A Great Game Back in the Day, But It Has Aged
GTA3 was a pretty amazing game back during it release and added gas to the heated "video games are ruining children" debate that was started by games like the original Mortal Kombat. But it has not aged well and with all of the improvements to the open world genre, GTA3 is hard to play in 2011.
Gameplay: This is by far the least aspect of the game affected by age in my opinion (which is a good thing). If you have played a 3rd person shooter over the pass 10 years you should be familiar with the feel of this game and its structure. You go grab a mission (which is always sold to the silent protagonist as just a simple task that goes tits up quickly), you drive to the mission, something goes wrong (and it always does, this is the world of organized crime after all) and then you shoot your way out of the situation.
There are twist within the story that still work well today, but specifically speaking if you have played any of the GTA games before or after this they are easy to predict.The missions are varied, and considering the technology available at the time it actually is impressive what they are capable of allowing the player to do. You drive cars, boats, tanks, and you assassinate, sabotage, and escape from all sorts of interesting set-ups throughout the game. I will admit though that some improvements to the genre have left some rancid spots within the game. For example, you can not swim. If you fall into water at any point in any vehicle excluding boats you die, end of story. There are also no checkpoints, so if you oh I don't know, fall into water after running around for 15 minutes during a mission, you die, and you have to do it all over again. When I was 13, I wouldn't have cared if I lost 15 minutes of game time, but with the checkpoint systems in most games now, I find myself getting pissed if I loose more than 5 minutes of my time haha.
I recall while re-playing this game only a couple of weeks ago that I was on a mission where I had to pick up 5 packages from a flying plane while driving a boat. After following the plane for 3 minutes or so, the cops started chasing me, it took me awhile (felt like 10 minutes), but I lost them to give me enough time to try and dock and get away. I got close to the dock, exited the vehicle, and jumped toward the dock to get home free. I missed by about 1 virtual foot, and died in the water. I had to repeat it all over again. I got over that failure and did finish the game, but there was a moment where I questioned my want to continue the game, or just uninstall it. I imagine I was not the first to miss that jump, but it did take me a bit to convince myself to keep going.
Graphics: They are not bad by any means, but they are not good either. It is impossible to compare the graphics of today with graphics that are a decade old at this point. They look fine and as I get older, I should admit that I find graphics to be less and less important/impressive. I now care about the content and or the story of a game (both of which this game has) more-so than how shiny it is, so the fact that all of the characters bodies look like clay blocks should not bother most people looking to replay this game.
Story: This is another diamond within GTA3's now rough exterior that all people willing to replay this will enjoy. As with most open world 3rd person shooters now, all the missions that are taken within the game are accompanied by a fully voiced cut scene. The game still remains interesting and lively due to this, and the voice actors do a great job of convincing you that you are really rising through the ranks of the criminal world. If you are like me, this may be one of the only reasons you may want to replay a decade old game, and I’m glad to say that all of this story telling and voice acting still hold up perfectly.
Sound: As stated previously the voice acting is great, and coupled with the street noises and the comical radio stations the game holds up pretty well. I will mention that one aspect of the games sounds that does not hold up to well are the gun noises. It seems weird that I would comment on this, seeing as I have only fired a glock, but some of the gun sound bites that I didn’t really pay attention to as a kid, stick out like a sore thumb here. Not to go into too much detail but 2 main examples are the MAC-10 like submichine gun and the sniper rifle; the submachine gun sounds like and automatic paint ball gun (puh-puh-puh sounding) and the sniper rifle sounds oddly like a gust of air going through a long thin pipe. Some of you may be reading this and thinking “no it does not” but go and play the game again and you’ll hear what I hear for sure. Either way the voice acting within the story and radio stations carries the style of the game enough to ignore these minor things.
Overall: If you have never played this game and want to see where the begining of open world third person gaming started (a gamming history buff if you will...) then you should pick this up. Otherwise if your just wanted to relive your childhood, I would not recommend playing this game. Many of the improvements to the genre like checkpoints have made this game really feel dated and in some spots of the game downrite frustrating at times. But the voice acting is superb and that core gameplay of running and gunning down everything still feels solid enough to make the game ok even during the frustrating times.