Grand Theft Auto III box artHaving been a gamer for 20+ years, it’s getting increasingly rare for a game to completely “wow” me.  Even though each generation of console provides improved technical ability, more often than not the games simply remain the same as the ones that came before them (as far as experiences go).  However, every once in a while a game will come along that makes me glad that I have remained faithful to the gaming hobby for so long. Metroid, Final Fantasy VII, and more recently Shenmue, have all been games that provided not only great gameplay, but a unique experience as well.  Now, there’s another such title to add to that distinguished list.

Regardless of which console you’re a supporter of, there’s a damn good chance that by now you’ve heard A LOT about Grand Theft Auto III.  There’s also a damn good chance that you want to play it badly if you already haven’t.  If you’ve been wondering whether or not all of the accolades that you’ve been hearing about this game are deserved or not, I can honestly tell you that they are.  In a nutshell, GTA3 is one of the better gaming experiences that I’ve had in several years.

More or less, you play the role of an escaped criminal who delves into the seedy, mafia-infested underbelly of Liberty City.  While working for various mafioso’s, you will engage in such activities as performing hits on people and running drugs.  To help aid you in these activities you can buy an arsenal of weapons (everything from uzis to bazookas) and steal/carjack any vehicle that you come across.  If the cops or enemy crime organizations catch wind of your illegal and shady activities, they’ll come after you, only adding to the intensity of the in-game missions.

Grand Theft Auto III on the Sony Playstation 2

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Speaking of missions, there are a ton of them to be found, both required and optional.  This really helps to extend the replay value of the game, as there always seems to be something to do.  Not that you necessarily need to advance through the missions in order to enjoy the game.  Sure the missions are great and help to tell a very interesting story, but to be honest it’s unbelievably fun to just run around Liberty City mindlessly creating all forms of havoc.  In fact, I’ve probably spent more time in the game raising hell than I have advancing through the missions.

Even though GTA3 has a ton of positive things that can be said about it, probably the most impressive thing about it is the sense of freedom that it provides.  When you’re playing this game, you really feel like you’re in a living, breathing city, with the ability to do whatever you want.  Aside from not being able to enter the majority of buildings, you can pretty much affect everything in the game in one way or another.  Considering the rather large scale of the game world and the amazing detail of everything in it, this sense of freedom and realism is constantly impressive.

To sum it up, Grand Theft Auto III is simply amazing, and it is easily one of the greatest video games of all-time.