Grand Theft Auto III is a sandbox-style action-adventure computer and video game developed by then DMA Design and published by Rockstar Games. It is the first 3D title in the Grand Theft Auto series and the fifth original title overall. It was released in October 2001 for the PlayStation 2, May 2002 for Windows, and in November 2003 for the Xbox. The game
GTA III is set in Liberty City, a fictional metropolitan city based loosly on New York City. The game follows a nameless criminal (most refer to him as "Claude") who was betrayed by his girlfriend in a bank heist, and is required to work his way up the crime ladder of the city before confronting her. GTA III is composed of elements from driving games and third-person shooters.
The game's concept and gameplay, coupled with the use of a 3D game engine for the first time in the series, contributed to Grand Theft Auto III's positive reception upon its release; it became 2001's top selling video game and is cited as a landmark in video games for its far-reaching influence within the industry. GTA IIIs success was a significant factor in the series' subsequent popularity; as of 2008, five GTA prequels set before events in GTA III have been released. GTA IIIs violent and sexual content has also been the source of public concern and controversy.
Grand Theft Auto III takes place in Liberty City, a fictional city on the East Coast, which is loosely based on New York City. GTA III's Liberty City is one of four renditions of "Liberty Cities" featured throughout the series, of which the other two are present in Grand Theft Auto (GTA1), Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, and Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA IV). The timeline of GTA III is set at in 2001, the present time around the first release of GTA III.
Throughout the story, the protagonist is never named and never utters a single word, though he is often referred to as "Kid" and sometimes "Fido". However, his name is confirmed to be "Claude" in the sequel to the game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (prequel in terms of time settings), in which he appears as a non-player character.
The player character has robbed the Liberty City Bank with his girlfriend, Catalina, and a male accomplice. While running from the scene, Catalina turns to him and utters,
"Sorry, babe, I'm an ambitious girl and you ... you're just small-time". She shoots him and leaves him to die in an alley; the accomplice is also seen lying nearby. It soon becomes apparent that the player character has survived but has been arrested and subsequently found guilty and sentenced to jail. While he is being transferred, an attack on the police convoy aimed at kidnapping an unrelated prisoner sets him free.
With the help of a fellow escaped prisoner, the player character then takes on work as a local thug and rises in power as he works for multiple rival crime gangs, a corrupt police officer and a media mogul. In the process, Maria, the mistress of a local Mafia boss, begins to take a liking to him. The Mafia leader, Salvatore, grows suspicious and lures the player to a death trap; but Maria saves him, remaining close to him throughout the storyline. He later goes to work for others, including the Liberty City Yakuza and media mogul Donald Love. Eventually, his exploits attract the attention of Catalina, now affiliated with a Colombian drug cartel, resulting in the kidnapping of Maria. This gives him the opportunity to face Catalina once more, which results in a large firefight and Catalina's death.
In addition to the exploits of the game's player character, the storyline, while not as integral to the game as its successors, depicts the character development of several non-player individuals and bosses, through cut scenes before the start of each mission, as the player progresses through the game. Most of the characters encou
ntered revolve around corruption, crime and a fictional drug called "Spank," which is a growing menace in the city.
With the success of GTA III and its sequels, several of these characters or their relatives reappear in future GTA titles with major or minor roles, and their personal background expanded, particularly Leone family Don Salvatore Leone, media mogul Donald Love, Phil, the One-Armed Bandit, 8-Ball, Catalina and Toni Cipriani.
The voice cast for the game's characters features several established celebrities. Notable voice actors include Frank Vincent, Michael Madsen, Michael Rapaport, Joe Pantoliano, Debi Mazar, Kyle MacLachlan, Robert Loggia, Lazlow Jones and rapper Guru.
Grand Theft Auto III inherits and modifies much of the gameplay mechanics from its predecessors, Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2, combining elements of a third-person shooter and a driving game in a new 3D game engine. The idea of using a 3D game engine in such a genre however is not new; the first game to combine elements of action, shooting, and multiple-vehicle driving in a 3D package was Hunter (1991). The first developed by DMA Design was Body Harvest (1998), for the Nintendo 64. Publicly debuted in 1995 at Nintendo's SpaceWorld video game trade show, Body Harvest was revolutionary for its time, but despite above average reviews, the game sold poorly. GTA III takes the gameplay elements of Body Harvest and combines them with the GTA series' open-ended game design to create a level of freedom and detail that was unprecedented in 2001.
