Retro Review: Grand Theft Auto III

With the Release of Grand Theft Auto IV this week, it’s a good time to sit back and take another look at the game that made DMA design – Rockstar North. GTA 1 and GTA 2 were top down open world games that were fun, but never really had any sense of story. You were just causing some top down destruction. GTA III reinvented the series and made it was it is today. GTA III took the open-world, sandbox concept of its 2D predecessors and moved it into 3D. GTA III introduced a violent and mature world and story that captivated people. The freedom was unprecedented. GTA III created a new video game genre and copycats came out of the woodwork. For its time (Oct 2001), GTA III had good graphics (though not PS2’s best), fantastic sound/audio, an amazing presentation, and brought something to the table no one had ever experienced before.

Verdict Back then: 95%

Is Grand Theft Auto III any good today? I say not really. The graphics look horrendous and boxy, the draw distance is terrible, the missions are repetitive, the controls are really bad outside of driving, and the storytelling has been surpassed by every subsequent sequel (c’mon the main character doesn’t even talk). Grand Theft Auto III deserves a ton of credit for created the genre, but it was stale even back when Vice City came out. Maybe Vice City was just that good of a sequel that it immediately brought out all the flaws of GTA III. At the very least, Vice City and San Andreas showed us what could’ve been expanded upon and fixed with GTA III. Maybe that is exactly what Grand Theft Auto IV is for…it’s a return to Liberty City to show us all what has blossomed from Grand Theft Auto III’s legacy. GTA III will always be remembered as revolutionary, but what were once viewed as minor flaws at the time have become major ugly tumors on this game. It’s a relic of the early PS2 era, but it will always be remembered.

Verdict Now: 78%

3 Responses to “Retro Review: Grand Theft Auto III”

  • 1 DEITRIX Says:

    I never played 3, but I can tell from your recap that GTA4 is a huge upgrade.. -and I’m only a few hours in.

  • 2 Laura's Husband Says:

    But isn’t comparing GTA 3 to GTA 4 like comparing a P51 Mustang to a F14 Tomcat?…boy that P51 was a great plane for it’s time but now that I’ve flown a F14 I can see all that the Mustang isn’t. You can probably make the same observations when comparing any old game to the latest and greatest…except, of course, when discussing “Blades of Steel” 🙂

  • 3 Mike Says:

    I’m not directly comparing GTA4 to GTA3. I’m merely replaying an older game and seeing if it lives up to the perception of it at the time. Back then it was very highly reviewed, but it doesn’t really stand up to the test of time…like say Super Mario Bros 3.

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