A timeless classic that everyone should play.
Before story, before character development and surely before over paid voice actors we had the original Grand Theft Auto. A game so intense and full of so much just bad stuff it had a parental advisory warning label on the cover. This game is without a doubt a total classic and in my opinion not the best Grand Theft Auto title but one of the best Grand Theft Auto titles.
Game Play: 5
Before the days of the current Grand Theft Auto titles that are played in a third person perspective the original one is played through a top down camera angle. This actually works out quite well since it lets you see everything in front, back and on both sides thus giving you time to stratagize your next move. However as freeing as I'm making the camera sound you may be wondering "If the camera is top down and not behind the back doesn't that make you vulnerable to things you can't see that are too far in front of you?" Even if you were thinking that there's no need to worry since the camera backs out far enough to give you enough time to swerve or just move out of the way. So the camera system works quite well.
You cant talk about Grand Theft Auto without talking about the game play so I'll talk about that first. As most of you know Grand Theft Auto is a free roaming game in which you can do what you want when you want. Now this makes the backbone of the game totally non-linear. When I say backbone I mean there were a lot of games back when this game originally came out that were pretty similar. Meaning you were a bad guy doing bad stuff, not naming what that bad stuff was but just bad stuff all together. So in Grand Theft Auto you play as one of eight people, who are in turn just people for hire to do someones dirty work (a.k.a. a bad mofo) So already its similar to the other games I was talking about where you just do bad stuff but since Grand Theft Auto is a free roaming game you can finish the challenges, or in this case missions any way you like. So if you want to take the train to the destination you can, or in turn if you want to steal the train and take it to your destination you can. And don't think that your limited to what you can use as options for getting you from point A to point B. Although there are not an unlimited amount vehicles you can use there are literally dozens of different things you can use to get around the different cities. Anything from cars all the way to tanks you can steal and use in anyway you like to finish that mission or just to fool around and cause chaos around the city.
Seeing how Grand Theft Auto is a game where you play as a hired gun there are surprisingly not that many different guns or just weapons in general to choose from to do your bidding. Your actually given the sort of stock weapons that are in every game so you get a pistol, a machine gun, a rocket launcher, a flamethrower and your trusty fists. Now not every game has a flamethrower but most games have that standout weapon so Grand Theft Auto just follows that formula for games with guns in them pretty close. That's not to say that the weapons don't do their jobs correctly or efficiently because they do, so lets say that you have to do a mission that requires you to kill some guy. Well your not going to want to use your machine gun and waste ammo, or use your rocket launcher that could be used to blow up something bigger. So you would use your pistol or flamethrower because their made more for that particular action. Of course you wouldn't have to use that combination that I just said because Grand Theft Auto is like I said before a free roaming and open game and you can do what you want.
As you may have already noticed from either me just saying or you already knowing but since this is Grand Theft Auto pretty much everything your going to be doing involves killing, stealing or a combination of the two. That may sound boring on paper but a great part of this game is in how your presented with each task. So you may do one mission where you have to steal someones car because they owe your boss money or something, and then in the next mission you have to do the same thing but the reason your given is different. Its things like this that don't ever make the game feel dull or boring. Also the fact that since its a game where you can complete things the way you want it'll never get old. You can complete the game only doing missions or if you feel like it go on a killing spree and just blowing up everything in site and then doing a mission when you have the cops chasing you down and trying to stop you cat every turn.
One last thing I want to talk about when it comes to game play is that Grand Theft Auto for the PC actually offers online play just the rest of the top down games on PC. Now I can't actually tell you much about it since I haven't been able to try it out for myself but from what I understand its just deathmatch and this thing called cannonball. I don't know what cannonball is but there are three of them which means that they offer you a total of four different types of multiplayer games so you and your friends can try and kill each other. Its nothing spectacular but then again they didn't have to add any of that multiplayer stuff in there. Especially at the time when this game originally came out since online gaming wasn't as big as it was today. Its things like these that make this game get a 5 in game play, its completely open and even after you beat the all of the levels that doesn't mean the game is over because you can still replay the same levels and do what ever you want thus creating infinite replayability.
Believe it or not kiddies but back in the day before the days of Grand Theft Auto III the Grand Theft Auto games had no main story. Because of this I can't add a score to the story portion of the game since there is none and the game was meant to be played without one so it wouldn't be right to add this to the final score. However there are these little cut-scenes that play at the end of each of the two levels per city. They explain an event that just happened in the level you just played. But none of these little cut-scene stories are intertwined between each city. So you'll play the first two levels in Liberty City watch the two cut for the two levels and go on the San Andreas levels. You'll then beat the first level, watch the cut-scene and say "What the f*&^ just happened?". So again since the game has no main story or even side story I can't give the story portion of this review a score since the game was made without one.
One thing I'll say about this game is that it has very dated graphics, now and even back when it first hit store shelves. It does however have one saving grace when it comes to the graphics, and that is how it perfectly mixes 2D and 3D graphics. Everything that you see on the ground in Grand Theft Auto is nothing more then a 2D sprite, and a low resolution looking sprite too if I may add. However all of the buildings in the game are full 3D blocks (whoa!).
