The GTA Story – 2D fun: GTA and GTA 2

It’s not that long a wait until Grand Theft Auto V invites us back to San Andreas. But there’s still time to remember the humble beginnings of the GTA series back in 1997 (although 1977’s hilarious movie Grand Theft Auto deserves a honorary mention, too).

Grand Theft Auto – The birth

The original. The first GTA, presented in top-down 2D. Unfortunately, the game has aged rather badly … on PS1, the first two games are actually rather awful because of the wobbly and clunky controls. However, the free PC version (just google it; it’s available everywhere) allow for a better experience.

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the original GTA is … GOURANGA! If you have no clue what it means, just watch here:

In retrospect, GTA’s three city names are pretty prophetic: You start out in Liberty City (basically New York divided into 3 different districts), proceed to Vice City (Miami, of course) and end up in San Andreas (however, back then, it was only based on San Francisco). Sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?

Sadly, there’s not that much to do in Grand Theft Auto – from today’s spoilt perspective: You can take on missions (you have to accumulate points to advance in the game), go on rampages or simply move freely in the world. Yes, Rockstar’s humour is in their, so you might want to enjoy that … but basically, the first GTA is an infant – you can sense the potential, but from today’s perspective, there’s not much to go back to.

There are also the add-ons London 1969 and London 1961. They’re basically more of the same – with driving on the left and some British thrown in there (but please do not expect sophisticated Oxfor English lessons).

In a nutshell: For today’s generation, the game might seem even duller. But for everybody who played GTA back then, it’s still a nice – albeit bumpy – ride down Nostalgia Lane.

Grand Theft Auto 2 – Respect is everything

Ah, the next exit from Nostalgia Lane is GTA 2, the improved successor to the first game.  Gameplay-wise, Grand Theft Auto 2 is an updated GTA 1 (better graphic, refined engine, day/night cycles, trains) – with a nice twist: There are rivalling gangs prowling throughout the nameless metropolis. Complete a mission for one gang, and they respect you. The catch however, is that most missions ask you to mow down rival gang members – and you’ll lose respect with them. Tough world, eh?

While the idea was revolutionary, and Rockstar never followed up on it, it was actually the Mercenaries series that refined this idea with disguises and complex reward systems … Anyway, GTA 2 is more fun than its predecessor, and thanks to the handy save feature (churches with a “Jesus saves” logo), it is possible to enjoy GTA 2 in smaller chunks or in multiplayer sessions! Yep, hunting each other in 2D is still fun.

Rabidgames sighs: Shame. The idea of re-experiencing GTA 1 has been more enjoyable than actually playing it. GTA 2 has more to offer, and it is pretty much fun to cruise through the city for a while. But then again, after the while, you’ll put GTA 2 down for another couple of years … Is the 2D sandbox genre dead? Probably not: newer 2D releases like GTA Chinatown or Retro City Rampage show it can still be fun.


5 Responses to “The GTA Story – 2D fun: GTA and GTA 2”

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