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Before becoming one of the most popular and successful games in the world, there was the original Grand Theft Auto. At first glance there isn't really anything exciting that stands out. The graphics are rudimentary and it kind of looks like a game that would be suited for younger audiences. But when you start to play it, thats when you notice the reason why it has become a pop culture phenomenon. This is the one of the first highly controversial games that put the main emphasis towards murder, sex, and violence.
The game is setup on a large scale fictional city. You play the role of a gangster, the purpose throughout the game is to develop your character by doing different missions that all involve criminal activity. Some of the missions include stealing numerous cars, others involve murder, and most of them all have high speed car chases with cops. What makes this game unique though is that you can totally ignore the missions and just roam free throughout the city and cause your own mass destruction. This concept of absolute freedom and no restrictions is the reason why the games franchise has become so popular.
The original version has a top down 2d view for the games perspective. Although low grade and cheesy looking, the player can benefit from this because it gives you a wide view of the map, allowing you to see any nearby enemies and to see upcoming road routes. This is one of the games that really defines the term "graphics aren't everything" and it is true because of the games awesome playability and subject matter.
Grand Theft Auto original is still one of the most entertaining video games that you will ever play. One of the few games that lets its gameplay speak for itself instead of its graphics.
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GTA centres around the criminal exploits of a member of a big-city gang, who specialises in nicking cars. Playing as this dodgy character, you have to drive, skid and smash your way around several cities, earning enough money to move onto the next chapter, and ultimately onto the next city. In GTA you earn dollars rather than pounds, since the game is set in America, the country that practically invented car crime. And drive by shootings. And cheeseburgers. But back to the game - how you earn the necessary money to move on is entirely up to you, but given the title of the game, it's unlikely to involve any donning a boy scout uniform and doing jobs for old ladies, or by working at Burgers-r-us for 5p an hour. Instead, you can make a few readies by stealing and selling cars, working for gangland bosses, or mowing down pedestrians and blowing up other cars. Even ramming other cars will earn you a few dollars. Who says crime doesn't pay?
The cities in GTA aren't deserted due to some Mad Max style apocalypse - they're actually 'living' cities, complete with traffic, pedestrians, police cars and emergency services, all on hand to keep running smoothly. Until, that is, you throw a spanner in the works. Unusually for a driving game, you start off the game not in a car but on foot - you're also not stuck with driving any one particular vehicle. For some odd reason, no-one in GTA land locks their car doors so you can run up to any car and, bypressing the enter key, yank someone out of their car and then leap in and drive off, or if you're feeling really charitable, you can then reverse over the hapless ex-driver. There are dozens of different vehicle types in GTA, including bikes, taxis, sports cars and trucks, all of which handle differently. It's up to you to decide which is the best vehicle for the job, though if you're on foot and you've got the cops after you, you'll usually settle for anything you can get your hands on. None of the vehicles are indestructible - if you smash into things then your car will take damage, and eventually slow down due to engine damage. You can tell how much trouble you're in not only by the visible damage to your car, but by the engine noise which begins stuttering when you've taken a hammering. If you keep slamming your car into things, then it may eventually explode, or may blow up if a single stray shot hits it, so it's a good idea to swap vehicles fairly frequently. Ah well, easy come, easy go.
If you want to earn some quick cash, then the mob missions are the way to go.There are two ways to get missions - the first way is two find a suspiciously abandoned car and get in it, and if it is a mob car, then you'll be given a mission. The second way is to head off to the bank of phones used by the mob, and answer one of them, and you'll get given a mission. The missions are usually made up of several parts, each of which is critical to your completion of the mission. A typical example of this is the double-taxi mission where you are told to find two yellow cabs, and take them to the docks where they will be picked up by crane and stored for use by the mob. Then you'll be told to go to a phone elsewhere in the city, and answer it to get another task. If you get to the phone in time, you'll be told to head off and wipe someone out, who just happens to be accompanied by several gun-toting bodyguards. Get rid of him, and you've completed the mission. If the phone-answering bit sounds familiar, that's because it's inspired by a similar sequence that appeared in Die Hard 3. There's a few sequences in GTA that pay homage to movies - one Speed style mission has you picking up a bus only to find that it'll explode if it drops below 50 MPH, and with the sheer amount of traffic on the roads, that's not easy.
