Reviews for Grand Theft Auto III in Action for PC-Personal Computer ( PC ) :
Cut off incoming traffic with your Charter bus. Put your Uzi out of either the left or right window, shoot the cops, get out of the car, take a police cruiser and be prepared for a high speed chase. Run over a few old ladies, jump over the tram tracks, do a few rolls from the impact of the landing, regain control and continue wreaking havoc.
This is one of the many possibilities that you can consider when playing Grand Theft Auto III. If you notice, I said "this is one of the many possibilities you can consider...," thus meaning that there are many, many more. That particular line is what I would call the understatement of the year; just saying "many possibilities" is as vague as me saying I need a life How so you may ask (to the game, not my life)? Let me break it down for the gamer: you can either play through the game in a linear manor, playing through the missions, using the cars you're given - or - you can play through the missions, running over pedestrians, stealing cars, beating up above-mentioned pedestrians and stealing their money, doing insane stunts off of ramps and objects arranged through-out the city and completing your mission after all of the fun. OR, if you feel so inclined to do so, you can start the game and wreak complete havoc on the city. Destroy cop cars, jump from ramps, do drive-by's on various pedestrians, flip off drivers, steal their cars, knock down fences, destroy police helicopters, reverse buses into the harbor, etc...
You may think I'm wasting space by mentioning these mundane points, but I feel as though it's my duty as a writer to inform the reader of nearly everything. Simply explaining what you can do in a few sentences with little in-depth detail wouldn't be informing anyone of what the true possibilities of this game are. If you've ever played the first two you have a basic idea. However, with this particular installment, the shear possibilities and endless repetition are gone. Ride along the rails of an above-city tram, stop the car on one of three tracks, get out and wait for one of the incoming trams to literally slam into it and blow it to pieces. The complete freedom is astounding. Consider this piece of information coming from probably the biggest fan of Max Payne; without hesitation, I would say that this game is better than Max Payne in nearly every aspect.
Anything you can think of doing, you can do it. Drive-by's, hunt down gangs, dismember limbs, slow-motion gun fights, go incognito as a police officer, fire-fighter, taxi & ambulance driver, nearly everything you can think of. Besides going on multiple side missions through-out each of the three cities, the pure beauty of Grand Theft Auto III is the ability to completely ignore all of that. Ever wanted a game where you don't have to do what you're told to do? Here you go.
I can sit here all day and explain the pure freedom of this particular title, but until you experience for first drive-by and high-speed chase, you'll never truly know just how non-linear GTA III is. Do anything, go anywhere, drive anything. The possibilities are simply recreational ideas compared to what you truly believe you can't do. Just being able to do whatever you want and then being able to play in a subtle format is truly ingenious. Let me paint this picture: you can run over pedestrians and shoot at cops. Then, if you feel as though you want to, you can wait awhile; wait for the price on your head to deteriorate and then sign up for a mission. Never again wreak havoc and play straight forward. It's more like an alternate universe rather than a game and that's what makes GTA III as unique and as intuitive as it is.
Gameplay is where this title shines, nothing more, nothing less. You simply cannot do any of this in the real world, so why not do it virtually? My point exactly. Simply put, you know you've always wanted to be that guy on Real TV who never slows down for the police, now you can be; except this time you never get caught. Always wanted to be a mob crony, now's your chance. Welcome to the beautiful world of Grand Theft Auto III.
We all know that gameplay isn't anything without a convincing world. Graphics are now the forefront of nearly every PC game to his the market today. With the exception of games that aren't meant for this particular purpose (ValuSoft titles), these are far and few. However, when you buy a game for over $50, you generally expect fairly good sound, decent graphics and impressive gameplay; GTA III doesn't cop out here.
While Return To Castle Wolfenstein and Max Payne are the current graphical achievements in PC games, it seemingly stays that way. With the immersive, "real" world that you are “living” in(planes take off, medic's bring back dead pedestrians, people getting car jacked, etc…), an appealing graphics engine is essential. Notice I say “appealing” and not something along the lines of “groundbreaking.” There is a simple reason for all of this; with a state-of-the-art graphics engine, you can bet that with the millions of characters walking the streets, the vehicles, light poles, working street lights, cranes building other sections of the city with many, many more decals and characteristics taking up the frame rates of GTA III, I doubt that including the MAX-FX engine would be a horrible move.
Frame rates are the most important aspect of nearly every PC game on the market. With that said, including a graphics engine that's able to portray characters with scars, visible pours, twitching eyebrows and even breathing characters would detract greatly from the speed of the game; thus meaning that the graphics need to be duller than those of other games. While the vehicles and the wide assortment of cars and transportation are very well detailed with different designs, company logos, colors, speeds and detail placements, I can't say the same for the character designs.
Granted the blocky textures that create the leather jacket of the nameless character you are (rarely noticeable) detracts from the overall presentation, the facial features and structuring is top-notch. However, the remaining characters are angular and are nowhere near the quality of the aforementioned. Even though they aren't poorly made per say (there's many different varieties and characteristics), the dull, overly-console look makes you wonder why they didn't spend more time enhancing the character designs for the PC.
