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Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 26 October 2004 for PlayStation 2, and on 7 June 2005 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox. A high definition remastered version received a physical release for both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on 30 June 2015 and 1 December 2015, respectively. It is the seventh title in the Grand Theft Auto series, and the first main entry since 2002's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It was released on the same day as the handheld game Grand Theft Auto Advance for Game Boy Advance. On 8 June 2018, the game was added to the Xbox One Backward Compatible library.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is played from a third-person perspective in an open world environment, allowing the player to interact with the game world at their leisure. The game is set within the fictional U.S. state of San Andreas, which is heavily based on California and Nevada. The state of San Andreas consists of three metropolitan cities: Los Santos, based on Los Angeles; San Fierro, based on San Francisco; and Las Venturas, based on Las Vegas. The single-player story follows Carl "CJ" Johnson, an ex-gangbanger who returns home to Los Santos from Liberty City after his mother's murder. Carl finds his old friends and family in disarray, and over the course of the game he attempts to re-establish his old gang, clashes with corrupt cops, and gradually unravels the truth behind his mother's murder. The plot is based on multiple real-life events in Los Angeles, including the rivalry between the Bloods, Crips, and Hispanic street gangs, the 1980s crack epidemic, the LAPD Rampart scandal, and the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Considered one of the sixth generation of video gaming's most significant titles, and by many reviewers to be one of the greatest video games ever made, San Andreas received rave reviews by many critics who praised the music, story and gameplay. It became the best-selling video game of 2004, and has sold over 27.5 million copies worldwide as of 2011; it remains the best-selling PlayStation 2 game of all time. The game, like its predecessors, is cited as a landmark in video games for its far-reaching influence within the industry. However, the violence and sexual content of San Andreas has been the source of much public concern and controversy. In particular, a player-made software patch, dubbed the "Hot Coffee mod", unlocked a previously hidden sexual scene. The next main entry in the series, Grand Theft Auto IV, was released in April 2008. San Andreas has been ported to various other platforms and services, such as OS X, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network[6] and mobile devices (iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Fire OS).

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is an action-adventure game with role-playing and stealth elements. Structured similarly to the previous two games in the series, the core gameplay consists of elements in a third-person shooter and a driving game, affording the player a large, open world environment in which to move around. On foot, the player's character is capable of walking, running, sprinting, swimming, climbing and jumping as well as using weapons and various forms of hand-to-hand combat. The player can drive a variety of vehicles, including automobiles, buses, semis, boats, fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, trains, tanks, motorcycles and bikes. The player may also import vehicles in addition to stealing them.

The open, non-linear environment allows the player to explore and choose how they wish to play the game. Although storyline missions are necessary to progress through the game and unlock certain cities and content, they are not required as the player can complete them at their own leisure. When not taking on a storyline mission, the player can freely-roam and look around the cities of San Andreas, eat in restaurants, or cause havoc by attacking people and causing destruction. Creating havoc can attract unwanted and potentially fatal attention from the authorities. The more chaos caused, the stronger the response: police will handle "minor" infractions (attacking pedestrians, pointing guns at people, stealing vehicles, manslaughter, etc.), whereas SWAT teams, the FBI, and the military respond to higher wanted levels.

The player can partake in a variety of optional side missions that can boost their character's attributes or provide another source of income. The traditional side missions of the past games are included, such as dropping off taxi cab passengers, putting out fires, driving injured people to the hospital and fighting crime as a vigilante. New additions include burglary missions, pimping missions, truck and train driving missions requiring the player to make deliveries on time, and driving/flying/boating/biking schools, which help the player learn skills and techniques to use in their corresponding vehicles.

Not all locations are open to the player at the start of the game. Some locales, such as mod garages, restaurants, gyms, and shops, become available only after completing certain missions. Likewise, for the first portion of the game, only Los Santos and its immediate suburbs are available for exploration; unlocking the other cities and rural areas again requires the completion of certain missions. If the player were to travel in locked locations early in the game, they would end up attracting the attention of SWAT teams, police, and police-controlled Hydras if in an aircraft.

Unlike Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, which needed loading screens when the player moved between different districts of the city, San Andreas has no load times when the player is in transit. The only loading screens in the game are for cut-scenes and interiors. Other differences between San Andreas and its predecessors include the switch from single-player to multiplayer Rampage missions (albeit not in the PC version), and the replacement of the 'hidden packages' with spray paint tags, hidden camera shots, horseshoes, and oysters to discover.

Role-playing game features in character development

Rockstar has emphasised the personalisation of the main protagonist by adding role-playing video game elements. Clothing, accessories, haircuts, jewellery, and tattoos are available for purchase by the player, and have more of an effect on non-player characters' reactions than the clothing in Vice City. CJ's level of respect among his fellow recruits and street friends varies according to his appearance and actions, as do his relationships with his girlfriends. The player must ensure CJ eats to stay healthy and exercises properly. The balance of food and physical activity has an effect on his appearance and physical attributes.

San Andreas tracks acquired skills in areas such as driving, firearms handling, stamina, and lung capacity, which improve through use in the game. CJ may learn three different styles of hand-to-hand combat (boxing, kickboxing and kung fu) at the gyms in each of the game's three cities. CJ can speak with a number of pedestrians in the game, responding either negatively or positively. According to Rockstar, there are about 4,200 lines of spoken dialogue for CJ when the cutscenes are excluded.


In total, there are around 250 vehicles in the game compared to approximately 60 in Grand Theft Auto III. New additions include bicycles, a combine harvester, a street sweeper, a jetpack and trailers amongst others. Car physics and features are similar to the Midnight Club series of street racing games, allowing for much more midair vehicle control as well as nitrous upgrades and aesthetic modification.

There are several different classes of vehicles that serve different purposes. Off-road vehicles perform better in rough environments, while racing cars perform better on tracks or on the street. Jets are fast, but usually need a runway to land. Helicopters can land almost anywhere and are much easier to control in the air, but are slower. While previous Grand Theft Auto games had only a few aircraft that were difficult to access and fly, San Andreas has eleven fixed-wing aircraft and nine helicopters and makes them more integral in the game's missions. There is also the ability to skydive from aircraft, using a parachute. Several boats were added, while some were highly modified.

