I was a sophomore in college and heard about GTA3 through some online stuff, there wasn't much hype about the game but the open world looked awesome. I distinctly remember 1 gameplay video and nothing else it was very mysterious. I didn't have any money so I actually traded in my Dreamcast to get enough money to get GTA3 and wow! I was so blown away by the game and within a couple of hours my dorm room was filled with people taking turns just fucking with the cops trying to get as many stars as possible. This ensued for weeks, it was amazing to see the complete randomness of a game and finding new stuff, tricks, jumps, etc.
Sorry if this was posted I searched and couldn't find. That badass figure on the front page reminded me of how much this game brought back the passion of gaming in general to me after what seemed like a dry spell.