Grand Theft Auto 2
Compared to the PlayStation GTA2, the only thing different--or I should say enhanced--about this version of the game is the graphics. In fact, they look so smooth, they're more akin to those found in the PC version of Rockstar's top-down criminal simulator. Does this make the game better? To a degree, yes. The best part of GTA2 on the PlayStation is its old-school yet complex gameplay, chock-full of missions, dozens of gangstas to deal with and a crap load of stuff to destroy. Ah, but the graphics on the PlayStation were...how do you say...poo-poo. No, they didn't hurt the game much--they just made it look terribly dated. Now that everything in the DC version is dynamically lit, anti-aliased and who knows what else, there isn't anything to complain about. Well, there's one thing: The control. Why not let us use the digital pad instead of the analog. The digital pad just feels so much more natural with this old-school type of play. Other than that, everything is fine. It's just as addictive, just as challenging, lust as funny...and strangely serious at the same time. The nice thing is (and it's the same way in the PlayStation version) you can pick what crime organization you become allies with. So if you play through one time siding with the Zaibatsu, the next time you play you can side with a different gang, and have a different experience. It's this sort of depth that makes this game stand out from the rest.
There's really no reason to play this version of the game if you've already played the PS version.Gameplay-wise, it's identical. The only real difference--besides it being smoother--are the slightly overdone ambient lighting effects (although it gives the game a grittier feel). Unfortunately, you can't configure the left/right control to use the digital pad--an option I'd liked to have had considering that the analog control is very touchy. On-screen text often gets lost against the lighting effects, making it a bit hard to read when you're on the run. Just seems like there could have been more attention to detail in bringing the game to the DC.
I'm all for mature-themed games, but I also want them to be fun to play. I found GTA 2 to be a little too methodical for my tastes--there's just too much running and driving around the city for the sake of doing so, and it's not too enjoyable. Wreaking havoc on the city streets is only amusing the first 20 or so times, after all. The control scheme is a little convoluted no matter which preset you turn on, and they could have really taken more advantage of the Dreamcast's power--there isn't much here that couldn't be done on a PlayStation. If you're a sucker for bad words and senseless violence, give it a shot, but just don't expect a deep game beyond that.
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I have a little problem: I've played GTA2 so much, it's actually turning me into a hardened criminal. Or at least it's making me swear like one. No, not because it's a bad game--GTA2 is just really difficult most of the time. If it's not the rival gangs, it's the cops. If it's not the cops, it's the occasional cabbie who runs you down. There are lots of ways to get screwed in GTA2, and each one is maddening. I guess this would be a bad thing with most games, but with GTA2 I just had to come back for more. It's like an addiction...an incredibly fun addiction. I had to complete that next job for the Zaibatsu, no matter the cost (about $30 for the Dual Shock I just destroyed in a fit of rage). And that's what's funny about the game. There's plenty of humor in it (what's funnier than running people over and delivering controlled substances to street-corner dealers?), but there's also a very real side to GTA2. You have jobs to complete (tots and lots of jobs) and rival gangs to wreak havoc upon. When you first start playing, you do all sorts of crazy stuff simply because you can. But once you start getting big jobs for whatever gang you decide to side with, you stop screwing around and get serious. After all, you need the street cred and mad bank to advance in the game. GTA2 will take you a long time to finish, so it's definitely worth the dough.
Fun? Yes. Funny? Sure. Obscene? Hell yeah. GTA 2 is all those things, held together by surprisingly catchy gameplay. It's the type of game that lets you explore and do your own thing while still going about your mission objectives. The excellent Al of the original game is even smarter; city residents, cops and gang members exhibit more realistic and complicated behavior patterns. I love your car's radio chatter, but the sound effects can get annoying.
Who would've thought there's so much strategy and technique involved in committing illegal acts and distributing illegal substances. I never played the first GTA, but you really don't need to have played it to jump right into this one. I agree with Shawn that this game is a lot of fun, but is also really frustrating. Graphics aren't anything to go nuts over, but the radio feature is very cool. If you feel like breaking a few laws, this is your game.
I'm with the school of thought that says the first GTA sold well due to its notoriety, not because it was a great game. Well, with GTA 2, they've capitalized on its pop-cultural appeal (Moving Shadow records... yes!) and upped the dosage of hip urban sponsorships. But there's definitely enough here to set it apart from Its former self. Like the fact that different gangs will react to you based on your reputation. Check this out if you liked GTA.
The original GTA did quite well in worldwide sales considering it received such bad press because of its adult nature. If negative press is any indicator of sales though, GTA 2 should sell tons since it has even more violence than GTA.
But GTA 2 isn't strictly about violence--there is a game underneath that stuff, you know. So off you go, taking on job after job of various criminal natures, killing and maiming along the way in different types of cars with different types of guns. Overall, there are three levels, with around 25 jobs and mini-jobs per level--an even more robust package than the original. There are also mini-games for points. This time around there's only one city to cause havoc in--but there are multiple gangs within the city, so it balances out. Like any good criminal, you don't really work for any one gang. Instead, you align yourself with them by completing jobs or doing bad stuff to a gang's enemy. Of course, by helping one gang, you usually upset another. You can tell how you're faring with a particular gang by your Respect Meter. When it's low with a particular gang, they'll start blasting with no delay. Nice thing is, your gang chums will come defend you. Like the first, there are tons of vehicles to jack, each having its own feel. GTA 2 also has special vehicles. For example, if you're driving a taxi, you can actually make money from picking up fares. Same goes for the ice cream truck, except you pull up to the curb and sell some frozen delights for cash. You can then use this extra dough to trick out your vehicle with Spy Hunter-esque upgrades, or simply get it painted to confuse the 5-0.
But the cops won't stay away for too long--they're smarter in GTA 2 than in the original. If you cause too much damage or kill too many innocent folk, you'll be chased (there are some consequences to your actions after all). The more bad stuff you do, the worse it gets--so much so that eventually the feds will come to town, and then the army. But you need to kill and destroy for points and money...so the game is a 30- to 40-hour-long balancing act really.