Two sequels and an army of games similar to GTA

Last month Grand Theft Auto III turned 20 years old. Although it seems ungodly outdated these days, this game was once the basis for several sequels and a countless army of imitators. The only pity is that the general nostalgia for the anniversary of GTA III was quickly replaced by not just disappointment, but a loud scandal. The audience was already in absentia opposed to the reissue of Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition : this provided both declared “war” to modders , and strange graphics, as if inspired by Fortnite , and removing original versions of the trilogy from stores.

But the real devil, as it turned out after the release, was hidden in the program code: the outsourcing team Grove Street Games not only did not eradicate many bugs of the past, but also literally drowned the updated trilogy in dozens or even hundreds of new ones. The apotheosis of was problems with starting the game in the launcher Rockstar Games – there was simply no limit to the righteous anger of users. And it seems that we will not see this limit for at least a month: the entire Internet laughs at the trilogy, spreading gifs and videos with most egregious bugs. And some breakdowns are ruled by the enthusiasts themselves, without waiting for patches from the creators.

However, an important segment of the history of video games is connected with the old GTA times of the PS2 . In fact, this is a whole layer of culture: if the third part allowed Rockstar Games to really loudly declare itself, then the sequels literally made their creators the most rock stars in the industry, on which many developers are still equal. Therefore, we suggest at least for a while forget about the disappointments that the Definitive Edition brought, and remember how Rockstar once developed its ideas and gave other developers the opportunity to compete in creating “their GTA”.

Наследие GTA III: два продолжения и армия подражателей

It was in the 80s

Even though that the practice of releasing add-ons was not even close to being entrenched on consoles in the early 2000s, Vice City originally was intended as a set of missions for GTA III. It would seem that the engine and the basic foundation of the mechanics already exist – why be too smart? However, the team’s enthusiasm at some point grew to great ambition. Moreover, Rockstar, which by that time had absorbed DMA Design , could afford a lot. Including licensing a huge music library, which would perfectly highlight the spirit of the 80s. The entire collection of golden classics of that era was used, from Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, Michael Jackson, Laura Branigan to Hall & Oates. Unsurprisingly, fans took on the the absence of a number of iconic tracks in the remaster with hostility.

If the third part showed dark, rainy and almost noir pseudo-New York, then Vice City is cheeky Miami. With endless drinking, neon-flooded streets and, of course, rampant crime. About the same Miami as the audience remembered it “Scarfaces” , but still played in an ironic way.

The frivolity reigning in the previous parts only intensified in Vice City. In many ways, this was facilitated by a new approach to the script: if Claude in GTA III silently nodded in response to any remarks, then Tommy Vercetti, voiced by Ray Liotta, chatted incessantly, swore and, in general, was the very anti-hero who still wanted to empathize. The plot in Vice City, of course, will lose miserably the same fifth part, but by the standards of those years it was an excellent script work.

However, open-world games in at that time they still seemed innovative, so the hilarious dialogues of the heroes interested the players much less than the gameplay itself, which took a significant step forward. The ability to start a story mission at any time and hardcore skirmishes with the police created many unique situations. You never know in advance what scenario the next shootout or chase will follow, if you can always steal the nearest car and run away in any direction.

Now this, of course, seems ridiculous, but then the addition of a full-fledged city map greatly changed the usual game process. GTA never coddled players, every now and then bringing to white heat with its sudden jumps in difficulty: the memorable “mission with a helicopter” will not let you lie. But there was also a number of tasks for a while, where it was extremely important to see the end point on the map and plan a route to it not at random (and not on an inconvenient paper map).

And the appearance of a two-wheeled vehicle greatly simplified many firefights: if earlier it was possible to attack enemies on the move only with side firing, now no one forbade you to sit behind an enemy car and famously release a couple of clips into it. Tactical advantages in battle were also given by the ability to shoot through tires, pierce the windshield and destroy opponents long before they deign to get out of the car. Nice little things also include the chance to change the default clothes for a fashionable suit, as well as start a business: first you need to complete a number of assignments, and then reap the fruits of your labors, collecting a regularly updated “bribe” at certain points.

As a result, Vice City not only greatly improved and diversified the gameplay of its predecessor, but also became an excellent time machine for those who missed the eighties or, on the contrary, wanted to get acquainted with that era. In Vice City, everything came together in a single picture: presentation, visual aesthetics and, of course, the soundtrack. And in the same vein was sustained and followed two years later San Andreas .

Ah shit, here we go again

N-word jokes , the criminal romance of the ghetto, the abundance of swearing … Dan Hauser, of course, did not pour out quite explicit gags of the level of the cult “Do not threaten South Central” , but still did not deny himself the pleasure of walking literally all the stereotypes about the black population of the United States. Particularly comical to the San Andreas plot was given by the most repulsed and caricatured characters, first-class voice acting (an unknown rapper at that time and not even an actor Christopher Young Maylay Bellard produced a performance that some pros would envy), and in the case of the Russian version of the game – also “Spent” translation. But, as in the case of the previous installments, the gameplay has been and remains the central element that has held the attention of gamers around the world. And then Rockstar took not just a big step forward, but a jump over the abyss.

