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Grand Theft Auto 3
Review By:  Joe Rolfe
Developer:   DMA Design
Publisher:   Rockstar
# of Players:   1
Genre:   Driving
ESRB:   Mature
Date Posted:   11-19-01

Wow.

That’s all I can say after playing the latest update in DMA Design’s Grand Theft Auto series. Although the term is over used quite a bit in the biz, I guess I should say that I’m speechless. After experiencing the greatness that is Grand Theft Auto 3 (GTA3), I have a new found respect for Rockstar and the game’s developer. With one swift kick to the gonads of the PS2 hardware, DMA has churned out one of the most original and ingenious games I, quite frankly, have ever played.

If you’ve ever seen the first two games in the GTA series, you should have a pretty good idea of what the game is based upon. Violence, car jacking, adult content… oh yes, it’s still intact, and more destructive to your mind than ever. This time around, however, we’ve moved into the 3rd dimension. You take control of a prison-escapee running amok in Liberty City. Throughout the game you’re given full freedom to do whatever you want to nearly everything imaginable in a fully living, breathing 3D world. The game progresses through objective-based missions in which you are hired by various black market groups and Mafias to do their dirty work. Assignments range from killing a certain character (by means of guns, bombs, or even run over them with a car), transporting and dropping off individuals, planting bombs in enemy cars, or even win street car races. Those are just a few among many other types of exciting and fast-paced tasks given to you throughout the city.

Liberty City is split into three different sections – Portland, Staunton Island and Shoreside Vale. Eventually you’ll be able to access all three, each one at a certain point in the game opening roads and bridges to one another. Spread throughout these massive areas are cars, cars and even more cars. There are tons, and I mean, tons of vehicle types to hijack and steal. From tiny P.O.S’s to super-up sports automobiles, each car varies in weight, speed and control – a huge amount of depth for just one section of the game. By doing illegal conduct such as stealing them, though, you can get the police on your back – and this is where the real fun begins. Droves of fuzz wagons can come screaming after you, trying to knock your car off the road (or even run you over) if your warrant level rises. Cop A.I is very good in that they’ll use teamwork to gang you into a wall, or even create a roadblock of cruisers in an attempt to slow you down. You can even take cop cars if you feel like it. This ability to just interact with everything found in the game is what makes GTA3 so special. Few next-gen games can offer this pure amount of freedom and make it so damn addicting.

Presentation-wise, GTA3 delivers exceptionally. While the graphics probably won’t win any awards for pushing the boundaries of the PS2 console, what they do is just enough to make playing the game easy on the eyes. The city and all objects are made up of clean, solid-colored textures, allowing the game to have a respectable draw distance considering how much action can go on the screen at one time. The frame rate is pretty solid as well, seeing that it only drops when there’s literally dozens of cars and explosions happening in one scene.

Even more impressive than the graphics, though, is the astonishing execution with the sound effects and music. To make driving through the hazardous city a bit more enjoyable, DMA included nine, count em, nine different radio stations to hear while crashing into the nearest lamppost. From opera to hip hop to reggae to talk radio, GTA3 just screams of personality with it’s wide variety of stations, each featuring both music tracks and hilarious advertisements and promos. Outside of the music, Grand Theft Auto 3 sports top-notch voice acting, as each group boss or Mafia leader growls, scorns and laughs with such sincere emotion that I can’t help but smile at how polished it sounds.

Are there any problems with GTA3? Well, I could nit-pick and say things like there being the occasional camera angle problem when caught in small spaces, or that it can sometimes be tough to lock onto people when firing a weapon. Yet, these comments would be petty queries in comparison to the large scale of excellence that-is GTA3.

HIGHS:

  • So much to do; hardly any limits
  • Minute details everywhere
  • Solid visuals
  • Brilliant usage of radio stations
  • Depth is just intimidating
  • ...and so much more.

LOWS:

  • Weapon lock-on can be a small hinder
  • Game has to end eventually

FINAL VERDICT:

I won’t waste your time with some catch summarization, so here it is: simply put, Grand Theft Auto 3 has Game of the Year written all over it. End of story.

Overall Score: 9.9

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