GTA3 allows you to drive or run around a large cityscape,
and do virtually anything you want that involves fighting, shooting or running
over the city's citizens. All the while, it'll offer seperate missions that
earn you money for killing specific people at different locations. There aren't
many other games that blend the same genre's as GTA3 does, that's one reason
why GTA3 is considered such a great game, and that's one of its biggest strengths.
It's other biggest strength is its driving engine, which allows for high speed
chases involving the police. While GTA3's biggest weaknesses are it's fighting
engine, shooting engine, glitchy camera, and low quality low framerate graphics.
This page is a comparison page of GTA3's modes with the games that it borrowed
those gameplay elements from.
Need For Speed: High Stakes is the best example of a game that blends racing,
with running from the cops, or chasing as the cops. NFS:HS does the actual racing
aspect a bit better than GTA3 does, mainly because of the variety of tracks
you can race/chase on.
However, GTA3 does add to this gameplay the ability to get out of your car,
and for the cops to get out of theirs after you, or vice-versa if you're in
the vigilante mode. Another difference in GTA3's relatable modes is that when
you catch the criminal as "vigilante" you have to kill him to move
on to the next, whereas in NFS:HS you just give them a ticket and never get
out of your car. Similarly, if you're being chased by the Cops they can kill
you rather than just arrest you.
GTA3's driving controls, collision detection, opponent AI, and vehicle physics
are just as good as, if not identical to, NFS:HS, so you could say that the
core gameplay of this aspect is done very well. Both games have a wide variety
of vehicles, though, again, GTA3 lets you switch between in real time by actually
getting out of one and carjacking the other. All in all, it can be said that
if you want to chase criminals or get chased by the cops in a car, either game
does it just as well, while NFS:HS is more of a race, and GTA3 will let you
change cars, and the chase never ends if you keep running people over.
This is where GTA3's opponent AI shows its limitations in the this mode. If
you keep running people over while you're running from the cops, and while the
cops are within a certain distance from you, you will keep getting "wanted
stars" that will make the cops more aggressive, and more numerous on the
streets. That concept alone isn't a bad idea, but the AI can't handle the added
complexity. Instead, as they are supposed to get more aggressive, they also
become clairvoyant. Police officers will detect you behind buildings, on overpasses,
behind trees, in different cars, in police cars, and anywhere else you try to
run. The AI simply has no concept of what's visible and what isn't visible.
Also, once the game progresses and you get certain street gangs mad at you,
they will detect you and shoot at you no matter what car you're driving, even
if you're in a police car.
That is one notch against the game and the claim than the game allows you to
do anything you can imagine, you can't hide from anyone that is supposed to
try to kill you, because they detect you as if you show up on radar. Examples
of games that have better AI for detection than this game are Metal Gear Solid,
and Tenchu 1+2.
Other comparable games to GTA3's driving mode are Carmageddon 2, Midtown Madness,
and Driver. Carmageddon 2 has all of the gore elements of running over pedestrians,
violent crashes and vehicle damage, while Driver actually pioneered the mission
style structures that the driving missions, with the exception of the ones that
make you get out and shoot, that GTA3 has. Also, in Driver, it is possible to
hide from the cops even while you are wanted, because they have a detection
program similar to MGS and Tenchu's. All three games are in large cityscapes
Shenmue, is probably the best example of another game that shoots for making
a living breathing city, while blending genres for the gameplay. Shenmue takes
a Resident Evil/Detective/RPG/Beatem-up game and puts it into several huge cities
where you can actually talk to anybody, and everybody has something real to
do that day. You can go into almost any building, and look closely at or even
handle tons of objects.
Shenmue does the whole vast living breathing city thing better because GTA3
just has repetitive generic citizens, that are only there to run over or otherwise
maim, and can in no way help you find anybody or anything because you can't
talk to them at all. You also can't go into buildings or handle objects other
than weapons in GTA3. GTA3 might be a better simulation of a real city than
Carmageddon 2, Midtown Madness, or Driver, but it is still in their league and
doesn't even attempt to give the city's people or the player something to be
doing on the streets, other than commit crimes. In fact, the citizens and other
vehicles will completely disappear if they stray too far from your central location,
or you don't catch up with them quickly enough.
One thing that has been said for GTA3's city is that it all loads at the beginning,
and there are no load times between areas. Shenmue has loads between segments,
but only 3-6 second ones, and its usually either to go inside a building or
to go to another massive area with hundreds of unique people going about a unique
daily routine. Shenmue also has vastly superior texture quality and character
models than anything in GTA3, on a system with half the main RAM that the PS2
Shenmue will be the comparison here again, because it also has the most complex
and well done group fighting engine ever made. Not only do you determine how
good of a fighter Ryo is by practicing and making him stronger, but the enemies
can and will make the fights more challenging as you progress. In Shenmue there
are counters, blocks, ducks, dodges, and easily as many moves as any fighting
game character out there, each with a practical time and place application,
especially in the larger group fights. In Shenmue, while the other fighters
don't have nearly as many moves as you, most of the time your opponents see
a slower move of yours coming, and dodge it, counter it, or just strike you
first in reaction, in other words this vast city simulator has intelligent AI
in all of its modes.
In GTA3 if you are in a fight with somebody, the opponent runs up to punching
distance to you and punches at you, followed by a 2-3 second pause and another
punch. All you have to do to win a fight in GTA3 is punch faster, which isn't
hard to do at all. There is no blocking, no dodging, no countering, and really
no complexity to your opponent at all. That's also not counting how easy it
is to win with a weapon. GTA3 is more of a helpless victim simulator than anything
that resembles fighters or beat-em ups, they simply don't fight back unless
they've got a gun in their hand, which will be discussed later.