On foot, the player's character has the additional ability to sprint (but is incapable of swimming), as well as use weapons and perform basic hand to hand combat; he is also capable of driving a variety of vehicles, (with the addition of watercraft and a fixed-wing aircraft).
Criminal offences, such as carjacking, murder and theft will result in increasing levels of resistance from the authorities. If the player's "wanted" level reaches certain levels, the police, FBI, and army will respond accordingly. When the player character collapses from his injuries or is arrested, he will re-spawn at a local hospital or police station respectively, at the expense of losing all weapons and armor and an amount of money for medical expenses or bribes. While this is similar to previous Grand Theft Auto games, the player character is essentially offered unlimited "lives," as opposed to the limited number of lives in GTA1 and GTA2. This allows the player character to "die" as many times as he pleases, and render it impossible to indefinitely lose in the game.
A major feature in GTA III's predecessors that allowed the player to obtain cash by committing petty crimes has been downplayed in GTA III, encompassing only car ramming, vehicle destruction and pedestrian killing. The amount of money in the player's possession is no longer a requirement to unlock new areas in GTA III. Instead, the completion of missions and unfolding of the game's storyline are now responsible for this role. Additionally, the player is allowed to return to all unlocked areas of the city. However, as new areas open up, access to other, previously available areas becomes more dangerous or difficult, due to hostilities from enemy gangs.
The interface of the game has been significantly overhauled. The player-centered compass is replaced by a separate mini-map that also displays a map of the city and key locations (safe houses and contact points) or targets. Armour and health levels are now indicated in numbers, and a 24-hour clock is added. Gang behavior is no longer dictated by "respect" meters used in GTA2; instead, the player character's progress through the story affects his view in the "eyes" of gang members. As the player completes missions for different gangs, rival gang members will come to recognize the character and subsequently shoot on sight.
Whereas multiplayer modes from previous GTA titles allowed players to connect through a computer network and play the game with others, GTA III was the first computer game title to only ship with a single player game mode. As a result, third-party modifications were developed that re-extended the game with the absent network functionality through manipulation of the game's memory. One of these modifications became known as Multi Theft Auto and was developed alongside this title and future GTA successors.
Missions, non-linearity and narrationEdit
A common trait GTA III shares with the rest of the GTA series is the considerably non-linear gameplay within the open world environment of Liberty City. Missions that are offered to the player primarily fall into two categories: storyline-based and side missions. While the game's linear set of storyline-based missions are required to advance the plot and unlock certain areas of the map, the player can choose to complete them at his or her own leisure. Additionally, many of them are not mandatory. Alternatively, it is possible to ignore the main missions and only play side missions. If the player acquires a taxi cab, he can pick up designated non-player characters as fares and drop them off at different parts of the city for cash; obtaining an ambulance allows the player to pick up injured non-player characters and drive them to the hospital for cash. Fire fighting and vigilante police missions are also available. However, if the player wishes, he or she may avoid all missions and instead choose to explore the city, stealing cars, running over pedestrians, and avoiding or opposing the police.
Whereas its predecessors merely featured a short cut scene upon completion of missions in each city, GTA III significantly expanded this feature, triggering cut scenes after the player enters a contact point or during certain missions. The cut scenes serve multiple purposes: as a visual narration of the storyline, as formal directives of a mission, and as a visual assessment of a scene and objective. During gameplay, mission updates and messages are relayed through text-based instructions given in the form of on-screen subtitles, or on a few occasions, the player character's pager, similar to GTA1. GTA III also includes one-time tutorial directives to familiarize the player with the game's controls and features.
The selection of weapons provided in the game consists of firearms and explosives, with the addition of two forms of mêlée attacks, fists and the baseball bat. The weapons themselves are largely similar to the selection of weapons from GTA1 and GTA2, such as the M1911, the Micro Uzi, an AK-47 and an M16A1, the rocket launcher, and the flamethrower, which are based on similar weapons from GTA1, and the shotgun and thrown weapons (Molotov cocktails and hand grenades) from GTA2. The porting of GTA III into a three dimensional environment also allows access to a first-person view, making the inclusion of the sniper rifle and first-person aiming of the M16A1 and rocket launcher possible. In addition, it becomes possible in the game to perform drive-by shooting using the Micro Uzi, while the inclusion of magazine-based weapons introduces the need to reload weapons after a magazine has been depleted. Additionally, wielding certain weapons restricts movement. Weapons may be purchased from gunshops around the city, retrieved for free from dead gang members, mission-specific characters and law enforcers, or picked up in certain spots in the city.