Other additions and changes

Other new features and changes from previous Grand Theft Auto games include:
  • Gang wars: Battles with enemy gangs are prompted whenever the player ventures into enemy territory and kills at least three gang members. If the player then survives three waves of enemies, the territory will be won and fellow gang members will begin wandering the streets of these areas. The more territory owned by the player, the more money that will be generated. Occasionally, the player's territory will come under attack from enemy gangs and defeating them will be necessary to retain these areas. Once all marked territories are claimed from one of the two hostile gangs for the protagonist's gang, the opposing gang can no longer attack. Once the player takes control of all the territories, none can come under attack.
  • Car modification: Most automobiles in the game can be modified and upgraded at various garages. All car mods are strictly visual apart from the stereo system and nitrous oxide upgrade which increases bass and gives the car a speed boost when activated respectively; and hydraulics, which lowers the car's height by default and allows the player to control various aspects of the car's suspension. Other common modifications include paintjobs, rims, body kits, side skirts, bumpers and spoilers.
  • Burglary: Continuing the series' tradition of controversy, home invasion is included as a potential money-making activity. By stealing a burglary van, CJ is able to sneak into a residence at night, and cart off valuables or shake down the occupants.
  • Minigames: Numerous minigames are available for play in San Andreas, including basketball, pool, rhythm-based challenges (dancing and 'bouncing' lowriders with hydraulics), and video game machines that pay homage to classic arcade games. In addition, there are the aforementioned casino games and methods of gambling, such as betting on virtual horse races.
  • Money: The money system has been expanded upon, compared to previous titles. Players can spend their cash on gambling, clothes, tattoos, meals, etc. Excessive gambling loss can force the player to sink into debt, which is shown in red negative numbers. When the player leaves a safehouse, CJ gets an unexpected call and a mysterious person tells him about his debts. Four gang members suddenly appear and shoot Carl on sight if he does not erase the debt when the mysterious person calls him a second time.
  • Multiplayer: Rampages have been modified to allow two players to complete them. The players are both shown simultaneously on the screen, meaning they must stay within close proximity of each other. The multiplayer rampages provide such functionality.



Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas takes place in 1992 within the state of San Andreas, which is based on sections of California and Nevada. It comprises three major fictional cities: Los Santos corresponds to Los Angeles, San Fierro corresponds to San Francisco, and Las Venturas corresponds to Las Vegas. The environments around these cities are also based on settings within the Southwestern region of the United States. Players can drive up the half-mile (800 m) tall Mount Chiliad (based on Mount Diablo), parachute from various peaks and skyscrapers, and visit 12 rural towns and villages located in five counties: Red County, Flint County, Bone County, Tierra Robada, and Whetstone. Other notable destinations include Sherman Dam (based on the Hoover Dam), a large secret military base called Area 69 (based on Area 51), a large satellite dish (based on a dish from the Very Large Array), Vinewood (based on Hollywood) and the Vinewood sign (based on the Hollywood sign) which is located in Mulholland, and many other geographical features. The bridges in San Fierro are based on the Forth road and rail bridges which link Edinburgh, the home of Rockstar North, to Fife although the road bridge is highly similar to the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. San Andreas is 13.9 square miles (36 square kilometres), almost four times as large as Vice City and five times as large as the Grand Theft Auto III rendition of Liberty City. The three cities are linked by numerous highways, a train system, and air travel. While its predecessors' areas were limited to urban locations, San Andreas includes not only large cities and suburbs, but also the rural areas between them.


The main character is a member of the Grove Street Families street gang, a set of a gang that also includes the initially-hostile Temple Drive and Seville Boulevard Families. The two main rival gangs are the Ballas and Los Santos Vagos, both based out of Los Santos. The Varrios Los Aztecas also operate in Los Santos. The main gangs of San Fierro are the San Fierro Rifa, led by T-Bone Mendez; the Da Nang Boys, a Vietnamese gang; and the San Fierro Triads, whose leader Wu Zi Mu forms an alliance with Carl. In Las Venturas, the only gangs are the Triads (run by Wu Zi Mu) and the Italian Mafia (consisting of the Forellis, Sindaccos, and Leones). The "Loco Syndicate" appears in the San Fierro mission chain, essentially made up of T-Bone Mendez's Rifa gangsters, Mike Toreno and a pimp Jizzy B. In addition, the Russian Mafia makes a few small appearances in the storyline.

The characters that appear in San Andreas are relatively diverse and relative to the respective cities and locales which each of them based himself in. This allows the game to include a significantly wider array of story lines and settings than in Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City. The player controls Carl "CJ" Johnson (Young Maylay), a young African-American gang member who serves as the game's protagonist.
The Los Santos stages of the game revolve around the theme of the Grove Street Families gang fighting with the Ballas and the Vagos for territory and respect. East Asian gangs (most notably the local Triads), an additional Vietnamese gang (the Da Nang Boys), and a force of Hispanic thugs working for the local "Loco Syndicate" (the San Fierro Rifa) are evident in the San Fierro leg of the game, while three Mafia families and the Triads who all own their respective casino are more prominently featured in the Las Venturas section of the game.

Like the previous two Grand Theft Auto games, the voice actors of San Andreas include notable celebrities, such as David Cross, Andy Dick, Ron Foster, Samuel L. Jackson, James Woods, Peter Fonda, Charlie Murphy, Frank Vincent, Chris Penn, Danny Dyer, Sara Tanaka, William Fichtner, Wil Wheaton, rappers Ice-T, Chuck D, Frost, MC Eiht and The Game and musicians George Clinton, Axl Rose, Sly and Robbie and Shaun Ryder. Young Maylay made his debut as the protagonist, Carl.
The Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer's Edition lists it as the video game with the largest voice cast, with 861 credited voice actors, including 174 actors and 687 additional performers, many of those performers being fans of the series who wanted to appear on the game.


In 1992, Carl "CJ" Johnson, a former gangbanger for the Los Santos-based Grove Street Families, returns home to Los Santos from Liberty City after learning of his mother's murder in a drive-by shooting. Upon his arrival, CJ is intercepted by a group of corrupt police officers led by Frank Tenpenny. Tenpenny coerces CJ into working for him by threatening to frame CJ for the murder of an Internal Affairs officer, whose death had been orchestrated by Tenpenny.

