Grand Theft Auto 3 Review

Grand Theft Auto 3 (GTA3) is in many ways an amazing game.  Rockstar has done a great job of melding mission-based gameplay with the freedom of an open-ended world - GTA3 is a  game that provides both an interesting storyline and a large living and breathing city filled with bonus power-ups and weapons, secret spots, and hidden vehicles.

In GTA3, you play a young hoodlum on the rise, so to speak, as he completes missions for the warring gangs overrunning Liberty City.  In keeping with the open-ended spirit of play, special places on the map are used to trigger cutscenes in which you are given new missions.  When you're ready to try another mission, you can travel to one of these places and initiate the cutscene.  Even though you are free to roam the city causing mayhem at your leisure, you'll want to take on the missions because they'll advance the story, unlock new areas of the city, and provide you with nice large payoffs.  The missions are also quite varied and give you the opportunity to do things you won't get a chance to do on your own, such as plant car bombs or assassinate rival gang leaders.

Screenshots
Do you like cars and guns?

Unlike many games, mission failure does not mean the end of the game and a reload from the memory card.  If you run out of time or are prevented from completing your objectives, you can return to the place where you got your mission and try it again as if nothing happened.  Even arrest by the police or death won't end your game.  Police can be bribed to release you (minus your weapons, of course), and if you lose all of your health you're patched up at the nearest hospital and released back onto the streets.  You may think that this just makes it easy for the player to recklessly pursue mission objectives, but this is not the case.  The more reckless you are, the harder the missions become to complete as more and more police or gang members will come down on you.  It's a good system and one that should be adopted by more games in the future.

As you move around Liberty City you'll see that it is living city, and not just the copy and pasted building textures used by many games to pass as urban environments.  First of all, the city is divided into neighborhoods, each with its own character and landmarks.  Secondly, the city is not a vast urban vacuum.  People walk the sidewalks and cars drive the streets.  Working stoplights control the flow of traffic and the city lights go on and off with the cycle of the day.  There's even weather in the game and you might find yourself in the middle of a downpour at some point.  The people in the city are not just window dressing, they will realistically react to your actions.  As you drive down the streets cars will honk and dodge to get out of your way, and then yell insults at you as you pass.  Hit somebody in a crowded area, and the rest of the passer-bys will run away and scream for the police.