Grand Theft Auto 3

Another sequel to one of the greatest games ever. Can Rockstar pull it off again?

Hot off the press, Grand Theft Auto 3 was released late this year (2001). However one glance at the game reveals very little similarity between the original two Grand Theft Autos. The first thing that everyone notices is the brilliant 3D rendering, then everyone realises you are staring at the world from a Tomb Raider perspective. Your first reaction is to scream "This isn't Grand Theft Auto!" but after playing the game for some time you realise that its still the same old game, jazzed up and with a whole new perspective that does little other than enhance the game greatly.

As I mentioned before the 3D rendering is brilliant. The main character is painstakingly detailed, you can see muscles flexing if you look close enough, as are the cars and the city itself. The cars blind you with their headlights, reflect light when they are new, and look great as you attempt to strip it down to the chassis by hitting everything in your way. Sound is utterly astounding, background noise is constant and the surround sound affects are incredibly realistic. When walking along the streets several people will be talking at once while cars drive by and you can still hear the suffle of pedestrians shoes, the rumbling exhaust of cars and the beeping horns of the impatient. The soundtrack is even better than the original, with major artists appearing and some really funny stations (including a talk back radio station).

The "memory" effect is entirely dissipated. You can chase a car for upwards of a minute and still catch it. On that note, there are many, many different types of cars, and none are the same as the original two (though some may resemble them). The appearance of cars is affected greatly by time of day and where you are. For example, at night in Shoreside Vale, South Side Hoods cars are aplenty, but during the day family vans and station wagons are more common. The time of day affect is an awesome improvement to the day, with the sunlight effects stiffly adhering to the correct times (12:00pm being the brightest, 12:00am being the darkest).

One major change to the game is that there is no level progression as such. Fans of the original will remember Liberty City. Magnify it by ten, add more detail and more shops, then imagine two more islands. There's Liberty City, consisting of Portland Island, Staunton Island and Shoreside Vale. One can find the Mafia, Diablos and Triads on Portland Island, the Yakuza, Yardies and Columbian Cartel on Staunton Island and the South Side Hoods and Columbian Cartel on Shoreside Vale. The player starts on Portland, and after completing all jobs for the Mafia escapes to Shoreside Vale by boat. The bridge is then repaired and access between the two islands is available. Reaching Shoreside Vale is also accomplished by completing certain missions.

One downside to the game, however, is the fact that you must adhere to the storyline and you can only work for the Mafia, Diablos, Yakuza, Yardies and South Side Hoods. Also, failing a mission once again has no repurcussions as in the original, but even more so in this. If a mission is failed it is still available and in fact must be completed to reach the next mission. Because of this you cannot choose missions from a row of pay phones anymore, but must do them in a specific order. Also, some gang leaders meet you in person, this is a welcome addition. Gang and police AI is greatly enhanced, especcially the cops who will use hundreds of devilish tricks to ensure your death or jailing. The army has been retained, and now once you have reached the third police rating a police helicopter is sent to chase you. These can be knocked down by the rocket launcher, but knock down too many and you will soon find yourself at the fifth police rating and have the FBI chasing you, then the army at the sixth rating.

Overall, Grand Theft Auto 3 is an utterly brilliant game, and Rockstar have outdone themselves. Dissapointingly, they have only released it for the Playstation 2, and have set no release date for Playstation, however an April 2002 release date has been set for PC (thanks to Erik Fish for that information). If you are a die hard fan of Grand Theft Auto this means buying a Playstation 2 (or waiting for the PC release) is the only way to get it, a costly procedure but well worth it if you can afford it. I reccommend this game to everyone.

Note: for those who can't stand the new camera view and ache for the classic bird's eye view, cleverely, Rockstar has included this view as an option.

Final Verdict:

Graphics: 5/5
Sound: 5/5
Gameplay: 4.5/5
Playability: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Another Nodeshell rescue by Big Alba!