Grand Theft Auto History Part Three
The Fame and Glory
Grand Theft Auto III brought huge success to the Rockstar Games with sales and popularity. It enabled the company to buy out the designer for the Grand Theft Auto series, DMA design and the set out to create a follow up to the game under the new name Rockstar North. The popularity of the game also brought in some celebrities to give voice to characters in the new game, such as Burt Reynolds. As I have previously stated, the developers immediately went to work on the follow up after the release of Grand Theft Auto III. They were testing the PlayStation 2 to its’ limits. Allegedly, they were testing this new game on the console which was at the same time heated with five or six hairdryers. They even put the console in the freezer for a weekend and tried to run game on it after that. With fame and glory comes big responsibility, especially since gamers were more informed and more tech-savvy. Which in turn means that they would have noticed anything that was done in a leisurely manner.
Sam Houser had the idea for the new game, which would be set in the 1980s America, and the whole team jumped on board behind him. Newly named Rockstar North was flown form Scotland to Miami to take pictures and they stayed in their own beach hotel. Sam also had an idea which he conveyed to the programmers. He wanted neon, as much as it is possible, to create the sleaze atmosphere of the decade. The end product was marvelous. Programmers upgraded the RenderWare engine to support more colors, especially the shiny, in-your-face bright colors. The whole project was breathing and living the galm decade. The team would watch Miami Vice or Scarface, just so that they could better recreate the feel and atmosphere for the game. They even brought the star of Miami Vice, Philip Michael Thomas, to give voice to one of more prominent characters in the game.
Most people did not anticipate another Grand Theft Auto game just a year after the Grand Theft Auto III was released. But the team did it, and the end product was astonishing.
Did you play Vice City?
Grand Theft Auto Vice City
Grand Theft Auto Vice City, or simply GTA Vice City, was released for Sony PlayStation 2 in 2002 and for Microsoft Windows and XBOX console in 2003. The game, just like its predecessor, was an instant hit with the critics and fans, winning numerous awards, even the best game award for 2002 despite its late release. Just a year after Grand Theft Auto III everyone was on Rockstars’ bandwagon.
The game itself was an architectural beauty. The setting was Vice City, fictionalized version of Miami, in the 1980s and it was brimming with life such as it was in that decade. Player would find their main character released from prison on his way for success in the aptly named city.
The story was even bigger and smoother than the Grand Theft Auto III one. The player controlled main character Tommy Vercetti who is voiced by Ray Liotta, of Goodfellas fame, in his rise to success. Namely, the game was full of celebrities, including the likes of Denis Hopper, Danny Trejo, Gar Busey and even the adult film actress Jena Jameson. The player still worked for various mafia bosses, but this time there were missions set in place to build the Vercetti empire. For the first time the story was the one of success and more elaborate endeavors of the main character. Scope of the game was bigger, as was the world. Map covered three islands lush in city life. There was even a whole golf course. Pink and neon was everywhere. Also, for the first time, players were able to use boats and aircrafts for transport. Including aircrafts was something that the programmers had to do elaborately. They changed the view and successfully made it as realistic as possible. The physics of the game were also improved. Cars were moving more realistically and so were the pedestrians. There was a wide variety of vehicles and they each had their own handling stats, with larger vehicles moving more sluggishly and lighter vehicles gave away the feeling of floating. Everything in this game was an improvement on Grand Theft Auto III.
That to say, Rockstar made some throwbacks to Grand Theft Auto III with certain characters appearing in this game, albeit younger, such as Phil Cassidy and Donald Love.
When you thought that series which were praised from the beginning for the sound effects and music could not do it better, they did it. Sound effects were more realistic and felt more “alive”. Musical score was fresh and in the style of the decade, as well as music on the nine radio stations. The radio stations even include a fictional hard rock band Love Fist. Variety of radio stations is great from hard rock/heavy metal V Rock, over Latin Espanitoso, to the talk radios as K Chat. Also, the pedestrian script was much larger than in the previous game. This all added to the realism of the game, as with sounds and music it felt like a living city in the 80’s. Voice acting was also more elaborate, including the main protagonist, who unlike Clause from previous game is not mute.
The game could not go without controversies because of its setting in the city of crime, violence, drugs and sex. There is a scene in the game where you are actually witnessing the creation of an adult film. The ESRB rating was Mature, but the fact was that game was sold to minors by the video game stores. Lawsuits also did not bypass Grand Theft Auto Vice City and just like the previous game they were nothing more but mere court expenses as nothing could be proven. Various real life misfortunate incidents and shootings were connected to the game, whit one case where the perpetrators even blamed the game for their actions. Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games plowed through this because they had to. The vision of Sam Houser was to create content in video games in the way content was created in movies. He wanted to make people stop viewing video games as a child toy. He had every right to do that, since gamers themselves matured and wanted content more appropriate for their age.
Little to say, Grand Theft Auto delivered the kind of content in demand. Even though the game would sometimes go over the top, it still was an enthralling experience, one which every gamer (including the writer of this article) remembers fondly. All in all, the critical and commercial success spurred on the developers to create another masterpiece.
Part Three – End
As the game was celebrated around the world, the hard working Rockstar Games and Rockstar North set out to create another video game in the Grand Theft Auto series. This one would be their biggest project up to date. The idea in the development was to shift the series to the west coast and revisit San Andreas from the first game. Only, this time it will not be just a city.
The sales of their previous video games enabled the team to pursue more changes and upgrades to the RenderWare game engine. This would be their masterpiece, and last main game to be set in the 3D universe. After this game, two more would be released in the 3D universe, an effective prequels to the Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City. The gaming world was about to be shocked by brilliance and controversy of Grand Theft Auto series once more.
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