After Tenpenny lets him go, CJ reunites with his surviving family at his mother's funeral: his brother Sweet and his sister Kendl. Sweet angrily confronts CJ about his long absence from Los Santos and blames CJ for the Grove Street gang's declining fortunes. However, CJ wins Sweet's grudging acceptance by promising to stay and help rebuild the gang. The two brothers work closely with their friends, Big Smoke and Ryder, to reunite the divided Grove Street Families and reconquer their old turf from their rivals, the Ballas. During the gang war, CJ is occasionally sidetracked by orders from Officer Tenpenny, who forces CJ to assist him with black market and drug racketeering. Later, Sweet asks CJ to investigate Kendl's new boyfriend Cesar. Despite his preconceptions, CJ discovers that Cesar genuinely cares about Kendl, and the two men become friends.
With Grove Street stronger than ever, Sweet plans to ambush a major group of Ballas and end the war. However, before CJ can get to the fight, he receives a call from Cesar to meet elsewhere. Cesar shows CJ a shocking scene: Big Smoke, Ryder, Tenpenny, and the Ballas working together to hide the car used in the shooting which killed CJ's mother. Big Smoke and Ryder had arranged the shooting, and were working with Tenpenny and the Ballas to sell out Grove Street. CJ rushes to warn Sweet, but is too late, as Sweet is badly wounded from the Ballas counter-ambush. Tenpenny shows up and arrests them both. With Grove Street's leadership decapitated, Big Smoke and Ryder openly declare their alliance with the Ballas. They take over Los Santos and flood its streets with drugs, and with Tenpenny protecting them from police interference, they appear unstoppable.

However, Tenpenny decides to get more use out of CJ. Instead of throwing CJ in prison, Tenpenny drives him into the rural country outside Los Santos, and threatens to arrange Sweet's death in prison if CJ doesn't co-operate. Exiled in the countryside, CJ is forced to carry out favors for C.R.A.S.H, under threat of Sweet being transferred to a cell block where Ballas affiliates are housed. He also works with Cesar's cousin Catalina to make money by carrying out several heists in the area. He also befriends a hippie named The Truth and a blind Chinese-American Triad leader named Wu Zi Mu. After winning the deed to a garage in San Fierro in a race against Catalina and her new boyfriend, CJ goes there with The Truth, Cesar and Kendl to get it up and running so they can make a living. While in San Fierro, CJ crosses paths with the Loco Syndicate, Big Smoke and Ryder's drug connection. CJ infiltrates the organisation and identifies its leader, Mike Toreno. CJ kills Ryder and the other Loco Syndicate leaders, Jizzy B and T-Bone Mendez, and shoots down Toreno's helicopter. CJ then destroys the Syndicate's drug factory.

Soon after, CJ is called by an unknown man using a digitally distorted voice, who asks CJ to meet him at a ranch in the desert. There, CJ finds Mike Toreno alive, thus revealing Toreno as the caller. Toreno reveals that he is actually an undercover government agent spying on criminal operations and enlists CJ's help in several shady operations in exchange for Sweet's freedom. Meanwhile, CJ travels to Las Venturas, where Wu Zi Mu invites him to become a partner in the Four Dragons Casino, where the organisation is facing problems from the mob families that control the city. Seeking to wrest control of Venturas from them, CJ helps Wu Zi Mu plot a robbery of the mob's casino and gains the mob's trust through various jobs for mob boss, Salvatore Leone. Eventually the heist is carried out successfully, earning the Triad a place of power in Las Venturas, although causing the mob to detest CJ. CJ also encounters rapper Madd Dogg, from whom he stole a rhyme book to help rapper OG Loc become a name in the business. After rescuing Madd Dogg from a suicide attempt, he asks CJ to be his manager once he returns from rehab.

Tenpenny, fearing his arrest is inevitable, tasks his partner Pulaski with killing CJ and Officer Hernandez, whom Tenpenny found out was informing on them to Internal Affairs. While Pulaski forces CJ to dig his own grave, Hernandez, severely injured after being hit over the head with a shovel, manages to attack Pulaski, leading to his death. Pulaski attempts to escape, but CJ kills him. Madd Dogg returns from rehab, prompting CJ to return to Los Santos to get his music career started again. Toreno contacts CJ for one last favor, and finally has Sweet released from prison. Now rich and successful, CJ attempts to cut Sweet in on his businesses, but Sweet becomes angry that he ran away and let their home be taken over by rival gang members and drug dealers to make his fortune. While CJ helps Sweet once again kill the rival gangs, Tenpenny is arrested and tried for felonies that he has been charged with, but the charges are dropped due to lack of evidence, prompting a citywide riot. CJ helps Cesar regain control over the barrio and also regain territory for his gang, so as to have enough power to obtain knowledge of Big Smoke's whereabouts.
Sweet soon learns that Big Smoke is holed up in a fortified crack den in the city, and he and CJ go there to confront him. CJ enters the building alone, fighting his way to the top floor and confronting Smoke. CJ attempts to reason with Smoke, but the latter engages CJ in a gunfight. CJ defeats him and Smoke confesses that he betrayed the GSF in order to gain more power and money, and dies shortly after from his injuries. Tenpenny then arrives and holds CJ at gunpoint, before stealing Big Smoke's money, intending to use it to leave the city. Tenpenny escapes and CJ and Sweet pursue him. During the pursuit, Tenpenny loses control of a fire truck that he was using as a getaway vehicle, driving off the bridge over the Grove Street cul-de-sac and crashing at the entrance to it. CJ and his friends watch as a fatally wounded Tenpenny crawls from the wreckage and dies.

Marketing and release


The Introduction, an in-engine video, was provided on a DVD with the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Official Soundtrack, as well as the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Special Edition re-release for the PlayStation 2. The 26-minute video chronicles the events leading up to the events in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and provides insight on the development of the characters of the game, to the point when Carl learns of his mother's death in a phone call from Sean "Sweet" Johnson & returns to Los Santos to find his life is ruined. The film incorporates locations from the original Grand Theft Auto III game. The PS2 release also includes a live-action documentary on the custom car culture (featured prominently in the game) called Sunday Driver.


As with the previous two entries in the Grand Theft Auto series, San Andreas has music taken from the time in which the game is based.

