Grand Theft Auto III PS2
Review by Matt Paprocki Rockstar Action
Graphics: 9 Sound: 8.5 Gameplay: 9.5 Overall: 9.5

You've had a long day at work. People are bitchin' at ya, workload is ludicrous, and you've been there for 10 hours. Wouldn't you just love to pop an old lady in the head with a sniper rifle? How about a few cops? There is simply no other game in the world like GTA III and that's a good thing. It's sick, it's twisted, it's funny, and it plays damn good. It contains all the right ingredients to make one of the world's greatest video games. [Disclaimer: PLEASE do not shoot old ladies in the head with a sniper rifle. At least, if your going to do it, don't say you got the idea here. Same goes for the cops]

You're a goon for hire. You need money and performing jobs is the best way to do it. That job may be mass murder, arson, bombings, or the usual "get your mob boss to the designated location on time" job. Anyway it's done, it's unbeliveably fun. (Hey, that ryhmes!) When the missions get slightly on the difficult side, take a side trip and do whatever you want. Run some people over just to piss off the cops and see how long you can outrun them. Get into a first fight with a hooker and beat her down for some cash to buy an uzi. Hell, take hold of a fire truck and put out fires, get a cop car and run down common thugs, not to mention you earn money for this! Anything you think of, you can do it in this game. That's what makes it so great...that fact that you have complete control over what you want to do, when you want to do it. There's no annoying time limit, no checkpoints, no rules.

For those interested in the actual gameplay and missions, you surely won't be disappointed. The missions vary from each other enough to keep you going through a minimum of 40 hours of gameplay and the games story changes depending on what you choose to do. Doing jobs for specific mafia members gets you more respect and rival gangs will begin to try and take you out. Certain missions can't be completed until you have completely lost the cops which can definitely make the game challenging. These guys are relentless in their pursuit and will stop at nothing to bring you down, even if it means taking out innocent civilians. The funny thing is, no matter what you've done by the time you've been caught, you're always out of the slammer in a few hours.

While the PS2 may be showing it's age compared to some of the newer kids on the block, GTA III holds up surprisingly well. The people have a low polygon count, but the cities have an amazing draw distance. The weather effects are oustanding with rain literally making the street look wet with reflections all over the road. Driving down the street, you'll notice the people pop-up from a rather short distance, but you'll still have plenty of time to pick 'em off.

Remember Out Run? You know, the Sega arcade game that let you pick what song/radio station you wanted to hear while you drove? GTA III takes this idea to a whole new level with 12 different stations to choose from , each providing decent driving music. "Chatterbox FM" is a personal favorite which features a non-stop radio talk show with some of the dumbest callers ever put on the planet. Each car that you get into will have a specific station on depending on who the driver was. Plus, all the mafias have their favorite channels. The problem is that the game can last over 100 hours and there's really only 10 hours of radio to listen to, making this funny, but repetitive. All the cars also have different engine sounds making for a nice variety. Running through a large group of friendly pedestrians firing a semi-automatic will not only make them run for their lives, but scream with terror in a dark, Pulp Fiction kinda way.

Heading out into a mission that will require the player to shoot specific targets in a large crowd can be slightly infuriating. The targeting system is useless no matter how many hours of practice you put into it and simply running into a crowd of Yakuzas firing isn't going to get the job done. These types of missions will require a lot of patience or a whole lotta controllers. This really seems to the game only glaring flaw and it really could be overlooked due to the sheer fun of the rest of the game.

Great games are defined by those "moments." Those instances where you do something so spectacular, that you wish the VCR was on. GTA III contains hundereds of these and everyone will have their own. For instance, I once shot a few people which brought upon an ambulance. Naturally, I car-jacked it and decided to perform the "missions" that the ambulance allows. I pick up a guy who has been shot and take off to the hospital (dripping blood out of the vehicle the entire time). Once there, I'm given my money and the guy begins to limp his way into the hospital. Since I had my money, I put the van into reverse, killing the man I just rescued. Another ambulance came to help him out, and the whole process was allowed to be repeated. Truly priceless and an easy, fun way to earn quick cash.

While definitely not a game for kids or those who are easily offended, this is truly a universal game. Anyone can become a murderer in a short amount of time after they pick up the controller and most will find the game so over the top, funny, and ridiculous, that the majority will forget about the violence. So go ahead, pop a few in that old lady then blow up the ambulance that came to rescue her, then the fire truck that came to put out the flames, then the cops responding to the scene, then the... and so the game continues...


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Last updated: Sunday, June 08, 2003 12:00 AM