Pages: 1 2 3
Review by: Nick Stewart
Published: January 21, 2000
When the original Grand Theft Auto was released a few years back, it was condemned by parents and politicians the world over as the next cultural Armageddon, the poison that would corrupt their children’s lives. Legislators rushed to counteract what they presumed to be a malevolent presence in the gaming community, and to some extent were successful, as the ultraviolent GTA was subsequently banned from several countries. This tongue-in-cheek action and driving title brazenly paraded its over-the-top penchant for violence in a somewhat familiar urban setting, the likes of which had not been seen before on computer screens. It was a highly entertaining, yet flawed jaunt as the player assumed the role of a mob thug looking to make it big by accomplishing various Mafia-minded missions. While GTA‘s recently released sequel might not be as innovatively destructive as its predecessor, one cannot help but imagine that it will become another legislative buzzword in this, the post-Columbine era.
Those who played the original will find the basic goals of Grand Theft Auto 2 rather familiar: As a wannabe thug in the near future, you must successfully complete missions for various gangs to make enough cash to move on to the next area of town. As is necessary for a sequel, however, a certain amount of depth has been added. Unlike the original and its expansion pack, which only offered one mob with which to align yourself, there are seven different available gangs with differing motives and modus operandi spanning across the city. Thanks to three Respect-O-Meters that sit perched in the upper left corner of your screen, you can monitor just how well you are liked or disliked in the eyes of the various gangs that dwell in that particular area of town. In order to make the big bucks, you need to be highly respected by a particular gang–and this involves incurring the wrath of one of their rivals. Want to get in good with the Zaibatsu? Then mow down a horde of Loonie gang members, or steal one of their cars and take it to the Zaibatsu crushing gates. Of course, such flagrantly hostile actions against a gang will draw the highly focused attention of that gang’s members. If you’ve butchered a slew of Loonies, then be prepared to speed through their neighborhoods, as they will openly fire upon your vehicle. This system of gang alignment is an interesting twist, although players will find themselves forced to eventually join all the gangs in the area just to acquire the needed cash to proceed.
The setting accurately reflects that GTA2 takes place in the future. The Mustangs and pick-up trucks that so heavily populated the original are gone, replaced by various futuristic means of transportation. Fortunately, the vehicles are still somewhat recognizable, as you know just by looking at them that a sleek and flashy car will be a faster and tighter turning ride than the bulky wide-load truck. The city atmosphere is also indicative of the time shift, as buildings resemble something seen in the later stages of SimCity 2000, and criminals and their illicit activities fill the streets. Gang members are present everywhere in the sprawling metropolis, identifiable by their colors. Walking down the street is no longer the safe trip it once was, as you could easily find yourself mugged, beaten up or even caught in the crossfire of an inter-gang war.
GTA2 draws much of its strength from its gleeful non-linearity, and the player need not directly proceed from mission to mission in the course of daily criminal life. As a carjacker, the city is their oyster, and the player can go anywhere, carjack anything, and practically do whatever they please. Sick of delivering packages? Take a break by stealing an ice cream truck and mowing down a crowd of unwitting pedestrians. Not in the mood to paint the sidewalks red? Then take a scenic ride on a monorail before continuing your path of destruction and mayhem. The world is very much an open book, as the detail has been much improved over the original. If you steal a cab, people jump into the back, fully expecting you to take them to their destination–and leap back out when they realize that you won’t, usually after you’ve committed vehicular homicide. Beware after you’ve pulled a driver from his own vehicle, as he might get back up, reach into his car, grab you by the throat, and throw you to the pavement before getting back in and speeding away. GTA2 draws you into its world more fully than the original, making its city seem that much more like a living, breathing entity.
Pages: 1 2 3