San Andreas is serviced by eleven radio stations; WCTR (talk radio), Master Sounds 98.3 (rare groove, playing many of the old funk and soul tracks sampled by 1980s and '90s hip-hop artists), K-Jah West (dub and reggae; modelled after K-Jah from Grand Theft Auto III), CSR (new jack swing, modern soul), Radio X (alternative rock, metal and grunge), Radio Los Santos (gangsta rap), SF-UR (old school Chicago house music), Bounce FM (funk), K-DST (classic rock), K-Rose (country) and Playback FM (classic hip hop).
The music system in San Andreas is enhanced from previous titles. In earlier games in the series, each radio station was essentially a single looped sound file, playing the same songs, announcements and advertisements in the same order each time. In San Andreas, each section is held separately, and "mixed" randomly, allowing songs to be played in different orders, announcements to songs to be different each time, and plot events to be mentioned on the stations. This system would be used in Grand Theft Auto IV. WCTR, rather than featuring licensed music and DJs, features spoken word performances by actors such as Andy Dick performing as talk show hosts and listener callers in a parody of talk radio programming.

Lazlow again plays as himself on the show "Entertaining America" on WCTR in the same persona as in III and Vice City. He takes over after the former presenter, Billy Dexter, is shot on air by in-game film star Jack Howitzer. Lazlow interviews guests such as O.G. Loc, who is one of the four characters Carl encounters during the game that is on the radio, along with Big Smoke, Madd Dogg, and The Truth.
The Xbox, iOS, and Windows versions of the game include an additional radio station that supports custom soundtracks by playing user imported MP3s, allowing players to listen to their own music while playing the game. This feature is not available on the PlayStation 2 version of the game or when played on the Xbox 360.


Rockstar released two follow-ups to San Andreas: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, both by Rockstar Leeds. Unlike San Andreas and its predecessors, Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories were developed for the PlayStation Portable handheld, and there was no Windows or Xbox version although a PlayStation 2 port was released afterward. San Andreas thus marks the last major Grand Theft Auto release across the sixth-generation consoles to be produced by Rockstar North, as well as the last one to introduce an entirely new setting.

Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories are prequels to San Andreas' predecessors, so both games derive their maps from Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City, respectively, each of which cover a considerably smaller area than San Andreas. Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories eliminated gameplay elements introduced in San Andreas, including the ability to swim (in Liberty City Stories, but re-introduced in a limited capacity in Vice City Stories) and climb. Both Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories include references to characters featured in San Andreas, with Liberty City Stories set about 6 years after the events of San Andreas (in that game, for example, radio reporter Richard Burns, featured in news bulletins in San Andreas, returns as a radio call-in guest) and Vice City Stories set about 8 years before the events of San Andreas. Except for news bulletins, radio programming in Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories does not change based upon player progress. While character customisation elements such as wardrobe changes are retained, for later games, Rockstar eliminated the need for the game protagonists to eat and exercise.

San Andreas marked the technological pinnacle of the Grand Theft Auto III era (also known as the "3D Universe") and also the end of that continuity (albeit for the handheld-focused Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories spin-offs). Rockstar launched a new canon (the "HD Universe") with Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V for the seventh-generation consoles. The celebrity voice acting that had been so prominent in the "3D Universe", especially in Vice City and San Andreas, was scaled back in the "HD Universe". Rockstar also took a new direction in the series, focusing on realism and details instead of greater area and added content. For instance, although the explorable sandbox area is smaller than San Andreas, the main setting for Grand Theft Auto IV is comparable to San Andreas in terms of scope when "the level of verticality of the city, the number of buildings you can go into, and the level of detail in those buildings" are taken into account. The goal for the HD Universe layout of Liberty City was to have no dead spots or irrelevant spaces, such as the wide open deserts found in San Andreas state. Ars Technica wrote Grand Theft Auto IV's "slight regression of the series from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is surprising: there are fewer vehicles, weapons, and story missions, less character customisation, and even the size of the city itself is smaller".

Los Santos, one of the three central cities in San Andreas, is the main location of the latest game in the franchise, Grand Theft Auto V. Although GTA: San Andreas included three cities separated by open countryside, Grand Theft Auto V included only one city, Los Santos, as well as adjoining countryside and desert areas. By focusing their efforts on one city instead of three, the team were able to produce Los Santos in higher quality and at greater scale. For both games, Los Angeles was used as the model for Los Santos, but the team felt that the ambition of having three cities in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was too great and that the game did not emulate the cities as well as they had hoped. Houser elaborated that "to do a proper version of L.A., [...] the game has to give you a sense of that sprawl — if not completely replicate it", and dividing the budget and manpower between multiple cities would have detracted from capturing "what L.A. is". Garbut felt that in the PlayStation 2 era the team did not have the technical capabilities to capture Los Angeles properly, resulting in the San Andreas rendition of Los Santos feeling like a "backdrop or a game level with pedestrians randomly milling about". Therefore, the team disregarded San Andreas as a jumping-off point for Grand Theft Auto V, as they had moved on to a new generation of consoles since the former and wanted to build the city from scratch. As Garbut explained, with the move to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 hardware, "our processes and the fidelity of the world [had] evolved so much from San Andreas" that using it as a model would have been redundant.

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Grand Theft Auto 2 is an action-adventure video game developed by DMA Design and published by Rockstar Games. It was released on 22 October 1999 for Microsoft Windows and the PlayStation, followed by Dreamcast and Game Boy Color releases in 2000. It is the sequel to 1997's Grand Theft Auto, part of the Grand Theft Auto series. The open world design lets players freely roam Anywhere City, the setting of the game.
The game is played from a top-down perspective and its world is navigated on foot or by vehicle. The game was made available on Steam on 4 January 2008 as part of a collection. Its successor, Grand Theft Auto III, was released in October 2001.
Grand Theft Auto 2 is set in an unspecified time in a retrofuturistic metropolis referred to only as "Anywhere, USA", but the game's manual and website use the phrase "three weeks into the future"; fictional journal entries on the Grand Theft Auto 2 website suggest the year to be 2013, but rather the in-game references suggest the game to be set in 1999.
The city is split into three levels, or "districts". The first level, Downtown, is a hub of business activity as well as the site of a large mental institution and university. The second area, the Residential District, contains the city's prison, a trailer park with an Elvis Presley-themed bar dubbed "Disgracelands", a reference to Presley's mansion Graceland, a shopping mall, and a giant hydroelectric power plant. The third and final area is the Industrial District; it holds a large seaport, a meat packing plant, a Nuclear Power Plant and a Krishna temple.