If you're looking for a little extra money, and you don't fancy doing the missions, you can try stealing cars and selling them to the mob. You can sell a car at any time during the game by taking it to one of the four dock cranes in the city, although you'll how much money you'll get back depends upon how badly damaged the car is, and what make of car it is. You also get ten dollars for bumping a car, and a hundred dollars for mowing down a pedestrian, and while that may not sound like much, there's the score multipliers. When you successfully complete a mission, you get your bonus multiplier increased. So if you've completed three missions successfully, you'll get your multiplier bumped up to x4, and every time you hit a car, you'll get forty dollars, and every time you mow down a pedestrian, you'll get four thousand dollars. But mowing down dozens of pedestrians isn't really recommended, because you'll soon find the police on your tail, and unless you're heavily armed, they'll give you a bit of trouble.
Yes, the police - after all, they're not going to just let you go belt around the city in a stolen car, ramming every vehicle in sight - are they? Strangely enough, they are. Most of the time, you can nick cars without getting hassled by the cops, although on occasions they will pay attention to you if you do. What really grabs their attention is juicy and particularly violent crimes like murder, squish-and-run, and gratuitous use of a firearm to blow up cars. And you can also get them on your tail if you happen to clip a police car, so watch out. How much police attention you get depends upon just how much of a deranged criminal you are. Your wanted status is shown by a series of little police heads at the top of the screen. If you're not in trouble, there are no heads. If you've done something slightly illegal, there'll be one head. If you then do something nastier like kill a cop, or start mass-murdering pedestrians, then your wanted level will increase and you'll get more cops on your tail. The highest wanted level is four, and at this point, you'll have the cops setting up road blocks, belting around after you in their high-powered squad cars and leaping out and shooting at you whenever you get they get the chance. The only way out is to either find a hidden get-out-of-jail-free pick-up, or drive into one of the respray shops around the map - if you can avoid the road blocks, that is. If you do get caught, it's not the end of the world - you lose your weapons, and your bonus multipliers, but you do get released. If, on the other hand, you get shot or wasted, you end up in hospital, keeping your bonus multiplier, but losing your weapons and losing one life. This leads to some of the best high-speed chases you're likely to see outside of a movie theatre - with the added bonus that you're in the drivers seat.
It's not just the cops who'll respond to your hyper-violent antics. If you set a car on fire using one of the weapons found in crates around the city, you can watch a fire engine pull up and put the fire out - you can even blow the fire engine up, or steal it and go joyriding round the city. Or if you mow someone down, you can watch an ambulance turn up on the scene and steal it. One of the best things about GTA is the way that it feels like you're in a living city, rather than just driving round a lifeless race-track. GTA is great fun to play - it's completely open, so you can wander off and do more or less whatever you want, it's addictive, and it'll have you coming back for more again and again, and it's utterly original. The original is even worth playing today, despite the fact it's been superseded by a several sequels and more than a few clones. It's come in for a lot of flak for being 'immoral', certainly, but unless you're some sort of loony who's unable to tell the difference between games and reality (ie,a tabloid journalist), then this game is an essential purchase. As the Green Cross Code man put.. 'Look left, look right, run for your lives! Aaaaaaaaaaaagh!'
(review by me, originally posted on GamesDomain)
The original Grand Theft Auto game set a standard that led to perhaps the most successful gaming brand of all time. It is no wonder that the original was and still is a truly marvelous game with a broad range of possibilities in gameplay.
The game, much like all other following versions of GTA and many competitors is based in a large, mainly fictional city. The purpose of the game is to develop your character and follow through the vast array of competing and complimenting storylines, leading you through the game level after level. The beauty of the game is that you are free to choose how you wish to play it, which missions you wish to do, where you want to go, what car to drive and generally what you want to get out of it. Revolutionary for its time, it was unlike any other game, almost all of which made you follow a pre-designed path of progress through to the end.
The game has a number of competing gangs, which provide the majority of the missions you are able to complete. While the 2D view is not as complex or impressive as modern games offering a full 3D view of the city, it is nonetheless a very fun title to pick up providing your PC is capable of playing games this old. The great thing about the 2D picture is the relative breadth of the level you can peruse on your screen and fairly fast graphic rendering: especially so on modern computers.
