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Grand Theft Auto 3

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Grand Theft Auto 3 (GTA3)

bobcat pickup
Looking sideways from the Bobcat pickup truck
Grand Theft Auto 3 is the sequel to the popular top down games that can only really be described as "crime 'em ups". While the basic gameplay may be similar to the previous two computer games the implimentation of this third installment is completely different. Instead of the old top down view you have instead a glorious 3rd person perspective on a fully 3D city. The graphics in the game while not exceptional in isolation work together to give the game player an exceptionally immersive gaming experience.
GTA 3 is played in Liberty City. The place is overflowing with rival criminal gangs and petty thugs. As in previous versions GTA 3 lets you take part in missions for these underground crime organisations. Missions include anything from stealing cars to order to eliminating a rival gang from the city.
If you could sum up computer games in one word then the word to sum up GTA3 would be 'freedom'. The game is a truly open-ended one in a similar way that Elite was years ago. While there are missions to take part in, you only do so if and when you feel like it. Just feel like stealing a sports car and tearing up the city? GTA 3 lets you do it. How about trying your hand as a police officer chasing down criminals in hot pursuit? The game lets you do this as well, this is all outside of any special missions.
You can be a taxi driver, ambulance driver, small time hoodlem and much more all in the comfort of your own home without hurting anyone.
There are several levels of law enforcement to contend with in GTA3. These range from a beat officer on foot or in a car giving chase, Swat Teams in armoured vans, fast black F.B.I. agent cars in large numbers that drive very aggresively at you and your car and finally the army! The police also field helicopters that can give you a hard time.
Here at 8 balls you can get a bomb fitted to your vehicle.
The Banshee sports car
You can steal this Banshee sportscar in the first sector of liberty city. This Cobra style car is great for doing stunts.
With all this law on the player's case, some serious firepower is called for. You will be pleased to hear that GTA3 provides firepower aplenty with all kinds of weapons ranging from baseball bats to bazookas. The Uzi machine gun can be fired from the vehicle you are driving in true gangster movie fasion, while the Bazooka will take out a vehicle in a single shot. It should be noted that these very same weapons get used on you as well!

When you are killed (wasted) in the game (you WILL be reapeatedly!) you get resurrected at the local hospital. You are now minus some money and your weapons but otherwise are free to continue from where you left off. Likewise when the cops capture you (busted) you start again from the police station minus any weapons you had. This is a great gameplay philosophy that prevents constantly saving your game incase you get killed and have to play a level again from scratch. Many a good game has been spoiled to some extent by this constant saving, notably many first person shooters.

Outside the docks
The docks area of the city is well represented with cranes and ships etc. There's a good stunt jump located around here.
Car handling in the game is not terribly bad but could be a lot better. The cars behave in an arcade type way and lack any finesse. Precise handling wasn't top on the agenda when they developed the game it would seem. If you play a simulation like Grand prix legends or Nascar then the vehicle handling will feel poor until you retune to this style of game. If you're from a console background the handling should be more or less what you would be used to however.

The range of cars and other vehicles you can steal covers sports cars like pseudo Ferraris and Lambos, Cobra style cars (Banshee), Mustang style cars (Stallion). Generic slowcoach estate cars and sub-compacts, big American style sedans, vans, buses, trucks including rigids and an artic. tractor (pity you cannot hitch a trailer to it) and even speed boats. You can also ride on the trains that run through liberty city.

Taxi jumping over railway
Here my taxi is jumping over the railway line in the industrial area of Liberty City. This is the slow-mo view.
All these vehicles have their own particular strengths and weaknesses. The trucks and buses for instance are slow but tough to stop, while the sports cars are fast but cannot take much punishment.

The city is full of hidden jumps that you can make. When you spot one of these and take it at speed the view changes to a slow motion movie-esque one panning with the car, this looks great. You also get rewarded with cash when you pull off one these stunts.
Ideally you want a fast car to do these stunt jumps with. There's one available in the first area of the city (a Banshee). When you can progress to the second sector of the city all kinds of fast vehicles are easily available.

As mentioned above the graphics perform the task of pulling you into the game extremely well. They are not exceptional though in isolation. The cars are reasonably good to look at but nothing campared to Rally Trophy. The buildings give the city a great fealing of realism but you've seen better in games such a Return to Castle Wolfenstein. The graphical excellence of the game resides in the way all these different elements are combined.

Sound is handled well in the game. Cars sound OK as do the people walking the streets.
The cars have a radio that plays from different stations. You can switch to several different radio stations each with their own style of music. There is also a 'talky' radio station hosted by 'Lazlo' which is good for a laugh.

Arctic truck tractor unit
This is the arctic. tractor unit.
Computer Games SCORECARD

Graphics 9/10
Sound 8.5/10
Gameplay 9.5/10
Originality 8/10

Computer Games score 9/10

A classic computer game

No game is perfect and this includes GTA3. It is however a landmark game that is a true classic. The enthusiasm that the developers put into making this game constantly shines through in the gameplay. This is getting a rarity with the relentless commercialisation surrounding the games industry.
The game is a violent one but no more so than an episode of Tom and Jerry or almost any action movie.

Anyone looking for an immersive game to play for a few months and who is not easily upset by violent gameplay should buy GTA3.

Official Hardware recommendations

Minimum Hardware Requirements
450 MHz Intel Pentium III or AMD Athlon processor
96 MB of RAM
4 speed CD / DVD drive
700 MB of free hard disk space
16 MB video card with DirectX 8.1 compatible drivers
DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card

Recommended Hardware Requirements
700(+) MHz Intel Pentium III or AMD Athlon processor
128(+) MB of RAM
8 speed CD / DVD drive
700 MB of free hard disk space
32(+) MB DirectX 8.1 hardware video card
DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card with surround sound
Gamepad (USB or Joystick Port)