How often can you say that 10 minutes changed your life, even if it is your gaming life? Grand Theft Auto did that for me.
Where it began for me
Grand Theft Auto had been in the news with threats of it being removed from the shelves of all stores, stupidity at it’s highest level. This inevitably lead to playground chatter at school – what was this game, how bad could it be etc.. Way to go on making more people want to buy the game than avoid it.
It then dropped, the Official PlayStation Magazine was going to run a demo and most importantly, it was going to be playable.
I remember running to my newsagent and buying the Official PlayStation Magazine. The disc was Number 11 Vol 2 but for the life of me, I can’t tell you what edition of the magazine it was.
Now I never normally bought these magazines, they were always pricey but this had to be done. Ramish had one copy which I snatched off his shelves before running back in the dark. Looking back now I can see some good demos on the disc but honestly, we only played the one.
Grand Theft Auto was fully playable and rather than be limited to one mission, players were given 10 minutes. As soon as the time limit was reached, the game reset and you had to launch it once more from the menu. We loved every damn second of that demo. IT BLEW OUR MINDS.
The full Grand Theft Auto experience
Inside of 24 hours we had the full copy of Grand Theft Auto for PlayStation in our hands. My brother went out the next morning and picked it from the St Albans Dixons. It seemed to be the last copy as someone had hidden it behind several other games. Sorry if we took it from you but all is fair in war and gaming.
The next few days saw my two brothers and me taking it in turns to cause as much carnage as we could. Missions were played through but initially, it was much more fun finding Hare Krishna’s to run over. Brutal but fun.
Eventually we discovered the true depths of the game which lead to realising how big the game world was. It might be small in comparison to the likes of GTA V but for this era of gaming, it was fabulous. Of course, the game didn’t open up immediately making you complete missions to open up further areas. Any concern over the game getting boring was lost when we saw the streets expand in front of us.
Time to be honest – there was at least one occasion when playing this that I peed myself a little. All three of us sat around a small portable TV, performing terrible murders made me laugh way too much. That could say something about me – let’s not go there.
What happened after?
I changed my pants but hey, we’re still talking about Grand Theft Auto at this point.
Grand Theft Auto London 1969 was released which I totally missed – it’s now on the list to play at some point soon. A quick recap – it was an add-on that also got a non add-on version for PS1. To me, it always looked chunkier on the graphics but will update you when I get round to playing it.
1999 got the next biggest update in the series, Grand Theft Auto 2. Improved graphics, lighting effects with night and day, more vehicles, a load of interesting weapons and an even bigger map. This time the game gave us gangs to deal with and respect meters that changed based on what you did to each group; it became surprisingly complex keeping tabs on who was trying to kill you.
Although I played through the game both on PC, Dreamcast and PlayStation, my fondest memories are from LAN parties. GTA 2 had a fantastic multiplayer option that gave us frag, point or flag based game options. Additional powerups were also thrown in including my favourite, instant posse which saw all the NPCs around you becoming your gang.
The last time I truly got excited about Grand Theft Auto as a series was GTA III. We bought a PlayStation 2 and bundled GTA 3 with it. The graphics were no longer 2.5D and the world again, had gotten bigger. We now had a huge city, could perform sex acts in a car and god knows how much more – it made GTA 1 look VERY tame.
Finally.. which is my favourite Grand Theft Auto?
Want me to be honest? My heart still stays with Grand Theft Auto from 1997, it’s simplistic graphics and idea is what made it such a success. It wasn’t too hard but had enough challenge to make the game something you wanted to return to. Yes, all the other games have got better graphics or bigger maps but they never had the charm I got from number 1.
As for Grand Theft Auto 6? I’m looking forward to playing it, I just can’t see it expanding on anything new except graphics.