HINTS & TIPS
Grand Theft Auto 3 First Impressions
Hot-wire your neighbour's engine, grab your baseball bat and leave your conscience at the door - we bring you full details and in-game screens from the industry's most wanted.
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Grand Theft Auto is quite possibly the most controversial game in recent memory. Its violence, anarchy and crime-related missions paved the way for a torrent of media, and even parliamentary, disapproval. When the dust settled, gamers found themselves with a title quite unlike any other, in which they would take on the role of a petty criminal with the run of a fictional city and all the cars, crimes and criminals that fill it. GameSpot UK was recently given the chance to jet off and see an early build of the latest Grand Theft Auto. The new title is set to create quite a stir, not just because it will take the typically simple GTA presentation to PlayStation2 levels of realism, but because the game will now play completely in 3D. However, GTA3 is not simply a 3D version of the previous games - it contains a number of exciting new features that could make the latest game the most memorable yet.
You begin as a small-time criminal who, along with his best friend and his girlfriend, has planned what should have been the perfect bank robbery. Perfect, if it wasn't for the fact that they are all caught. The best friend and the girlfriend run off together, leaving your character to take the blame. But on the way to prison you have the good fortune of being placed in the same van as an explosives expert who has no intention of being put away. The two of you then blast your way out, and your characters is left free with the whole of Liberty City before him, a serious score to settle and no conscience to hold him back.
Something gamers familiar with the GTA series may already notice is the depth of the storyline. In the previous titles your character is given little motivation, apart from his ambition to climb the criminal status ladder, and needs no excuse for the brutal crimes he commits. GTA3 sees the introduction of a character with his own personality and a real reason to lash back at society. He is presented very much as a comic figure, a hapless criminal not to be taken seriously, who must somehow convince the big bosses that he is worth their time and money. The criminal gangs include old favourites such as the Yardies and the Colombians, as well as new delights especially for GTA3. Your character has to work his way through over 80 crime-related missions and juggle the trade of rival criminal gangs, accumulate money and respect and generally stay alive in the big bad city.
GTA3 gives new meaning to the word freedom. Gamers who were impressed with the open-ended missions and huge exploration areas of the previous instalments can expect to be blown away by some of the new features. The basic rule is, if you can see it, you can drive it. Any of the game's 50 cars can be hijacked and driven by you, each vehicle handing exactly as you would expect. Different vehicles are available in different areas, so the most attractive sports cars will be found in the richer areas of the suburbs, or in the areas dominated by a gang. But the freedom doesn't stop at cars - cabs, ambulances, ice cream vans, school buses, army tanks - and even at one point an aeroplane - can all be driven by you.