(Really) Old Video Game Review: Grand Theft Auto III

It’s the 10 year anniversary of the most influential and controversial game of all time. Rockstar Games brought out Grand Theft Auto III on October 22, 2001 and boy did it take the world by storm.  It was one of the greatest game ever of all time and without it, we wouldn’t have games like today without GTA III.

The silent protagonist (or antagonist, whichever you prefer).

The story starts off with a silent protagonist (known as Claude Speed later in GTA games) robbing a bank with a few of his cohorts.  He is set up by his girlfriend and shot and left to die. The cops detain Claude and eventually haul him to prison.  However, on the way he escapes thanks to another prisoner and starts his life all over again…well a life of revenge that is.  He wants to get back at the people who screwed him and his life over.  Claude’s adventures go from killing other mobsters to helping a porn store.  The variety of missions were crazy, but the biggest thing was not the missions, but the gaming world itself.

That is a lot of ground to cover.

Liberty City (based off New York) was a huge playground gamers had to themselves. Covering three islands, you had Claude a lot of room to explore and do whatever the hell you wanted.  You can start by picking up prostitutes and then killing them to get your money back. You can cause mayhem by running over pedestrians and then ending up on a high speed chase with the cops.  Then you can just do a lot of stunt driving by jumping cars over buildings and then just go on top of a building and start shooting the crap out of the people down below. Then you can be a taxi driver or an ambulance driver.  Holy crap, the things you were able to do were endless.

The little details make the game.

The graphics were amazing on the PS2 at the time.  It was unbelievable how good it was, especially the amount of details about the city.  Liberty City was full of life, people would walk around and cars would be passing by you.  You’d see traffic come and go while a police man was chasing a suspect down the street.  There was random litter and each building would stand out from the others.  The character animations were great and so were the sounds of the game.  The weather and day/night cycles helped the game to be even more realistic.  The AI was great as they reacted from shootings to car jackings.  The game was full of satire as well, when billboards and stores were poking fun of their real world counterparts.  No other developer worked harder than Rockstar Games.  Everyone was blown away from the work Rockstar Games put into GTA III.

Create some anarchy.

Grand Theft Auto kept me playing for weeks from the endless gameplay.  I tried finishing every taxi, ambulance, and vigilante level.  I tried finding every freaking package.  I explored every nook and cranny in Liberty City.  I absolute loved what was possible in this game.  The greatest thing about GTA III though, was the music.  The music selection was amazing, featuring real life musicians as well as the great scripted dialogue from the Djs of different radio stations.  Rockstar Games added so many little details to create a great game and an environment that is and always will be unforgettable.

Ahhhh…the possibilities are endless.

The main story was quite interesting as I have said earlier, you are a nameless protagonist (later known as Claude Speed) trying to get revenge on his two-timing girlfriend.  He meets many characters on the way from 8-Ball (who escapes from the police with Claude in the beginning), Don Salvatore Leone (a mafia don),  Donald Love (a media mogul), and Maria (a mob boss’ wife) to name a few.  Each giving Claude different tasks from simple ones like driving a character to a specific destination to more difficult ones like assassination.  The variety of the missions helps GTA III standout and the freedom to tackle each mission just made this game even greater.  There were a lot of challenges and mini-games available throughout Liberty City.  There were vigilante missions once you got into a cop car or you can become an ambulance driver.  There were challenge coins laid out all over the city, some were trying to kill a number of people with a specific weapon in an allotted time, while others were time trials.  Hell, you can even create your own “World’s Dumbest Police Chase” by create some chaos and trying to survive a level six wanted status.  Become a car jacker, an assassin, a psychotic driver, or explorer; become whatever the hell you want.  The gamer had just a lot of stuff to keep them going and going like the Energizer bunny.

Steal a car and then become a taxi driver.

The weapons in the game ranged from simple baseball bats to hard-hitting rocket launchers. There was enough variety in the weapons to create some havoc amongst the citizens and bad guys of Liberty City.  Drive-by shootings with your SMGs (Sub-machine guns for those lacking understanding in the acronym department) and driving over people were another violent (and fun) part of the game.  Driving in the insane amount of vehicles available to the gamers were amazing.  Get a Banshee and fly through the streets of Liberty City, or grab a tank and become literally invincible while blowing up and running over everything in your sight. Driving control was similar to most racing games and helped the player to become a pro driver through the traffic of Liberty City.  The controls of this game also helped the gamer to be in love with GTA III.  Either out on foot or in a vehicle, the controls seamlessly gave the player, the ultimate control.

The only problems were just minor glitches, such as getting stuck in the environment or when the physics engine starts acting wacky at times, and people complaining about the graphics (which is ridiculous when you account the massive amount of crap Rockstar Games squeezed onto the PS2 disc).  Also, the AI in the game would start acting stupid too, but then again, the AI in general was amazing at the time.

What to do. What to do.

The game got a lot of backlash from the media, for all the violence that was capable in the game.  Grand Theft Auto III started the trend of criticizing on how gaming can influence younger and older audiences.  The public disagreed with where it stands with video games, especially with the GTA series.  However, this game also created a revolution in how games can be made.  The “open” game world has opened new possibilities.  Video game developers knew what would be possible after GTA III showed up and no one can produce anything similar to GTA III.

I don’t know what else to say about this game, except for the amazing quality.  Rockstar Games, thank you for a memorable game and bring on the new generation of GTA V.

Rating: 9.1/10

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