Looking at the eerily lifelike the in game universe of Liberty City, the corrupt and sprawling metropolis within which Grand Theft Auto III is based upon, it is hard to believe that this is a game that belongs to the same family as GTA 1 and GTA 2, two games which made use of painfully slow and badly rendered sprites and graphics.
In GTA 1 and 2, the player was forever resigned to viewing the world from a top down perspective and the manner in which the various occupants of the city were rendered was nothing short of painfully bad, nothing more than a smear of red or blue, and maybe brown or orange for their hair.
In Grand Theft Auto III, the game designers have went to considerable lengths to ensure that even the smallest of details have been painstakingly rendered correctly and the end result is nothing short of breath taking. The game features people of different ethnic origins, not to mention social class which is plainly evident by virtue of the clothes they wear, even their hair style. Rather than bland clones of one another, different people will have facial hair and accessories and so beards, side burns and the like are all plain to see, to great effect. Check out the prostitutes from St. Marks with too much make up on, or the hilariously camp construction workers with their handlebar moustaches.
The in game cut scenes are also worthy of mention and accolade as well, because the characters are all fully animated with highly realistic gestures of their arms and bodies and so the player would be forgiven for thinking that they are actually watching real people having a conversation.
Take a look up towards the sky from a suitable vantage point and the player will be able to see the remainder of the city there in the distance, again helping to foster a strong sense of realism within an already very lifelike game.
How can we possibly forget to mention the weather effects? Grand Theft Auto III features a randomized weather system which changes the weather at various points and so just like in real life, one moment it will be totally clear, and then there is a downpour of rain.
Grand Theft Auto III is a game that features numerous extras in addition to the main quest and far from being a mere distraction, these extra missions will actually provide the player with rewards for their hard work and sense of curiosity. Collecting the so called hidden packages will provide the player with a new weapon to their arsenal for every ten that they collect and these include body armour, grenades and shotguns.
If the player was to focus squarely on the main quest itself, then they can expect to get maybe 20 hours gameplay, and this figure can quickly be doubled if they take the time to unlock the remaining secrets that the game has to offer.
The game also offers incentives to be strategic as well. While driving around like a maniac at top speed is all very well, the car that the player is currently driving will only be able to withstand a certain amount of abuse before it will catch fire and explode. This nifty feature actively encourages the player to be careful with their driving.
Furthermore, cops will give pursuit if the player has only one star, but will not shoot and if the player manages to escape their line of sight for a period of time, then the police will move onto more pressing issues. However, the difficulty and the level of commitment that the police exercise in catching the player will steadily increase as they commit more crimes.
Addictive and immersive, Grand Theft Auto III is a must have game for budding sociopaths everywhere.