or who he was. He started working for different gangs without being loyal to any one of them. He became a very rich man very quickly, but managed to piss off everybody in the process by stabbing them in the back and working against them.
Not much is known about GTA 2's story. In the end, he dropped one gang into another gang's bar and let them massacre each other, while he went on to happily steal another car and proceed with his life. What he didn't know is that someone watched his every move (possibly
Big Brother the government) and wanted him gone. A hired gun shot him in the back three times and Claude collapsed. The end.
What doesn't make sense about this theory is that Claude is aged 29 in GTA 2, and that he's around that age in GTA III. He should've been in his late thirties or early forties, had GTA 2 really took place in 2013.
This one is really simple and short.
Basically Rockstar didn't release GTA III, GTA Vice City, GTA San Andreas and so forth yet. At the time they couldn't imagine the success that GTA III will bring them and that they'll change the gaming industry forever. Rockstar hadn't really planned Claude's full story, even less the events of San Andreas.
GTA 2 is indeed set in 1999 canon-wise, and GTA III is sort of its sequel. Claude Speed, aged 29, was indeed shot in the back three times. He woke up in front of a hospital in a typical GTA manner; he also lost his ability to speak.
He became partners with Catalina in the next two years and they robbed banks all around America, until she decided to betray him in 2001. He survived...
A lot of things don't make sense in this theory as well, such as the futuristic weapons in GTA 2 that are absent from GTA III, GTA 2 being set in 2013, the vintage cars, and so forth.
I think it's easier to treat Claude and Claude Speed as separate characters, even though they're most likely the same person, because we'll never be able to complete the pizzle. Perhaps this is what Rockstar wanted all along?
1. Is he really dead?
Claude Speed is most likely dead, but it's not certain whether him and Claude from GTA III are the same person. Claude Speed may have woken up in front of a hospital six hours after he was shot.
2. Where is he living if he's alive?
Either Liberty City, Anywhere City or Los Santos, if he's even alive. Most likely in hiding.
3. How has been his life between 2001 and 2013?
Read Theory #1.
4. Does he have any relationship with Misty?
Rockstar never confirmed this. I like to think that he didn't shot the woman that saved his life.
5. Was he really mute?
Claude could grunt during GTA III when he is shot or when he takes a fall, and Claude Speed could clearly talk in the GTA 2 movie. Misty says on the radio that he "doesn't talk much", which means he can talk after all. He's a man of few words, but not really a mute.
Rockstar just didn't have the budget to hire voice actors for their protagonist in GTA III, and they didn't really think it was that important at the time. I think it worked pretty well
6. Is he a cross-universe character?
YES! Even if Claude and Claude Speed are not the same person, Claude still appears in GTA Online (and IV), even if it isn't a physical appearance.
Well, that's it from me