As well as completing missions, there are countless other 'tasks' and things you may want to do on your own accord for no particular reason. from driving a tank to spray painting your car to hopping from one roof to another, this game offers a surprising amount to the gamer, especially so for a game of its age. I still truly believe that if anybody else were to pick this game up and give it a go, they would find it as enthralling and exciting as they did the best part of two decades ago when it first came out.
The original grand theft auto. The game that started it all!
At first glance it seems like a child's game, cheap top down graphics, no real sense of challenge and lots of mindless violence. But once you start playing it you soon realise just how much fun this game is.
The main aim of the game is to go around the city committing various crimes such as stealing cars, killing people, robbing buildings until you have built up your "criminal profile" high enough to be allowed into other parts of the city.
What made this game stand out from others and become so much fun to play is the ability to totally ignore the missions and just go on a massive crime spree around the whole city with little regard to the games rules. GTA was one of the very original sandbox games that let a players creativity get a hold of them instead of restricting it inside predetermined scenarios and missions. This had the effect of adding countless hours of playtime onto an otherwise repetitive game.
One thing this game always gets in the news about is its apparent lack of morality (killing the police, robbing hookers etc...). So as long as you are willing to accept that this is just a game and nothing else then you will have a great time playing it.
This is the game that started the pop culture revelation that is Grand Theft Auto. Without this rough around the edges attempt, we wouldn't have the superb sequels that we now do, nor the numerous attempts to recapture that success with knock-offs, from the True Crime series, to the sandbox ventures of Prototype.
The setup is delightfully simple; you're a gangster who is hired to do missions. You got to payphones to find missions, mostly consisting of mass destruction, theft and murder, and then have to executing them while trying to evade the police.
This is a very simple game to pick up and play, but considerably more difficult to master. I spent many years as a child simply driving around and killing without doing any of the missions, and this in itself makes for a pretty damn entertaining time. If you pick up the missions, though, you get a bit more variety, as a few more scripted things happen, and the chaos just ramps up.
The game doesn't look great now; the visuals in fact are quite pathetic, but this is a game that has stood the test of time thanks to the gameplay. The PC version also benefits hugely from the multiplayer offering, where you can hook up online and drive around killing each other. There's also the opportunity to play a special race mode, where you get points by destroying each other.
Kids who have been reared on the next generation entries of GTA may not appreciate what this has to offer, but it's difficult to fight against how insanely fun this game is, and moreover, how important it is to the canon of video games. Few games are as instantly rewarding, fun, and well crafted as this.
The original Grand Theft Auto(GTA) game was fantastic and is completely different to today's games in terms of the graphics and the missions, vehicles and various other things in place in the current GTA games. It came out all the way back in 1997 originally. I had it on the PC on a machine that was quite powerful at the time and had many hours of fun playing the game. The name of the game obviously comes from the criminal term which refers to the one used in the media and by police which involves the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle.
Even for its time the game seemed a bit outdated with its graphics and 2d style top down view. Many games were getting the 3d treatment at the time with games like Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation.
Once you have installed the game and start playing you are just a character on a busy city street. There's no big build-up or story to Grand Theft Auto. You're standing on a busy street, you're told that work is available from the phones at the south end of the park and you are left to do what you please really. There is no set structure except for a target score which you are to achieve.For the first level, you have to score one million points.
You can chose to do missions such as being a getaway driver, blowing up other vehicles or buildings and killing/assassinating other people. Any mission you perform successfully without dying or getting caught by the police gets you extra points. There are wide range of vehicles on offer including sports cars, taxis, buses and tankers amongst others. There are also a few weapons which include guns and armor and there are opportunities to get extra lives. The main aim of the game is to do missions and do other things to get your score up whilst at the same time aiming to avoid the police who will be hot on your trail.
The game is structured so that there are two levels played in each of three cities - Liberty City, San Andreas and Vice City. These cities in the game are modeled on New York City, San Francisco and Miami respectively.
The game was given an 18 certificate for the obvious violence and criminal activity it portrays even though it is in video game format.
Overall it is a classic game. When it came out there weren't many like it and it was something quite unique. A bit like the Wii now in comparison to PS3 and X box. The graphics were not great and the top down view definitely gave it a bit of a blast from the past look. It was though a fun game and its simplicity made it easily accessible to many gamers including myself. The free roaming element also means that it was able to provide many hours of game play. A great game which has led to even bigger things with numerous subsequent versions now available.
