7 out of 7 people found this review helpfulwrite a review of this game
read more reviews by StickFigures
read more reviews for this game
SummaryThe one that started it all. Does it still stand strong after 17 years?
The Good+ Three cities to explore
+ Full-fledged exploration of each city
+ Decent soundtrack
+ Great variety of cars
+ The "special" button
The Bad- Questionable control scheme
- Some clunky game mechanics
- Modest graphics and unstable framerate
- Punishing save system
- Clunky camera
The Bottom LinePresentation: 50/100
The game does not provide an introduction, or a real story, just you being a newbie criminal, climbing up the crime ladder.
The graphics aren't exactly the greatest looking. The buildings are in 3D and the characters and cars are 2D sprites, and when the camera gets close, these little guys are obviously not meant to be up close. The framerate is okay, but it drops when there are at least 5 cars on screen, and when the camera zoom out, the framerate is a chugging mess. The camera isn't exactly the greatest either. The camera does not always respond as quick as it should; such as when you are making a sharp turn, the camera would end up going too far to where you're turning, which can lead to a top of a building getting in the way of the view.
The sound effects are adequate, and the soundtrack is decent, depending on preference. The radio stations are not very lengthy and a station will be set for each car; for example, a pick-up truck will play country music, while a sports car will play rock music.
The controls are playable at best. X and Triangle moves your character forward and back, Square jack a car, and Circle fires your weapon. L1 and L2 cycles weapons, R2 is special and R1 is the brakes. Driving is a bit clunky to control, because the car physics aren't exactly as fully-fledged, such as the car might not stop completely, it just inches towards where it's facing, and pressing Triangle does not apply the brakes, R1 does. The controls will feel strange at first, but they will probably become second nature as you get into the game. The worst offender for the controls is aiming your gun, especially the pistol. It seems that the hit detection is not as fully-fledged, meaning you have to be pinpoint precise with your shots; if you're one pixel off and your bullets aren't going to hit anyone. If you want to know why I like that "special" button, try it out yourself. You'll laugh. Out loud.
Difficulty: Mostly challenging not by the challenge
Grand Theft Auto is overall a challenging game. Sometimes, the challenge isn't even by the challenge, the odd controls make driving weird. The lack of a health bar also adds to the challenge, meaning that you will die in one bullet, and there's a lives counter, so the amount of times you can die is fairly limited. The lack of a health bar and dying in one hit, can be inconvenient at first, but you'll learn how to dodge bullets. In each level, you have to collect a set amount of points to pass a level.
Grand Theft Auto is a top-down action game, meaning that the action will be seen in helicopter view. The driving is okay, but could've been better. There are three cities in the game with two levels in each city. In each city, you are given a set score that you must achieve. Such as in the first level, you must garner at least 1,000,000 points to beat the level. In the later levels, the numbers increase, which wouldn't be a problem if the game allowed you to save during a level. You cannot save during a level, you can only save when you are not on a level, which can be a major issue, especially on the PlayStation. On the PC, you couldn't save either, but you could Alt + Tab out of the game and get back to it later. The punishing save system is the biggest offender here, especially considering that the later levels usually take an hour or more to complete. The camera is also sluggish in this game. Generally, the camera does not respond as quickly when you are driving in something like a fast car. The cars also have weird physics, such as how they cannot survive falls. If your car is falling, it will explode in the air. Also, you can only enter and exit from a car at the driver's seat; if your car is parked with its left side against a wall, your car is technically stuck unless if you push it with another car. Despite these flaws, the gameplay is great. The cities are for you to explore and there are no barricaders to block your path. The golden part of Grand Theft Auto itself is to cause destruction to the environment and make the cops go haywire about you. There are hundreds of missions in the game and these missions usually have two tasks; for instance, you must drive an explosive-rigged truck to a police station to blow it up, then when you're done with that, you must get to the guy who will pay you. The guy warns you that a rival gang leader's lawyer is going somewhere, you must follow him, which leads you to a large gang of men with guns. Obviously, your objective here is to kill all of them. While there are decently designed missions, there are missions that are either poorly-designed or borderline difficult.
The game has quite a few flaws, but the game will last if you can overlook these. Grand Theft Auto 1 in general is a mixed bag in the ranks, some people like it, some people hate it. While it was a start of one of the most famous video game franchises, the not-so-fully-fledged driving physics and punishing save system would pop in some questions. The game is still overall great, with full exploration of each city without borders. If the game allowed you to save within a level, GTA would be even more recommended.