Review by Ploder

"Unparallelled Immersion"

Audio/Visual- 8 out of 10.

the key here is balance. The textures on the cars are rather bland. The character models are blocky and stylized. But what one must remember while playing this game is that these small sacrifices have been made to give the game its breathtaking draw distance, its huge buildings, its teeming streets and crowded sidewalks. It proves what should be proven about game design; gamers will accept a compromise that serves the bigger picture. And the big picture here is immersion. characters are lovingly designed, from the clothes to their posture and distinctive walking styles. No stone had been left unturned by DMA; when a pedestrian wearing headphones passes you, you hear the tinny, muted music pass from the left speaker to the right. A car honks at you? You flip the bird. you can see for miles, and the city strikes a perfect balance between gritty style and gritty realism.

the sounds, always a strong suit of the series, do more to serve the game's immersion than anything. Each car, as always, plays a different radio station. The radio chatter, while far more scripted than the improvised-sounding dialogue in GTA 2, gives the game its complete feel that makes it lovable. couple that with some downright catchy songs, and you've got a perfect interactive sound experience.

Small complaints aside, the graphics and sound are at once breathtaking and put to good use. They are pleasant and impressive to look at, but Rockstar made sure not to have the graphics undercut the gaming experience which shows a discipline that is rare in the industry.

Story- 8 out of 10.

Sure. the characters are caricatures. Sure, the mission structure is fairly linear. But there is a definite appeal in a game that takes this many risks. rockstar is not afraid of stereotyping. Rather than play it safe by not stereotyping anyone, they played it safe by stereotyping everyone. You serve the Italian mob, complete with references to the notorious mistreatment of women and their rigid awareness of loyalty and double cross. you serve the Yakuza, complete with a strict code of honor. This serves less to offend than to humor. The game is downright funny, and the dialogue is well written and well spoken. I've never heard such convincing voice acting in a game before.

There isn't much in the way of plot twists; your character is not developed in anyway. He doesn't even speak through the entire game. But the game does exactly what it means to do; simulates a life in the criminal underworld, complete with its betrayals, violence and debauchery.

Does the game strive to make a point, a comment about society? Well, it's debatable. In GTA 2, the first text printed in the manual is a quote from 1984 that states ''If you want to imagine the future, picture a boot stomping a human face. Forever.'' I won't get too political. It's possible that the violence and lecherous behavior simulated in the game is a comment in itself on how far things have gotten in our nitro boosted society. At the very leastm they are flexing the muscle of free speech and free press, if in a blatant, obligatory way.

Gameplay- 10 out of 10.

It's simple. there is no game as immersive. I won't go into every detail. but just know that this game redefines the term non-linear gameplay. There are other games which have pressed this aspect, such as Shenmue and Smugglers run. this game flat out leaves other ''immersive'' games in the dust and creates what is truly a gaming experience.

It is curious , however, that, in this evolved stage of interactive entertainment, the experience most commonly simulated through the advancing technology is violence. There was more than one occasion where I felt I had gone too far with the game, and it made me question some fairly weighty moral fibers I'd felt I'd had. but I once heard someone say about this game ''It's only as sick as you want it to be.'' and nothing could be more true. And the question remains, is it over the line if you keep playing it?

Rent or Buy-

Buy. buy buy buy buy buy. this game will keep you entertained and amazed for months and months. buy buy buy.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/05/01, Updated 12/05/01

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