System requirements :486 DX4/100Mhz CPU
16 MB RAM
1 MB Video RAM
You can now get this game free on the rockstar Gta website if you join their mailing list:
A far cry from the big budget, visually impressive GTA games of today, the original Grand Theft Auto is a very simplistic top-down affair with basic, 2d graphics that relies on addictive, arcade-style gameplay and responsive controls. Its very easy to pick up and play and is game that has dated very little, both because its gameplay is so straightorward and enjoyable and also due to the fact that its visuals were nothing particularly special even when it first came out back in 1998. As in its numerous sequels you play a joyrider who makes money by stealing cars and undertaking missions for local organised crime gangs, roaming about vast cityscapes complete with motorways, carparks and pedestrians in an effort to rack up enough points to proceed to the next level. The missions are varied, including assassinations, acting as the getaway driver in bankjobs and bombing the buildings of people who have ticked off your criminal paymasters, and the game has a strong sense of humour and strong adult themes of sex and violence running through it. The game is 'sandbox' in style in that it allows you to choose when you want to undertake missions and also allows you to engage in 'extracurricular' activities such as selling stolen cars on at the local docks, and you can earn points just by joyriding around running over pedestrians and eveding the cops if you wish, though it will take considerably longer to pass the level this way.
The more cars you steal and pedestrians you mow down the more police attention you receive, and the cops will set up roadblocks and ram into you in an attempt to drive you off the road, emerging from their squad cars and hauling you out of your car and arresting you if you let them get close enough. You can wander around gunning people down with your arsenal of a pistol, machinegun, flamethrower and rocket launcher if you like, but by far the most fun is to be gleaned from Blues Brothers style car-chases, only with infinitely more violence, as you steal and carjack a wide number of vehicles that include sports cars, sedans, motorbikes, police cars, articulated lorries, buses, ice-cream trucks, ambulances, hearses and even tanks, should there be a military base nearby. There are a range of radio stations that you can switch between too during your joyrides, which play a variety of music including dance, rock, pop and country and western, effectively allowing you to choose the music you want to accompany your car chases. Should you want to take a more strategic approach to the game you can also evade the police by taking your car to a local garage to get a spray-paint job done, which I always thought was a rather nice touch. The game's simplicity and arcade-style charm means that the functional graphics don't really matter, and its an incredibly pure and exciting gaming experience that is still great for both short both extended plays.
I brought this game back in 1999 and spent hours playing this game. This game is free roaming where you can either just kill people by running them over or you can carry out missions to get cash and to complete an area. The game is split into different area of the city and you report to different bosses. When you get to a certain amount of points to get to progress to the next area with a new boss and then you to see a cut screen. When your in the car and driving round the city you get a choice of various different radio stations. An easy way to make money is to pick up nice cars and take them to the dock, if you damage your car on the way you get money deducted or if you try to see the guy a cop car he won't take it. The police will get interested in you if you kill people, as soon as you do something wrong you will hear a message on the radio. This is a brilliant game and has given me hours of enjoyment.
I think by now everyone has heard of the GTA series. I'm also sure that many GTA players now have probably never played the first GTA game.
The first and most apparent difference between this GTA and others is the graphics. You view all of the game from an overhead view with 2D arcade style graphics. Although you may think this retracts from some of the fun violent scenes you love the game for the arcade graphics and sound FX really make it a good game worthy of the GTA series. Without the success of GTA 1 there wouldn't be any other GTA games now would there?
Apart from this obvious side effect of older computers not being able to run 3D extreme to the MAX graphics :) you will find the game to be pleasantly entertaining.
You still have the ability to steal cars, kill pedestrians with pools of blood and complete missions earning respect and money.
The cops still give chase if you go on a slaughtering spree and it ain't any easier to get away from them on this game than any other. You can still blow up cars, use weapons and beat the baked beans out of people on the street.
So why not give yourself a little pleasure of an arcade style GTA.
Grand Theft Auto, often abbreviated "GTA", is a video game released to the personal computer in 1997 by BMG Interactive. It is the first game in a long standing series of the same name which is still in production to date. At the time of release its system requirements were a CPU capable of 100 MHZ, 16 MB of RAM and 1 MB of video RAM. I have tested this title to run in Microsoft Windows XP but the performance is very slow. There are also noteworthy graphical differences between the Windows and MS-DOS version. It is therefore recommended that, for full compatibility, one runs this title under a DOS emulation program such as "DOSBox". The game received an age rating of "18" by the BBFC in the United Kingdom. It is mainly a single player game but did feature multiplayer gameplay over the Internet or direct networking. In my experience, the multiplayer option was considerably flawed and choppy in play.
