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Grand Theft Auto III
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Every kid clamors for their mother to get them the lastest Grand Theft Auto game.  Or so it seems.  Every new entry in the series offers more to do and better graphics than the last, but it was number three that apparently revolutionized the series by bringing the franchise out of the top down 2D world and into a vibrant 3D world with better graphics and by offering up the freedom to do almost anything with the trademark "sandbox style play".  Numbers one and two were apparently terrible games but number three is somehow great?  I'm probably going to get plenty of hate mail for saying this, but I don't see the difference.  Grand Theft Auto III is still a terrible game.
 
I'm not one to say that a game like this shouldn't even be made and shouldn't be played by responsible adults.  So let's ignore any moral implications of a game where you can bludgeon normal citizens to death to steal their money, where you can pluck up almost any car on the street without reprisals, and where everytime you get busted by the cops or wasted by gang members you reappear in front of the hospital or police station with full health.  Let's concentrate on the technical aspects of the game.
 
It baffles me how such a sloppy game can consistently score high grades with critics and players alike.  Let's start with the controls.  Grand Theft Auto III does have a way to lock onto targets, but the camera often doesn't cooperate.  It's not unusual to target an enemy and try to move around during a gun fight and lose sight of the enemy as the camera swings around.  Also, there doesn't seem to be any way to switch between targets and you can forget about dodging.  And for all its bragging, the so-called "sandbox style" doesn't impress me.  Grand Theft Auto III does offer up a lot to do in the form of missions and just general mayhem.  Missions you can obtain by going up to one of your many bosses or by picking  up a ringing telephone, and you can  do these missions whenever you feel like and in whatever order you wish.  This is a nice touch, but I found it impossible to connect with a character who was a such a cliched poster boy for the typical mafia thug.  It felt like there was absolutely story in the game, and it didn't take long for me to feel more like an errand boy and less like a character in a game.  There are some nice mini games you can play if you pick up specialized vehicles, like putting out fires if you steal a fire truck.  But it didn't take long for me to get sick up beating up random people, blowing up cars, and committing random, useless violence.  A map would've also been nice.
 
Graphically, this game is sound.  No complaints there.  But it's the audio where this game is great(probably the ONLY place where this game is great).  Every time you get into a new car, you're treated to a fake radio station with fake "music" that matches the tastes of the car's previous owner.  In all other areas, though, I'm not impressed, and that's ignoring all the controversy about morals the politicians like to stir up.  For people that like violence, there are plenty of better games that offer up more bang for your buck out there.  For people that like freedom and open-endedness, there are superior games out there that offer up nonlinear gameplay that feel more coherent and meaningful.  But apparently the entire world of video game critics and players gives games like this 9s and As, so what's the worth of my against the grain opinion?  I payed only $10 for this drivel, and I'm still not satisfied.  Chalk this one up on my list of most overrated games ever.
 
Grade: Flawed

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