The truly record size of the game world is far behind everything that came out in the genre before. Moreover, not only the volumes were amazed, but also the transition from one city to another. And it was better (at least at first) to get from one to the other by land: in this case, endless se vast expanses never seen before in GTA. If we talk about the scale in general, then never before have games so reliably recreated the feeling of being in a real metropolis. With all due respect to Shenmue 2 with its imposing Hong Kong at the time and the ability to chat with every passerby, it was still a relatively intimate and script-oriented game. And in the world of San Andreas, even despite the presence of a map, in the first hours it was easy to get lost.

And such a scale was not given to him at all for beauty – Rockstar enriched new GTA with so much content that any other JRPG would envy. The attention to detail was incredible: San Andreas brought the ability to customize cars (not Need for Speed ​​Underground , of course, but also with nitro and neon lighting), changes in the hero’s appearance (not only costumes, but also pumping leading to improved characteristics, and haircuts) and an endless number of side quests. If a person who sat down at San Andreas for the first time set out to complete the game at 100%, then, most likely, hundreds of hours would not have been enough for him. Without taking into account the replaying of failed missions. Moreover, if you neglect the wishes of the lady or – God forbid! – to attach it with a bouquet of flowers, it negatively affected the relationship. If the bar of mutual sympathy fell too low, this was followed by parting. But here’s what’s funny: this seemingly not very necessary activity is associated with an erotic mini-game embedded in San Andreas, access to which was removed in the release version, but the files themselves were left. Therefore, the modders quickly restored it, after which happened more one high-profile scandal is almost worse than accusations of propaganda of violence. After all, having intercourse automatically meant that San Andreas was awarded a more “adult” rating of 18+, due to which the game could be withdrawn from sale.

However, neither the next hype in the press, nor the legal costs in any way affected the reputation and financial condition of Rockstar. Game sales exceeded all expectations: only in the first week in North America realized more than 2 million copies, while San Andreas remained a PS2 exclusive for more than half a year. On this positive note, we will (for now) close the topic of the original GTA and move on to an equally interesting conversation about its followers.

Mr. Salieri sends you greetings

The legendary Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven from the Czech Illusion Softworks , previously noted only as a tactical shooter Hidden & Dangerous . According to the original idea , “Mafia” was supposed to become a purely racing analogue Driver in the unbroken US setting of the 1930s. And, most likely, such a format would have brought the game only fleeting popularity, as happened with other imitators of “Carrier”, which were enough at the turn of two centuries. But, fortunately, the enthusiastic Daniel Wavra stepped in.

Inspired by The Sopranos , the game designer decided move away from the original concept towards a story-driven adventure. And such radical changes, of course, required additional development time, so instead of the planned 2000 Mafia came out two years later. By that time, gamers, who had just waited for the port of GTA III on PC, had not yet had time to really play enough of it, so Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, although it was received with enthusiasm, but did not sell as well as the super popular brainchild of DMA Design.

Since GTA III was then in the spotlight, reviewers and gamers alike automatically labeled it as a clone of any open-world game, car chases and gunfights. In fact, there was not much in common between her and Mafia: different aesthetics, a different approach to gameplay (most of the missions took place in separate locations, and the city was mainly used only for travel) and, most importantly, to the plot. Vavra did not turn everything into a joke – on the contrary, he saturated the narrative with serious drama, and put human values ​​in the center of attention. By the standards of cinema, it was a rather ordinary sketch on the theme of a man who, by the will of fate, joined a mafia family, but at the same time was struggling not to become a complete bastard. Not like the same silent Claude from GTA III, ready to do any dirty work without the slightest hesitation. But by the standards of the games of the time, it was an outstanding screenwriting work, which was emphasized by an equally outstanding technical execution.

Graphics Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven against the background of cartoon GTA III seemed to be the very “photorealism” about which the press was especially active in the first half of the 2000s

It was only possible to find fault with unreasonably high difficulty in a couple of places: then enemies They shot the Thompson protagonist from a hundred meters with the accuracy of seasoned snipers, then the users were required to go through a merciless race – and this is in the game, which in its final form had an extremely indirect relationship to driving. On the other hand, GTA III also suffered from kinks in complexity, and in general it was a time when hardcore had not yet gone out of fashion.

International flavor

True Crime: Streets of LA from the authors of the cult dilogy Vigilante 8 also brought a lot of new things for so that she is not branded as another GTA clone (although the journalists, of course, was more visible ). Firstly, a cop was made the main character here, who, however, also did not hesitate to steal other people’s cars, destroy the city and kill innocent citizens. However, such a cheeky passing style led to a decrease in reputation and, as a result, a different ending. Also, the path of a bad cop ended for the protagonist with aggression from passers-by and the pursuit of special forces.

Another important element is the lack of the usual GTA gameplay integrity. And here it is just right to recall some of the very first games in realistically executed cities: Shenmue and Omikron: The Nomad Soul . Moving around the city and chasing in True Crime was done in the manner of GTA, but hand-to-hand combat became actually a separate game. It had a fairly deep combat system with several types of attacks and combos, and the camera during fights changed its angle to a side view, like in fighting games.

