The best version of one of the most addictive games in history.
You know what the great thing about arcade style gameplay is? If it's done correctly, it can prove to be terribly addictive. There's often little to no story and the gameplay is repetative but you just can't stop playing to see if you can top your last game. Games like Crazy Taxi are a perfect example. And do you know what's great about plot driven long term titles? You have a story to play out that unfolds as you progress through a game that often takes tens of hours to finish. Grand Theft Auto 3 manages to blend the best of these two worlds into an extravagant cocktail of murder, mayhem and assorted carnage as you once again reprise the role of street thug and get up to all manner of law breaking activities.
If you've played the original GTA games then you'll know the setting but the third outing is so much better in every conceivable way that it's a whole new experience. It's so good in fact that it's almost... dare I say it, criminal. There is so much to do in the game, beginning with a plot driven mission based game in which you have to complete tasks such as assasinations, robberys and high speed chases for various gang leaders. This alone is loads of fun but the game is so open ended that it allows you to just go and explore as much or as little as you want to. Also on offer are such activities as finding hidden packages around the utterly HUGE city, mini games in different vechiles such as chasing down criminals in the cop car, putting out fires in the fire engine and in true Crazy Taxi style, picking up passengers in the cab (Although I must point out that this sub game is no substitute for the real Crazy Taxi.) and just causing general carnage or racing around the city doing stunts which is always great fun thanks to the fantastic car physics models. Sports cars zip along, vans are heavy on top and can roll easily while beaten up bombs don't do a lot of anything. While inside a car you can listen to the brilliant radio stations that the game contains, each one has a different musical style and unique DJ as well as a boot load of hilarious commercials. GTA3 depicts a very dark subject matter but is also very funny. For once in a game the black humour is much more than excessive violence (although that does play a big part) and most of this comedy comes through the radio stations. Of course even though each station has loads of stuff on it, it's going to repeat eventually and that's where the MP3 player comes in. This new PC only feature allows you to put your own MP3's into the game which is a simple yet great idea that works perfectly. Another great addition to the PC version is the aiming system. On the PS2 you locked onto enemies with most weapons. This usually resulted in you being killed because the lock-on didn't do what you wanted it to. In the PC version you aim and shoot much like a first or third person shooter. This makes the on-foot aspect of the gameplay infinately better than it's PS2 counterpart. Rounding out the PC updates are better textures and some improved weather effects such as some very cool fog.
Some of the missions are very frustrating. You'll often find yourself cursing the person who came up with the mission as you once again end up a splat on the sidewalk.
The PC version is a very faithful version of GTA3, IF you have a very fast system to go with it. Sadly the requirements on the box are highly inaccurate and are way below what you actually need. You'll want a very fast video card to enjoy this game at all. I had a system that was above the recommended requirements on every level let alone what was required and the game chugged at the lowest of the low detail settings in a state that was unplayable. However I later upgraded the video card to a Geforce 3 128 meg Titanium and suddenly everything was running perfectly. Once again, if you don't have a very high end system then don't even bother getting this game. It breaks my heart to say this as it is such a brilliant title but you really won't have any fun with it chugging along at 10 frames a second.
The Bottom Line
If you have an interest in games at all, are not offended by over the top digital violence and have a high end computer then run, drive, hitch, whatever just make your way to your local software store immediately and buy this game. One of the greatest and most addictive games ever made it's just a shame that the requirements are so steep.