Grand Theft Auto 3
Game Info
PS2, Xbox
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Violence, Blood, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes
The Good

• Immense living city
• Great voice acting and music
• Great as both mission-based and nonlinear
• Lots of things to do

The Bad

• Graphics are the weakest element
• Auto-aim takes getting used to


In Grand Theft Auto 3, you play an unnamed thug who, after getting sprung from a prison transport, goes to work for the local crime syndicate. The basis of the game is to work various jobs from certain higher-level members of the syndicate, all the while doing as you please in the very alive Liberty City. Social Notice: I'll go ahead and say this, just to get it out of the way - This game is not for kids or anyone who doesn't understand that it is just a game. You commit A LOT of crimes, most of which include carjacking, muggings, murder, picking up hookers, etc. There is a lot of sexual innuendo, some cursing, and some serious violence involved.

This is easily the most important (and best) part of this game. Let's be honest, this game manages to find the balance between mission-based action and nonlinear, do as you please, wandering. The missions are varied, ranging from picking up hookers and delivering them to clients to assassinations of all types. When not on a mission, you can spend time just wandering around the city, looking for hidden passages or just committing crimes of your own. Also, once you "jack" taxis, ambulances, police cars and fire trucks, you can hit the R3 button to have access to mini-jobs specific to that vehicle (like picking up fares or vigilante missions). There is so much available to do that you may not see it all the first time through.

Once you get into the game, you'll notice a high level of realistic detail present when it comes to the environment - some cars have alarms, cops will chase you down when you commit crimes in front of them or go on a killing spree, and shooting off a gun will send people running. Once your being chased, cops will use tactics depending on your "wanted" level, so don't be surprised is you're sideswiped by a cop and then gunned down after going on a sidewalk killing-spree.

The controls are a breeze to pick up. Driving is loose, but once you figure out how to use the brake and hard turn in tandem with turning, you'll be driving successfully in no time. Abiding by the traffic laws is merely a suggestion, especially since everyone else drives like my grandmother. By hitting the select button, players can change the camera to overhead, close behind the player, further behind or even cinematic (when in the car). The only real problem I had was with the faulty auto-aim for the gun, which seemed to always managed to initially target the wrong person.

The audio for Grand Theft Auto 3 is stellar. While the sound effects are well done, they pale in comparison to the voice acting and soundtrack. This game has possibly the best voice acting that I've ever heard in a game. I guess it helps to have both a good script and excellent, professional actors (Joe Pantoliano, Robert Loggia, Michael Madsen to name a few) doing the voices. On the music front, the soundtrack is handled inventively - you select the music style you want to hear by changing the radio channel in the cars you steal. You can choose reggae, techno, modern rock, or even a hilarious talk radio station. While there are no real familiar songs or acts here, the presentation is well done.

Calling this a rough spot would be unfair. It's just that the graphics pale in comparison to the gameplay and sound categories. While the world and characters aren't built with insane amounts of polygons or overly detailed texture-mapping, they are done well enough as to not deteriorate from the fun of the game. With so many people and vehicles on the screen at any given time, I can understand the lower details. To be honest, if you're having fun in the game, you won't notice the lower-end detail and rough spots.

Grand Theft Auto 3 is an insanely deep game that offers a lot to do outside of the 70+ missions. If you understand that it's just a game and that these selfsame actions are not healthy in the real world, you'll enjoy a well-developed world disguised as a deviously fun game. I hope you've finished any other game you own, because once you start this game, you won't want to play anything else for a long time.

- - Vane

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