Monday, June 13

Grand Theft Auto 3 Review

I played on: Nintendo Switch, PC, PS2
I paid: £35 for the Definitive edition along with Vice City and San Andreas, £5 on Steam and £2 on PS2 from CEX
Available on: Android, iOS, PC, PS2, PS3, PS4, PS5, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S Notes: I am aware that the Definitive Edition is a remake of the original game made in the Unreal Engine 4 instead of the original RenderWare engine. I am also aware that the Definitive edition has introduced both gameplay and graphical glitches and bugs not in the original game. I will not be reviewing these two editions separately because, to be blunt, I don’t like Grand Theft Auto enough to do so.

Grand Theft Auto 3 is an odd game for me to review. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, there’s the fact that I have very complicated feelings towards it that aren’t easily put into words. Secondly, I’ve put a lot of how I feel about this game into my review for Liberty City Stories so a lot of this review will be repeating stuff from that. And lastly, I just don’t like this series for its awful, disgusting depictions of women, gay people, trans people, kinksters and people of colour. This preexisting bias will obviously affect my review and opinion of any game in the series negatively. Despite all of these, I’m going to try and put my feelings towards GTA3 into words here today. So let’s begin..

Grand Theft Auto 3 came out in 2001 and was the series’ first dive into the 3D space. Despite what some people say online this wasn’t the first open-world game in 3D as the Driver series had 2 3D open-world games out before this on the PS1. I was only 9 years old when I first played this game and despite finding the missions too difficult at the time, I enjoyed driving around the open world. By the time I was in my early teens I was in love with both this game and its 2 sequels. Throughout my teen years, I must have put hundreds of hours into this game. Despite the negative feelings I have towards the series as an adult I also have a nostalgic love for these early 3D games. I remember every mission, shortcut and pick-up location to this day. If I had to sum up how I feel about this game, I’d say that I hate that I love it.

Grand Theft Auto 3 is a horrible mean-spirited game that seemingly hates women and femininity. Most of the “jokes” in this game are women acting in stereotypical cishet ways and then men finding a way to shut them up or escape from them. For example, the game ends with you rescuing your love interest Maria. As you leave with her, she begins talking about how messed up her hair is, and how she’s broken a nail before the screen fades to black and we hear a gunshot that silences Maria forever. I could give you more examples of this from the many radio ads that joke about “fat wives” and cheating husbands but I could prove my point better by looking at the game’s cast of women. You have Misty and the other sex workers that have almost no character and even less agency. Then you have Maria who we discussed earlier. One of the mafia top dogs you work for also has a mother that shouts abuse at both you and her son from a window. We never see this woman at all, she only exists as a joke based on the “overbearing mother” trope. We have Asuka, only 1 of 2 women with any agency in the entire game who ends up getting killed offscreen between missions. Lastly, we have Catalina who is the woman with the most agency in the game but is only actually seen in around 4 of the 50 missions in the game. She fills the “crazy ex-girlfriend” trope and acts as the game’s main antagonist. Out of the 14 listed characters on the GTA Wikia 4 are women and one of them isn’t even seen in the game. All but 2 of the women in the game get killed by the end. The 2 that don’t die, only survive because their roles are so small the game forgets about them after the first act. The best thing I can say about this game is that I don’t remember any overwhelming homophobia, transphobia or racism in it. That being said, I can only think of 1 named black character in it and no LGBT characters at all so it’s not winning any awards for representation.

The story itself is a mostly disconnected series of events that all get tied together in the last act. It’s not a bad story but it’s also far from good. I don’t think anyone remembers this game for the amazing plot. All the characters are shallow stereotypes and the majority of the missions amount to nothing more than odd jobs that you run for them. As if to emphasize my point, the player character, Claude, is mute and doesn’t say a word throughout the entire game.

What GTA3 does best is its map design. Liberty City from the 3D universe is tiny. Coming in at around 3 squared miles this collection of islands is the smallest map in the entire series. The advantage of this small size is that every street, alleyway or section of greenery must serve a purpose. This means that you very quickly start to learn the shortcuts to important locations, where to find bribes and other pick-ups and the turf of each gang. The last time I visited this city before this review was 4 years ago. I still remembered it flawlessly. Each time I completed a stunt jump, collected a hidden package or shaved minutes off my commute via shortcuts and public transport I felt a surge of nostalgia. The only way I can describe it is to say that it’s like visiting a hometown. Each subway station, alley or street corner holds a distant memory.

The gameplay outside of navigation is rather basic. This was, after all, DMA’s first attempt at a 3D game of this scale. Shooting is difficult with the lock-on being temperamental at best on the original version of the game. This has been improved in the Definitive Edition which is nice to see. The driving feels just like I remember it. Simple with an almost arcade-like feel to it. Unlike every other GTA game in the series, you are limited to cars and boats here. You can’t fly helicopters or planes, even motorbikes that featured in the earlier 2D games are absent here. The number of things you’re able to do in GTA3 feels very limited when compared to other games, both newer and older, in the series. I would describe the gameplay as a whole as bare-bones but enjoyable.

The graphics are, to be frank, ugly in the original version of the game. While the Definitive Edition has its issues with some odd-looking pedestrians, floating grass and so on I still think it’s an improvement over the very dated-looking original game. You can tell what’s going on but each character has clearly visible sections of their torso, hands that are frozen in a single open pose and faces that fail to animate during conversations. All of this as well as the lighting is much better in the definitive edition of the game.

Overall, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my time replaying GTA3. Honestly, I had a blast. But that doesn’t excuse its cruel treatment of women and overall unkind feeling towards minorities. This game presumes that the audience is exclusively young cishet men and anyone outside that demographic is seen as a joke. But the gameplay while basic is fun and the map may be one of the best in all of gaming.

Recommendation Rating: 4 out of 10.

No comments:

Post a Comment