Grand Theft Auto 2
Some games ooze violence. Others are just so crammed full of the stuff that one touch from a slightly impetuous being and the whole thing will go up in smoke. GTA2 is one such game. Be warned – this game will make murderous, heartless, road-raged souls of all and sundry, no matter how pious you might think you are. Prepare to be shocked. Prepare to sell your soul to Satan. Welcome to the criminal hotbed of GTA2.
When the first game was released back in 1997 it received widespread condemnation from all quarters, and it even caught the eyes of MPs who tried to get it banned… unsuccessfully. Which is good news for all you wannabe criminals who fancy a bit of notoriety, and not so good news for your parents. Hey, at least it keeps you off the streets… for now. What GTA2 offers in terms of gameplay is totally unique and although it takes a while to get to grips with the control and the general methods of the game, it is ultimately utterly satisfying and murderously good fun to play.
The background story to GTA2 is like something straight out of Goodfellas or The Blue Brothers, with gangsters polluting the streets and cops, FBI agents and even the army chasing after you, vying to be the ones to bring you down. You’re a lone ranger operating within the city with the sole objective of thieving and earning as much hard cash as possible ($1,000,000) in order to get to the next sector of the game, of which there are three (Downtown, Residential and Industrial). But the ultimate aim – the jewel in the crown – is to become the leader of the city’s crime syndicates, head honcho, the king of New York – but it ain’t going to be easy.
Within each sector there are three gangs – made up of either the Loonies, Zaibatsu, Yakuza, Rednecks, SRS Scientists, Russians or the Krishnas – for whom you can do jobs in order to get the necessary cash. It might sound easy enough, but here’s the catch. Unsurprisingly, all the gangs have an inbred hate of each other, which means that if you do work for one gang, the others aren’t going to be too impressed with you. In each sector you have a ‘Respect’ level from the gangs and if that falls below a certain level they’re going to shoot at you every opportunity they get. It’s up to you to use your diplomatic skills and play them for the fools they are. But it’s a dangerous game and your life’s on the line.
However, if you thought that the gang members were your biggest problem then think again, because the cops are hot on your heels, gagging to bust you for your crimes. For every atrocity you commit, be it gunning down or even running down innocent by-standers, stealing cars or blowing up buildings, the cops’ interest in your activities will increase until they bust you before throwing you out onto the streets. This means that you have to be on your toes at all times because with an entire city out for your blood, it’s far from a safe place to be. All this makes for some of the most thrilling and varied gameplay yet seen on the Dreamcast, as it combines elements of driving games, adventure games and beat-’em-ups, thus making for a veritable feast of madcap, adrenaline-pumping action. And believe us, it really is mad.
However, although the gameplay of GTA2 is by far and away the best aspect of the game it doesn’t slack in the other departments like some games are apt to. Graphically, GTA2 is hardly of a next-gen quality with its top down view, but nonetheless it does have some really good effects, not least of which is the light-sourcing on the explosions that frequent the city-scape. There’s no room for argument where the frame rate is concerned, with slow-down and other graphical glitches nowhere to be seen – even when the screen is littered with burnt out cars and dying pedestrians. Even the sound effects of the game don’t let it down, with a refreshingly varied amount of music blaring from the car radios, making for a suitable accompaniment to the action.
At the end of a long hard day trawling the streets, bloodying the hands and carrying out some rather distasteful jobs, GTA2 still remains a top game, even after having had outings on the PC and PlayStation. It might not be very nextgen, but there’s no denying the pleasure that can be derived from the various activities, pleasant or not. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some money to collect and some people to kill…