GRAND THEFT AUTO 3 / Rockstar / PC

So I'm taking a trip down memory lane with GTA 3 as I've previously only played the PS2 version, and I ran across this copy of the PC version for a buck and scooped it up. It turns out the PC version is quite superior in a number of regards and I had a fun romp through the streets of Liberty City running over random people and taking hookers out to secluded areas of the park.

First off, given a PC monitor v.s a regular TV the resolution is much higher and the game looks quite a bit better. I noticed a much greater level of detail than I did playing the PS2 version, and for the first time noticed that with the weather effects and at certain angles this game just looks downright beautiful at times.

The control was a bit iffy using my 8-button Logitech gamepad. You'll probably need a PS2-style pad with analog sticks for optimal control, but I made it work with my setup. I used the gamepad for driving, ran around in the overhead mode, and when I needed to use first-person mode to firefight or go into a tunnel or something I switched to using the mouse to look and aim while using the control pad in my left hand to move. A little clunky when shifting perspectives at times, but it got me through the game OK - and using the mouse to simultaneously move and fire cleared up one of my biggest complaints about the PS2 version, which was the persnickety aiming in gun battles.

It was also nice to have the MP3 Player option (basically just a folder to dump any MP3s you want to play into, then a new station appears in the game that plays them in random order) as personally I feel this particular game's radio options don't have a lot of good content and wear thin way too fast. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate that Rockstar did a great job simulating and parodying various types of banal mass-market radio ... but they really did *too good* of a job, so it's virtually indistinguishable from listening to crappy real world mass-market radio at times. I loved Jah Radio, which introduced me to the mellow grooves of Scientist (I picked up his "Scientist Encounters Pac-Man" and "Scientist Rids The World of the Evil Vampires" albums after playing this game ... they're on Greensleeves records ... at least check out the cover art, it's like the best of any album ever). I also appreciated Double Cleff's operatic counterpoint to the game's wanton violence. Nearly everything else is a bunch of suck, though. You've got Game Radio's garbage commercial half-rate rap, sorry but listening to homeys groan in unison about how "dey gonna give dis all dat dey gooooot" is just not my cup of tea. There's a boy band station, the irritating Scarface soundtrack and it's 1980s synthesizer rock, and some Jamaican on speed yammering into a microphone with crappy repetitive electronica loops in the background.

GTA 3 has both some of the best and some of the worst missions in the whole series. Most of the good ones come early on - the ones that give you a goal but are very flexible about allowing you to accomplish it. Like when they give you a particular target to assassinate, but it's up to you if you want to rig his getaway car with a bomb, or get into a high-speed chase with him, blow up his whole block with grenades, or just rush him and beat him with a baseball bat. Later in the game, however, Rockstar increasingly leans on timed missions that are so strict they pretty much require you to fail two or three times in order to figure out how to do them. The very last few missions in story mode are so difficult and tedious as to almost not even be worth bothering with, and it's usually due to arbitrary time limits, plot conventions pulled out of someone's ass ("No you can't blow up those cars yourself ... you have to tediously lure them here so we can do it instead"), or cops/gangbangers spawning out of absolutely nowhere to fuck with you at an unexpected moment. That's another thing, the game requires you to gradually piss off nearly every gang in the city, which means huge swaths of territory become subject to having enemies spawn constantly and randomly all around you. In the worst case, they are equipped with shotguns and can blow you up as you happen to be driving by. Maybe if you are on foot I could see them attacking you, but are they seriously peeping in every single car window to see if one of their enemies is driving?

Complaints aside, this is still one of the greatest "sandbox" experiences gaming has seen in it's history, and the only major deficiencies come by comparison to the later improved follow-up games. At $1 it was definitely great for another run-through, and I had some fun playing with the various editing tools that have been developed in the last few years. Definitely a needed addition to anyone's gaming library, though either Vice City or San Andreas might suffice in place of this one as they have all the same things to offer and then some.

Links :

* Scientist album download links that may or may not still work

Videos :

* Gameplay videos of every mission
* Chapelle Theft Auto
* Azn Theft Auto

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