Review by NeoNagisa
"How much you enjoy this game depends almost entirely on your bloodlust."
Grand Theft Auto 2 is a difficult game to review. There are so many things wrong with it, and yet it's still incredibly fun to play... provided that you really enjoy senseless violence and crime. If you're like me, and have always wanted to wander around a city shooting pedestrians indiscriminately and crushing people under the wheels of your newly stolen car, this is most definitely the game for you. If you're looking for a deep mob sim with tons of variety, options and replay value, I would suggest that you look elsewhere.
The object of the game is fairly simple. You run or drive around a city looking for color coded pay phones. When you find one, the gang that operates it may or may not give you an assignment depending on how much they ''respect'' you. Respect is gained by successfully completing jobs or killing members of opposing gangs. That's really about it. The tasks assigned to you don't have a great degree of variety. You're either picking up and dropping off a person, picking up and dropping of explosives, delivering something to somebody or destroying a vehicle of some sort. It's pretty much a no-brainer.
Controlling your character or car is difficult at best, requiring you to hold down a button to walk and rotate Resident Evil-style to turn. Considering that the vehicles all handle rather poorly as it is, the control setup is quite unforgiving. Trying to stay on the right side of the road with your car can be a game in itself and maneuvering through corridors is near impossible, often leaving abandonment of the car the only feasible option. When of foot, it is equally trying to get around. If you're being chased by the police and you try to turn around to shoot them, they will be beating you down by the time your guy finally finishes spinning around to face them.
The police in the game deserve a paragraph of their own. They are without a doubt, the most focused group of law enforcement officers in the entire world. All of their attention is locked squarely on you, even though the city is filled with random crime. I watched a pedestrian motorist plow through a police barricade, ram a cop car out of his way and run over two officers and they completely ignored him. Yet, if you so much as accidentally bump a police car while you're driving to a job it becomes in instant hot pursuit. And once you become ''wanted,'' it is a difficult task to avoid the police long enough so that they'll leave you alone (the statute of limitations in this city is apparently a couple of minutes!). I find it amusing how you'll be doing very well outrunning a cop car, and then it will suddenly accelerate to the speed of light and cut you off. Once you become wanted, most of the fun in the game flies out the window, and considering the nature of the game it is entirely too easy to get the attention of the police.
All of this is accompanied by a clunky frame rate and mediocre graphics. When the camera is at a relatively low level, everything runs quite smoothly. But when you start going fast the camera pulls out with cuts the frame rate in half, if not lower. It's very distracting and the graphics are not good enough to make it excusable. All of the structures are in full 3-d, and they look nice enough considering that most of the time all you see is rooftops anyway. The vehicles and people are done in rendered 2-D, which works well enough I suppose. I don't see why the cars couldn't have been 3-D as well, but they look good enough to get the job done. The humans populating the city on the other hand, look horrible. There are also a few scattered lighting effects, but they are pretty primitive. For instance, when you car jack a police car or ambulance, the siren comes on automatically and throws red and blue light on the ground. That looks cool enough, but then you realize that the lights don't affect any of the surrounding buildings. That's just lazy.
The sound in the game is a real mixed bag. The music is not easy to describe, if you can even call all of it music. It would seem as though the game creators were going for an underground sound, but what they came up with is mostly just annoying rather than edgy. It's mostly either bad Euro-punk or screechy Japanese noise music. You'll either love it or hate it I guess. I hate it. The sound effects are little more than purely functional. Nothing is terribly annoying, or is it memorable. Explosions should be louder and the populace should have a more varied set of reactions. ''Gimme your wallet'' and ''He's got a gun'' will get very, very boring after the seven millionth time you've heard them.
Now all of this sounds pretty bad, and it is. If it weren't for the simple fact that crime and murder are fun (sorry Washington), this game would have very, very little to offer. Some of the missions can be immersive, but these are few and far between. There are a lot of vehicles to choose from, but they all handle much the same with little differences other than speed. Probably the game's best feature is ''kill frenzy,'' where you're given a weapon with unlimited ammo and must kill so many people or destroy so many automobiles in a certain amount of time. These can be very challenging and fun, and are also a great distraction from the mundane game itself.
Overall, Grand Theft Auto 2 is a below average car crime game that's only saved from utter mediocrity by the carnage. It's most definitely worth a rental, even if all you do is drive around and run people over. But poor gameplay, lame graphics, little variety and no multiplayer modes make this a poor choice when looking for games to buy.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Originally Posted: 05/06/00, Updated 05/06/00
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