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Rockstar North



M (Mature)



November 2003



- The controversial games hits the Xbox
- Looks great
- Easy control
- Challenging missions
- Short load times
- It’s a 2-for-1 deal!



- Screwing up on a mission means a long re-do
- Saving your game is laborious



Review: Grand Theft Auto III (PS2)

Review: Grand Theft Auto III (PC)

Review: Grand Theft Auto Vice City (PS2)

Review: Grand Theft Auto Vice City (PC)



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Grand Theft Auto Double-Pack

Score: 9.5 / 10


grand theft auto double-pack          grand theft auto double pack


Even none-gamers have heard of Grand Theft Auto (GTA). In most media reports, it’s usually in mentioned in the same breath as “the game direct from Satan’s cubicle in the 10th level of Hell” and “the reason America’s youth is going down the toilet.” GTAIII has been grabbing headlines on a regular basis since its release on the Playstation 2 a couple of years ago, but you can expect another wave of notoriety as GTAIII and its “sequel” GTA Vice City debut on Xbox – a 2-for-1 package that is sure to be a hot seller among Xbox owners.

In both games you assume the role of Tommy Vercetti – albeit in two different eras and locations. While in Vice City (circa. the '80s), you’re Tommy in a bad Hawaiian print, sporting a pointy moustache, and armed with a variety of firearms to deliver justice – justice in the sense of “gangland bloodletting.” In both games, Tommy’s objectives don’t stray far from gangland hits and driving getaway cars. Yes, you can




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plough through pedestrians with your ‘jacked ride and shoot indiscriminately at cars and passers-by, but that’s never where the action is concentrated. As part of the mafia, it’s your job to get in, get out, and get away without drawing a lot of attention to yourself. Performing “obvious” criminal acts, like beating up innocent people, will get the police, FBI and, ultimately, the Army hot on your tail.

Each mission you take on


has a goal. How you complete that goal is completely up to you. Neither game has the open-endedness of, say, Morrowind since the objectives are doled out in a linear fashion (for the most part) but how you get from point A to point B is entirely up to you -- no designer "telling" you which way is the right way. This makes it almost necessary for you to become intimate with the layout of both cities so you know where the shortcuts and hiding places are.

The objectives range from simple to a test of your dexterity and patience, but they usually involve some kind of nefarious behavior.

It should go without saying, if you have a strong moral and/or religious center, stay away from these games! Even then, you’d probably enjoy bombing around both Vice and Liberty City (circa. 1990s) in a wide variety of sports cars, trucks, and emergency and commercial vehicles. Vice City has more vehicles at your disposal (including boats), but you’ll still spend a lot of time on-foot. In fact, walking and running – being active – is encouraged. (Score one for GTA!) The more you make Tommy run, the longer he can do so – perfect for those times when you need to sprint from a bad situation, like when your car is about to explode. Conversely, you can use your super-fitness to catch the cars you want to ‘jack.

Each game gets a bit of a graphical upgrade over the originals – I know the movement of individual fingers will blow everyone away! All sarcasm aside, both games look great, with the broad strokes and small details both excellent. There are complete day/night and weather cycles that provide an extra level of grittiness (or realism) but what GTA may be better known for is the in-game radio stations. From talk to rock, GTA has something for everyone. (Vice City even has a boxed soundtrack available at retail.) It’s so good, that I occasionally found myself just cruising around the city listening to the radio, particularly the talk radio in Liberty City. (And if you want, you can use the tunes ripped to your Xbox.)


grand theft auto double pack          grand theft auto double pack

But as enamored, as I am with the ability to live out the fantasy of being a career criminal, there are still problems with both games.

To save your game you have to make it back to your hideout. So instead of just saving the game after a mission is finished, you’ll have to drive across town and enter your hideout before you can save. You can also store a car in your garage but it just got on my nerves having to drive all the way back just to save.

The combat is a little on the weak side, especially in comparison to games like True Crime: Streets of L.A. or Dead to Rights, which really do strike a good balance between gunplay and fisticuffs. I mean, the control during combat is adequate but I died more than few times under a flurry of bullets fired from off-screen. Some of this can be alleviated by changing the camera angle -- the overhead view being the most useful.

Another problem is when you screw up a mission (by dying, getting busted, break the time limit, etc.) you have to backtrack to where you received the mission, instead of just hitting a “Retry Mission” button. Although some might say having such a button would upset the “organic” feel of operating in a living world, I say it would be more enjoyable. Besides, it makes about as much sense as someone giving you a mission repeatedly.

But those issues are but pale shadows to how well done the rest of the games are. Definitely for the over 18 crowd, GTAIII delivers a great gaming experience, and at a 2-for-1 price… well, it’s a stupendous dollars-to-gaming ratio. If you have never played GTAIII or Vice City, now’s the time.

- Omni
(November 26, 2003)


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