All versions of GTA III allow the player to auto-aim using a gamepad with the push of a button, holding human targets at gun point using most firearms, with the exception of first-person aiming for the sniper rifle, M16 and rocket launcher, which are aimed using the analog stick or mouse as the player presses the same auto aim button. The Microsoft Windows version includes the additional ability to look around and aim freely with a mouse while on foot; these control differences are seen in the console and Microsoft Windows ports of Grand Theft Auto Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Radio stations and other mediaEdit
One of the game's subtler inclusions is a variety of radio stations. The stations feature music specially written for the game (as well as many songs originating from the first two GTAs), but also includes licensed music, some of which were excerpts of several actual music albums; this combination differs from those of the game's predecessors, which featured entirely original soundtracks. One of the stations is a full-length talk show, and many of the callers are actually characters from the story missions, often demonstrating the same views and eccentricities that become apparent to the player during the missions. Another station "Flashback FM" features music heard throughout scenes in the film Scarface, which had heavy influence on the game's sequel, Vice City.
Additionally, an online format of the fictional Liberty Tree newspaper, dedicated to events that took place within and outside Liberty City between February 2001 and October 2001, was made available months ahead of GTA III's release. The website, working in tandem with the official map-based website and sub-pages, also served to provide a back-story to GTA III, while evoking a sense that the reported events had actually taken place in real time, releasing monthly issues in its nine months of activity. The site also includes articles on criminal activities in the city and city development (i.e. delayed tunnel completion and the growth of Love Media in the city), and various advertising to fictional products. Pre-released screenshots of gameplay, the city's environment and characters were used as photographs for certain news articles.
Various commercials are featured on both the radio stations and the Liberty Tree website. Certain ads often referred to their advertisers' official websites, such as Petsovernight.com. All of these sites actually existed; they were set up to tie in with the game.
Grand Theft Auto IIIs new RenderWare game engine was a significant departure from its predecessors, most notably because it uses a forward-viewing perspective as the default view, similar to a majority of third-person shooters and driving games, and has much-improved street-level graphics. The game also offers several additional camera modes, including a cinematic view, and the top-down perspective prevalent in GTA IIIs predecessors (this last was omitted in following titles, making GTA III the last major console title in the series to include the top-down view). In console versions, the game runs in the display resolution dictated by the console, while the Microsoft Windows version permits resolutions of up to 1600 by 1200 pixels.The in-game environment is displayed through extensive use of level of detail (LOD), allowing areas directly surrounding the player to display objects in higher polygon counts (including vehicles, buildings and terrain) or minor props (e.g. street furniture), while areas far from the player are displayed with fewer polygons and less detail. As such, LODs aid GTA III in displaying a large environment with a further draw distance, while ensuring that the game's performance remains optimum. When traveling within the city, the game constantly swaps models of varied detail as the player moves from one area to another. However, when the player travels to another island, the game is required to load detailed models of the entire destination island, while also loading low-detail models for the island the player is leaving, requiring substantially more processing time; in the process, the game displays a "Welcome to..." screen for a short amount of time, before play resumes.
Like the environment, vehicles and pedestrians are depicted by full three-dimensional models, compared to flat top-down sprites used in previous games. Both vehicles and pedestrians are constructed from individual polygons with a central "core" (the wheels, engine, chassis and body of vehicles, and the torso of pedestrians). The damage system of vehicles represents the minor vehicle parts (doors, frontal quarter panels and bumpers) as undamaged, damaged or missing, based on collisions detected on the vehicle; the core of each vehicle remains visually unchanged despite heavy damage. As pedestrians in GTA III are made out of separate polygon parts (limbs, a head and a torso), it is possible to detach the limbs or head of a pedestrian (by using heavy firearms or explosives).
As the game runs a simulated 24-hour cycle, including changing weather, the game engine is also required to simulate day and night periods, as well as weather effects. This is done by adjusting surrounding visual effects and details in accordance to the weather and time of day. Other minor details are also present, like a rainbow and shiny streets after rain, and the sun moving from the northeast in the morning to the southwest in the evening.