GTA's premise revolves heavily around completing missions for local crime syndicates in the cities which the criminal finds himself in. The central themes to the missions which the player will be required to execute include murder, assist with bank robberies and theft. There is also an element of "free roaming" to this title where the player can freely engage in play through the theft of motor vehicles and selling for cash or other crime. To advance further in between the cities, however, one must complete all assigned missions which are usually given to the player at a corresponding pay phone. If one simply wishes to freely roam throughout a specific city, the player is often encouraged through vocal prompts deeming their villainous actions to be good, and is often heavily rewarded for the theft of police vehicles or murdering of police officers. Due to these aspects the game has been continually surrounded by controversy with each addition to the series, including Thailand officials banning the series from sale due to teenagers imitating their in-game experience by murdering a taxi driver.
The game is presented from a top down view and features two dimensional graphics. The programmers showed good detailing as the graphics remain easy to look at under various driving conditions, from legal street speeds to high speed chases and crashes. The colour palette was rather limited and did not readily feature differentiations in the vehicles; a silver "bulldog" will always be a silver "bulldog" vehicle. This can make gameplay somewhat repetitive but can allow greater ease to the player when requiring a certain vehicle to execute a certain mission. Text is heavily featured throughout the game and displays at a quick rate so basic literacy skills would be a requirement to this game. There is some element of basic sound effects, from gun shots to car engines, but these only serve as a mere accent to the title. The general difficulty of this game could be regarded somewhere between "easy" and "normal", and the game itself requires minimal time in which the player will find him or herself actually playing.
Overall, Grand Theft Auto may not satisfy the current game's standards but is nonetheless an enjoyable escape for the moment which it enthralls the player. The element of "free roaming" definitely sparks further interest in continual play.
Grand theft auto is a classic. Nobody doubts that. It is an increadible game which revolutionized the computer game market.
Still a two dimensional game, Grand Theft Auto provided endless hours of fun by giving to the user, close to impossible, challenging missions which, in some cases, had time limits to be completed.
In the game, you start out as a relatively unknown gangster with practically no weapons and no money. and a group of public phones from which you get missions. the initial missions are quite simple and quite quicky, the end user gets access to better weapons and more challenging missions and to new cities with different characteristics.
To complement this, there are some special modes such as the "kill frenzies" in which your supposed to kill x people or destroy Y cars in a certain time period.
The game is graphically weak but the gameplay is fantastic and your guaranteed many many hours of fun.
I played this after playing Grand Theft Auto 3 and I was fully aware that the style of the game was very different having seen some screenshots of it.
Honestly I can see why people would have played it back when it was released but unless you're a fan of old gaming classics you're not going to get much joy out of it. For a start you can't see far enough in front of you when you're travelling at high speeds. Then there's the shooting element. You shoot in a straight line from the direction you're facing and when you're taking on a lot of enemies this can be quite awkward to control and you'll find yourself dying because you weren't dead on straight with the enemy. There doesn't seem to be much story either, you're just answering phones to do missions with no real information on why you're doing them.
Despite the fact that its a classic I'm going to rate it a 1/5, it won't bore the hell out of you for...10 minutes. Just buy GTA3 or one of the other more recent GTAs.
Grand Theft Auto, the game that started it all. Who would have guessed that it would of came this far all that time back then. Well rockstar maybe had an idea it would, but i bet they never thought it would be as succesful as it is this current day.
I rented this game for playstation when it first came out, and as soon as it was released on pc i bought it. People had very very mixed views on grand theft auto when it was released, but i just looked at it as being a game that was a whole lot of fun to play.
Basically you control a character that undergoes a load of different missions for various people. These missions involve stealing cars, murdering certain people, illegal deals, drugs, weapons crime etc.. so basically your mum's worst nightmares all put together in one. (which is probably why so many mums refused to buy this game for there underage sons ) however at the centre of all this lies a very open boxed game that allows you complete freedom. (to a certain extent) this is one of the many reasons that grand theft auto was so succesful as people loved being able to complete missions any way they wanted, to drive around wherever they wanted and to basically commit any crime they wanted to commit.