There are a total of seven fictional criminal gangs, some named after real life gangs or groups, in the game: the Zaibatsu, a corrupt corporation, is present in all three areas. The Downtown area is also home to the Loonies, a gang of mentally ill people who have taken over the city asylum, and the Yakuza. In the Residential area, the gangs include SRS Scientists and the Rednecks, who live in a trailer park and drive around in pick-ups with large Confederate flags. The Industrial area contains the Russian Mafia and the Hare Krishna. Each gang has their own special characteristics, car, and behaviour.
The game can be played in two modes (only in the PC version), noon or dusk. On the noon setting the lighting is bright making the game clear to see (also lowering the graphics overhead on low-end hardware because of the fewer lighting effects). On the dusk setting the game is darker, with multiple dynamic lights from explosions and car headlights. The Dreamcast version of the game can only be played in the dusk setting, while the PlayStation version of the game can only be played in the noon setting. This feature was expanded further in Grand Theft Auto III where the daylight changes with the time of day in the game.

Grand Theft Auto 2 retained the overhead viewpoint of Grand Theft Auto, as well as the car-stealing/telephone-answering formula of the original. Claude Speed, the player character and protagonist, has the ability to explore cities on foot or in various vehicles. The aim is to achieve a certain score. On achieving this goal the player then can proceed to the next level. Doing missions awards the player more points than any other method but are not essential for completion of the game.
A new feature introduced in Grand Theft Auto 2 was doing missions for separate gangs, of which there are two new gangs for each of the three levels of the game, and one faction which is present in all levels. Being employed by one gang can cause distrust from others (working for gang No. 1 will incur the wrath of gang No. 2, working for gang No. 2 will cause enmity with gang No. 3, etc.). In the original Grand Theft Auto, only the local police pursued the player. In Grand Theft Auto 2SWAT teams (4 Copheads) are introduced in the Downtown District, while Special Agents (5 Copheads) and the army (6 Copheads) are introduced in the Residential and Industrial Districts. These additional types of law enforcement begin chasing the player as his or her wanted level increases. The wanted level is represented by images of a cop's head, and vary between the Windows and PlayStation versions.
Grand Theft Auto 2 introduced an improved saving technique, unlike the original game, which saved only when finishing a city. If the player entered a church with $50,000, a voice announced "Hallelujah! Another soul saved!". This notified the player that the game had been saved. If the player did not have enough money, the voice would say "Damnation! No donation, no salvation!". These messages are not heard on the PlayStation version.
Other improvements pertain to city activity. Passing vehicles and pedestrians are no longer cosmetic parts of the environment, but actually play a role in gameplay. Sometimes pedestrians would occasionally enter and ride in taxis or buses. The game is noted for the behaviour of its non-player characters. Pedestrians, gang members and the police would occasionally engage in fights, and there are other carjackers (Green sweater) and muggers (Red sweater with white arms) in the city.
This game introduces 'side missions' such as being a taxi driver, bus driver, and a semi-truck driver along with retrieving 'hidden' packages ('GTA2' Badges) or Wang Cars (play on 'wankers'), and a health meter. Being a taxidriver would earn roughly 1 dollar per second. When standing still, passengers could get out if they want to, and the earnings will stop. Wang Cars only appeared in the second district. They were well hidden and usually required the player to take a severe amount of highspeed jumps to reach the cars, some of them parked on top of buildings. When the car was entered, the player spawned at the Wang Cars garage, with the garagedoor of the collected car lighting up. Collecting all cars resulted in 8 bonus vehicles parked outside the garage. Among these were cars prepped with oilslicks, integrated machineguns and a firetruck, living up its name as its watercannon was replaced with a flamethrower.
Some weapons in Grand Theft Auto 2 feature a "Kill Frenzy" mission when picked up, where a player has a limited amount of time to kill a certain number of people with a particular weapon loaded. Bonuses are rewarded if the mission is successful. Also if a player finds a tank and gets in it a "Kill Frenzy" mission also starts, and finally in random parts of the city are parked special cars, and if the player gets on one he has to either kill people by running them over or kill them with any extra weapon that the car has. There is a glitch involving the Kill Frenzy as it is possible to save when having it. When the game is then reloaded, the Kill Frenzy ends, but the almost unlimited ammunition remains until that same weapon is picked up or a more than usually allowed amount of ammunition is wasted.
The PlayStation version of Grand Theft Auto 2 is toned down from the PC version, with lower quotas for the number of kills needed in rampage style missions, and containing no voice acting in the saving interface. The port also includes a feature where the player car will explode after the player kills a large number of gang members. One mission was also changed. Instead of the player tricking civilians into entering a bus to drive them to a meat processing plant to be cannibalised, the victims are Hare Krishna gang members.
As is the case with the original Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto: London 1969, the player receives bonuses for running his car over certain people without stopping or braking. A string of Elvis impersonators are sometimes spotted walking the streets. If a player can kill them in a short amount of time, they are awarded with a large money bonus, followed by the bold words "Elvis has left the building".
Grand Theft Auto 2 features four multiplayer modes: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Tag and Race.
There are trains in the PC version, which the players can ride on.
The opening cutscene of the game was pieced together using live-action footage taken from an eight-minute short film created for the purpose of advertising the game, known as GTA 2 – The Movie. This film has since been made available to the public and is downloadable from Rockstar's website. Claude Speed is played by Scott Maslen in the film.
The short film shows Claude being murdered (shot by "The Cleaner" a Zaibatsu assassin played by Ian McQue) while trying to break into a sports car. It was shot in 1999 New York City with the World Trade Center in clear view, instead of the game's anonymous city of the future (it should be noted, however, that two fictional locations were mentioned in the film: "Chernobyl Docks" and "Disgraceland", the latter being the name of a district featured in Grand Theft Auto 2). The film depicts a blue-and-white NYPD 1991–1992 Chevrolet Caprice police car as a pursuit vehicle, as well as a black BMW 5 Series (E39) driven by Claude, which is later repainted white.
Each area features five radio stations from a pool of eleven, one of which is heard as the player drives most vehicles in game. Changing radio stations for preference is possible. "Head Radio" was present in the original Grand Theft AutoGrand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. Each gang has its own radio station that transmits within a limited area. Police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks and tanks had no ability to listen to the radio channels. Instead, the player would hear the radio transmitter of the emergency services.
All the music and the ads included in the game are exclusive, following the tradition of previous games. People in charge of the musical content were Craig Conner, Stuart Ross, Paul Scargill, Colin Anderson, Bert Reid and Moving Shadow. Some of these producers would keep their work on subsequent GTA releases.
The Game Boy Color version uses some real songs, one of which is a sped up version of Back in Black by AC/DC. The Character Selection theme is an old Brazilian song titled "Chega de Saudade".
Grand Theft Auto 2's computer version received a "Silver" sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), indicating sales of at least 100,000 copies in the United Kingdom. The game's PlayStation version received a "Platinum" sales award (300,000 or more units in the United Kingdom) from ELSPA.
Grand Theft Auto 2 was released to mixed reviews. The game's graphics received mixed reactions from critics, who noted that they had barely any difference to the graphics in the original gameIGN's Tal Blevins called them "average at best", and that the scenery is "hard to appreciate". Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot said that the "graphics look a bit plain." The game's soundtrack received positive feedback, with Jeff Gerstmann calling it a "great soundtrack", and that it "closely [mirrors] the station-style of the original game. Tal Blevins of IGN called it "one of the best features" of the game.
Grand Theft Auto 2's gameplay elements received mixed reactions. IGN's Jeremy Dunham said that the gameplay is "where the game really takes a punch to the stomach", and that it "could've been a lot better." Tal Blevins called it "simple, but effective." Jeff Gerstmann said that "even though the gameplay is largely the same as in the previous GTA, it's still a lot of fun." Edge highlighted the game's story development and inventive missions, stating that Grand Theft Auto 2 "manages to draw you deep into the complexities of its world".

