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Grand Theft Auto Logo

Grand Theft Auto
DMA Design
PC, 1997


Grand Theft Auto turns the tables on a typical simulation by putting you in the midst of SimCity and rewarding you for running amuck. From a bird's-eye-view, you abuse cities patterned after New York, LA, and Miami, carjacking and driving on the sidewalks, trying to keep up with the illicit errands and instructions issuing forth from parkside payphones and your onscreen pager.

You can play the game according to the whims of your crime boss, climbing up in the gang ranks by successfully completing missions: trailing someone's wife, icing a foe, being the driver for a bank job. These missions are challenging, and introduce you to different aspects of the game: there's a "Speed"-like episode where you drive a bus that can't slow down. Or another errands where you rocketlauncher limousine after limousine filled with rebel rastas. (Sadly, you can't save your game midway through these sequences - dying after a few successful missions means starting the level over again, perhaps losing over an hour's progress).

Otherwise you can easily disregard the directions and simply attack the city: cause as much damage as possible without getting caught. Surround yourself with burning vehicles and splattered pedestrians waiting for the medics to come so you can steal their ride and make some real trouble. Carjacking an ambulance isn't just practical (its speed, sirens and bulk make for great traffic navigation) - it's fun! As a regular driver myself, the chance to take to the city streets and drive with blantant disregard for life or property was quite thrilling.

If you want to see the different cities and crime bosses in the game, you'd best avoid creating so much rampant urban chaos and be specific with your targets. But if you get bored of trying to make the mob happy, strap on a cheat or two and have fun terrorizing the neighborhood.


Grand Theft Auto is a persuasive combination of solid arcade gameplay and an exciting context for violence, and that's exactly the problem!

The big city bird's-eye-view, while underwhelming compared to today's lush 3d graphics, turns out to be perfect for this unruly crime-driving experience. Careening around a corner dodging cops and squishing pedestrians, the screen zooms out as you speed up and sight the six-lane highway up ahead; fishtail around the bank of trees, scrape past the embankment and accelerate to jump over the downed bridge. It's an interface that doesn't get in your way - Grand Theft Auto has a small set of commands, leaving you to pull off exciting, unauthorized moves in the familiar maps they've given you.

Grand Theft Auto takes place in city streets; streets that most of us are acquainted with - two to four lanes, trashcans, mailboxes, street signs, pedestrians, payphones. The graphics are not picture perfect, they have a cartoony edge. Still, there's no mistaking it for anywhere besides your local big city. Grand Theft Auto is a rare game that encourages you to make mayhem in familiar locales. All the audio embellishments complement this: among the most visceral pleasures of the game are the screams of the dying, the sounds of breaking glass and crumpling metal. You can bash or shoot a rocket into just about anything, and if it moves, it definitely wails when you run it over.

sorry hari The designers put a lot of time into rewarding foul play, offering double extra bonus points if you can score a direct hit on a row of chanting Hari Krishnas. Because the game's setting is so commonplace, and so gleefully articulated, Grand Theft Auto generated debate in Britain's House of Lords over game ratings (Lord Campbell of Croy thought age 18 was still too young to purchase or play the game). Grand Theft Auto does wave a big disturbing digital flag in the face of those who fear computer game violence. Still most games are violent to one degree or another. The locality of Grand Theft Auto is what makes it scary, and so damn pleasurable. If you ever feel any guilt for "wasting time" playing computer games, Grand Theft Auto might aggravate that guilt with its dastardly overtones. It's one thing to miss talking to people because you're spending time on a computer, it's quite another to be spending that time on a computer stealing cars and running people over. If your friends only knew! They'd probably join you.

published in part on WildWeb Games

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