Next in my list of overdue games, I finally got to play GTA3. I was not much interested in this when it first came out because I was never a fan of the first 2. If you don’t know, GTA3 (Grand Theft Auto 3) was the number 1 selling game last year and got tons of critical praise was well as being called one of the best games in years even though it was rated “M” for violence and therefore for example not sold at WalMart which will not sell M rated games and usually accounts for like 30% of all video game sales.
The controversy though is that it’s about being a car thief and a henchman for the mob. You go around stealing cars and killing people. It’s strange, it’s fun to play the game and it can get pretty intense but when I stop playing a almost feel dirty.
Cars get wrecked pretty often so to get a new car you car jack one. Run up to a car, your character opens the door pulls the driver out, tosses him on the street and you get in and drive off. As their are rival gangs it is possible for you to try to car jack a car and have that guy beat the crap out of you or chase you down or call his buddies on you.
You can drive over to the car dealer, bust through the glass and steal a fast new sports car if you want. The last mission I played I was told to run an armored car off the road, once I did that the people in the car would run for their lives so I was supposed to grab it and drive to to some special location. The thing was it was very hard to run it off the road and after bashing it for a few minutes the cops were notified of a car chase and then cops were coming in everywhere. All the cars in the game have a limit to how much damage they can take past which they light on fire and you have 10 seconds or so to get out before they explode. My car lit on fire so I jumped out, police everywhere, the closest vehicle just happened to be a FIRE TRUCK!!! I ran over and sure enough I was able to drive off with a fire truck trying to bash the armored car, police everywhere, I flipped the truck, couldn’t get out in time and it exploded. Whoo Hoo! :-p
When you *die* you just get put at the hospital with some of you game money missing and possibly a few items. Same if the police catch you except you start at the police station.
A few things stick out that make the game so much fun.
- It’s so open. Although you can get missions from various crime bosses (go knock this guy off, go get this armored car, go take one of his working girls to the policeman’s ball for some work), you can also just drive around town for fun. Grab a car and drive. Every type of car feels different. Vans, sudans, station wagons, trucks, old taxis, new taxies, police cars. Smash other cars, run red lights, drive down the sidewalk, through parks, crash into trashcans, people, light poles, weave through traffic, drive down the wrong side of the street. If you steal a taxi you can actually grab fares. In this case it works like the game Crazy Taxi. You have so many seconds to get your fare to their destination our you lose your them. Also you can drive crazy but if you hit too many other cars/people the fare will bail.
- The city is pretty well done. It’s not the best graphics on the PS2 by far but it works. It feels like a city. There’s various areas, the waterfront, the warehouse district, the red light district. The city is pretty large although at this point in the game I only have access to 1/3 of it. There’s also a subway and an elevated train you can ride.
- The atmosphere is good. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it’s foggy and the lights seem to effect the fog like you’d expect. Night, dusk, dawn, day all come and go. It’s not perfect. For example the stop lights light up the ground green if they are green, red if they are red etc. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that effect in real life.
- The MUSIC/Soundtrack. This for me is probably the most effective part of the game. When you are inside any car you can listen to the radio. There are like 9 to 10 radio channels which with its own format, DJs, commericals etc and although all the commericals are jokes the whole thing sounds exactly like big city radio. There’s the top 40 station, the rave station, the classical music station, the talk station. Each program is proably 20 minutes longer or more so as you are driving around it totally feels like it feels when you are in a real car driving around a big city. The music is all real bands or sounds like real bands (not just game music). It really works. For me, this one feature is the biggest significant difference from all other games.
I don’t know yet if it will hold my interest enough to finish. One of the last missions was hard for me. It took about 8 tries. I asked a friend that has almost played to completion how he made it through and he gave me some tips so maybe once I try them I’ll keep going.
One thing that was intense. You can find a Rampage icon. Grab the icon and you are given a machine gun with unlimited ammo. You have I think 1.5 minutes to try to kill 120 people and the gun has a scope. To be honest it was pretty fun. After a few second the cops get called in and you have to start taking them out or they’ll get you. The best way seems to be to put 20 or 30 rounds into their cars and the cars blowup taking anybody within a few feet with them. It was interesting to see how far you could make it until they take you out. Of course I suppose if you get good at the game you can not only take out 120 people but evade the cops as well. The more random acts of public violence you commit (like shooting people or running over people) the higher your thug rating goes up which means that cops will hunt you down. There are anti-thug icons around the town you can collect to lower your rating so I’m guessing after a rampage you’d need to find some of those quick. I gotta say I felt a little weird after my rampage. Why that’s a different feeling from shooting someone in Half Life or Quake I’m not sure.
Another interesting thing that came up is my Japanese friends’ reactions. Mostly they have been disgusted that such a game exists and judgemental as in “that’s the kind of game only an American would like”.
Maybe it’s true, I’m not sure. The PC version of that game will come out here but not the PS2 version because parents would get upset. I pointed out that in America that game is rated “M” which is supposed to mean it’s for adults only just like all the porn and violent movies that Japan puts out. But, Japan is not really that strict about that stuff when it comes to kids seeing it. I suppose in some ways it might not be any different than what you see aimed at kids in America on MTV except that MTV is aiming at the college crowd. Young Jump is squarely aimed at teens though. I don’t quite get the logic. Plus, Japanese manga is full of massive violence, people being beheaded, cut, slashed, girls getting tortured and raped. Even in games the most popular games in Japan are still fighting games with people beating the crap out of each other and all the special grabs that end with snapping limbs or backs or necks. Anyway.
Regardless, I suggest you give it a try. Totally guilty pleasure.