System Requirements: 450 MHz processor (Pentium II or equivalent) 96 MB RAM 16 MB Direct3D Graphics Card Developed by Rockstar Published by Take 2 Rated M (Violence, Blood, Strong Language) There is a certain genre of video game that is a favorite among many gamers. This is known as the sandbox genre, named for the sheer freedom of gameplay. Grand Theft Auto will always go down as the game series that invented the sandbox genre, and continues to reinvent it. The defining characteristic of the sandbox genre is the ability to do just about anything. A player can commandeer any car, and go just about anywhere. GTA3 is the first game in the series to make the leap to 3D, opening up many new possibilities. The game puts the player in the shoes of a silent mobster, running dangerous, illegal, or immoral (or all of the above) errands for various people. These missions involve murder, robbery, extortion, street racing, transport, and other activities. This is while trying to unravel a story of revenge, as the main character must get back at his former lover, who turned on him in a robbery. The city is very lifelike, bustling with activity. The game spans three islands of the quite large Liberty City, each island becoming available after a certain point in the game.
From the moment I loaded up the game and placed my fingers on the keyboard, I was immersed in this game. I felt like I was in a living, breathing world, something I have not experienced since I played the Elder Scrolls games. Everyone always seems to have a destination in mind, brawls break out in the middle of the street, and even the time of day changes. Another notable feature is the way that the cars change from place to place. One section of the city had a lot of sports cars, but no cabs. Another piece was saturated with sedans, but devoid of SUVs. One of the great things about the game is the fact that there are other things to do besides the immoral activities. There is, of course, the simple drive-around-and-do-nothing formula, but there are also taxicab missions, ambulance missions, police car vigilante missions, and a grand total of one hundred secret packages scattered about the city. Regrettably, there is no multiplayer, which would have been very cool, but the single player is engaging enough to dull the bad taste that is multiplayer’s absence. There are also stunt ramps scattered around the city, which can net the player some extra cash if a particularly awesome stunt is performed. If the player gets too unruly, the police, FBI, and army will come in, and tear apart the city to enforce the law. The list of things that the player can do is way too long to continue going into here, but the experience was unforgettable. A couple of irritating things included death when the player enters the water, and the loss of all weapons when the player is taken to the hospital.
The graphics were, for a game of this age, incredible. The best part is that it runs nicely even on mid-range computers. Cars deform when hit (causing pieces flying off), paper flies through the air with wind, and spent bullet casings fall to the ground. Explosions look very good, leaving behind a twisted, blackened frame of the car. Character models are a tad jerky, and faces look horrible, but the rest of the game is top notch, especially when one considers that the game first released early in the Playstation 2’s life.
One thing that everyone can agree on with Rockstar’s games is the quality of the audio. This holds true here, and I was completely blown away the audio quality, even if I wasn’t exactly fond of what I was hearing. A wide range of different voice actors provides life for the extensive cast. Voices and guns sound different when in areas like tunnels, one can hear bullet casings clatter to the ground, and the player can listen to a number of radio stations while cruising the city. I was not crazy about any of these stations (they were composed mostly of rap and pop), but the talk show stations were quite comical when I listened to them closely. There was also another beautiful feature in the game that increases the fun factor drastically. If you have MP3 audio files on your computer, you can actually place these files into the game and listen to them as a separate radio station! In every aspect, however, the audio was of Hollywood quality.
Once or twice, the frame rate stuttered, but it was too infrequent to justify deducting a point. I noticed very little to no pop-up, and a couple of jaggies, but it was all very infrequent and didn’t detract from the experience.
Fairly easy controls nevertheless required that I kept the instruction book in front of me for the first few hours of gameplay. Targeting was easy with the mouse, and the interface was extremely clean.
Again, it is the moral problems that sink the ship (or rather, crash the car). Violence: -People killing people in cold-blooded murder (-5) -Blood sprays on the wall and everywhere else (-2.5) -Body parts can be visually unattached (-1.5) You know it’s bad when the game being reviewed is the example given in this review category. The player can kill anyone in the game, with anything from a baseball bat to a rocket launcher. When someone is getting beaten or shot, their body jerks realistically and blood spays out. Blood pools under bodies, and in a gruesome twist, the blood can be tracked across the ground if stepped in. Characters that are run down can be seen at the end of a bloody tire track. Shooting off one’s head results in a geyser of blood. Interestingly, I have never actually seen a body part go flying off, but I have seen the part lying near the body. Foul Language: -R-rated language (-5) The swearing isn’t as rampant as I would have thought, but there is still quite a lot of it. After all, this is a gangster game we’re talking about. Sexual Content: -Sexual references are made throughout the game. (-3.5) -Characters wearing skimpy clothing (-3.5) -Sex outside of marriage seen as positive (-3) There are sexual references aplenty here, as the player can pick up a prostitute and have sex for a health boost. In an almost comical note, the car rocks back in forth while both characters are sitting in the front seat, facing forward and visibly doing nothing. Prostitutes are almost as frequent as parking meters on the side of the road. This was a difficult topic to rate, because while you can tell the characters are having sex, you can’t actually see it. Occult/Supernatural: None. Cultural/Moral/Ethical -Requires active rebellion to play (-2.5) -Stereotypical biases (-1.5) -Decisions must be made that go against traditional values (-2.5) -No gross humor In order to get anywhere, the player must be very immoral and violent. Gangs are all stereotyped and have specific races within each one.
Gameplay: 20/20 A Graphics: 10/10 A Sound: 10/10 A Stability: 5/5 A Controls: 4/5 B -- Violence: 1/10 Language: 5/10 Sexual Content: 0/10 Occult/Supernatural: 10/10 Cultural/Moral/Ethical: 3.5/10
Total: 68.5% D