Grand Theft Auto puts you in the role of a small-time criminal who is looking for a way to make a name for himself in the crime business. The quickest way to do so is by getting on the good side of the local crime boss by jacking cars, running drugs, and the ever-popular contract killing. In one of the game's most notable missions, you pick up a big rig loaded with explosives. Your task is to drive the rig into the police station, get out, and get away before taking out the pigs where they live.
There are over 200 different missions like these, taking place in three different cities. Each city is filled with cars and pedestrians. There is a total of 20 unique types of vehicles ranging from buses to sports cars, each of which accelerates and handles differently. Which, of course, is something to keep in mind when looking for a car to steal. When the police are coming after you, you may want a fast sports car to outrun them with, or you might want to choose a heavier, more durable car to ram through roadblocks with. If you're armed with weapons and a strong disrespect for authority, you might just want to take that Body Count song to heart and become a cop killer. There are four different weapons you can get a hold of: a pistol, machine gun, flamethrower, and the mighty rocket launcher.
All of this onscreen terror is from a top-down view that zooms out as your car speeds up to give you a higher vantage point, allowing you to see traffic and turns further ahead. The camera view zooms in when you slow down or are on foot so you can see all of the carnage up close. The graphics overall are simple but effective - little cars and little people. This simplicity seems to take some of the edge off the harshness of the situations you get yourself into. The view combined with the graphics of Grand Theft Auto give it a similar look and feel to Atari's classic arcade game A.P.B.
And although the graphics may look a little plain, the sound effects and music of Grand Theft Auto are anything but. For instance, each time you rip someone out of his car and take it for a little test-drive, you hear the radio station he was listening to. A pickup truck will have the country station tuned in while a muscle car might have a hard rock station blaring, and in between songs you sometimes hear the radio DJs give call letters, news, and weather. The sound effects in Grand Theft Auto are just as comical and realistic. For instance, when you block traffic, the cars behind you honk. The cops use their sirens when necessary, and pedestrians on the street shout obscenities when you nearly run them over, of course making you take the time to back up and do it right the second time.
The control scheme in GTA is needlessly cryptic. The D-pad controls the direction you're facing, while the X button makes you move forward, and the triangle button makes you move backwards. The circle fires your gun, and the square button makes you hop in and out of cars. Although the control is hard to get used to at first, once you do you'll be zipping back and forth across town with ease. The only other noticeable problem some will have with the game is getting lost. The three cities have a combined total of over 6,000 miles of roads, alleyways, and dead ends. To help you navigate through the vast urban environment, a little yellow arrow points in the direction you're supposed to be headed. The only problem with this is that sometimes the arrow will point in a direction that you can't go because a river blocks your path. So you end up going in the opposite direction that your guide arrow points, to find a bridge or another way around. But after a while you get a sense of the city and kind of know where things are and aren't driving down dead ends as much.
The real payoff of Grand Theft Auto is the freedom it allows. With most games you can only go where the game tells you to go when you're told to. In GTA you can go anywhere in the city, take any car on the street, at anytime. The only two things you really have to watch out for are getting killed or arrested. The true joy of GTA is the giddy feeling you get when you decide for no apparent reason to start launching rockets, blowing up cars, setting people on fire, and then, just over the screams you hear the sounds of approaching police sirens. Then you're forced to decide. Will you jack a car and get out of Dodge, or will you man up and stick it to 5-0 with your gat? That's what the game is all about, having that overwhelming feeling of slightly giddy doom when the police start to close in, and leaving the scene unscathed in a shiny new police car. But in all seriousness, Grand Theft Auto is the most violent piece of gaming on the PlayStation yet. Some will find the language and concept of the game to be outrageously humorous, while others will just find it atrocious. If you are a fan of R-rated action movies, then nothing in this game will shock or damage you. However, if you are a parent looking for a game for your 10-year-old, you may want to skip this one. I, however, loved the game and would recommend it to anyone who doesn't have any problems with violence or adult language.