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Grand Theft Auto III is an action-adventure video game developed by DMA Design and published by Rockstar Games. It was released in October 2001 for the PlayStation 2, in May 2002 for Microsoft Windows, and in October 2003 for the Xbox. An enhanced version of the game was released on mobile platforms in 2011, for the game's tenth anniversary. It is the fifth title in the Grand Theft Auto series, and the first main entry since 1999's Grand Theft Auto 2. Set within the fictional Liberty City, based on New York City, the game follows Claude after he is left for dead and quickly becomes entangled in a world of gangs, crime and corruption.
The game is played from a third-person perspective and its world is navigated on foot or by vehicle. The open world design lets players freely roam Liberty City, consisting of three main islands. Development was shared between DMA Design, based in Edinburgh and Rockstar, in New York City. Much of the development work constituted transforming popular series elements into a fully 3D world. The game was delayed following the September 11 attacks, to allow the team to change references and gameplay deemed inappropriate.
Upon release, the game received critical acclaim, with praise particularly directed at its concept and gameplay. However, the game also generated controversy, with criticism directed at the depiction of violence and sexual content. Grand Theft Auto III became the best-selling video game of 2001, and has sold over 14.5 million copies since. Considered one of the most significant titles of the sixth generation of video games, and by many critics as one of the greatest video games of all time, it won year-end accolades, including Game of the Year awards from several gaming publications. Since its release, it has received numerous ports to many gaming platforms. Its successor, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, was released in October 2002.
Grand Theft Auto III is an action-adventure game played from a third-person view. Players complete missions—linear scenarios with set objectives—to progress through the story. It is possible to have several active missions running at one time, as some missions require players to wait for further instructions or events. Outside of missions, players can freely roam the game's open world, and have the ability to complete optional side missions. Liberty City is composed of three boroughs: Portland, Staunton Island, and Shoreside Vale; the islands are unlocked to players as the story progresses.
Players may run, jump or use vehicles to navigate the game's world. In combat, auto-aim can be used as assistance against enemies.Should players take damage, their health meter can be fully regenerated through the use of health pick-ups. Body armour can be used to absorb gunshots and explosive damage, but is used up in the process. When health is entirely depleted, gameplay stops, and players respawn at the nearest hospital, at the expense of losing armour and an amount of money.
If players commit crimes while playing, the game's law enforcement agencies may respond as indicated by a "wanted" meter in the head-up display (HUD). On the meter, the displayed stars indicate the current wanted level (for example, at the maximum six-star level, efforts by law enforcement to incapacitate players become very aggressive). Law enforcement officers will search for players who leave the wanted vicinity. The wanted meter enters a cooldown mode and eventually recedes when players are hidden from the officers' line of sight.
The game lets players control the mute criminal Claude. During the story, Claude meets various new characters from gangs. As players complete missions for different gangs, fellow gang members will often defend players, while rival gang members will recognise players and subsequently shoot on sight. While free roaming the game world, players may engage in activities such as a vigilante minigame, a fire fighting activity, a paramedic service and a taxi cab service. Completion of these activities grants players with context-specific rewards; for example, completing the vigilante mission allows players to bribe police after committing a crime.
Players use melee attacks, firearms and explosives to fight enemies. The firearms include weapons such as the Micro Uzi, an M16 rifle and a flamethrower.[6] The game's three-dimension environment allows a first-person view while aiming with the sniper riflerocket launcher and the M16 rifle. In addition, the game's combat was reworked to allow players to commit drive-by shootings by facing sideways in a vehicle.[4] The game gives players a wide variety of weapon options—they can be purchased from local firearms dealers, found on the ground, retrieved from dead enemies, or found around the city.
While robbing a bank in Liberty City, criminal Claude is shot and betrayed by his girlfriend and accomplice Catalina (Cynthia Farrell), who escapes with an unnamed Colombian gangster. Claude survives but is arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison. While being transported in a prison van, Claude and fellow prisoner 8-Ball (Guru) are inadvertently freed after an attack on the police convoy by Colombian men to retrieve the elderly third prisoner. 8-Ball later introduces Claude to the Leone Mafia crime family; Sex Club 7 owner Luigi Goterelli (Joe Pantoliano), Don Salvatore Leone (Frank Vincent), his Capo Toni Cipriani (Michael Madsen), and the Don's son Joey Leone (Michael Rapaport). During work for the family, Claude finds himself fighting the Colombians, led by Catalina and the Colombian man, in proliferating a new drug, SPANK. After destroying the Colombians' ship, Salvatore attempts to have Claude killed with a booby-trapped car, but Salvatore's trophy wife Maria (Debi Mazar), who Claude was instructed to drive around for one mission and who has taken a liking to him, saves him just in time. She admits that, during a fight with Salvatore, she told him about having an affair with Claude. Together with her friend Asuka Kasen (Lianna Pai), they flee Portland for Staunton Island.
Claude begins working for the city's Yakuza under Asuka, who has Claude assassinate Salvatore. This cuts off all of Claude's ties with the Leone family, who are now against him. Claude's work leads him to allying himself with other criminal sources, such as corrupt police detective Ray Machowski (Robert Loggia), an enemy of the Cartel. Claude later saves him from Internal Affairs and the CIA by helping him flee to Vice City. Claude also meets charismatic media mogul Donald Love (Kyle MacLachlan), who maintains a huge media front. In an effort to start a war between the Yakuza and Cartel to lower real estate prices, Claude and Love organise the death of Asuka's brother Kenji Kasen (Les Mau) and blame the Cartel. Later, Love asks Claude to rescue the elderly man kidnapped by the Cartel. While on an errand, Claude finally confronts Catalina, who narrowly escapes. Asuka abducts Catalina's partner Miguel (Al Espinosa), believing him to have knowledge of her brother's death.
With the war with the Cartel intensifying, Asuka and Maria learn of Claude's history with Catalina and order him to attack many Cartel operations. Eventually, his exploits attract the attention of Catalina. As a result, the Cartel kidnap Maria, murder Asuka and Miguel, and demand Claude to pay a $500,000 ransom in exchange for Maria's release. When Claude confronts Catalina, she attempts to have him killed, but he escapes. In the resulting firefight, Catalina attempts to flee in a helicopter and makes a final attempt on Claude's life. After killing the remaining Cartel members and rescuing Maria, Claude shoots down the helicopter, effectively killing Catalina. As they are leaving the scene, Maria complains to Claude about the kidnapping, particularly the state of her appearance. During the credits, a gunshot is heard, and Maria's voice is silenced.
The core development team of Grand Theft Auto III consisted of about 23 people at DMA Design in Edinburgh, who worked closely with publisher Rockstar Games in New York City. By early 2001, the team had designed the city, cars, and some weapons. An online multiplayer mode was initially planned for the game, but was ultimately dropped due to time and resource limitations. Producer Leslie Benzies described Grand Theft Auto III as a "crime simulation game". When porting the game to Microsoft Windows, the team delayed it from the PlayStation 2 release in order to ensure quality, citing issues with the simultaneous platform release of previous Grand Theft Auto games.
Grand Theft Auto III is considered to be the first 3D game in the series, using Criterion GamesRenderWare game engine. When designing the game, the development team expanded upon concepts introduced in the previous Grand Theft Auto games. Benzies stated that the intention was to recreate the "freedom and diversity" of the previous games in a "living, breathing 3D world", using the power of the PlayStation 2 to do so. The console's ability to use DVDs, an improvement over the PlayStation's limit to CDs, allowed the team to store more data, such as animations, music and environments. Despite this, the team found it difficult to fit the game into the PlayStation 2's 32 megabytes of RAM, due to the scale. The game's size also created difficulties for the testers, due to the variety of options. Benzies felt that creating a living city was the "underlying principle" of the game's concept during development. Executive producer Sam Houser felt that the game's 3D element allowed the "chemistry of the team [to come] together perfectly for the first time".
A major difficulty the team encountered was converting all game elements into a fully 3D world, including the sound and radio stations, as well as designing and voicing the non-player characters, due to the amount that existed within the open world. producer Dan Houser said that there was about 8,000 lines of recorded dialogue in the game, while audio programmer Raymond Usher estimated about 18,000. The basic technical elements of the game began to work together in mid-2000, with a carjacking mechanic prototype and stable streamingmodel. Streaming was initially intended to be reserved for music and map geometry, but other elements were eventually included when it became apparent to the team as more data was entered.
When designing the game world, the team initially created a "hybrid city", which producer Dan Houser describes as "a post industrial Midwest slash east coast generic" city. Upon developing within this game world, the team realised that basing the design on a real location meant "you have a lot of things you can say about it". As a result, the team redesigned Liberty City, which had been previously featured in Grand Theft Auto (1997), basing it loosely on New York City. The city is broken into three islands: an industrial section representing Brooklyn and Queens, a commercial centre resembling Manhattan, and suburbs similar to New Jersey. The islands unlock as the story progresses; the team wanted players to "start out feeling poor and work to being richer".[46] Dan Houser describes Liberty City as a "hybrid of a generic American city", including ChicagoPittsburghDetroit, New York, and Philadelphia. He felt that the parallel realism of the world allowed the team to make more social commentary than previously. Sam Houser cited films and shows like Heat (1995) and The Sopranos (1999–2007) as inspiration for the setting, and wanted to emulate them in the game. He also cited the influence of The Legend of Zelda series (1986–present) and the film Goodfellas (1990), describing Grand Theft Auto III as "a cross between a gangster movie and an RPG". Dan Houser also cited The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario 64 as influences.

