The ultimate crime game has arrived. Grand Theft Auto III for the Playstation 2 is thoroughly amazing. The action is set in Liberty City USA and sees you left for dead by a bitchy ex girlfriend. One breakout later and you are left on your own to explore the city, beginning your criminal career with just one mafia contact. If you prove yourself the opportunities will open up and as the game progresses you gain access to the rest of the city.
I loved the previous GTA games and so I bought this immediately and have not been disappointed. The main difference is that the view is at street level, the cars and people are 3D (though you can change views). The graphics are incredible, people and cars, both look and move realistically, not to mention exploding and bleeding realistically too.
The game has been vastly improved and there is no doubt that this is the best title I have encountered yet for the PS2. The additions to the game are brilliant, for example you can make money from driving a cab (getting people to destinations in a time limit), you can also be an ambulance man or a vigilante, by getting in a police car or ambulance and pressing R3. On top of that there are the traditional criminal muggings, with fists or baseball bats, when people die they often drop money. The chief way of making money is still the missions, but they are difficult. There are more weapons (eg sniper rifle), than in previous games, and these are purchased at the gun store (Ammu-nation) or occasionally found lying around. Health is found at the hospital and there are the usual spray shops, to shake off cops, and bomb shops to rig car bombs.
You need rest occasionally and so there is a hideout which you can use to save the game and store a car (saving uses 6 hours up). Saving is free so do it often, especially after completing a tough mission. To start you only have access to the industrial part of the city, it is rundown, people are poor and there are criminals and hookers everywhere. To progress to other parts of the city you need to complete missions for the local crime lords. They have made the criminal characters as realistic as possible, and during the course of the game you will work for the Mafia, the Yakuza, the Yardies, the Triads, the Diablos, the Colombian Cartel and the South Side Hoods. The cut scenes which explain missions are great and really add depth and realism.
Any fans of the old games will remember the excellent music. This is even better in GTA3, each car will have a different radio station playing, usually one that suits the driver. They sound very realistic but parody real radio. This brilliant idea really makes the world more immersive and realistic, and you will inevitably find a favourite which you always put on. The sound people make is also individual, old winos sound like old winos, young female joggers sound like they should. People will say things when you bump into them or sometimes just when you walk past.
This is a fully workable world of crime in which you can choose your own route through the game, make money in anyway you choose and do the missions in the order that suits you best. Your main obstacle is the police. You can tell how wanted you are by the stars at the top right of the screen. If one is lit then escape should be easy, just lie low and they will forget about you, if two or more are lit you need a respray or a cop bribe. As soon as three stars are lit you will have a police helicopter chasing you, they are very annoying and can only be killed with a rocket launcher. If you ever reach six then you are screwed, it means they have called out the army and you are not going to escape.
So they have retained all the great features from the original games (kill frenzies are still there too) and added more. The game looks and sounds fantastic, the gameplay is easy and intuitive, and the missions are often satisfyingly hard to complete. The police are harder to evade and the gangs are not forgiving, even people in general are more likely to attack you and it is common to see other crimes being committed as you walk the streets.
Finally we have to discuss the cars. There is a huge range of vehicles available in the game, each handles completely differently and some are rarer than others. You also get the opportunity to ride the subway, L train and can even take control of boats and aeroplanes. As in the past games you will quickly find out the best cars and where to get them, some of the names are the same as before, so it does feel like a familiar, but more fully developed GTA world.
If you have a PS2 you must buy this game, the only problem is that it has an 18 certificate. Don´t be fooled by the fact this is a computer game the violence is sick and looks very real and the objects and missions in the game are unequivocally evil. A fantastic game, tremendous fun and seriously addictive but for adults only.