The missions were all unique in there own ways which was great fun, and also all the different characters in the game made it feel very open as there was always new people to meet.
This game can be picked up for as little as £2.00 these days in certain places especially ebay so at that price it really is a bargain. If you have never played the original grand theft auto before i recommend you to do so now as it will allow you to see the game that started it all and you will also see why it will never be forgotten.
If there was any budget PC game I would recommend to anybody mature enough to realise that violence in a video game is just violence in a video game, it would be Grand Theft Auto on the PC. Of course you know I'm talking about the original game - after all, that's what this review is for - and not the countless sequels. If you like the 3D sandbox gaming that the later games provide, good on you, but I personally can't stand them and rate Grand Theft Auto 3 as one of my least favourite games ever. However, I rate Grand Theft Auto as one of the best, and for this ridiculously small price, suggest everyone with a PC and a left mouse button should own it.
You take the role of a rookie gangster, eager to make a name for himself in the big, bright world of crime. In order to do this, you must travel around a sprawling metropolis, undertaking missions for your crime lords. These range from serving as the get-a-way vehicle for bank jobs to driving a bomb into an important building, and are communicated to you through the ringing public telephones that adorn the streets. Completing missions earns you points and multiplier bonuses (which help you earn more points). Get enough points together and you can afford the 'plane ticket to relocate to a bigger, badder city of sin.
In order to complete these missions, you have free reign of the city and the freedom to do as you please. You see a car cruising down the highway? Run across the road and take it. Don't worry about the driver, you can just kick him out, then run him over. Hey, I never said this was a nice game. That's where the 'grand theft auto' element comes in - the ability to pick and choose from a variety of vehicles, including (but not limited to) bikes, trucks, trains, police cars, fire engines, buses and tanks. If anyone causes trouble or just gets in the way, you can use a selection of weapons to take care of them.
The city is presented from a bird's eye view, and although the graphics are dated (they were pretty basic when the game came out, to be honest), the level of detail is impressive and there's nothing in the way aesthetically to stop this being an enjoyable experience. The maps are huge and there's so much to do - you don't even need to stick to the missions in order to succeed, you can just go crazy and explore the world, driving sports cars into walls or firing rocket launchers at crowds. Be careful you don't attract the police, however - if you do (and you will), be prepared for a high speed chase across the town. These are some of the best moments of the game, as the intense chasing can go over the rooftops, into peoples' gardens and through the back streets.
As with all the GTA games, there is a plethora of secrets here, ranging from hidden missions to bonus killing sprees. The soundtrack is awesome too, packed with original songs that change in genre depending on the style of the vehicle you drive.
You see, the charm of GTA is that, even though it depicts an incredibly violent, seedy world of gang crime, death and violence, the graphics are so colourful and simple, and the gameplay so enjoyable, that it cannot make you feel as uncomfortable as the more advanced 3D games can. It's very basic, visceral fun at the end of the day.
However, the game has dated a lot. While it's still very fun, the control system has always been tougher than a rotten orange peel and the graphics won't blow your mind. But nobody says that about Pac-Man, and GTA is very much like a homicidal, mental, criminal, bloodthirsty Pac-Man.
Grand Theft Auto The Story Right up to San Andreas
This opinion you are reading began life as an introduction to a review I am preparing for Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, possibly the most anticipated game in the history of gaming.
The opinion soon took on a life of its own and serves as a broad overview of the games that have preceded the latest instalment. It quickly became clear that this topic warranted its own review so that anyone unfamiliar with the whole Grand Theft Auto (GTA) franchise could read all about the humble beginnings of a game that would become a leading title in modern game playing.
On the Eve of the realise of GTA San ANdreas this seemed like a perfect time to release this oppinion.
These days GTA is a licence to print money for the producers at Rockstar Games. The usual combination of fresh ideas, irreverent humour, quality, hard work, and sheer balls has made GTA arguably the hottest title on the PS2.
It has not always been this way of course; they had to build the legend first.
***GTA - The Beginning***
Way back in the foggy past of 1997 (a life time ago in gaming terms) a new title came on the market called Grand Theft Auto for the PC (The PS2 was merely a twinkle in Mr Sonys eye at this time). The game had a 2-D top-down perspective more akin to Sim City than the GTA games we have come to know these days.
