Score one for the Bad Guys!
Unless youve been living under a rock for the past year or so, you might have noticed a little game called Grand Theft Auto 3, or GTA3 as the younguns call it. However, what really sets GTA3 apart from all the other games that came out this year is both the subject matter and the obvious attention to detail that shows up in every pixel of the game. Yet the game is not one for the morality police to play; you can gun down innocents, take drugs, hijack cars, kill cops, and of course support your local hooker to heal yourself (the car even rocks back and forth as she, uh, heals you).
I've got your details right here, pal!
You start the game as an unnamed prisoner on the run, who was betrayed by his partner in crime. Gradually, you try to work your way up the ladder of crime that seems to penetrate almost every aspect of the HUGE metropolis called Liberty City. Although the missions are varied enough to keep the game interesting, (everything from eliminating criminal bosses to driving street hookers to the local police convention) the main plot seems more of an afterthought and isnt crucial to the enjoyment of the game. In fact, once I reached Shoreside Vale and unlocked all the weapons, I found myself spending more time just driving around blowing things up than playing the missions. The town is so riddled with secret areas and minigames that they could make a whole game in themselves. Even the inhabitants of Liberty City are detailed. Everyone from businessmen to pimps to bag ladies inhabit the streets of this fair city. Sick of working for the mob? Clear your conscience (and your police record) by performing vigilante missions in a stolen cop car. If you jack a cabbie, you can even play your own twisted version of Crazy Taxi. Perhaps the most innovative part of GTA3 is the radio, which includes 6 stations and over 3 hrs of talk radio, commercials, and music. I can't even remember the last time I had so much fun just listening to the game track.
It's the fuzz man!
One of the nicest things about GTA3 is that the game world pretty much performs as youd expect real life to. Beat a homeless man with a baseball bat and the paramedics show up. Set the ambulance on fire and the firemen show up. Shoot the firemen (or anyone else) and the cops show up. The game classifies your various felonies my awarding you stars; 1 star will have a cop run on foot to chase you, while 6 stars has the national guard (tanks included) show up. The more of the city you gain access to, the more stars you can accumulate in your crimes sprees. Theres nothing like racing down the highway in an Inferno, opera music turned up so loud you cant even hear the FBIs threats to gun you down if you dont surrender immediately. Ah, the joys of a life of crime.
Updates? We don't need no stinking updates!
Alas, Grand Theft Auto 3 is not without its problems. It requires a rather beefy system to play the game above a slow crawl. Its minimum system requirements (450 Mhz Pentium 3 or Athlon, 96MB RAM, 16MB Video Card) are a rather sick joke indeed; try multiplying the requirement numbers by two for a real idea on what you need. However, for those treasured few (and I count myself in this category) who own decent machines, it can be a real treat to see the game above the 640x480 display limit of the PS2. The game does have an issue with XP, and requires an update to v1.1 and yet another Windows patch to get it to behave itself. The v1.1 update is well worth getting, since it allows you to play your own MP3 files on the radio when you get tired of hearing the same radio loop fifty times in a row (although how to do this is less than intuitive) and fixes various other sundry problems. GTA3 is relatively bug-free, which these days is no small feat itself in the world of computer gaming. Basically, if you want a fun, thoroughly addictive game and aren't squeamish at the thought of gunning down innocents for your own twisted amusement, then Grand Theft Auto 3 is definitely worth your time.