It is a series spanning over a decade. It has been referenced in film, TV shows, music, and more. It has become a household name, and the series has won many awards. What with Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas being the number one selling game on Playstation 2 ever; and Grand Theft Auto III becoming an iconic milestone in video game history. Plenty of games have borrowed from it’s style, and there have been dozens and dozens of spoofs and spin offs over the years.
The gameplay, characters, settings, and story telling elements have all come a long way. From a simple top-down helicopter view in Grand Theft Auto 1, to the completely 360 rotating camera in San Andreas as well as GTA IV. From small beads that kinda sorta look like bullets flying out of your small character, to tracers and massive well detailed explosions that throw your character on his ass. Every single element and aspect of the Grand Theft Auto series have been vastly improved upon.
We’ll start here with Grand Theft Auto 1. Released in 1997 by DMA Design (the makers of Lemmings) the company took on a whole new direction with Grand Theft Auto. I have a feeling the guys at DMA Design did not think that GTA would become as big of a success as it did.
The game went on to become immensely popular, mainly due to it’s incredibly violent and ridiculous content. You actually score double points for running over pedestrians with a police car, instead of a regular car.This game introduced something called “Rampage”
See that little power-up over there? When you run over it you’re given a weapon with unlimited ammo, and a set time limit. Go blow cars up, shoot rockets at groups of friendly pedestrians. RUN THE DAMAGE TRAIN, YOU’RE HERE TO DO DAMAGE, RUN THE DAMN DAMAGE TRAIN. And then you get points. You mercilessly slaughter people, and you get points. The crazier shit you do the more points you get, through multipliers.
The game DOES have a storyline, although it isn’t really too great and it doesn’t really immerse you. It is kind of interesting reading the character dialogue though. Because they swear a lot and it’s funny. It’s funny because the game is doing everything you probably want to do when you’re at work, on line at the bank, or on line at the grocery store. Scream and throw fucking bananas at people. Or grenades.
Yep. It’s a fantastic little game that lets you blow off steam by doing crazy assed things that would otherwise get you killed or arrested in real life. This game really helped establish the open-world do-anything-you-want-fuck-with-anybody sort of gameplay.
Being as I do not own GTA 1 or GTA 2, I’m going to move right along to GTA III because I’m a shit head.
So. On to GTA III.
In 2002 I received the greatest gifts an 11 year old could receive. I traded in cash and my Playstation along with 20 PS1 games, for a Playstation 2.
I got the Playstation 2 along with three games. Army Men RTS, Medal of Honor:Frontline, and Grand Theft Auto III.
I played the hell out of those three games. Beginning to end, front to back. I did it all. And Grand Theft Auto III, well. It holds a special place in my heart. I was used to the retro style of GTA1; with the shitty top-down view and having no idea of who or what was progressing the story. Of course at 11 or 10 years old, storyline wasn’t a big deal to me. “Fuck the story. I want the machine gun. CHAKKA-CHAKKA-CHAKKA AHAHAHAHAHA YES”
Yep. That was me. Sitting in my pajamas on my living room floor at 11 years old screaming “Fuck tha police!” at the TV screen while I drove on the sidewalk and plowed through people on their daily commute. It was all in good fun. I think my father and I spent the first hour or so just fighting and beating the hell out of random pedestrians. And when we finally got a hold of the baseball bat. Oh holy shit.
But even at 11 or so years old the story was actually interesting to me. Seeing characters betray me and my allies, people paying me to double cross allies etc. I mean it was great. I didn’t fully understand that I was being an asshole on a colossal scale at the time, but it was also all in good fun.
Sigh. Well I guess I won’t be doing the kick ass videos I had planned on. I suppose I’ll just talk a bit more about the game then.
I remember getting off of the first island and reaching Staunton Island. I thought “What. Holy shit I’m not finished? Oh god there is just so much more I don’t even know what to do shit I’m never gonna remember where any of this stuff is or where to go.” The game world was massive. Much larger and much more detailed than it’s predecessors. Of course this is on a completely new age of consoles and technology, so it’s not really a competition or anything. The only problem I ever really had with GTA III is that most of the scenery is somewhat bland. There was never really any points in the game where I would come to a stop on top of a hill and just say “Wow. Look at that. Just look at that, man.”
I was never engulfed in a gorgeous view of the entire city. But it’s fine, because usually I was down in the crowded streets throwing Molotov cocktails and hand grenades. Yeah. I loved GTA III. It’s story was compelling mainly because the protagonist doesn’t speak. This allows you to step into his shoes a bit easier. But it’s more difficult to immerse someone in a third person game, because you don’t really see it first hand through their eyes. Especially a Grand Theft Auto game where you spend a majority of the game doing the most absurd shit imaginable. Like shooting down police helicopters with a rocket launcher. Or beating old women with a baseball bat.
I guess the best thing I took from GTA III was the advice my dad gave me after owning the game for a week or two. “Son if you kill that hooker after you sex her up you can get your money back.” -Dad McConnell circa 2002
That’s a really kick ass texture error. I have no idea what the cause could be or how to begin to fix it. So I’ll just move on to Vice City after this last video.
On to Vice City.
Right. So not long after completing GTA III, I picked up Vice City. Yet again Dad McConnell and I were rampaging through another city taking innocent lives and fist fighting cops. Vice City became my favorite game in the series. It surpassed GTA III in almost every way. The story was richer, Tommy Vercetti was a total ass kicker, and the setting was incredible. Because it touched on the goofiness of the 80’s in a way no other game had.Not to mention the all-star cast they had doing the voice acting. Including Ray Liotta (holy BALLS) and Burt-Fuckin’-Reynolds.