The game was produced by little known computer house DMA, now the infamous Rockstar.
One thing was clear from the start though; this game would infuriate parents, teachers and moral spokespeople the world over while many players would love it. The premise was one of building up a criminal career based around car theft and murder. A novel idea in 97 when most players were engaged in more sedate pleasures such as building piles out of blocks in Tetris and building Cities in Sim City.
GTA wanted you to destroy for your own selfish gains rather than build for the common good. Love it or hate it the game was an instant hit and based firmly in the mature market for games. Of course the kids got their hands on it but Rockstar forced the game to mature with its audience.
Based in Liberty City the original GTA contained over 200 missions, every vehicle in the game was accessible by the player and offered a radio station to switch on and listen to all heady stuff in the late 90s.
You could do just about anything you wanted and the payphones were there for you to pick up your missions. GTA sold in the millions and stayed on the UK videogame top twenty for two years.
If you have never played it, get it for the PC its a bit dated and not what we are used to these days but still a lot of fun.
***GTA (not quite) 2***
In May 1999 the company Take Two formed Rockstar Games and produced GTA- London. A spin-off from the success of the original GTA. The same engine as GTA but set in 1960s London rather than modern USA styled Liberty City.
The game had a 1960s Brit-pop soundtrack to match the visuals. One reason the game was similar to GTA was the fact it was an add-on disk so you had to have the original GTA to play it.
***GTA 2 More of the same***
In October 1999 Rockstar produced the imaginatively titled Grand Theft Auto 2 on the PC and the highly successful Playstation (we now call it the PS1 but then it was all there was). The game was similar to GTA1 but it had a tweaked storyline based around drugs, moonshine, mafia style executions and gang warfare. Once more the social conscience of the moral majority was pricked and they guardians of social welfare crapped in their pants at the premise for this game.
This game failed to live up to the success of the original with the top-down perspective by now being rather dated. Critics and game players, on the whole, shunned it but it was a minor success. There was clear potential but it had to be revised, what could Rockstar do to save the future of the game?
***GTA 3 Time to kick some butt***
October 22nd 2001 came around and since the release of GTA2 things in the world of computer games had changed.
The PS2 had been born and the bar for quality games had been raised with Rockstars own titles such as Midnight Club and Smuggler's Run. Even on the PS1 a game called Driver had stolen the show. It allowed a more advanced movie style perspective with the game physics to match. It was fresh and exciting.
When GTA3 was released it had grown up to meet the style and quality of Driver on the PS1 and then surpass it on the new PS2 format. It was no longer 2-D and top-down it was new and improved, 3-D and in your face.
This added appeal for a new segment of gamers and turned them on to the sordid but exciting world of GTA. It contained all the irreverence of the originals but brought them to a previously unattained plane. The game was simply a revolution in game play.
This was when I got involved with GTA big time. Before GTA3 I had played the original GTA but it didnt really float my boat too much. It was a good way to kill some time but nothing more. A friend told me about the forthcoming GTA3 and after much convincing I decided to pre-order. Once it was inserted into my PS2 I discovered that this game was something else, something amazing and something that made me say WOW!
The GTA3was of such quality it was the first game to really take you into a film storyline and allowed you true freedom to explore. No longer where you confined to the car, you could leap out and cause some personal violence using your fists or more frequently an arsenal of deadly weapons with the gore to match.
The game was not so linear and you could spend hours just driving around, killing people for no reason and, to the joy of many, have sex with prostitutes (well it certainly aint making lurve). A satisfying rocking motion to show you were giving that lady the time of her life accompanied the sex going down (oo-er missus) in your car. This caused gasps by the moral majority, if not the prostitutes, together with and giggles and titters from game players. Heads began to explode around the world, as the events happening in this game became common knowledge to the none-game playing public. Oooh they were annoyed!
After much elicit sex and cruising in the game you could move on to the wonderful missions. The game had so much depth that it would be a long long time before you would even think about being bored with it.
Of course there was one further thing that sealed the fate of this game - the soundtrack!
You now had a real radio with a selection of stations, which you could listen to, and they would actually entertain you. They were no longer just a background noise that became infuriating very quickly and caused you to turn the sound on your TV down. You could listen for hours and this allowed you to think, Hell this is real. Liberty City now had its own sounds.
