Grand Theft Auto launched to outrage from concerned parents and sceptics on the PC back in 1997 - now the PS2 versions here, in glorious 3D, but it doesn't seem to have made the nanny state worriers bat an eyelid.
The first thing that you'll notice is that Liberty City has been transformed in to full 3D, and it looks absolutely amazing. GTA in 3D was something that we always wanted to see and never thought would really be possible, but it works brilliantly and really brings the city to life, with people walking about, rubbish and papers blowing in the wind, and a totally immersive atmosphere which makes you feel like you're really in the game, and not just playing it.
Adding to the atmosphere of the game, you've got the in car radio, which gives you a choice of nine very varied stations, including a Talk station called Chatterbox which has over an hour of debate, guests and phone in chat before it even starts to repeat itself. There's also various music stations including LIPS 106 which is a commercial pop station, Flashback FM with it's 80's style music, and Head Radio which is packed full of cliched pop. Each station also has spoof adverts, for products such as Pogo the Monkey, PetsOvernight.com, and Maibatsu Monstrosity 'the SUV every soccer mom is driving'.
So once you've got over the fact that GTA3's brought to life with the 3D environments and excellent in-car radio, what of the gameplay? Well, luckily it's very good, as there's everything that was in previous versions of the game, just it's much more fun as you're really living the life of the character. The gameplay teaches you how to play as you progress following a pre-defined path, which you can vary from at any time, so if you don't want to immediately do a mission but explore the city instead then this is possible.
There's over 50 different styles of vehicles to take a fancy to, ranging from modest family cars to sports cars, taxis to delivery vans, ambulances and fire engines. You're also able to take the metro system around the city, or venture down to Liberty City river for some speedboat action.
As the game progresses you're introduced to more areas of the city, more characters and generally harder gameplay which involves some real thought and quick reactions. At first we found the gun shooting quite tricky, dieing on just about every occasion, and the police officers seem to have the world best shot, but once you master the control of the gun, you'll soon become somewhat of a pro gangster.
GTA3 Could have done with some form of multiplayer, which after all is what made the PC version of the game so playable, and made you come back for more - an online version of the game in a few years time could be the ideal answer to all your GTA needs, and with broadband happy Xbox it's a very real prospect.
Overall a great game which is quite possibly one of the best we've seen so far on the PlayStation 2. The only downside is that action becomes quite repetitive, but there's so many plus points to the game including the lucious 3D, the 5 hours of radio stations, and the top quality presentation, making Grand Theft Auto 3 a must-have title.Overall score: 9 out of 10
Publisher: Take 2
Recommended Price: £39.99
BBFC Rating: 18 years of age
Available: NowBuy Grand Theft Auto 3 for the PS2 from Amazon