Grand Theft Auto III
PlayStation 2 version
You can have my controller when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers, mom.
This is the classic game paradigm. Not in any pedestrian sense of pushing back boundaries or anything like that, but by refining what exists, throwing in lots of extras, and creating a damn convincing illusion of a living, breathing world. You can forget the straightforward goal for hours and hours and find dozens of other things to do, both on foot and in vehicles. You can pick up fares in taxis, rescue injury victims in an ambulance, chase down felons in a cop car, attempt to fly a wingless plane, and even gain money performing stupid aerial stunts, complete with the old Dukes of Hazzard slow-mo pan shot. It's hard to do this game justice in a simple review, and it's impossible to justify enjoying the extremely antisocial and politically incorrect goals. So I won't try. I'll just say I like it and you can deal with that. What I'm saying is that this game is a subtle return to the ideal that YOU affect the game, a freedom that's been severely cramped ever since 3D became the new standard and made games smaller. This one feels like it's bursting at the seams, with a city, weather, day cycle, pedestrians, traffic, operating shops, and trashable environments. Just walk out and pick a fight. Cops around? You'll be chased. Use lethal resistance and they'll step up their efforts likewise. Do a few more bad deeds and in come the choppers, then the FBI, then the tanks. Steal a boat and find another island. Watch as you abuse your car and the section that gets hit or scraped takes the abuse, windows smashing out and trunks and hoods flying off. Just TRY it. And the biggest accomplishment is possibly that even with this foray into 3D, the gameplay remains largely unchanged, but greatly enhanced.
Well, like any other game, if you look hard enough cracks start to show in the virtual world presented. Cars and pedestrians will sometimes appear in the distance by magic, and a lot of the time the ones out of your line of sight vanish by the time you look back over at them. On foot, it can be really hard to target the particular target you want in a crowd of pedestrians, and in a hectic situation this can be fatal. I could gripe about the later missions being REALLY HARD, but maybe I'm just a whiner.
The Bottom Line
Lock the kids in the basement and indulge. If you describe "The Godfather" as "one of the great comedies of our times," you're not only really warped, but perfectly suited for this game.
by Vance (94) on February 8th, 2002