True Crime Dilogy

Shootings could have taken place from a view m both from the third and from the first person, in addition, they implemented a cover system that was not yet available in either GTA or Mafia at that time. And since the player was given the opportunity to act out the role of a law-abiding guardian of order, the color of the sight made it possible to monitor whether the injury would be lethal.

If we talk about the game in general, then True Crime: Streets of LA, like Mafia, still relied not on freedom in the open world, but on story missions and narrative. And if with the first everything worked out with dignity, then with the second, alas, it did not work out. Even the acting of Gary Oldman did not help the script “in the best traditions” of the Hong Kong bi-movie – his antagonist turned out, albeit not entirely faceless, but certainly not equal to the bright characters of Vice City.

Nevertheless, True Crime: Streets of LA became commercially successful, so two years later the second part was released, where the action moved to New York, and the Asian protagonist was replaced by an African American – a former criminal who decided to retrain as a cop … And here the situation with the game literally turned 180 degrees. While many of its predecessor’s elements were new in 2003, getting pretty much the same thing in 2005 – after San Andreas with its rich content – wasn’t all that fun. The disastrous sales put an end to the sequel, which was supposed to be released on the next generation consoles and move the action to Hong Kong. Instead, in 2012, Sleeping Dogs based in part on backlog of work.

Drove with bullet holes

But an incident happened to the aforementioned Driver. If the first two parts largely pushed DMA Design to move into three dimensions, then Driver 3 (sorry, DRIV3R ) was created with an eye on GTA times of PS2. Precisely with a glance – and even then through a tiny hole in a bullet-through wall. Reflections Interactive failed in irony or serious drama, producing (for the third time in a row) the most insipid story about an undercover cop. The gameplay did not offer the freedom of action and variety of missions that Vice City could boast, and in general suffered from strange physics, which only exacerbated the excessive complexity of individual missions. In general, DRIV3R took all the worst from GTA and instead offered only three cities and better graphics, but this was not enough not only to compete with Grand Theft Auto, but even for the status of a good game as such.

By the way, DRIV3R is also associated with loud scandal – a kind of proto-gamergate at minimum salaries. Although most of the media gave it low marks, the publications PSM2 and Xbox World gave the game a whopping 9 points. Both magazines were published by the British company Future plc , which is why readers began to suspect the publisher of conspiracy with Atari , which paid for positive reviews … On the forum GamesRadar (also owned by Future) a rather pitiful discussion flared up with the expected accusations of “corruption” – of course, all this promptly deleted by moderators.

Наследие GTA III: два продолжения и армия подражателей

DRIV3R and Driver : Parallel Lines

And although the DRIV3R scandal did not grow to the scale of a real gamergate, there was still a residue. But since everyone has the right to make a mistake, the creators did not stop there – and already in 2006, two years after the release of the third part, Driver: Parallel Lines . Apparently, Reflections felt that their previous creation failed due to poor shooting mechanics – otherwise how can you explain the step back in terms of mechanics? The focus was again shifted to the side of the ride, giving much less attention to the shootings. Against the background of the perfectly balanced San Andreas in this regard, where shooting carried away no less chases, such gameplay seemed outdated and seemed to be stuck between Driver 2 and GTA III. But I must admit that Parallel Lines also had an important advantage: the abrupt change in the campaign setting (the jump from 1978 to 2006) looked fresh.

What’s left behind the scenes

Finally, let us briefly remind you of other projects that were designed in a similar manner and became for fans of the genre with a good opportunity to while away the time until the release of the fourth GTA.

For example,

The Godfather from future authors Dead Space turned out to be a good successor to the traditions of Mafia – as, incidentally, and Scarface: The World is Yours … These were not exactly linear action games, but the open world in both games did not reach the level of GTA freedom. It is noteworthy that in “The Godfather” the plot was a free retelling of the original source, and even without the voice and appearance of Al Pacino: he preferred to sell the rights to his physiognomy to the creators of Scarface. She continued the plot of the film: as planned by the developers, Tony Montana survived the massacre at the villa – the latter, by the way, is excellent parodied in Vice City. But the chain of parodies does not end there: ironically, the creator of Scarface Radical Entertainment in 2003 released its own parody of GTA called The Simpsons: Hit & Run – in a sense, a harbinger of LEGO City Undercover .

Closer to GTA in conceptually steel Saints Row and Crackdown . The first one looked very much like San Andreas and predictably lost to her – but, fortunately, the story did not end there, and by the third part the series took on its face, reducing both the gameplay and the narrative to the level of fussy thrash. But Crackdown was less fortunate – by the way, it was developed by the studio Realtime Worlds founded by David Jones (the same one that once took part in the creation of the first GTA). The first part turned out to be a wonderful “GTA in the future with superpowers” – it is a pity that the sequels did not repeat its success.

The story of Grand Theft Auto itself never thought to end – on the contrary , was preparing for the transition to a new generation of consoles in GTA IV … But this is a completely different era, to which we may return closer to the release of the next reissue – they say that it’s just around the corner.

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