The setting was drastically changed and improved. You could tell all of the different areas and neighborhoods apart from one another, and each area had a big ass gang that commanded the streets. Further onto the game, if you simply step into a gang’s territory they may start throwing rocks at you and they’ll chase you right the hell outta Dodge.
The two greatest additions in Vice City was the much improved and expanded arsenal of weapons, as well as the fucking CHAINSAW.
Of course everything wasn’t perfect. The developers still hadn’t added the ability to swim in even the shallowest of waters.
But things were getting better. With the added ability to dive out of your car at high speed. This was always really fun to mess with. Because you would be going almost 100MPH and then you’d dive out and not only live, but your car would coast a few hundred feet until it came to a stop. And it would usually plow through anything along the way. Like people.
Vice City’s setting was great. The characters and people you met were fascinating. The missions were very memorable and each one had you doing something more over the top and crazy than the last. Good times had by all. It didn’t seem like it could get much better.
And then it did.
You can do almost anything. And I mean anything. I’ll show you with some videos. And after that you can read how San Andreas went on to become the top selling game on Playstation 2.
This game completely revamped the series and added an untold amount of new activities and content. New weapons, cooler weapons, gadgets and weird things such as nightvision and parachutes. Weapon stats, the ability to make your player fat, muscular, or something in between. New cars, new locations, hilarious NPC dialogue, hilarious characters and cut scenes. Holy shit this game had it all.
My favorite addition was the bicycle.
Hot damn I tore up the town on the bicycle almost every time I played. Most of the time I would opt for the bicycle over a flashy sports car. Because the bicycle was absolutely hysterical. You’re supposed to be this hardcore gangsta that kills and steals and commits felonies and does all sorts of hardcore gangsta activities. Then you ride a bicycle into the enemy gang’s territory and do a
drive-by ride-by on it. Oh god. It was great.
Everything was vastly improved upon, from the voice acting to the fist fighting. You could drive an ambulance and save people, or drive a firetruck and extinguish big ass fires in small neighborhoods etc. It was great. Especially after GTA III and GTA Vice City had significantly less to offer the player. You could improve your swimming, stamina, driving skills, and more.
You play as Carl “CJ” Johnson. The game is set in the 90’s, and most of the events, places, and dialogue catches the essence of the 90’s. Especially the soundtrack. The soundtrack features a large range of music from New Jack Swing to Country. Every station has something for everyone. Several of the stations are just funny to listen to while you do absurd shit. Like drive a tractor off of the roof of a building while listening to “Hey Good Lookin‘” by Willie Nelson.
Finally, I thought it could never get any more fun. I didn’t think it could get any better. Yet again I was wrong.
And then it did. Holy hell.
I honestly think I spent several hours just messing around with the new physics engine alone. Pushing people down stairs, off of cliffs, down hills, straight into traffic. Speaking of traffic, shit I probably ran through several lanes of speeding cars just to watch Niko flip over the hood and fall on his ass. Either I’m easily amused, or the newly added physics engine really was the best thing about GTA IV.
But unfortunately GTA IV did take away some things that were in San Andreas, and that was kind of disappointing. Like riding a bike and being able to completely customize CJ’s appearance. You can buy new clothes in IV, but there are only three stores and not much variety. But it trades off the bike, the fat, the muscle, the clothes and some of the other minor RPG/customization elements for the hilarious physics, the drastically improved storyline and characters; as well as improved gun combat and fist fighting. But I do miss being able to learn Kung-Fu at the gym in Las Venturas.
Meh. Oh well. GTA IV does almost everything right. The only real criticism I have is that the game series has been going down a road for a long time. A road called “Goofy and fun street” and with IV, it seems that the series picked up a broken GPS and made a turn at the corner of “Gritty Avenue” and “Srs Bsns Lane.”
I’m not necessarily saying this is a bad thing, since it is executed VERY well in GTA IV; but I’m not entirely sure that this is the best move for the series as a whole because for me GTA has always been about absurd goofy fun. If I wanted it to be extremely realistic I would just go outside and punch people at random. And when the police showed up to ask me what the hell I thought I was doing, I would just push them down a flight of stairs and run away. Also, all of the policemen in GTA IV were apparently trained in Detroit or some Middle Eastern war-torn country, as they only give chase after you’ve opened fire with a semi-auto military grade shotgun in the middle of a crowded plaza. And they don’t fist fight you or beat with their baton like in the old games, they just draw their sidearm and point it up your nose until they can slap the cuffs on you. Or until you punch them or do something crazy again, and then they just open fire and say things like “I’ve got a bullet aimed right for your balls, bitch!”
The only other real complaint I have about IV is that you meet a lot of people in the game; people that want to be best friends. For some reason (typically after you kill a dozen armed men and you drop your friend off somewhere) your friend will call you, and say “Hey! Let’s go bowling!” or “Let’s go to a strip club and look at tits! Whooo!” or SOMETHING. Then you have to drive to their place, pick them up, drive to the tits, and then pretend to have a good time for a little while, and then you finally drop them off at their place again. The whole ordeal can take upwards of 30 minutes or more depending on what activity(s) you do.
In summary, GTA IV is definitely a milestone in open-world games, and it is the best GTA game so far. The missions, the characters, the pedestrians, the weapons, the car chases. Everything. It’s a great ride for anybody and everybody. Except for those bullshit moms and congressmen that say violent video games make teens/young people violent. That is a giant load of shit. Shut your fat faces and let us play our games in peace.
***Note:I’ve decided to post the GTA IV DLC in a separate post. Because for some reason Steam is updating right now and I want to go to bed. So rather than postpone the entire thing until tomorrow, I’m just going to post what I have now and then post the DLC tomorrow.***
Look for it tomorrow afternoon. Cheers.