It’s come to this, the most controversial game series of all time, Grand Theft Auto, and it’s a series I have difficulty talking about properly it’s that big, but I could start from the beginning, I was actually going to start with the third game but I gave the first one at least one more chance and I’ve played enough to warrant a proper review. Now, Grand Theft Auto, developed by DMA Design and published by BMG Interactive and was released in October 1997.
So how did this game come into fruition? Well it actually started out as Race’n’Chase and as you can see in the image above, this was a mock-up of what could have been, close to the final product. During the development, the title changed to Grand Theft Auto, the design changed and many people tried to stop the development of the game, but DMA Design knew how to convince them to continue making the game. However, the uber-violent game wasn’t so violent in the beginning; according to the Race’n’Chase documents the game was “to produce a fun, addictive and fast multi-player car racing and crashing game which uses a novel graphics method”, how things have changed. But in order to make sure they see success, they immediately made some controversy with the help of publicist Max Clifford…and knowing that he’s a registered sex offender, this adds another footnote to the list of GTA controversies.
Now for a game like GTA, you’d expect a story…but NOPE! There is no story. You play as either one of eight characters: Travis, Troy, Bubba, Kivlov, Ulrika, Katie, Divine, and Mikki; that’s four males and 4 females…WAIT A MINUTE, you can play as a female? So this is the first and only title so far in which you can play as a proper female protagonist…well you could if you played the original DOS game, otherwise, the PS1 port only has the male characters…because 32-bit console limitations. The objective is to simply do various missions for various people, mostly crimes is all. It’s made up of a number of levels and each of them set in three main cities, including Liberty City, based in New York; Vice City, based in Miami; and San Andreas, based in parts of California and Nevada; funny how all these cities would eventually get their own games later. You must reach a certain amount of points and you collect points based on the amount of missions you’ve successfully completed, failing to do missions correctly gives a little points and you’re unable to do more missions. When completing missions increases your multiplier points and increases the points when doing tasks.
But like in later series you can get killed or arrested by the Police, though you can get the one hit death unlike the later series. The main meat of the game is freedom, you can steal cars, kill pedestrians, gun down everybody and you can blow up stuff, including a school bus full of children…aaaaaaaaaaand you could never get away with that nowadays. The game is not in 3D yet…sort of; the game is in a birds-eye view, but still open world nevertheless, the buildings have a 3D perspective, otherwise, it’s mostly 2D.
So how does the game play? Very awkwardly, the controls aren’t that very good, I can never handle the car properly, I keep bumping into cars and all sorts and it takes so much time to scrape off a car, controlling your character is awkward, combat is awkward to play, the whole game is awkward to play and it’s not because I’ve played the future games, Chinatown Wars was similar and was a good game, maybe it was one of those games that were probably good then but is horribly dated, heck, the graphics were very dated even in 1997.
Overall, game is awkward and very dated. The essence that would set the trand of GTA is here and accounted for and I really appreciate it, but the gameplay leaves nothing special to the eyes, It’s one of the games that got forgotten by many GTA fans, possibly due to GTA 3. There was an expansion pack titled Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969, along with a third free one Grand Theft Auto: London, 1961. It’s basically the original game but set in London in the groovy 60’s.
But I do appreciate one thing about the game and the series in general; the series was made…in Scotland, which is part of the UK and thus is a Scottish game, and it’s made billions in cash over the years, now that’s something to put a smile on an Englishman’s face.
You can get it on MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation and the Game Boy Color.