When the original Grand Theft Auto was released a hell of a ruckus was caused when parents found out that their child’s favourite pastimes were peddling drugs, shooting pimps and running down old ladies in their hijacked school bus. You’d think that they wouldn’t mind them doing this in a video game, but no, lots tried to call for a ban on the addictive antics of GTA. They thought it was teaching them bad habits with its stupidly micro machine like graphics and realism that was not unlike that of the Tweenies. I’m sure most of the parents complaining all knew their kids had seen Pulp Fiction, but never really cared. In the end it was released with the 18 certificate and since then we have seen gaming move on into frighteningly new levels of shock effect and violence of which, funnily, no one seems to be that bothered about anymore.
Well it’s no new news to you that Rockstar are back with DMA and GTA in its full 3D PS2 debut in an extra controversial and morally wrong form. Thrust into the worst city on earth for behaviour and the biggest hideout for thugs, prostitutes and murderer’s you must make a name for yourself among many a gangster. Steal cars, ram raid, beat up the old folk and smash the FBI over the head whilst they’re on the floor with a baseball bat. It sounds bad and it is, but can something that feels this good be all wrong?
The gameplay is really quite fantastic filled with a great adrenaline rush and minimum boredom factor. There are just so many things to do in the city it’s impossible for you to get bored for a long time. Being able to destruct this city and take advantage of gang members and civilians alike is one of the best parts, because you can play the game just for the odd 5 or 10 mins for a mess around. You can also get really stuck into the game though with the main objective, which is to please gang bosses who you work for. Completing all the missions they give you will advance you to the next island with a suitcase full of cash to buy weapons and paint jobs or anything else that takes your fancy.
You’re really in one big city with three parts and completing all the missions advances you onto the next part. Pleasing gangs is easy but so is getting on the wrong side them off. If they know who you are and you’ve been going around killing their chums then they’ll look for you on the streets, steal your car and give your arse the beating it deserves. There are a wide variety of gangs to get to know all with their specific attire and transport. For example, there’s the mafia, which you do a lot for, who where suits and drive cars with tinted windows, the triads who where boiler suits and drive fish vans (very threatening), the yardi’s who drive convertibles with leopard skin seats and controlled suspensions for extra street cred and many more. Remember though, they are full of backstabbers, trust no one.
The missions are varied enough with inventive objectives like taking out bosses with sniper guns, being the getaway car in bank jobs and going in a car with some hard nuts to wipe out an irritating gang.
Doing illegal activities on the streets in dangerous business with pigs on patrol. With every set of crime you do a star will light up in the top corner. The more stars, the more cops are after your blood. Get up to five stars and the FBI will be on the streets looking for you and go any more and you’ll have the army blowing you to pieces. All criminals get their comeuppance.
There are also a lot of nice little touches that make you sit back and thing wow. There’s the option of getting into a cab, ambulance, fire engine or police car and pressing L3, which lets you take up that particular job. Take people to their desired destination crazy taxi style or apprehend criminal masterminds. So you see, it’s not all immoral.
It’s that time of year again when sex offenders get to dress as Santa to impress the children from the local primary school, the loner with the scooter across the road brings you dry mince pies and AAA games come thick and fast pushing border lines and benchmarks for their respective consoles. GTA 3 is no exception and when you first get into the game your eyes water and then bleed because you’ve contracted eye-candy-itis from some of the best graphics seen on ps2 this year.
They come complete with their very own style, which has a realistic element to them but they are noticeably game like enough for you not to drop dead from disturbance or fall into an insecure state of shaking and vomiting like some parents or friends would expect you to do. Even worse you might be expected to go out and shoot someone but if you were it wouldn’t take a video game to influence you like many critics believe. This level of detail in a game has until now been unseen on the PS2, but as I have said many times, the possibilities are endless. The damage on the vehicles is mind blowing with windows shattering, doors hanging off bent out of shape and bonnets and bumpers flying all over the place. You can see the tiniest pieces of writing on the sides and scattered on the streets is rubbish like newspapers where you can even seen you criminal enemy face.
It’s all so solid and it actually looks like a city. In to the background you can see the misty forms of the actual blocks in the distance and pop-up is non-existent. The lighting in the game also gives liberty city that dark dingy, dangerous feeling at night with wet roads reflecting the ambient lights with a watery charm not unlike what can be seen in GT3. It’s got street style and makes you feel like your really in a living breathing city. There are a variety of weather effects to aid its success like rain, which I’ve already talked about and mist, which can be a real pain in the arse when you can’t see the roads - just like in real life!
Explosions are one of my favourite parts of GTA3. When you finally get a chance to use that rocket launcher and strike down that hog on the road, the screen lights up and even shakes to the force of it. The best part is the detail within though, for example pieces will come flying out like burning tyres that will then roll across the road. The bigger the explosion and the more pieces of truck that come flying out, the more satisfying it becomes.
I know it shouldn’t be, but it is extremely good fun just going round the streets and harming the normal bloke on the street with a baseball bat for just looking at you. I’ve played this game to death and so far I haven’t been out a felt the need to steal someone’s car so really I should think it’s quite a healthy obsession. Knocks tablets all over the floor.
After a while it can get tedious, but while it lasts it is excellent to play before going out before you feel the need to go back to something like FIFA or Bust A Move.
GTA 3 is totally immoral; a totally disgusting game in terms recreating modern disasters, but it is totally fantastic. You don’t need an evil streak through you to play this game because it loses the edge of real crime (it’s a game) and adds the edge of black humour. Perhaps it’s wrong to play a game, which mimics morbid crimes but it’s just to damn addictive and remember chaps, it is only a game and you will be overcome by its charm and sophistication. It’s not going to last you forever but it really does need to be in your collection, if only for shear pick up and play value.