But GTA III is a driving game, which means that character designs are only secondary. I've mentioned the vehicle designs, which make up greatly for the lack of quality color palettes and character designs. Each car is a fair representation of its real-life counterpart, which adds realism to and otherwise cartoon-ish game. Still, you have to admire the small details to really appreciate what the graphic designers created. The company logos are painted on the side of a few delivery trucks, adding variety. Now, if you remember past Grand Theft Auto games, every vehicle that was of that class was the same exact thing. Not here. It may have the same design, but the colors logos and lack of them add quite a bit of variety, making it seem as though you are in a real world.
Though not groundbreaking, I give the designers credit for some fairly interesting visuals, well-crafted car designs and a living, breathing city that has never been done before. The pure mastery of the smaller details (arrests happening in front of you, planes taking off, car jackings) and then accompanying with Red Light District-styled actions creates the grimy, skuzzy feel. While not groundbreaking or absolutely flawless visually, it's still a decent showing.
I've said it once and I'll say it again, graphics may be the most popular aspect of a game, but they are, in no way, the deciding factor.
The sound is, without a doubt, the best aspect of GTA III. I was impressed mostly by the realistic sounds of the world the game takes place in. The individual sounds of the motor, the car horn, the crashing of the bumper, explosions, the engine burning and emitting steam and carburetor exhaust are amazing. Everything from the vehicle sounds and random noises to the police dispatcher and individual officers giving information about your location or telling you to freeze, stop, etc...
Voice acting isn't generally something this game focuses on, but believability is always in its corner. Mob bosses are depicted as Italians (what a surprise) in such a stereotypical fashion that you can't help but give the designers credit. The noir feel is over the top and the voice acting does exactly that. The proverbial "tough guy" is here, as are the omni-present accents and over-acted characters. Still, the believability is always intact. It's funny how more serious, noir-ish games like Hitman: Codename 47 that shape the overall effect on voice acting could be as horrible as it is at it and a more comical, non-serious version of that can convince you.
Still, the pure variety is what makes this game as good as it is. I can mention again and again how many of the same comments and speech samples are recycled and used in an over-the-top fashion, but it doesn't seem to affect the overall feel of GTA III. You know you strike gold when recycled phrases are no match for superb voice acting and convincing sound effects. Add another mark for GTA III's tally.
The greatness just keeps stacking up. From great gameplay to decent graphics, detailed, lively sound, music and varied effects, controls are another factor that doesn’t mar a masterpiece of a game. Although the past entries into the series had rather sticky movement and unresponsive turning (mostly due to the usage of arrow keys with an over-head view), this is a fixed issue with this outing.
While it isn’t as simple as other action games on the market, the complexity is non-existent. This means that most of the movements, turning, stopping, shooting and even reversing are more easily controlled movements. The inconsistencies of default key placements are also a problem that has been interpretated and seemingly removed. No more keyboard searching to find the particular button needed to look out of two side windows for mapping purposes. I found the moving to be crisp and clean, no more of that button mashing to see if you can make that turn before you get hit by an oncoming car. Turning is easily pulled off, as is steering through heavy traffic and on-point car physics. Don’t expect to jump ramps with a passenger bus, but you can expect that from a police cruiser and the many styles of the Mercedes brand. As well, each car has they’re own steering control, a certain amount of gravitational pull, making the controls either easier or more challenging; however they’re never frustration. Simplistically laid out and extremely responsive. There’s no rocket science needed to maneuver your movements, aim, turns, etc… It comes through clean and responsive; a rarity for many, many games.
So far, everything has gotten near perfect recommendations from the greatest writer of all time known simply as DVON (or Germaine Williams to all of his close friends [I’m sure Mad will be the only one to get that joke]). AI, this is what everything comes down to. Great gameplay, superb graphics, masterful sound and simple, effective controls are nothing without AI. What fun is any game without a challenge/realism? It’s simply a virtual world filled with characters whose brains are the size of a wind-worn pebble.
Sadly enough, I doubt that actual AI was used for this particular masterpiece. There aren’t any police officers that flank you, chase you down effectively or any citizens who alarm the police (that would have been an unbeatable touch). What makes it worse is that none of the characters (police, your own “teammates,”) have any path finding skills. They run around, looking confused and has no actual intelligence showing through their non-intelligible actions. None of these characters are smart, nor do they use an tactics when it comes to capturing you (or trying) and seem to have the ability to find you even when you’re hiding behind an object, completely concealed, without anyone seeing where you went. It’s these small details that distract, but the mayhem is in abundance; nothing really calls for any advanced AI.
Even with that said, it would have been quite the accomplishment to have police officers use actual police tactics rather than blindly shooting and taking rushed shots at you. There’s no real intelligence displayed by any of the aforementioned, which means there’s no real intelligence displayed by anyone. I can excuse this due to the fact that this isn’t anything comparable to Rainbow Six, so the mayhem and lack of any real cerebral brain scratching isn’t a necessity. Still, I think at least an IQ of 10 would have been a welcome addition.
