Rockstar Games | Grand Theft Auto Redefined The Gaming Industry
If you call yourself a gamer, you should be familiar with the Grand Theft Auto series by Rockstar Games. This company has taken a game from being a fun shooter with an acceptable storyline, to a multitude of games with unbelievable longevity. When I say longevity in this sense, I mean how long the average gamer will replay and keep the game. Since GTA V was released with online capability, the game has grown into an international giant. By releasing downloadable content and expansions, Rockstar has been able to make GTA V one of the biggest sellers in the gaming market for over 10 years by itself.
Let’s go back to the beginning.
The first version of Grand Theft Auto came to the market in 1997. At first, this game was exclusively for the PC, but by 1998 it was ported for the Playstation 1 console. This game was only two dimensional, but still had a solid fan base. Other platforms such as the Gameboy Color, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, and Dreamcast. This 2D game has its own “universe” compared to the later installments which were 3D and HD universes. Each of the universes have their own individual characteristics. Only the main characters cross over to newer games and story arcs.
The Original GTA
The biggest draw for the Grand Theft Auto series is the ability to act like a complete maniac in the streets of Liberty City, Vice City, or San Andreas. You can steal cars and rob banks, go on a shooting rampage, and any other illicit activity you can imagine. The first game brought such interest to the series in that the game allowed you to escape reality. It allows the player to essentially step into another reality with no rules.
The artificial intelligence in the game responds to your acts, and the “civilians” even follow basic “laws” like stopping at red lights. The objective of the first game was to amass money as a small time carjacker, and move through the city. This game is so violent in nature that other countries protested it. The wanted to make it illegal due to the graphic nature and ability to act immorally.
Grand Theft Auto 2
GTA 2 came with some updates to keep the interest of gamers by making the game supposedly better. It looked essentially the same as the first installment, with a top down, 2 dimensional view. The gameplay however, was bolstered quite a bit with way more AI involved. The map featured three different “cities” that it was broken into. Each city had at least 3 gangs running around in it at one point in time.
You gain the opportunity to work for these organizations in the game as well. GTA 2 also introduced the ability to earn an “honest” living through being a taxi driver. New weapons appear in GTA 2, and as you cause mayhem and become more wanted, the SWAT team enters. While there were many positive improvements, this installment was not the game that users wanted. They had grown bored of the 2D game play, and wanted something better. Enter GTA III.
Grand Theft Auto III
GTA III came out in the year 2001, and was the first one released using 3D computer graphics. This gave users a new perspective on the gaming world, and allowed for a more intimate experience with the protagonist. By being closer to the characters and able to essentially see from their view, players could get lost for hours wandering around the cities in the game. The detail in the environment was groundbreaking for the series. The Triad gangs would work out of Chinatown while the mobsters lived upstate in lavish mansions. If you stopped, the AI just continued without you, almost like real life. This game was the game for the people. A growing adult audience appreciated the realism, and the ability to act in an absolutely vile manner.
This monstrous game sold over seven million copies on the PS2 platform. It ranked in the top ten for sales in video games for 50 weeks straight. The “realistic” feel of GTA III gave users the feel of being the main character in an action packed gangster movie. The game play was so robust for the time, that people kept playing GTA III long after its release. This game was so popular that it was the winner of the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association’s first ‘Diamond Million Seller’ award.
GTA Vice City
This game built on top of GTA III with absolute utter precision. It took the small details that were lacking in previous versions of the game, such as internal locations, and blew them up for the user. Internal locations are the insides of the buildings that dot all over the map. This game, loosely based on Miami, had over 40 different weapons, 100 different vehicles, and 60 internal locations. The characters had over 8 hours of script, a huge increase over GTA III, along with 8000 clips of pedestrian sound effects and comments. This game was a knockout when it came to improved AI, with pedestrians interacting with each other and police at a much more in depth level. The city seems to be alive with all of the different actions that the AI can take.
GTA San Andreas
San Andreas was the GTA game that cemented the series as an adult game. The story-line follows a similar arc as the movie Boys in the Hood, and immerses the player in the story mode. This game took the AI interactions from previous games and really improved upon it. Gangs attack each other on sight, and CJ (the main character and protagonist) has to deal with turf wars throughout the entire game. The map for San Andreas is huge. It no longer is a city broken up into 3 smaller parts, but instead a state. Character customization took off here. With the ability to change so much about your character, from his clothes, to his tattoos, haircut, and even muscle tone by going to the gym, you can really make your character your own.
The day to day life of your character is completely up to you as well. You can spend your time travelling around the map, working as a taxi driver, vigilante, and many more options. You could even buy a plane ticket or train ticket, or simply steal those vehicles. This game has blended the first style of play, with the vile and violent behavior, with seemingly The Sims because of the amount of detail in regular interactions. San Andreas is one of my favorites throughout the entire series.
This game was a monster. It took nearly everything from previous games and knocked them right out of the park. After its release in 2008, it won the Gaming World Record of the Most Successful Entertainment Launch of All Time and has received numerous other awards. The game-play for GTA IV is much smoother than any previous games, with better combat mechanics, driving, and overall movements. You have the ability to drink and drive in this game, which caused an uproar from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), which resulted in the protagonist saying “I probably shouldn’t be doing this” when driving drunk. GTA IV is by far the most complete game aside from the newest game: GTA V.
The most recent release in the Grand Theft Auto saga, GTA V has been laden with controversy and outrage by different groups and activists. The ability to drink and drive received a lot of backlash from MADD, just as GTA IV did. The fact that there is a portion of the game that you are required to torture someone for information has received backlash from international organizations such as Freedom from Torture, a UK based group. Overall, this game has completely redefined the gaming world. The map is incredibly huge, allowing for seemingly endless hours of free roaming. The mechanics are smooth as butter, allowing you to drive tons of vehicles with almost realistic accuracy. Combat is fluid in the iteration as well, with many weapons, and a robust hand to hand combat ability.
With the introduction of online gaming, and the release of patches, expansions, and huge multiplayer game modes, this game had been able to stay at the front of the market since its original release, selling over 100 million copies. There are multiple racing game types that remind you of Hot Wheels, with high flying stunts and fantastic vehicles. Online cooperative missions also give this game another dimension that retains gamers for the long haul. Until the release of the newest version along with the newest gaming consoles in the next couple years, GTA V has no intention of slowing down, and continues to blow users away.