Grand Theft Auto III (PS2) Review: Push it to the Limit!

Back when the PS2 started out, it had a lot of great games, but only one killer app, Metal Gear Solid 2. That game is amazing, and would be the reason that many people bought the system. Then, from little known DMA Design, now Rockstar North, came GTA III, the sequel to the top-down Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2, and turned the system from the competitor of the Xbox and Gamecube, into the unstoppable powerhouse that we all know it is today.

Cops?! We don’t need no stinkin’ cops!

Grand Theft Auto III kept the violence of the originals, while adding a story, and licensed music; but the one thing that makes this uniformly different from it’s predecessors is the camera, which is now third-person, and in full 3D, rather than the top-down perspective of the others before it. It was a very revolutionary game, gameplay and content-wise. The storytelling was unlike anything before it, as was the violence, which got it a lot of attention from media watchdogs, and with that, a lot of free advertising. It basically had the same gameplay, with added story elements, as the first 2, but with a lot more detail, which made jacking someone’s car and beating them up both more violent and controversial, and more fun.

Shotgun wedding.

The year is 2001 :You play as an unnamed criminal (until San Andreas, when his name is revealed to be Claude), who is betrayed by his girlfriend, Catalina, during a heist gone wrong. He is then arrested, and on his way to prison, when he is inadvertently freed from the prison escort. So he, and the car bomb maker, 8 Ball, head to a safehouse. He later meets Salvatore Leone, and becomes his errand boy. This game basically has no story, but the framing device is revolutionary. Driving from mission to mission, in whatever order you please, while very conventional nowadays, was practically unheard of at that time, outside of RPGs.

The cops don’t even dare try and stop him.

You can punch, kick, use weapons, and steal various vehicles. You go from mission to mission, doing different crimes for different criminal/bosses. These usually consist of retrieving someting, killing/assassinating someone, picking someone up, stealing something, or making your way through a sadistic battlefield of enemies, just waiting to unload on you and make you start all the way over. You can also be a paramedic, cop, or a taxi, to make money, to buy weapons, which your gonna need to live.

….And a firetruck!

This game had some good graphics for it’s time, nice details and textures, and a wonderfully created living, breathing expy of New York . The city of Liberty City (motto: The Worst Place in America) features 3 districts: Portland (Industrial Area), Staunton Island (Commercial Area), and Shoreside Vale (Residential Area; basically a red herring); all different from each other. My favorite is Staunton, with it’s awesome buildings and construction site. You can’t go to each one, right away, since the bridge is destroyed at the beginning of the game, and the ferry workers are on strike. You have to advance through the game, before you can travel.

Ah, Liberty City.

Where the game really nails it is in the sound department. The VA is phenomenal, featuring the likes of Robert Loggia, Michael MacLachlan, Michael Madsen, Joe Pantoliano, Michael Rapaport, Frank Vincent, and the charming radio personality, Lazlow, as himself. The in-game radio features a lot of great licensed music, and multiple radio stations which all play different music, my favorite being the ones that play classical orchestral music, and the that plays the entire soundtrack to one of the best movies ever made: Scarface.

Frank Vincent plays Salvatore Leone.

The only complaint I have for this near-flawless game is that there are no checkpoints; which means that when you just battled your way through a VERY sadistically hard group of enemies, and are popped right at the end, you have to go buy your weapons again, drive to the mission, drive to the killing site, and try again. You’ll lose a lot of money trying in this game. One fix for this is to save with your weapons at a safehouse (the only place you can save, as this game does not feature autosave), and then keep reloading, everytime you die. It saves a lot of money. This is a brutally hard game, so checkpoints would have been appreciated; but this won’t detract from the final score. If you enjoy a challenge, then this game is for you.

Dead man walking.

Grand Theft Auto III is a revolutionary masterpiece, and even with every sequel being better and better, this remains one of the most important games of all-time, for storytelling, gameplay, and violence, for every medium. I give GTA III my “rigbybot127 Seal of Masterful Quality” and a perfect score.

 

10/10

 

James Flaherty

Video Game Reviewer/Critic at Leet Gamers Asia
Two things I love with a passion are video games and writing, and what's a better combination of those two things than being a game reviewer? 'Cause that's what I am. A reviewer for Leet Gamers Asia.

My tastes in games breach all genres, though my fortes are platformers and first-person shooters. My favorite game series is probably Super Mario, specifically the 3D games. I also love Rayman, Hitman, Bioshock, Half-Life/Portal, Uncharted, and Grand Theft Auto. As for my favorite game, it's hard to say: I love Portal 2, Shadow of the Colossus, Half-Life 2, Bioshock, Resident Evil 4, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Rayman Legends, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Grand Theft Auto IV, L.A. Noire, Fallout 3, Journey, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence all so damn much.

James Flaherty

Two things I love with a passion are video games and writing, and what's a better combination of those two things than being a game reviewer? 'Cause that's what I am. A reviewer for Leet Gamers Asia. My tastes in games breach all genres, though my fortes are platformers and first-person shooters. My favorite game series is probably Super Mario, specifically the 3D games. I also love Rayman, Hitman, Bioshock, Half-Life/Portal, Uncharted, and Grand Theft Auto. As for my favorite game, it's hard to say: I love Portal 2, Shadow of the Colossus, Half-Life 2, Bioshock, Resident Evil 4, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Rayman Legends, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Grand Theft Auto IV, L.A. Noire, Fallout 3, Journey, and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence all so damn much.

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