So Shenmue has better graphics, a better fighting engine and AI and actual people
to populate its city with, over GTA3. This is significant to point out because
both games blend genres, and attempt to be more than just a game of one type,
while simulating a city and time changes at the same time.
People excuse GTA3's graphics, framerate, camera issues, and its severly lacking
fighting engine, because of how large the play area is, and that it allows you
to play in different gameplay styles in the same game.
Shenmue would have the same excuses, but each and every one of its modes are
glitch free, and actually superior in complexity to any genres they could be
If that's not enough to prove the point, compare GTA3 to any 3D beat-em up and
it will be revealed how lacking its gameplay is in this mode. Compare it to
games like The Mark of Kri, Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm or other action/adventure
games with advanced fighting engines, and GTA3 falls even further below the
mark set by these games. Add to that GTA3's shifting camera, that never seems
to point in the direction you need it to, in order to see your opponent clearly,
and this area of its gameplay should now be seen as it is, seriously flawed
or even unfinished.
Shooting in GTA3 is severly limited by the camera. While you can cycle through
targets with the shoulder buttons, you simply cannot keep the camera pointed
at them unless you are running towards the target. What ends up happening is
you get shot unnecessarily due to the target that's shooting at you being off
camera, and you end up killing other people because you're shooting blind. Not
even GTA3's not-so super auto-aiming function can save this mode from itself.
There are countless shooters out there with better targeting and camera control
Metal Gear Solid, MDK2, and pretty well any other 3rd person shooter out there
offers far more managable gameplay, if not flat out superior and more complex
gameplay than GTA3 does. Even Sonic Adventure 1+2's much whined about shooting
levels have much better control over what you're shooting than GTA3.
Taxi and Ambulence modes
GTA3 also has the option, if you've carjacked a Taxi Cab or an Ambulence, to
play a timed pick up and delivery mini game that plays the same as the vigilante
mode or the regular driving in the missions. These modes attempt to imitate
Crazy Taxi more than anything else, and end up falling somewhat short because
of the lack of Crazy Taxi's powerslides, 360s, speed bursts, and levels designed
specifically to that type of gameplay.
delivery modes do have one thing up on Crazy Taxi in being able to rolling your
car, and damage your car to the point of destroying it and ending the game mode.
Crazy Taxi is a better pick up and delivery game than the relatable mini games
in GTA3, by far, if only for its extreme speed and level design attributes.
Crazy Taxi is yet another example of a game that plays in a large cityscape,
with tons of pedestrians and other cars, if not actually more of them, and has
much brighter graphics, more detailed character models and a solid framerate.
GTA3 would have benefitted greatly from Crazy Taxi's graphics engine.
The total package
To GTA3's credit, it blends a lot of genres, and you can switch between gameplay
modes fairly seamlessly, and with no load time. Yet, each and every one of the
gameplay modes is done better in the game it's borrowed from, or at best just
as well. The only thing that GTA3 pioneers of its own is the "total package"
of borrowed gameplay combined with the same old GTA premise, of being a thug
that only interacts with people to steal from them, beat them, or kill them.
GTA3 happens to be "fun" to a lot of people, but it does not have
innovative gameplay, it just blends a bunch of different games onto one disk
with notable degradation to each game in the process. This is not an argument
that GTA3 isn't a great game, or that it isn't fun, but calling it perfect because
it is fun is wrong.
Taking three or four different genres and putting them all in one game, but
not doing anything new with any of the modes, and even releasing the game without
finishing a couple of the modes, would make a game with flawed parts that is
therefore not anywhere near perfect, regardless of whether fun can be had with
With the combination of the severe lack of complexity and AI in the fighting
mechanics, the absolute worse camera problems of any game save Spiderman the
Movie, the shoddy shooting aspect that is also damaged by the bad camera, and
the murky, blurry textured, low framerate graphics, it's simply fair to say
that GTA3 was incomplete when it was released.
None of these facts mean that it can't be fun anymore, but they are true statements
about the game, and also flaws about the game.
Public opinion and the media
There is trend of game reviewers and gamers giving bonus points to flawed games
because they had fun with it. It is foolish thing to do and its not just affecting
GTA Vice City has been reviewed with three perfect 10s in EGM, while each reviewer
rates the individual aspects of the game with 8s 9s and 10s. It makes no sense
to give a game with visuals of 8, sound of 10, ingenuity of 8 and replayability
of 8 a perfect 10 because the reviewer said he had fun, or because it's going
to be popular.
Shinobi is scored with three 7/10s in the same magazine. Even though they admit
that its character is fresh and original, and the gameplay is flawless, each
reviewer claims that they didn't have as much fun as they could have, had the
level design been different. Yet none of them specifically details what they
didn't like about the levels, or how they could have been better, much less
a game that does better than Shinobi does. So they marked the game down because
their imaginations held back their enjoyment of the game.
Another example is Gamespot.com's Toe Jam & Earl for Xbox review. It's accused
of being a 6/10, or "mediocre" not for having unoriginal or flawed
gameplay, but for not being funny or hip enough for the reviewer. He even goes
as far as to say that the gameplay is just as good as the original, with the
additions of the second game, and even more additions on top of that, including
boss fights. But simply didn't have "fun" with the game because it
didn't pinch his ultra-cool funny bone, and that it wasn't hip enough for him.
Reviews such as these are unacceptable. Publishing in high circulation magazines
and web pages that one game is perfect, based only on a reviewer's tastes of
fun, or witty, and not on the gameplay compared to similar games at all, is
wreckless and wrong. These sites and magazines determine what the public wants,
and they are basing their decisions on their own enjoyment, rather than the
technical aspects of the games they should be focusing on.