"See what that bitch is up to."
You are a criminal. Don’t deny it, you know it is true. Every time you break the speed limit, drive after a couple beers, copy a movie, steal cable, rip that little tag off the furniture, or lie to the credit card company (I swear I sent the check), you are committing crimes. Face it, we’re all criminals to some degree or another. Anyone who says they’ve never committed a crime is lying. Grand Theft Auto allows us to nurture that criminal instinct and to have a lot of fun along the way.
The plot of Grand Theft Auto is simple. You are a minor player in a criminal syndicate. You answer pay phones and check your beeper to get jobs from your mob boss. He can order you to steal cars, kill cops, kill other gangs, do drug delivery runs, have you tail his girlfriend, and much more. Essentially, when anything illegal needs to be done, it gets handed to you. How you complete the job determines how much money you get, and gives you access to other, hidden, missions. If you thought Postal was bad, you ain’t seen nothing. This game has no morals whatsoever. You even get bonus points for running someone over with their own car! Sounds good to me!
The controls are fairly basic, but awkward. As a PC port, they retained a lot of the un-intuitive ideas they had for keyboard control and moved them to the Sony controller. It is a bit easier to control while driving (where you spend most of the game). This means that when you are walking around, the d-pad has relative movement, not absolute movement. Though this can be annoying at the beginning, you can get used to it. Grand Theft Auto is the first game, however, to have a hijack button. By pressing this button next to a car, you open the driver’s side door, slug the driver, pull him onto the pavement, and hop into your new vehicle. Not bad, eh?
The graphics in Grand Theft Auto were obviously not the focus of the developers attention. The cities are remarkably huge, however, and they really make you feel as though you are driving in New York, San Francisco, or Miami (they have different names in the game, but it is obvious what cities they’re supposed to be). The manual claims that there are over 6,000 city miles in the game, and, frankly, I believe it. Some of the cars, however, need a lot of work. There are cars that, to this day, I have not figured out what they’re supposed to be. Also, they couldn’t use the real names of the vehicles, so they made up names that were close enough, like Porka instead of Porsche.
Another drawback is the repetitive nature of the game. First off, you can’t save in the middle of the game. You have to either complete the level or die to end a game in the middle. This leads to gamers playing the first missions over and over and over again when they are first getting used to the game. Needless to say, this gets a bit frustrating. Also, a lot of the missions are remarkably similar.(i.e. drive to point B, meet someone, drive to point C, kill someone, drive to point D, and get rid of the car.) While the immoral aspects of the plot are entertaining and fun, they don’t mask the fact that you have to do almost the same thing for every mission.
One note to concerned parents: aside from the burning, blowing up, robbing, stalking, killing, carjacking, and drug dealing, Grand Theft Auto also has nearly every curse word in the book. If you blanch at the thought of your child shooting cops or learning to use those words they heard on the playground, GTA is not the perfect gift.
In the end, we have a game that is a great idea, but not very well executed. With mediocre graphics and repetitive gameplay, some gamers might be disappointed. Like Postal, Grand Theft Auto is depending a lot on controversy to sell the game, not gameplay. While this works for sales, it tends to upset many hard-core gamers. However, if you are just looking for a fun, goofy, immoral game, than Grand Theft Auto should definitely be on your list.