Currently Playing: Grand Theft Auto 3 (PC)

After so many months of waiting of this award winning game of the PS2, I finally got a hold of it. It’s amazing that Rockstar has maintained the feel of the game and imporved on it but its actually 3D. It’s quite rare to make something like that jump and make something better of it. This was done very successfully without a doubt.

Many PC gamers have been so curious how this really came to be the “Game of the Year”. Yet, with the game’s greatness also comes with controversy. This game has also been illegal in a few countries because of it’s bad nature like prostitution, gang wars, cursing, bad driving and others. But then again, this game is for mature players only. It has a mature rating, so don’t let kids play this game.

The graphics will always be an issue especially that it is a PS2 port. If you are used to playing with Quake 3, Colin McRae Rally 2.0 or any kind of PC designed game, the game will look plain and flat graphics. But if you have played PS2, the PC version is the best you’ve ever seen. The models are simple but effective enough to convey what they look like, but considering this the environment is quite and can really give a sense of a living city. For, me while playing, it’s nice going to the river bay to look at the far city across the river. It’s not like any game I know where you can see far places. Most games I know rely on prerenderd backgrounds, but what you see here is the actual city that you go to and it’s across the river.

Motion blur is very much used in the game. (If you don’t know about this, this is an effect on 3D games that an object can echo itself on the previous frame and fades. This is a common effect on movies to make them look smoother). On default it is usually turned on. This special effect is rarely used and this is the first time I ever got to see it in real action. I never got to see Quake 3 using the Voodoo videocard that has t-buffer setting that utilizes this effect. I did see the nvidia demo but it didn’t look realistic enough. But there I do find it really interesting. I was amazed that I was looking at 3D when I first thought it was a video prerecorded from the game engine. There is an intense echo effect in the intro that only happens there which is annoying, after that the motion blur gets a minimal treatment but very noticable which I really liked. I find the adding of motion blur gives a good and bad side. The good side, it gives a natural feel even though it might be minimal and gives a feel of anti-alias (very minimal effect). The bad side it needs a powerhouse system to effectively view motion blur and it makes you feel your resolution is much smaller than you set it.

The sounds of this game is one of the best I’ve heard. Why? Because the environment feels so natural. You’ll hear almost everything that you need to hear, locations have certain sounds that you’ll know where you are even when you close your eyes. It’s fun too just listening to the people around you who’s just passing by or some of them might be cursing you or someone else. The best thing about this game is the radio stations, they are fun to listen to, all of them have their own humor to it. A compilation of various music that you might even find style, from the 80’s, disco, techno and more. Chatterbox is my favorite radio station, it’s a radio talk show full of hilarious interviews and others. Chatterbox alone is great, so good that I listen to it even while I’m not playing the game. But if you feel limited to the music of the game, you can make your own playlist by putting your own MP3’s. Now that is great; with all the environment, music and the option to customize what your listening to.

Mouse and Keyboard controls are great. They made the best controls out of all PC games and combined it here. When your driving, just the simple arrow keys is enough, but when your walking/running your mouse and WASD contrl is your best friend. If you’ve played the PS2 version this would feel like a cheat since the mouse is so good to use compared to a gamepad when controling where your character looks or when you are targeting. At first it feel tedious shifting from one control to another but after a few missions it gets really comfortable.

Here are some “console”-ish problems that I had. Save game feature is really limited, in fact it feels like you have a very limited memory card on your PC. Since PC gamers are very much pampered in saving games. But what I like about this is if you are using WinXP (since this was my only system that I’ve tested), the save game is placed in “My Documents” which is very good. This way each person who has their own profile on XP has their own save games without having the chance of bothering others. Another thing that bothered me is the control for gamepads, I’m using a Gravis Xterminator Digital and there were some controls that were bothersome. Driving was not a problem but it’s when you are out of the car. I had a problem with turning around, I couldn’t find any control configuration for turning for the gamepad so I didn’t force myself anymore on it.

The thing about this game is that this has so much life on its own. I know it has combined a lot of the bad things of this world but it somehow gave a natural feel of being in a gangster movie. It makes you feel that all everybody has their own goals. You’ll usually see people getting into fights, people running around, cars rushing by and getting an accident without your help. Especially when you’re character has a great name for being a goon for hire, when you reach places where you’ve killed a gang leader, you’re high priority target. Just driving along the street is dangerous. It’s also interesting to see gang wars on the streets.

What makes this a great game is that the free form. At a certain situation you have your own way of handling it. It’s not like you are given a choice, its just how you do it. Example in a certain mission I was supposed to “whack” someone before he reaches the mansion. I could use a sniper if I had one before the person could get in the car. Or if I had a grenade I could throw it in it’s path. The thing is you can do pretty much anything as long as you do the mission successfully. That’s what makes the game as memorable as it is now.

This game has so much fun in it already but they added something more, there are also a great number of side missions that will really entertain you. Crazy Taxi anyone? Yes, there is a fun game within it if you don’t want to get a new mission yet. You can play games similar to crazy taxi and others too. You can steal a taxi, ambulance, firetruck and a police car and each one has their own type of game. Though those games are a bit time pressured but it is a fun addition. Other than that, some public phones have missions. You’ll notice that some phones ring and you can answer them giving you a new mission. It always seems there are endless things to do to entertain you. Addition to all of those mention there are stunt car jump mission where you just have to find a wooden ramp and try to go fast as you can to jump with style. You’ll be given a short cut scene of your car stunt if you get it right. And there is also hidden stashes of money that you can look around for around the entire city.

This is one game that I can really assure of its greatness. It was well thought of and well executed. The minor gripes are minor to even think about them. If you’re not playing this or if you have not played this game, then you should really get this one. If you’re wondering if you should get it if you have a PS2 version, don’t. Because both are good and none is really better except the better graphics on the PC and the optional MP3 player while playing.

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