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Grand Theft Auto (Windows)

Mature
ESRB Rating
Genre
Perspective
73
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Roedie (5226)
Written on  :  Nov 29, 2004
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars2.75 Stars

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Summary

Cool, original, frustrating and unsatisfying at the same time.

The Good

There is one part of GTA, which I think, is really great: The audio. This game has a great soundtrack, with all sorts of music (70's funk, 80's hard rock, gangsta rap etc.) and weird samples all mixed into one great musical melting pot. Each type of music has it's own radio station. By default different cars have their radios tuned into different stations. You'll hear techno music in a sports car and country music in a pick-up. You can switch channels while you are driving. I recommend you listen to the CD in your audio player at least once, so you can hear all those funny samples that have been mixed in between the songs. The sound effects are not bad either, the developers paid a lot of attention to tiny details (police scanner, things people say when you walk around with a gun, the little beeps you'll hear when you put a truck in reverse). Too bad there's so little speech in the game, cause the accents are great.

You have a lot of freedom in this game, you can play the missions or just mess around and do some very, very bad things. You can almost wreak havoc without limitations: slam your car into a police barricade, participate in high-speed car chases with the police, hijack, steal and assassinate.

Some of the missions are really cool (like using radio-controlled cars to assassinate somebody), others seem to be included into the game for the single purpose of making you race from one end of the map to the other. Once you reach San Francisco and Miami the missions become rather difficult and some of them are pretty annoying. Before the real meat of the mission starts you'll first have to make a couple of phone calls... great stuff when you have about 30 seconds to reach a public phone on the other side of the map in order to make the call :-<. Somehow I got the impression that the missions were a bit of an afterthought to the open ended crime simulator idea. Hmm, seems like I'm talking about the bad stuff already.

The Bad

Well, like Tomer says, the graphics are really bad. Of course great graphics are nice but I don't consider GTA's lack of graphic polish as a major problem. However there are some other things that took some of fun away from playing this game. I think I would have really enjoyed this game if:
  • You could save your game. I think you should have been able to save your game after completing, for example, three missions. It can take you a couple of hours to reach the multi million score you need to progress. Moreover, sometimes you have to complete a pair of missions (up to 5 or 6 missions) before some other missions become available. It's frustrating to play those first five missions over and over again, but you'll have to, if you want to see what the other missions are like.
  • There was a background story. Games like Privateer and Star Control 2 offer a lot of freedom to the gamer, but you have the feeling something big is going on in the background. GTA has no background story. Consequently there is no build up of suspense, no "working towards a higher goal". You're just playing for the sake of collecting points. The levels and missions don't really seem to be tied together. I think it would be a great idea to add some RPG aspects to the game and let the player rise to the top of a crime syndicate (I've always liked big, over-ambitious games). But hey, Rockstar fixed that with the release of Vice City.

The Bottom Line

A highly explosive piece of software with more f***s per minute than a Tarantino movie. The use of cheat codes doesn't spoil the satisfaction you'll get from this game and saves you from a lot of frustration. It's the open-ended nature of the game that makes it great, not the missions.