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Grand Theft Auto History Part Two
Grand Theft Auto On PlayStation 2
That big black box mentioned in the previous part was PlayStation 2 console released by Sony in 2000. The performance of the console and the possibilities were a dream come true to most developers. The console was an instant hit riding on the wave of original Sony PlayStation popularity. One of the first games released for this console, a Japanese RPG titled Final Fantasy X, displayed the yet untapped power of the console with flashy and well animated characters and backgrounds.
Back at Rockstar Games and DMA they were preparing themselves for the jump to 3D. They were trying to reproduce the city from previous Grand Theft Auto games. Also, the possibilities of the new hardware sparked the desire of Sam Houser who hired his brother Dan to write a storyline for the new video game. He wanted to tell a story in this new game and he wanted it to be good. Gone were the days when you had to run around the city answering phones and doing random jobs for random mafia bosses. Cinematic experience was something that Sam wanted to incorporate into video games from the very moment he set foot into the video game industry. Now, with new possibilities his dreams were coming true.
Meanwhile, gamers around the world were growing up. They needed something more mature, more suitable to their personalities. Gone were the video games where you had to rescue a princess on a grueling quest. New titles like Devil May Cry or Metal Gear Solid were hits in the gaming industry and both games were produced for mature gamers. Video game world was changing and Rockstar Games team was about to unleash something new and enthralling on the unsuspecting gamers.
DMA Design was creating a whole new, breathing, living 3D world for the Grand Theft Auto series and little did they know just how much of an impact the game will have. Liberty City, an imaginary New York City, was the setting for the next game in the series.
Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto III, or simply abbreviated GTA III, was released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2, 2002 for the Windows PC and in 2003 for the new Microsoft XBOX video game console. The game was an instant hit and the bestseller for 2001. Critically well received, the game is considered today as a classic and an important video game industry landmark. Video games were never looked at in the same way after this release.
From the beginning the players knew they were up to something special. An animation cut-scene, one of many, introduced the players to the main plot of the video game. Claude, main protagonist, the anti-hero, was shot by his girlfriend whilst robbing a bank and now he is on his path for revenge. Simple, but yet immersive, storyline which was driven by cut-scenes immersed the player in the fate of the anti-hero, while still enabling them to do the missions their way and roam around the city.
After the introduction players were left to their own devices in a large-scale 3D Liberty City. The players could continue with the missions or explore the part of the city which was unlocked. After completing a part of the storyline the player would unlock the next part and so on. The scope of the game at the time was huge. It is easy to forget today what games were like before, as we have become used to large worlds and myriad of things to do. Grand Theft Auto was one of the first games to broaden those visions and usher gamers into a new era. The key of this video game was the freedom to do whatever you want and whenever you want to do it. Steal a car, go on a rampage in the city or just complete some of the mini-games. Mini-games were back. The player could earn money by driving a cab or drive an ambulance. Vigilante missions were also there if the player entered a police car.
The gameplay could be called a mix of driving and third person shooting games. Term for that now-a-days is sandbox video game. The controversy of this particular video game brought lawsuits to the door of Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games. Although most of the lawsuits failed, it still was a battle that needed to be won, as majority of people considered video games to be meant for children. Sex and violence was something that would follow Grand Theft Auto series through the years to come and the controversies piled up one after another.
It is hard to talk about this video game other than in superlatives. The soundtrack and the general sound s in the game were amazing, from blasting stereo in your car choosing one of nine radio stations, to the thud that your car makes when hitting an obstacle. Besides radio stations, the game includes its own score and numerous advertisements that appear on the radio stations. Stations varied from the opera-based Double Clef FM to the Flashback FM that played music from Scarface, a movie that will heavily influence the next video game in the series. Advertisements were a world on its’ own, as well as the radio talk station. Ads were intentionally a parody of real life modern, at the time that is, commercials.
Come to think of it, this video game, as all of them in the series, is a genuine satire of modern American society. You could call it a love letter from Britain to the United States. The whole team behind the Grand Theft Auto series grew up on the American pop culture. That to say, no wonder that their games hit certain spots, even the holy ones, concerning the US users.
Despite the almost accurate depiction of New York City there is no mention or anything that looks like or hints at the World Trade Center. Rockstar offices were just a few blocks from the place of the horrible incident and they insisted that there would not be anything that will even reminisce of it.
All in all, Grand Theft Auto III is a critically acclaimed video game that changed the industry forever. Critics heaped praise on it, as well as the gamers. It opened up the possibilities for the team behind it to even further develop and expand the series and the gameplay. After this game, DMA Design was bought by the Rockstar Games and got a new name: Rockstar North. With their special contract with Sony, the popularity of Grand Theft Auto III boosted the sales of the PlayStation 2 console, a console which up to this date is the best selling console in the world.
Part Two – End
Riding on the popularity of their first incarnation of the 3D Grand Theft Auto game, one would think that Rockstar Games would take it slow with the production of the follow up. But, one would be wrong, because the vision of Sam Houser and people at Rockstar was different. After GTA III was released, they set immediately to create a new game. The RenderWare game engine that Rockstar games bought for Grand Theft Auto III was open to edits and upgrades and the new Rockstar North set to upgrade and improve it for the next game.
Sam Houser had a new setting and story in his mind. America in the 1980’s. A decade of glam and sleaze. Inspired by the acclaimed movie Scarface and the music that these Brits listened to in their youth, the next installment of Grand Theft Auto was to hit shelves just a year after the GTA III.
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