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Retro Games of Today: Part 3

Grand theft pockets. Your money and your life.

The third in this series of blogs looks at a game that has, like many other sequels and prequels, come along in the previous years. Throughout many incarnations, across many formats and whilst keeping up with the graphics of the time, the GTA series could be the point I’m trying to make.

GTA was a bad ass game from the get go. Stealing cars, moving down chanting Hare Krishna by the dozen, shooting blowing stuff up, getting away from the rozzers and generally running riot in a very expansive, detailed environment. Oh, and there is a few story lines in there somewhere too!

The series has had an epic line up across multiple platforms. In 1997 the first release of GTA was announced and then only 2 years later at the back end of 1999, the release of GTA 2. The developers knew they were on to something for sure. Then the add-ons came flooding out with London 1969 and the 1961 mission packs all in the same year. Plenty to keep you going until GTA III in 2001 then (yes, it was 11 years ago)! Well, just a measly year after, GTA III: Vice City came out, this was a re-imagination of the original but with a 1980’s twist. This in my opinion was my favourite probably because of the memories of playing this on a 6 foot projector screen whilst I was supposed to be working. In 2004 though, we had the 90’s gang land “mofo” version, San Andreas. Bigger and badder with more missions than ever before to complete but now you could also steal helicopters, planes and even BMX’s. The sheer size of this game was immense. The graphics were only marginally tightened up in this release, it was very similar to the other GTA III’s with no major leaps in frame rate or “ooh wow” factors. PSP and PS2 owners were treated to Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories in 2005  and 2006 respectively. However, the big news in 2008 was the long awaited GTA IV. Crisper graphics, smooth game play and rich details. Divine! In 2009 we even had add on packs, The Lost and The Damned and The Ballard of Gay Tony. We anticipate GTA V in 2013 which promises to be the same leap that made San Andreas mega if not better!

It’s a sure fire thing that Rockstar are already in the depths of programming all the add-ons or even GTA VI concepts. We’ll be shelling out on this game for another 10 years. Why? Because in all of the 16 years of GTA’ing, the formula is the same. Only the graphics have changed (for the better) but the underlying structure, weapon load out, re-playability is all there in every single same. Ahh, but the change of genre you say. Well, unlike Syndicate where it was made to be played from a top down version, the GTA series was supposed to be a FPS but technology at the time just couldn’t pull it off. Now, gone is the top down and in is the FPS and it suits it. This is the point I was trying to make with Syndicate, if it had kept the top down genre but brushed up the graphics, it would have been a winner.

So for me then, this game is the leader in keeping a cool game, cool. If Jeremy Clarkson had a copy, it would be in the fridge. I have to admit, if there is another Civilization, I don’t think I’ll be indulging, if another Syndicate were to arrive and if it wasn’t FPS, I probably would. For sure though, I’ll be getting my hands on a copy of GTA V sometime next year.