The game sold like crazy and was recognized as the benchmark for producing revolutionary games for the PS2, it filled a different niche to Gran Turisom A Spec, the other PS2 staple, so they were not in any way rivals although they were both loosely classed as driving games.
Everyone wanted GTA3, they played it and then, unavoidably, the hype really started with the anticipation for the next instalment.
***GTA Vice City Miami Nice***
This new instalment came on October 29th 2002 with the release of Grand Theft Auto Vice City (GTAVC). Not so much a sequel but more of a prequel because it was set in the 1980s world of Vice City. It was a lot like Florida ala Miami Vice complete with radio stations and crap fashions to match yes you really could choose to wear a suit in a putrid pastel shade. This was a refreshing change form the 1990s New York Style of GTA3.
On a more mercenary note Rockstar could have produced a right load of tat and made a killing because following on from GTA3 pre-orders for Vice City were reputed to be in the 4,000,000 mark. Yes four million copies were sold before the game even reached the shops. To put it into perspective 4 million times £40 (about the UK selling price) equals £160,000,000 - £160 million!!! Thats one hell of a round of drinks. Luckily for us all the game was great so the pre-orders for any further games are expected to be just as high.
Rockstar took this opportunity to fix some of the problems that had cropped up in GTA3 (yes it had some problems). The weapon aiming systems was more stabilised so it was easier to shoot the bad (or good) guys, the radio stations were improved upon with more licensed songs, you could blow out tyres, you could ride motorcycles, there were a ton of weapons to choose from, more buildings and businesses were accessible and could be purchased, and, wait for it, you could fly helicopters and planes. The missions were a lot more fun too plus you could even change your clothes (GASP!) and leap from moving vehicles (EEK!). It was awesome!
Along with all of the artificial intelligence of the Police was improved and now they were more difficult to evade and shake off. Some people thought this was a bit of a pain while others relished the added challenge this gave to the game. The AI was cleverly done and very quickly you could learn to evade the police as easily as ever.
Aside from the main game and its fantastic missions, the chance to explore was enhanced because GTEVC was twice the size of the already enormous GTA3 and there were a whole lot more vehicles to steal from mopeds to helicopters and everything in between.
GTAVC also saw the coming of age of computer games. Respected voice talent was lining up to take part in the new game.
Sure, Michael Madson (Reservoir Dogs) and Kyle MacLachlan (Sex and the City, The Flintstones Movie) amongst some other more minor celebrities had made an appearance in GTA3 but GTAVC saw names adding their talents to the franchise. Talent such as;
- Ray Liotta of Goodfellas and Hannibal fame (now, for the first time, the main GTA character had a voice and Mr Liotta did a damn fine job by movie standards let alone the usually dubious video game acting standards.)
- Dennis Hopper (Speed, Easy Rider)
- Jenna Jameson (a real porn star playing a GTA porn star called Candy Suxx with hilarious and titillating results)
- Gary Busey (Lethal Weapon, Under Siege)
- Danny Trejo (Con Air, From Dusk til Dawn)
- Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man, The Fall Guy)
- Debbie Harry (Lead singer of Blondie)
- Burt Reynolds (Striptease, The Mean Machine)
The game was now more mainstream and more big bucks than ever. Video Games now had some street cred. in Hollywood.
GTAVC once again raised the bar. It was a huge and enjoyable hit but the one thing it could not do was to reinvent the wheel. Many players were expecting something as revolutionary as GTA3 but this was simply not possible. GTA had reinvented itself, and the face of gaming with GTA3 and if it tried too hard to do it again GTAVC could have been a massive disappointment due to lost focus which was a mistake made by many a game franchise before it.
Rockstar made the wise choice to keep with the trusted formula and Vice City was a welcome break, but not a total departure from, Liberty City in GTA3. The quality and fun shone through.
GTAVC was based solidly around gangster movies of the time and many scenes were ripped unceremoniously right out of Goodfellas and Scarface but this mattered very little. The game producers had remembered one important thing. They remembered the one thing a lot of clever software houses forgot in their attempts to make new games it was bloody fun to play!
So where to next? After Vice City where could the wonderful people at Rockstar take us?
After much speculation and rumour the answer eventually arrived 1990s SAN ANDREAS I will review Grand Theft Auto San Andreas just as soon as Dooyoo and time allows me (the review is already in production).
Thanks for reading :O)