Let's get the negative stuff out of the way first. Grand Theft Auto (GTA) takes crime and meets it head on in this action-packed depiction of life on the seamy side. The subject matter will be distasteful to a select few simply because GTA pulls no punches and doesn't try sugarcoating the lifestyle.
You take on the persona of a small town thug whose main purpose in life is to make the mobster bosses happy by committing every dirty deed they throw his (or her) way. But, you're not limited there. You can add your own mayhem to the mix and stir the pot by killing every innocent bystander or pedestrian you can get your sights on. The payoff for this activity isn't nearly as lucrative as the high reward crimes like murder, extortion or smuggling, so other than enjoying mindless carnage you'll keep this at a minimum.
A comparison to Postal comes to mind with a significant difference. In GTA, you at least have a purpose -- to simply become the best darn criminal you can. Having said that, the subject matter isn't really a gripe about the game itself but unfortunately, it will be a deterrent to attracting players who are easily offended by serious deviant criminal behavior. The second significant problem with Grand Theft Auto is the lack of a save feature within each mission. You are given a pre-set point value to reach at the beginning of each level and attaining it means completion of lots of missions. Once achieved, the game automatically saves at that stage.
Irrespective of those minor points, GTA is a gas. You race from point to point to receive orders from your mobster hierarchy then explode in a flurry of activity to accomplish the mission by any and all means available. You'll steal cars, hunt down and kill other bad guys to recover merchandise or carry out a revenge hit, run from cops and inadvertently (or purposely) slaughter innocent bystanders with a hail of bullets or by running them down in your stolen car. You jobs will include delivering stolen goods and assisting as the getaway driver for bank robberies -- the list goes on and strangely enough you find yourself becoming immersed in the role of being the best criminal in the city.
You work your way up the crime ladder by successfully completing crime sprees in locales like Liberty City, San Andreas and Vice City. Each has many districts and you'll need the maps that are thoughtfully provided to learn your way around. You'll find weapons (pistols, machine guns, flame throwers, rocket launchers) and body armor, police bribes and even "Get Outta Jail Free" cards in crates stashed around the city.
If you get nabbed by the police, you can get busted or killed and hard earned points can be lost or reduced and weapons confiscated. The top-down perspective with auto zooming is adequate and once you learn the controls, playing is a snap. GTA features an astounding soundtrack and a great deal of harsh "trash-talk", street language. Amazingly, with all this killing and the singular focus on a degenerate lifestyle, GTA is surprisingly fun. Here's your chance to hit the public enemy charts -- with a bullet!
Graphics: The graphics are shown from a top down, bird's eye perspective. They are quite detailed and look fairly good. There's lots of variety between the cars and people are animated nicely. Nice feature is the multiple resolutions available.
Sound: GTA features a stunningly great soundtrack. Heard through radio stations (which one depends on the car you happen to steal), it features rap, techno, country and rock music. Pedestrian screams are also funny and the overall sound effects are very realistic.
Enjoyment: Had there been a save feature, the game would have been flawless. But because there's not, it can be a bit frustrating at times to replay through an entire level, which can take about 2 or 3 hours to complete. The overall game remains quite fun though with the amount of stuff you can destroy or steal.
Replay Value: It's always fun to pop in this game, steal a few cars and annoy the heck out of the police. The game also features multi-player modes that add even more life to this real life crime sim.
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