Story and characters

The team developed the story and design simultaneously. "We use the story to expose the mechanics, and we use the mechanics to tell the story," said Dan Houser. Houser found it difficult to create the narrative, as the game is so strongly focused on player freedom. He wanted the story to be more nuanced and interesting than the generic "rise and fall and rise again of a superhero bad guy". The game's script was also focused on mission objectives, attempting to implement high amounts of interactivity. Houser felt that each mission is "its own short story", and part of an "overarching story". Houser and co-writer James Worrall drew influence from mob films, and the mafiosi featured in films by Martin Scorsese. When writing the story, Houser and Worrall regularly met with the designers, and filled a room with post-it notes to reconstruct the story components to shape the game.
Many of the game characters were animated using motion capture, filmed at a rented studio at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, though this was limited by technical restraints. The character movement was also treated as being cinematic, though limited polygons heavily inhibited this. Animating non-player characters entering and driving cars proved to be difficult for the team, due to the variety of vehicle designs. "It involved chaining together dozens of different animations and altering key frames in code," recalled software engineer Alan Campbell. The team used varying camera angles when animating the game's cutscenes, in order to evoke different emotions. For the voice acting, the team wanted "natural, subtle performances", which proved difficult as many of the actors "had in their head the idea that because video games are animated their performances needed to be animated", explained motion capture director Navid Khonsari. The game's playable protagonist is unnamed in the game, and his name is not officially revealed as Claude until his appearance in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004). He is a silent protagonist, never speaking throughout his appearances. The team decided to make Claude silent primarily because it "did not seem like a major issue", due to the other challenges faced during development, and also partly to allow players to identify with the character, as the character will be who the players want him to be.

