So for my Band of Bloggers: Thick as Thieves entry I have decided to hone in on Grand Theft Auto III and do a retrospective post. It's no secret that I love Grand Theft Auto, specifically the Liberty City games but I won't bother linking that, partly because I can't because I have just written too many GTA blogs all over the place. Instead you can have this funny promo of Roman from GTA IV.
What's interesting is how the game is set in the early 2000s and because the game feels so dated, being that it's only the third numbered game released in the series, it feels more authentic. It actually feels like 2001 simply because the gameplay is so outdated and this is "old liberty city" as I like to refer it, in all its watered down and pixilated glory. It's like an interesting coincidence. The new Grand Theft Auto Games (IV and V) feel and play modern and are set in modern times (2008 and 2013 respectively) and the old Grand Theft Auto Games (III, VC, SA, VCS, LCS) feel and play dated and are set at the very least a decade ago and stretching as far back as to the early 80's (Source: GTA Wiki). Of course this will entirely be ruined ten years from now when these modern games are no longer "modern" and GTA 10 comes out with the ability to rig your brain to make you steal a car in real life. Live for the midpoint.
Sadly I played through this game after Liberty City Stories, which comparatively has more "teeth". This notion extends to the cities of each game, being that they are the same setting and version of the city we can easily compare the two and when I do I find that LCS' city is built with much more to do, more detail overall and this is so for obvious reasons. It was released much later than GTA III I mean even Vice City feels more dated than LCS. Let's say you walk down a specific street in GTA III, well there's a good chance that walking down that same street in LCS is going to be more interesting let's say. Again the LCS Liberty City was just made with more detail. There's also this example of hidden packages that I picked up on. In LCS you collect packages and in increments get rewards. Ie. after you find your fifth hidden package (any, these are hidden all throughout the game world) you will always have a small pistol with a tiny bit of ammo spawn in your safehouse. Then after that maybe a better gun or body armor after five or ten more. You get the idea. Whereas in GTA III, this isn't the case at all. You simply collect hidden packages. Then again, you never actually go "inside" of your safehouse in III like you can in LCS. So again we see these limitations. But I still like to look at Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto Liberty City Stories as almost too similar games and things like with the hidden packages simply make me want to play the more recent game which has more things for me to do and take in details wise around the city.
Let's move a little on to Story. In GTA: III the game follows a silent protagonist, Claude eh... they obviously knew this was a bad choice for this type of game as since then every GTA protagonist has been rich, with lots of back-story and most importantly speaking. Well maybe not always but at least the speaking part is true. From what I've read up about this was DMA (the dev at the time) trying to create a character that "everyone can relate to" (not quoting any one source but this idea of relatable characters) and as such Claude's voice was silenced and any sort of character depth was done away with to make way for this blank slate type of protagonist. That really is a damn shame as it makes not only cut scenes but the story in general less interesting when you SEE the character all the time but he doesn't honestly take part in what's going on. Instead he just stands there and nods awkwardly. I like to think at some point he introduced himself to these people, otherwise they wouldn't be associating with him. Flawed as it may be I will give them a pass on this simply because it was the first 3D Grand Theft Auto game, there was still plenty of improvement to come as we saw not to mention it could've been some pre-determined aspect that came out of the origin of this franchise, with its silent protagonists that nod and accept/carry out missions in total silence. They didn't realize how much worse it was this way yet and that's fine.
Then I got up to the moment you know the one I'm talking about. It's the moment that pissed of many internet people, including one not to be named feminist who I will absolutely not name. You get to the end credits of the game and Maria, the character you just fought the equivalent of a small army to rescue, is talking. She's talking. And talking. And she keeps talking... so much that a gunshot is heard and the talking ceases for the rest of the credits. All of this of course happens off screen so we don't know what this is actually supposed to be but I think we can safely assume what is being suggested is that Claude killed Maria because she was being annoying and blah blah-ing too much. Well I'll tell you this pisses me off too except for a different reason. IT FUCKS WITH THE STORY.
Why would Claude kill her AFTER he just fought through heavy military vehicles, a rocket firing helicopter and about two dozen dudes who could empty his health in seconds? Which by the way I finished with like three health left. If she was so annoying that he'd have to kill her to save his sanity why would he even start this mission in the first place? Why not let his ex-girlfriend have her? Oh because he mostly wanted revenge against the ex-girlfriend for betraying him.. No that's nonsense because he could've just fired down the helicopter from a safe distance and be done with this mission. Or even ambushed her at the original tradeoff by the mansion. So he must've wanted to rescue Maria.
In retrospect, by killing her during the credits it makes me feel like the final mission has no purpose. I could've just stopped the game at the mission before and it would've been all the same. Not to mention what's been said before but you don't get the cool mansion at the end, I guess it wasn't a staple of GTA yet, instead the final safehouse is a crummy building in a bad neighborhood. The final mission in this game is bullcrap. Oh and one last thing that keeps me from getting why in the world Claude kills Maria during the credits. Why is it that only now she annoys him this bad, the character has been around since the first island of the game, that's roughly 2/3rds of the game at the very least, and it's not like she was any less talkative before. The worst part is that being that Claude is a silent protagonist he can't explain his dumb self for any of this, that quiet bastard.
All things considered, this game feels like the Grand Theft Auto "prototype". It set the framework of everything that was to come for this franchise and also broke a shit ton of ground (Seriously I was a kid when this game launched and remember how many feathers were ruffled) for itself and games in general. This means that it is quite hard to come back to Grand Theft Auto III, overall it feels insubstantial and as if plenty of what you would expect to be missing from this game. It feels insubstantial and like parts are missing because the game is fairly short, the radio stations aren't as interesting over all and there are far less songs on them, the city has fewer details, gameplay is clunkier and there is less for you to do, the protagonist is a shell of what a GTA lead character should be and that half-assed final mission.
But how could you possibly hate this game for any of that? It is the brilliant starting point and brave step forward for Grand Theft Auto the franchise to come. You need to put on your extra awareness glasses for the ride, so that you understand going in this game isn't a perfect game but for what it was when it originally launched it absolutely excelled perfection and you better believe that because if you do you can still have a great time playing it decades later. It's like watching the first movie in a trilogy that got especially better over time. How could you go back to that first one when the sequels are far superior? Again, you need to have the right mindset to enjoy it. I did this with Grand Theft Auto III and enjoyed myself for the most part. It didn't feel as fulfilling as a modern Grand Theft Auto or even game in general, and you can tell because I spent a lot of this blog with my grievances, but it was hearty and I enjoyed it quite a bit as I excused many of those things, well at least looking back. I was pretty angry about how that final mission turned out when I was playing it...
I feel compelled to keep writing, like there is still more for me to say about this game but I can't find those words right now. Maybe it is something symbolic for a post about Grand Theft Auto III to be lacking a content/cut off short. This retrospective blog post was written by me the reviewer but now it's going to end with Claude the silent. I have said my piece and am at peace about this game.