I enjoyed the movie, "The Godfather", because, not only did it have a compelling story behind it; it also had heavy action to back the story up. Rockstar's GTA3 is no different. I've been waiting so long for this game, and have been so excited about its release! Now I can tell our readers, I'm not disappointed at all. In fact, I think that many people will be talking about this game years from now, as a pioneer of games to come.

In GTA3, you interact with the game by playing a character, but you never learn his name. (Though I did hear a cab-driver call him things like "moron", "retard", and a few other names that I can't really say here.) He looks similar to Carson Daily of MTV, I think, but there's not a lot else to say about him, because he doesn't talk much throughout the entire game. Strangely enough, that doesn't even matter. The plot begins as you and some buds go out one night to rob a bank. Your girlfriend double-crosses you, so you get busted by the cops. You manage to escape custody with a few good men, and you're off to Liberty City! The basic idea of the whole game is to get a job from local gangs, like the mafia style Leones, the Spanish-accented Colombian Cartel, the Jamaican Yardies, and many more. Each gang has its own style of missions, looks, cars, etc. And a different plot unfolds as you do each mission. They have nice cut scenes before each mission to brief you on what to do, and show the personality of the gang leader you are working for. And many of the missions involve cars, which you ultimately must steal.

For anyone who has ever played the previous GTA games, you should know that graphics weren't the games' strongest points. But Rockstar took full advantage of the sheer power that the PS2 had to offer, and used it to make a visual masterpiece. GTA3 has a somewhat cartoony look, but intermixes it with a more realistic approach, making it very cool, visually.Though sometimes characters may look a tad bit blocky, it's absolutely no problem and you will grow to love the way they look. What GTA3 has that blows the doors off other PS2 titles available, is the lighting and weather effects. I haven't seen better. GTA3 runs on a clock, so when day turns to night, the street lights come on, making pretty reflections, and lighting effects set different tones throughout the city. There is sometimes rain, fog, and other neat effects. Rain looks good and makes roads slick, fog seems real and makes things difficult to see (be careful when driving in this!). So as you can see, there was a lot of attention put into the graphics of this title, and it does a mighty fine job.

Rockstar doesn't call itself by that title for nothing. The music truly does ROCK! When listening to the radio, you will hear rap, rock, techno, classical, country, and many other styles and each song is top notch, making it really feel like you're listening to a radio station. The voice acting is also a treat. GTA3 features special voices, and quite a few famous actors. From the Mafia's Sicilian accent, to the Diablos south-of-the-border tone, it alls sounds top notch. The talk shows are also funny as hell! The sound effects aren't to be ignored either. Everything sounds very real and the effects come right at you. Very groovy sounds, Rockstar!

Control is also not to be over-looked. Each car you jack has it's very own type of handling, speed, etc., and, though each one may be drastically different from another vehicle, it doesn't take long to get the hang of it. "Moron" is also very smooth to control, whether you're running with him, walking, jumping, etc.The only gripe I have is aiming with guns. Though fighting hand-to-hand and with the baseball bat is easy, aiming guns can be a little tricky. ThankfullyGTA3 includes an auto-aim feature where "moron" locks onto the most dangerous enemy. However, that doesn't solve the problems of drive-bys, another new feature to this latest installment. In drive-by shootings, you must have an uzi, and can only shoot using a side view, which makes you blind to where you're driving, and you can't lock on to people, so you pretty much end upcrashing and hurting your vehicle more than those poor people you shoot.

Depending on what you make of the game, GTA3 can be very mission-based. And the missions are not disappointing. Each gang has its own style of missions. For instance, the Diablos are more into the wild life of racing, whereas the Leones are into the more serious and dirty work. Missions range from picking up certain town-folk or setting off a bomb at a certain location, to having all out gang wars. Each mission is unique and different in its own way, and I haven't found one I was really disappointed in. Though some may be a little tricky or tedious, usually, after a few tries, you'll figure out how to beat it and go on. One of the neat things is you can do missions many different ways. Sometimes the bosses may tell you one thing, but it's not always the best way to complete it. And at the end of each mission, of course, you get your share of dough, and you get a higher criminal status in your not-so-friendly neighborhood.

What makes GTA3 shine out, is the replay value. Rockstar has made almost everything in the environment interactive. You can choose to make this title very linear, or non-linear. For instance, when you steal a cop car, taxi, ambulance, or fire-truck, you are able to do "good" missions with them. When in the taxi, you are able to do a "Crazy Taxi" style mode, where you pick up bystanders, and drop them off. You can hunt down baddies in the police car, put out fires in the fire-trucks, and rescue the injured in the ambulance. And by doing these missions, you get hefty salaries and unlock a few secrets. There are many secrets in this title, but I don't want to spoil anything right now. All I'm saying is, if you can dream it, you can pretty much do it here.

With almost unlimited possibilities, a winning story, funny moments (even if a little dark or mature), easy on the eyes graphics, and a kickin' soundtrack, how can anyone argue with this title? It stands tall among the great legends, like Metal Gear Solid, and the Final Fantasy series, if not higher! In fact, I wouldn't at all be surprised if this is the game of the year! Behold! Rockstar has brought an end to your waiting for the game of all games! Grand Theft Auto 3 is it's name, and jacking cars is it's game! And it's one of the best games there is.

System: PS2
Dev: DMA Design
Pub: Rockstar
Release: Oct 2001
Players: 1
Preview by Zechxis