With Grand Theft Auto V coming out next month, I wanted to do a list of my top 10 games produced by Rockstar Games. I’m writing these articles in order of their release but WILL culminate with an actual Top-10 list once all 10 games have been covered.
When talking about Rockstar Games, the one game that put them on the map was Grand Theft Auto III (GTA III). Sure, it wasn't the first GTA game, but it was the first to switch from the top-down view and give the player a full 3D world to explore. And explore we did.
This was the first game where I actually felt like I was living in this world. An all-star voice cast included Frank Vincent, Michael Madsen, Joe Pantoliano and Robert Loggia complimented a dark and seedy version of New York City (called Liberty City) that felt alive. Day turned into night, the weather would change from sunny to overcast to rain. NPCs walking the streets had their own dialogue regardless of if you directly interacted with them. Of course with Auto in the title, there were plenty of different cars to choose from, but for me the best part of the cars was being able to change radio stations which included different DJ’s, a great mix of songs ranging from classical opera to modern hip-hip and hilarious commercials parodying real life ads.
The beauty of this game wasn't the plot or the characters. It was simply the freedom to do nearly anything you wanted to do. If you didn't feel like completing missions, no problem. You could wander Liberty City to your heart's content. If you had your fill of carjacking people, killing cops and getting "serviced" by prostitutes (then killing them after to get back your money) you could commandeer a fire truck or an ambulance and help out citizens by putting out fires or transporting them to a hospital.
It was freedom that allowed you to see just how much chaos and trouble you could cause. At least for my friends, our objective was not completing the missions, but trying to escape law enforcement. Anybody who’s ever played this game knows how difficult it became once the army intervened in order to stop you.
By today’s standards, GTA III is nothing special: the graphics were for the previous version of video games (PlayStation 2) and Claude, the silent main character, had zero personality but much like Gutenberg’s printing press, without GTA III, modern gaming wouldn’t exist in its current form. Future games were able to build off GTA III’s success and because of that, it will always remain a classic.