The lack of AI is something I refuse to excuse. It would take a miracle for me to give this game a five star rating. Low and behold, if GTA III received a score of five stars for me; you can conclude that a miracle did take place.
The second aspect of any game that keeps me playing is the replay value. Many good games have suffered from a lack of this. For example, Red Faction is an enjoyable ten hours, but after that, all of the scripted sequences and gimmick of destroying walls just isn’t enough to make me want to play through it again. On the other hand, Max Payne had an enjoyable, originally implemented gimmick that keeps you coming back again and again. Perhaps GTA III has such an implemation. No matter whom you are, for some reason being able to steal cars and get into high-speed chases is just plain fun.
The ability to have complete freedom in a virtual world is a plus to nearly any game. This is why you don’t play it once and then stop. There’s so much to do that playing straight through for a week wouldn’t be enough time to do it all. Following the linear set of tasks is somewhere around forty hours; so ignoring all of that would literally take months. The pure longevity of GTA III is what keeps the replay value up as high as it is.
This is a rare find in the PC game market where there are very few, if any problems with it what-so-ever. The most I could say to actually tarnish its name would be to say that the system requirements are somewhat extreme and the lack of AI will most likely eliminate the gamers looking for something realistic. The redundancy of pure mayhem and chaos (or not, depending on your preference) would be enough to keep any hardcore gamer playing for hours. I’ve explained nearly every aspect of Grand Theft Auto III to the reader, so I feel as though if this didn’t persuade you to play a piece of history, nothing will. I give this game my highest recommendations. Without a doubt, this is as close as a game has come to pure perfection thus far.
Pros: Great gameplay, good graphics, freedom, non-linear playability, replay mode, nearly everything.
Cons: Lack of AI, needs a state-of-the-art machine to run at a good frame rate.
Gameplay is where this game really shines. Steal a car and use it to smash some pedestrians. Buy an Uzi and take on the local gangs. Break in an Auto Showcase and take a sportscar for a spin. Cruise the ocean in a police speedboat. Hire a hooker, do your business, kill her. Whatever you want to do is almost always possible. Drive-bys, car theft, ruthless killing... you get the picture.
I've also found that just cruising around the island provides a high sense of realism. Cars abide by traffic laws and even move out of the way of emergency vehicles. People engage in conversation while walking the streets, and even join you in car theft. That's right, you aren't the only one in the city that can steal cars.
Scattered about the city are special ramps. If approached the right way, these ramps can give you special slow-motion jumps. My personal favorite is jumping a train just as it goes by, then executing a perfect landing and spinning around to face the train again. Very rewarding. Also found lying about are special "kill frenzy" icons. This is pretty self explainitory. You're given unlimited ammo and a time limit in which time you must kill gang members, pedestrians, etc.
Again, the open-ended gameplay of Grand Theft Auto 3 really makes for a great game.
While not the greatest you've seen, Grand Theft Auto 3's graphics get the job done well. Car's are detailed in every way. Damage is shown on the trunk, hood, windshield, doors, and so on. Vivid lights and colors help to make this game almost cartoonish, which, if you ask me, is a perfect fit. Rain produces puddles on the street which in turn reflect streetlights, head lights, neon signs, etc.
The only bad thing about this game's graphics are the character models. During cutscenes, more specifically. While easy to overlook, it disrupts from the flow of the game and leaves you sorely dissapointed. But what can you expect; this is a Playstation 2 game, remember?
PC-wise, I'd recommend at least a 1 Ghz Pentium 3, with at least 256 MB Ram and a 32 MB card. even on my machine, I experience the occasional slowdown when the action heats up. But, hey, if you're like me, you'll agree that gameplay rules over graphics any day.
In conclusion, the graphics are well-suited for a game of this kind. Not too great, but in a game where action rules over eye-candy, it gets the job done.
Most of the time, I totally overlook sound in a game. This was before I discovered Grand Theft Auto and it's many radio stations. These things are wonderful. There's pop/rock, classical, rap, drum and bass, reggae, and my favorite, talk. These stations provide both music and the occasional commentary from a DJ. Also incluced are commercials, such as PetsOvernight.com, Fernando's New Beginnings, and Pogo the Monkey. The talk station includes interviews and callers. These are hilarious, and topics include spanking, the invasion of ants, and my favorite, CRAP which stands for Citizens Raging Against Phones. Very funny, especially when you consider that it's a call-in radio show ;-).
You are also given the abilty to import your own MP3's to listen to while you cruise around. This addition is one of the many features that makes the PC version MUCH better than the Playstation version.
Everything else, like gunshots, engine sounds, etc., is good. The squish of a person being run over and the shot of a sniper rifle really help to make the game that much more realistic. Whatever you do, don't turn the sound off for performance for this game.
All-in-all, this game is a wonderful experiance for every gamer and brings out the criminal in you.