Grand Theft Auto 2
Larger cities! New cars! Better graphics! Better gameplay?
Enter stage left: Rockstar. Making a swift move to steal the brilliant game Grand Theft Auto from Pardigm, Rockstar bought the rights and released the sequel in mid - late 1999. Originally, the game was entitled GTA2, however this resulted in poor sales, as noone realised it was the sequel to Grand Theft Auto, and Rockstar launched a huge marketing campaign to correct this. With the alure of buffed up AI, refurbished graphics and new, larger cities, Grand Theft Auto 2 sold a huge amount of games, even greater than the original. Despite all the obvious advantages the sequel has over the original, is it really better than the king of classics?
The graphics engine is without a doubt ten fold better than the original. It supports resolution up to 1024x768x32 and detail levels are dramatically increased with the help of 3D Rendering. The cars look great, the cities even better and movement is fluid. Unfortuneately, during big scraps with explosions aplenty the frame rate tends to wilt under the pressure, this can be attributed to a bug in the engine. Dissapointingly, suburb to suburb visuals is still relatively uniform in each individual city, however the diversity of each suburb has increased with more shops, buildings, alleyways, secrets etc. One great improvement of the engine is the massive increase in density of cars on screen at any given time, and the loss of the "memory" affect in the original. The sound is even clearer in the sequel, sound effects greatly enhanced. Unfortuneately the soundtrack is somewhat diminished from the last game, though it still remains satisfactory and humorous at times.
A great relief was Rockstar's choice to include save points. Anyone who had played the original would know the irritation of having to play for hours on end in order to reach the money quota required to reach the next level. This meant either leaving the game running while you took breaks or just sitting it out and sitting at the screen in upwards of six hours, especcially for the later levels. Intelligently, Rockstar included a church in each level which allows you to save your game, albeit for a loss of money.
In the original gangs were isolated from each other, and gang members were only in missions. Not to mention the fact that there were no negative affects for failing missions or working for the enemy. In Grand Theft Auto 2 gang members stroll the streets and have their own AI levels, ranging from +3 (loving you), 0 (Neutral) and -3 (hating you). Beware, not being able to work for a gang who hates you is not the only repurcussion, they will actively attack you if you stray into their territories. Respect can always be gained by going on a murdering spree and killing gang members of their enemy. Cops are also alot smarter in this, so beware. They still don't chase you for traffic offenses unless it involves them, but when they are after you they employ some neat little tricks to get you that they did not use in the original. Also, five cops are not the limit, a sixth cop rating is now available that will ensue the army to roll up in tanks and troop carriers.
Despite all this, the missions themselves just aren't as fun as the original. Missions are alot easier, in some cases, and somewhat shorter. On top of that, the glee of going on murderous rampages the original provided is not amplified in this sequel, it really just feels like an updated version of the original, as if you're going through the same game all over again with a few tweaks. Overall, Grand Theft Auto 2 is a glamorous game that will be enjoyed by all, especcially fans of the original, although Rockstar could have done a better job. I still reccommend the game to anyone who is a fan of the genre, however.