Saturday, 28 January 2012

Grand Theft Auto: From The Beginning - Part 1/2

With the recent announcement and trailer of Grand Theft Auto V, we thought that it would be a good time to reflect on the series' highs and lows. From it's humble beginnings as an average PS1 title, to it's promising future with more than 124 million copies sold worldwide since the series launched.

In part 1 of From the Beginning we'll be talking about every game from Grand Theft Auto 1 to Grand Theft Auto Advance! So read on to prepare for GTA V and Part 2 of this feature!

Grand Theft Auto

Year: 1997/1998/1999
Platforms: MS-DOS, Windows, Playstation, Gameboy Colour

The original Grand Theft Auto didn't get amazing reviews. I just thought I'd open with that because it seems surprising due to the quality of recent games in the series. Don't get me wrong it didn't get bad reviews but generally its review scores were pretty mixed.

Grand Theft Auto 1 was something new though. It gave players a lot of freedom and possibilities, due to the fact that failing missions could cut things off from you and also that with each mission different routes could be taken to the numerous destinations.

These things may not sound like much, but they were the things that ended up setting GTA apart from other games of the time.

It was first released on MS-DOS and Windows in October 1997 for Europe, February 1998 for North America and finally in Japan in April of 1999!
The ports that followed were the Playstation version released in December 97' for Europe, June 98' for North America and August 98' for Japan.
Finally the game was launched on the Game Boy Colour in 1999, but this port was the worst reviewed version.

Ports were also planned for the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn, but both of these versions were cancelled.

The game had a overhead perspective, unlike newer instalments (with the exception of Chinatown Wars) and had what I think is some pretty terrible box art. They hadn't quite got the recognisable GTA logo yet and the picture in the background, (which may not have been too bad at the time), looks pretty bad by today's standards.

In the end the game did pretty well, and later got a sequel...

Grand Theft Auto 2

Year: 1999/2000
Formats: PC, Playstation, Dreamcast, Game Boy Colour

Grand Theft Auto 2 was released worldwide on October 25th 1999 on PC and Playstation. The game retained the originals overhead perspective and had similar, but expanded gameplay.
The game also became famous for its live-action opening made from the 8 minute short film released to advertise the game pre-release. You can watch that intro below:

The game also received better reviews - still not great - but better, with the Playstation version receiving a metascore of 70/100. It was an all-round improvement of the original, but it would take one more game to make the GTA series a classic.
The box art was also improved, although yet again the classic GTA logo had not yet been discovered.

The game was ported to Sega's Dreamcast and Nintendo's Game Boy Colour the year after in 2000. GTA 2 was another success for DMA Design (now Rockstar North) and in 2001 got another sequel...

Grand Theft Auto III

Year: 2001/2002/2003
Formats: Playstation 2, XBOX, PC

Grand Theft Auto III was where everything changed. GTA went from being a fun but flawed PS1 game, to a critically acclaimed 3D classic. You were now part of a living, breathing city thanks to the use of the then revolutionary RenderWare game engine.
There was even a 24 hour cycle which simulated day, night and different weather effects depending on your time of play.

But with GTA now a lot more realistic, controversy arrived to the series. This was due to the more violent and sexual content e.g. killing policemen, having sex with before killing prostitutes. This controversy led to the game being banned in Australia shortly after its release, as well as more thorough age checks for people buying M rated videogames.
There was even a $246 million court case made by the families of two teens who were shot by two brothers who claimed they got the idea from GTA III. The families took Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive, Wal-Mart, and Sony Computer Entertainment America to court but ended up losing the case due to their lawyers lack of firearm knowledge.

The title (which was originally released only on PS2) got a port to the PC on May 21st 2002. The port was a little more criticized due to numerous technical issues but generally was well received.

The XBOX version took slightly longer due to an exclusivity deal Sony had with Take-Two, but it eventually came to Microsoft's console in December 2003.
Also, a 10th Anniversary version of the game is coming to iPhone's an iPad's soon!

The game was a smash-hit and as of 2008 had sold 14.5 million copies.
Plus, they had finally gotten the box art right! Yeah...I've got a thing about box art...

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

Year: 2002/2003/2004
Formats: Playstation 2, PC, XBOX

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was the second game in the series in full 3D and also the second to be critically adored.
This edition was set in the fictional Vice City during the 80s and built upon the groundwork GTA III laid down.
It was first released on PS2 in 2002 and upon release became the best selling game of the year. It later got a release on the PC (in 2003), and once again the XBOX got it last in 2004.

Controversy came back to say hello though. Many special interest groups insisted that parental supervision is needed when young people play this game due to the M Rating - or just don't buy violent games for your kid? I guess they didn't think of that.

Vice City's other criticism's came from members of the Cuban and Haitian communities who claimed that the game was inviting people to harm immigrants from those countries. This issue garnered a lot of attention and ended up with Rockstar releasing a new version of the game in 2004 with several lines of dialogue removed.

Despite all this Vice City sold in huge numbers! As of 2008 it had sold a whopping 17.5 million copies - thus making it the fourth highest selling PS2 game ever.
It won many game of the year awards including many videogame BAFTA's.

Grand Theft Auto Advance

Year: 2004
Format: Game Boy Advance

Grand Theft Auto Advance let the series down a bit. After two hugely acclaimed games, Advance had to come in and ruin the winning streak. It was by no means awful, but seemed a lot like a step back to the mediocre GTA 1/2 days - with the game receiving a metascore of just 68/100, unlike the last two which had high 90's.

The game was the first not to be developed by Rockstar Games Studios and instead Digital Eclipse took over the reins. It also went back to the overhead perspective of the first two due to the GBA's limited processing power - although it did incorporate things from the later games (e.g weapons, side-missions). It also no longer had animated cutscenes or pedestrian dialogue.

But I'm making it sound like it was terrible. It did still have a fairly solid story and quite a big city to drive around (at least for something on GBA).

The sales were nowhere near as good though. In fact it was a bit of a flop. This was probably due to so many GBA owners being younger than those who owned PS2/XBOX's.


That's it for Part 1 of this feature!
Come back for part 2 where we'll be going over every game from San Andreas to Chinatown Wars and the GTA V trailer! Worried you might miss Part 2? Then subscribe to this blog via E-Mail or Google. Or like our Facebook page by clicking here, or follow us on Twitter by clicking here!
See you guys/gals at Part 2!


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