I’ll be the first to admit that I did not like the first two games in the Grand Theft Auto series. They seemed overly difficult and the graphics did not seem all that special. It took many previews and good words for me to get Grand Theft Auto 3. I went on a hunch and bought it the day after it hit the shelves, and you know what? The game rocks! I wish I could use another word for how great this game is, but I cannot. This is game design at it’s best. The graphics, although not spectacular, are great. The openness of the game is unheralded and the non-linearity is a welcome change. Let’s get into the game now. The graphics have a lot of glitches in it here and there. The cars aren’t smoothly modeled and the character models are not going to win any awards. However the vastness of the game is amazing. The game takes place in 3 different parts of Liberty City. You start in an urban setting and as the game goes on you move to more suburban areas of the city. The city is truly alive. Tons of cars drive around and you see rain and fog effects. After it rains, the road has a gleam to it…very cool. The graphics are not the strongest suit of this game, but it certainly doesn’t detract from the overall presentation. This is one of the sections that GTA3 shines. Every word in the game is spoken. Much like SSX Tricky some voices are even done by Hollywood talent, such as Joe Pantoliano, Michael Madsen and Michael Rappaport. The other strength in this category is the music. You carjack a car and, much like the other two GTAs, you have radio stations to choose from. You can listen to pop music, hard rock or even talk radio. My favorite station is Chatterbox where there is nothing but belly laughs. Other stations are very good and just add to the overall great atmosphere of this game. The manual is put together very well. You even get a map of Liberty City which can comes in handy when you first enter one of the 3 sections of the city. The controls for the game are easy to get the hang of both inside and outside of cars. DMA/Rockstar went that extra mile and presented the manual in color. Color in a manual is always welcome and shows that the makers truly made this a labor of love. Collision detection can be a tad off from time to time. Shooting is certainly not the easiest thing to do in the game, but once you get the hang of it everything should be okay. The game loads on the fly and it is quite amazing. This is amazing because of the huge sections of the city. The design is top notch here.
This has to be one of the most non-linear games I have ever played on a video game console. Basically you can do anything you want at any time. You want to kill some people? Feel free. You want to continue on with the storyline missions? Feel free. You want to not even care about the storyline? Go ahead. That’s how open-ended this game is. Never did I feel hindered by this game. If I didn’t want to take up a job given to me right away I could go off and do whatever I wanted, except in time sensitive jobs.
This game can be as long or as short as you want it to be. There is a lot of ground to cover in all 3 areas of the game. You can do wicked tricks while in your car, you can go on a demolition derby, you can get in a cop car and become a vigilante and you can even get in a taxi and get fares to add to your money base. This game will immerse you as much as Metal Gear Solid 2, however this is far more open than even MGS2. This is a game that will make you lose track of time because you are having so much fun.
There is, of course, a caveat to this game. The game is very mature and deserves its rating. There is blood, there is profanity, the Mafia is involved and you can create a huge amount of mayhem just by yourself. This game is right up there with Max Payne in the mature category, although you can damage so much more in this game. I highly recommend this game unless you are under 17. This is a game that deserves that rating and it should be followed.A long game that will take hours of your time to play. The open-ended gameplay will also allow you to not concentrate on main story progression necessarily.