Oct 23, 2011

What Grand Theft Auto 3 Means to Me

I remember the first time I played Grand Theft Auto 3. I was hanging out at my friend Tino's house. He was glued to the TV playing this game on his PS2. I saw him in a car driving around a city. I noticed how there weren't any boundaries to where he could drive. He was free to drive wherever he wanted. "This isn't a racing game." I said to myself.

"What is this?" I asked.
"Grand Theft Auto" Tino said.

For real? The Grand Theft Auto I remembered was the game with the overhead camera view. The Grand Theft Auto I knew was the one where you had to hold X to walk and the missions were hard. I wasn't a fan of Grand Theft Auto 1 or 2. I pretty much wrote the series off, and here is this cool game that my friend is calling Grand Theft Auto.

"Can I play?" I asked.
"Yea" Tino says.

He hands me the control and I begin driving. I was in a Kuruma driving around Chinatown.

"Press L2," Tino suggested.

I pressed it and noticed the camera shifting to look out the left window of the car.
"Alright, now hold L2 and press O," he continued.

That was the moment I fell in love with Grand Theft Auto 3. Something about being able to do drive-bys just blew me away. From that point on, I had a feeling Grand Theft Auto 3 was going to be a classic. It was time to jump into the next generation of videogames. No more Nintendo 64, it was time for a PlayStation 2.

Not too long after I played the game at Tino's house, more of my friends had copies of GTA 3. It got to the point where you had to have played the game to be cool in my middle school. It got to the point where you had to have played the game to be cool in my middle school. I would sleep over friends houses just to play GTA 3 all night. I remember one night when my buddy Tom and I jammed to Rise FM for like two hours. We put Claude in a car and just zoned out to the six songs on that radio station.

Grand Theft Auto 3 became so popular that by the time I went to buy it four months later, I had to bring my mother because the lady at Toys "R" Us said I was too young to get it myself. It's crazy because I could have bought Halo: Combat Evolved, which had the same rating, with no problems. At the time, Toys "R" Us had games on shelves, so all you had to do was bring one to a register to purchase it. With GTA 3, I remember having to go to customer service and specifically ask for the title.

I didn't want the game because of the controversy surrounding it. I wanted it because it was incredibly fun. If it was boring but still naughty, I don't think anybody would care enough to want to play it. Instead it's this phenomenal release that just so happens to contain drugs, violence, and prostitutes.

On this 10-year anniversary of Grand Theft Auto 3, I wonder when that next landmark game will arrive. A game that creates a new genre and gets it right. An original game that inspires copycats that are both good and bad, but never better. A game that every player knows about. A game that unites us as gamers. It'll be here one day.

Happy Birthday Grand Theft Auto 3. You changed everything.

Oct 9, 2011