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Grand Theft Auto (DOS)

Mature
ESRB Rating
Genre
Perspective
82
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Tomer Gabel (4388)
Written on  :  Feb 01, 2001
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars

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Summary

A mixed bag.

The Good

GTA is bizarre. Given my computer programming background I can't help but gawk at how bad its engine is, but on the other hand it's just hours of pure fun.

To summarize:
  • Decent graphics. Nothing to write home about, but they do the job, and they do it well.
  • Good controls, unlike the extremely crappy Carmageddon. The controls here are fairly smooth and efficient and won't outright frustrate you.
  • Decent level and mission design; the missions are dull at worst, and hillarious at best ("My brother's found out I'm f***ing his wife. F*** the f***er before he f*** me"), but I can't help the feeling that they were an afterthought - some of them are practically impossible to do, while others require that you race around the city to deliver all sorts of crud to all sorts of places you normally wouldn't bother with.
  • The freedom in this game is a great deal more obvious than in other games; if you get bored with the default missions, why not just run around town and wreak havoc? Personally I like the police chases best, and if things get too sticky you can always "autospray" your car and move on.
  • Decent music. Not great, not bad. Just enough.

The Bad

But then we have the ludicrously bad engine. I don't see how Martin should think that it runs well on a slow PC, because it doesn't. On my P166 it was completely unplayable on anything higher than the lowest, 320x200 resolution. Adding a Voodoo2 helped a lot, but even then the game wasn't actually smooth because of a horrendous timing mechanism; it seems that the programmers chose to simply limit the framerate (F8 is enable/disable framerate limiter) instead of produce a functional timing loop. This results in jerky motion even with my Voodoo2 - not unplayable, but not smooth either. Disabling the framerate limiter (the afformentioned F8) would result in completely smooth gameplay - but absolutely no timing, so the game basically runs impossibly fast ("Ludicrous speed! GO!") and is completely unplayable.

Furthermore the physics engine is an absolute joke. OK, so they didn't implement actual collisions, rather plain momentum conservation, so your car doesn't actually get damaged by, say, running into a wall at over 70 MPH. Furthermore, what physics laws actually governed have a great deal of bugs, but since it makes the game even funnier I guess I could let that pass. But I will NOT forgive the stupid pixel-perfect collision bug, which happens when you graze a wall when you're directly parallel to it; often times this would result in your getting stuck to the wall, not being able to move your car and even occasionally not being able to get out of the car. When it happens it's absolutely frustrating and unacceptable.

Basically, the software engine is SLOW. I don't understand it; it doesn't do that much besides scroll-zoom-putsprite. I would expect seasoned programmers - especially ones from a company that produced the amazing Amiga game Blood Money - to be able to write a better engine. Maybe I'm being too critical, but I don't think so. There were plenty of games that came out years before, did more and did it better too.

The Bottom Line

If you ignore the obvious technical faults of this game, what you have is basically an extremely fun little slaughterfest.