The first venture into the world of Grand Theft Auto isn't exactly a dream run. Some innovation but too many problems.

User Rating: 7.3 | Grand Theft Auto PC
The first venture into the world of Grand Theft Auto had mixed reactions for me. On the one hand Rockstar North (then DMA Design) released a product that had a big element of innovation in a field that can only be called as experimentative gaming, while on the other, a host of problems greatly mars the experience. Hugely criticized by the media at the time of its release, the game was banned in quite a few nations. But, for those that did get a chance to play it, this game was something out of the ordinary. A game which would allow for insane rampages through a normal looking town and provide an eye view of the gang wars was something then quite unheard of. The basic story of the game is that you are rookie in the gang world, looking to get noticed by the “big fish” of the business. To do this you must prove that you are not such a nice-guy and have a lust for the bad and the ugly. And to get the attention you need points, gathered by performing small “jobs” in the beginning and tougher ones later on. There are also points for causing mayhem so you’re free to wreck the town but, these menial exercises offer very small rewards compared to the gang jobs. The more points you get, the more your reputation rises within the circle and you get the opportunity to expand your business by going to bigger towns with harder jobs. Some will have multiple parts while some will be timed, or better yet a combination of the two.

You take up missions initially through pay-phones and carry out the given instructions. The possibilities of carrying out these missions is indeed endless. With a great assortment of weapons and paths at your disposal, there is never a possibility of repetition. Even if you do the same mission twice, there will always be something unexpected to watch out for. You can choose to go the silent way and focus on completing objectives without attracting attention or if you prefer, go on all-out rampage killing everything in sight. This offers many surprises to keep you interested for a while.

Going against the law doesn’t mean you’re safe from it. The police will constantly be on your tail and you must avoid them to successfully complete your missions. But, since the whole world is corrupt, so are the police. Being locked up doesn’t really mean game over. If you do get caught, all that the police will do is take away your gun and additional bonuses gathered and let you loose on the streets. Sort of like a big rap on the knuckles. But, you cannot afford to get caught too many times. You only have certain number of lives available with you and if these run out, you need to start all over again. You can however replenish your quota of lives by collecting life-points scattered across the map. Progressing to the second level costs about one million points. The next limit will be around three million and as such will continue getting higher and higher. The only trouble here is that you cannot save between levels. So if a level has twenty missions, you will have to get through all of them in one go before you can get to the next level. This becomes very frustrating as the difficulty of the missions is constantly on the up. And playing 6-7 hours straight is not always possible. If the power goes out in between, you’re done for and will need to start the level all over again.

There is a great assortment of vehicles at your disposal. Any vehicle on the road can be stolen with just a push of the button. And the great part here is that vehicles are actually are different not only from the exterior, but also in their features. So a sports car will have better speed and acceleration but less durability and a truck will be slow on speed but highly durable. Cars also take up damage if hit against objects. This affects the performance of the car and some might even explode if damaged beyond a certain limit and will cost you a precious life point.

A new feature of this game is the perspective camera zooming. If you’re driving slowly the camera will be zoomed in and if you’re moving quickly the camera is zoomed out to give you a bigger view of the surroundings. Unfortunately, this feature is also plagued with problems. Sometimes the camera zooms out too fast and may sometime even get stuck at a particular zoom. The zoomed-in view isn’t exactly that great either as the view is a bit distorted at times.

The graphics department of the game can only be considered fair. The characters are a bit too small for easy handling. The movements of characters can be a bit hard to spot in the zoomed-out view. On the other hand, there is a lot of depth in the design of buildings, bridges, and the like. The cities are huge and there is a lot of activity on the screen with pedestrians going everywhere and running to save their lives when you’re on the rampage. The designing even gives a slight impression of the three-dimensional by appropriate zooming at places, though the game is basically a two-dimensional rendition only.

The sound department has been well-developed. The city is really alive with all the noises you would expect. You can hear cars revving up, honking as they go about, gunfire sounds realistic and so do the pedestrians going about their lives. The musical score of the game has been paid attention to. There’s a different music for different activities. Cars also have specific radio music on when you get into them. For example a sports car will have a funky radio station on while a truck will have something more along the country-music line. You can however change the radio stations so you need not fret if you do not like a specific music style. But, as is the problem with nearly all the game’s features, sound can start glitching mid-game.

Overall, the game had a lot to offer. But, the potential remains largely unused. Great innovative ideas are downsized by the frequent problems and errors. Higher quality graphics may have really made this an experience to be remembered. If you can look over the shortcomings of the game, there is a lot on offer and high-adrenaline action to be experienced.