E3 2001 Hands-on: Grand Theft Auto 3

GTA3 brings the excitement of freestyle crime to a polygonal world, and the results are impressive.


The build of Grand Theft Auto 3 being shown here at E3 has come a long way since we last played it. The police response is now active, so mowing down a crowd of people with your assault rifle will now result in an organized response from the law. The first response will usually be one officer in a car. But if you smoke him, the police response meter goes even higher, and more cops start pouring in. The police aren't always on foot, either--a police helicopter will tail you, shining light on you and spotting for the ground forces. A well-aimed bazooka shot will take care of the chopper, sending it crashing to the ground.

While GTA and GTA2 managed to distance itself from the non-stop violence by having an almost cartoonish 2D look to it, GTA3 is very in-your-face. There's just something totally wrong--and absolutely hilarious--about beating an old woman with a baseball bat only to have her get up and start throwing punches at you. The game will also contain tons of missions. Some advance the storyline, while others are only available when you're rolling in a certain vehicle. Stealing a taxi lets you pick up customers and taken them places for cash. Jacking a squad car gives you a set of police missions, while hotwiring a firetruck lets you go put out fires.

The game has some decent control, using a Syphon Filter-like auto-aim function to handle shooting objects while moving in a different direction. However, since the game now has a behind-the-back perspective, it's a little too easy for cops to sneak up behind you and apprehend you before you know what hit you. Also, the current build of the game runs smoothly when you're on foot, but the driving portion of the game gets a little sluggish at times, particularly when the cops are on your tail, causing their red and blue lights to reflect off of the ground.

GTA3 has definitely been one of our favorite games here at the show. It is currently scheduled to hit shelves in October.

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