The low resolution sprites start to pose as a problem when you star to realize that there are no women walking the three different cities only men. Even when you pick one of four different women characters at the character select screen and you get in game you'll be baffled to find out that they look identical to their male counterpart. I don't particularly blame this on the low resolution sprites but rather the developers just being lazy and not adding longer hair and maybe slimming down the pants. You may also have a hard time telling what weapon you have equipped due to the low resolution graphics. Yes there is a weapon selector icon that shows you what weapon you have out but sometimes when your playing the game and your in this big battle with the police you don't have time to look at it. So when your surrounded by cops and you think you have your machine gun out to take them all down when in reality you only have your pistol out its going to cause some problems, but nothing to serious. The one thing that the low resolution character models and cars do is make the 3D building just seem that much more amazing. When I say amazing I don't mean that it makes them seem like some extreme photo realistic building with intense lighting and shadowing because I don't. What I mean is since the cars, characters and every thing else that's a 2D sprite is of such low resolution it makes the buildings just seems larger and more immense like your actually walking around and causing all of this chaos in realistically sized cities, and that's pretty cool.
One thing that's just great about the graphics in this game is that how it uses such vibrant and outstanding colors to grab your attention. For example the main character in the game is always wearing a yellow shirt and blue pants, two colors that your able to keep your eyes on the entire time your playing. This use of bright and outstanding colors is a great thing especially when you compare them to games today that use a lot of darker colors that start to mess with certain peoples eyes after long periods of time. So in the end the graphics get a 3.5 the low resolution sprites really cause the score to balance the score out by negative aspects but at the same time those negative aspects cause the better ones to be even greater.
You can't have a good game without good controls you just can't. Luckily Grand Theft Auto doesn't have a problem with its controls since their really quite simple and easy to get used to. The games default control system is perfect for this type of game (run and gun). Although the controls are completely customizable I didn't find the need to change anything since the controls are perfect right from the start. Not counting the directional pad on your keyboard the only keys used to play the game are the space bar to jump over cars/slide underneath trucks and other big vehicles, or to use as an emergency break in your car. Control to shoot or punch and tab to honk your horn when your in your car, or if your on foot pushing tab makes your character fart or burp...awesome! The game can also be played with a SideWinder game pad so if your used to playing it on a Playstation this will be a welcoming feature.
There is one problem that I have with the overall control in Grand Theft Auto that effects both people who play the game with the standard keyboard or SideWinder game pad. This problem that I'm talking about is that with all of these unused keys on a keyboard or the unused buttons on your game pad they didn't add a lock-on system to make killing or rather attacking your target easier. You'll find that since your playing this game from a top down perspective turning left and right will be a little awkward and will take some getting used to. During that time of getting to it your going to end you firing dozens of rounds from your pistol or machine gun trying to take down one person because their constantly running away from you, turning and what not. Thus trying to shoot someone because more of a hassle then it really should be. Like I said before it just takes a little getting used to before your taking down people left and right which in the end makes playing the game more enjoyable. In the end the game has great controls. Not perfect by any means but great so the game gets a 4 for control.
People have always know the Grand Theft Auto series for having good music and some great sound effects. Grand Theft Auto is no exception. Although the sound effects are not as realistic as lets say Grand Theft Auto IV's, but they don't need to be since the original relied more on comedy then realism. So when run over some poor person you won't hear their body smash up against the front of the car and then tumble over while your running them over. Instead you just hear a pleasant but funny splat noise. Although there are not that many different sound effects for crushing people the ones that are there are great. I'm not trying to focus my review on the sound effects of running someone over but I'm just giving you an example on how the game makes great use of what it has, and that is simplicity. That simplicity can also be found when firing a gun even though there's only four weapons not including your fists to shoot they all only have one sound effect when fired. Again its a satisfying but simple sound effect because they make the firing of a machine gun seem like your actually firing off a machine gun, or rocket launcher or what ever it is your shooting.
Radio stations also play a fairly large role in this game as they did in all of the future games too. In Grand Theft Auto the way it works is like this every car you get it into is tuned to a different radio station, but you can't change the radio station to another one if you don't like it. I personally didn't mind this at all because it gave the cars some personality when you driving it trying to escape from the cops. Some people are going to be dissatisfied to find out that you can't change the station but again it makes the individual cars seem like there different and don't just have a different skin over them. There are also a bunch of littler things around the different cities that you'll hear and enjoy.
Like I said before if your on foot and you push the Tab button your character will either fart or burp which makes the game even more humorous and fun. There's also the every loving citizens of Liberty City, San Andreas, and Vice City to greet you by calling you names and swearing at you while you brush up against them. My point is, is that there is a lot little different things to hear around the cities that will give you an extra chuckle on top of all the other stuff in the game. In the end I give the audio portion of this review a 4.5, the game has a lot to offer in the sound department but because of the lack of ability to change the radio station it didn't get a perfect.
Grand Theft Auto is a great and well rounded game. It has a lot of action, humor and adult material to keep you occupied to for hours upon hours of completely enjoyable game play. If your reading this review as the standalone version and not part of the Grand Theft Auto: The Classics Collection review then I would have to say go get this game! Especially since its entirely free for download off Rockstar's website. Even if it wasn't free I would say go and get it but the fact that its free now means that you have no excuse to pass this great game up.