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Grand Theft Auto III (PlayStation 2) artwork

Grand Theft Auto III (PlayStation 2) review


"Playstation 2 owners certainly have a lot of reasons to be happy this past year. 2001 saw the release of several great titles like Final Fantasy X, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 and Metal Gear Solid 2. While these are great games, there is one title in particular that I believe is Game of the Year: Grand Theft Auto 3."



Playstation 2 owners certainly have a lot of reasons to be happy this past year. 2001 saw the release of several great titles like Final Fantasy X, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 and Metal Gear Solid 2. While these are great games, there is one title in particular that I believe is Game of the Year: Grand Theft Auto 3.

Earlier versions of this game took place in a basically flat world and featured a strictly overhead perspective. While these versions were certainly fun, the graphics did seem a little old, and the overall game felt dated. Rockstar, the seriesí creator, addressed this issue and now GTA3 takes place in an entirely 3D environment. Harnessing the awesome power of the PS2, GTA3 puts you smack in the middle of a busy, active city with towering buildings, harrowing traffic and a population of funny characters. The city is massive, and one can spend hours just taking a leisurely drive to see all the sights that Liberty City has to offer. While I canít say that this game has the best graphics Iíve ever seen, GTA3 certainly doesnít fall short on the visuals.

People in this world are created out of blocky polygons which donít look realistic: They arenít really detailed, although you can make out individual faces and identify different types of clothing. However, movement is done quite well, from the drunken swagger of Liberty Cityís bums to the swanky walk of prostitutes. Because of the violence in this game, Rockstarís choice of simplistic character models lends a comical edge that is needed to offset the massive amounts of bloodletting that occurs.

I heard somewhere (though I canít confirm) that there are over 60 different vehicles available in the game. While I havenít kept track of all the vehicles Iíve seen, there certainly seem to be a lot. There are sporty little cars, as well as mid-sized sedans, station wagons, mini-vans and trucks. Each vehicle looks different and handles differently. Certainly, a Tractor Trailer isnít going to be fast or able to corner with ease, but it does take damage quite well. My personal favorite is the police cruiser which is fast, has good handling and has a cool siren that parts traffic for you. But if you donít feel like driving, you could take Liberty Cityís elevated train, hop on the subway or cut through waves in a variety of different boats. Thereís even a plane to fly around. But cars make up most of the transportation available in GTA3 and one will never get tired with the vehicular possibilities.

The actual play in this game is what makes this title such an achievement for Rockstar. As an nameless underworld thug, you must earn respect and cash to advance through Liberty City. This is accomplished in several different ways. First, there are the missions which you get from various crime bosses and gang leaders: you must complete objectives in order to earn cash and the option of more missions. While much has been made of GTA3ís open ended play, you really have to stick with certain criminal organizations to progress through the games. However, there are literally hundreds of side missions available in to keep you satisfied for days. There are Crazy Taxi-like challenges, vigilante missions, fires to put our and people who need to be rushed to the hospital. Of course, you donít have to do any of these things and instead, just create as must havoc as you can possibly can. Sometimes, you might want to see how many cops you can bump off, or you might want to race through the city, pick up prostitutes, get into a blazing gun battle or simply jack people for their cash. The genius of GTA3 is that itís all up to you.

Finally, the last impressive element of GTA3 is the sound. Rockstar worked really hard to create impressive audio that contributes to Liberty Cityís overall environment. There is the witty and sometimes stupid banter of pedestrians, blaring horns, and most notably, the radio stations. Get in almost any car and tune to a variety of broadcasts enabling you to listen to rock, pop, hip-hop, classical and even a hilarious talk radio station that will keep you in stitches. There are a number of cinematic sequences in which Hollywood celebrities like Michael Madsen and Kyle Maclachan lend their vocal talents. These stars are all perfect for their parts and add depth, not to mention comedy, to their characters.

Grand Theft Auto 3 is a great game because Rockstar has brought together a number of excellent elements and combined them on one sweet DVD. The only criticism I have is the less than spectacular targeting system employed when using various weapons. Itís very hard to lock-on to specific targets and at times, the fact that you might be shooting at a dead body while a live enemy is plugging you in the back can get frustrating. Still, this minor problem is not big enough to prevent me from believing that GTA3 is a truly revolutionary game. Buy this title and be transported in a truly complete world.

I feel that I should say a few words about the violence in this game because much has been made of this titleís graphic situations. It is true that GTA3 is violent and in all my years as a gamer, this title certainly is the most graphic that Iíve ever played. But Rockstar has made a game for adults. The themes, images and language in GTA3 are not for children and I would be the first to criticize if anyone under the age of 17 was found playing this game. I agree with the restriction of sales to those above 18 but donít think this title should be completely banned. GTA3 contains about the same level of violence as Martin Scorcese film and should be treat as such. Still, donít play this game for the violence, play it for the experience.

Rating: 9/10

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