Sound design

Grand Theft Auto III features about three-and-a-half hours of in-game radio material. For the music, the team sought a broad diversity, to recreate the real sensation of skipping through radio stations, reflecting the gangster movie culture invoked by the game. The team used the talk radio stations to add character to the city, and provide a "unique take on American life"; Sam Houser described it as "a very iconoclastic look at America". The team used real DJs to portray those on the radio. In doing so, the team wrote unusual dialogue for the DJs, seeking the effect of "high production values and absurd content". Music director Craig Conner assembled the assets of the radio station—music, advertisements, DJ dialogue, station imaging.
Prior to the initial release, several modifications were made to the game. While changes are frequent during game development, the changes in Grand Theft Auto III were noted to be around the time of the September 11 attacks, which led to speculation that some changes were motivated by the attacks. On 19 September 2001, Rockstar delayed the game's release by three weeks, citing the attacks as an influencing factor in the delay. "Everyone had someone who had an uncle or brother [who was impacted by the attack]", said Paul Eibeler, then-president of distributor Take-Two Interactive.
One of the changes made shortly after 9/11 was the colour scheme of the police cars; the original colour scheme of blue with white stripes specifically resembled that of the New York City Police Department. It was changed to black-and-white designs common among several police departments in the United States, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. Other changes include altering the flight path of a plane to avoid appearing to fly into or behind a skyscraper, removing a mission referencing terrorists, as well as some changes to pedestrian dialogue and talk radio.
Another cut to the game is the character of Darkel, a revolutionary urchin who vowed to bring down the city's economy. When references to Darkel were found in the game's code, speculation arose that the character was related to 9/11, however Dan Houser explained that the character had been cut "months before [release]". There are also reports and previews stating that the game featured school children as pedestrians prior to release, although Rockstar has dismissed such rumours as "nonsense".
Rockstar stated that the game was "about 1% different" after 9/11, and that the biggest change was the cover art. They felt that the original cover, which was ultimately released as the cover in Europe, felt "too raw" after 9/11, and was changed into what became the "signature style" of the series. Sam Houser claims that the cover was designed in an evening, and was instantly preferred over the original cover. The cover was inspired by the movie posters for 1960s films, such as The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).
Grand Theft Auto III was released to critical acclaim. Metacritic calculated an average score of 97 of out 100, indicating "universal acclaim", based on 56 reviews. It is the sixth-highest rated game on Metacritic, tied with a number of others. Reviewers liked the game's sound, gameplay, and open world design, though some criticism was directed at the controls. Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer called Grand Theft Auto III "a luscious, sprawling epic", and Official PlayStation Magazine named it "the most innovative, outlandish, brilliant video game". GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann described the game as "an incredible experience that shouldn't be missed by anyone"; IGN's Doug Perry named it "one of the best titles of the year, on PlayStation 2, or on any system".
Many reviewers found the 3D graphics a welcome change from the 2D of the previous games. GameSpot's Gerstmann particularly praised the character and vehicle models, and the overall texture quality of the city. GameSpy's Andrei Alupului found the graphics "really rather impressive", describing the car models as "greatly improved" over those in Midnight Club. Eurogamer's Bramwell considered the graphics "generally pleasant to look at", but considered it inferior to games like Gran Turismo 3 and Ico. Justin Leeper of Game Informer described game world as "stunning in scope and detail", and Perry of IGN found it to be "on a scale that's truly epic". Game Revolution's Ben Silverman called the city a "technological marvel ... that captures the essence of gritty city life in amazing detail".
IGN's Perry considered the game's sound "unbelievably and meticulously delivered", particularly praising the soundtrack, voice acting and sound design, stating that it was "really approached as if it were done for a movie". Eurogamer's Bramwell echoed similar remarks, describing the city sounds as "perfect" and the soundtrack as "monstrous". The sound was described as "terrific" by GameSpot's Gerstmann and Game Revolution's Silverman, and appreciated the subtlety of the in-game radio stations. AllGame's Scott Alan Marriott named the music "the true star" of the game.
Reviewers considered the style of the game's missions to be a welcoming departure from those in previous games. described the missions as "wonderfully creative", while GamesMaster appreciated the diversity. IGN's Perry similarly appreciated the variety and scale of the missions, and praised the amount of available side missions. GameSpy's Alupului described the game's story as "well-paced" and "coherent", featuring plot elements akin to a mob film. GameSpot's Gerstmann found the missions entertaining and challenging, but noted that exploring the game world also offers "a great deal of fun" to players.
Reactions to the game's controls were mixed. Alupului of GameSpy found the game "controls beautifully", both while driving and on-foot. Game Revolution's Silverman identified the control issues as the game's only flaw, although praised the responsiveness of the driving mechanics. Matt Helgeson of Game Informer similarly described the driving as "great", but noted "clunky" combat. GamePro's Four-Eyed Dragon found the cars simple to manoeuvre. Edge described the game's combat as "an awkward system that stymies play". noted particular flaws in the targeting system, explaining that it "often focuses on the wrong guy".
When Grand Theft Auto III was released to Microsoft Windows in May 2002, it received similar critical acclaim. Metacritic calculated an average score of 93 out of 100, indicating "universal acclaim", based on 20 reviews. It was the highest-rated Windows game on Metacritic in 2002. Reviewers liked the visual enhancements and control improvements, but criticised the port for its demanding system requirements.
The in-game features and controls in the port were generally well received. IGN's Tal Blevins praised the higher precision of the mouse controls, finding the aiming mechanic more precise. GameSpot's Erik Wolpaw also commended the mouse controls, but disapproved the replay system, particularly due to the lack of options with timing and camera controls.Extended Play's Andrew Bub appreciated the addition of a custom radio station, as well as the availability of custom skins. Daniel Morris of PC Gamer praised the gameplay tweaks provided by the port, but criticised the lack of major additional features, such as an overhead map of the in-game city.
The port's visuals received a positive response from reviewers. GameSpot's Wolpaw praised the port's reworked textures, but criticised the frequent popup, and the advanced system requirements. IGN's Blevins similarly criticised the necessity of an advanced system for stable play, but ultimately felt that the port looks "a bit nicer" than the original game. GameSpy's Sal Accardo felt that the port "looks much sharper" than the PlayStation 2 version, though noted some "choppy" animations. Extended Play's Bub mentioned that the advanced settings resulted in slowdown and crashes. Game Informer's Matt Helgeson noticed little difference between the visuals of the original and the port.
When Grand Theft Auto III was released to mobile devices in December 2011, it received generally positive reviews. Metacritic calculated an average score of 80 out of 100, based on 26 reviews. Reviewers liked the enhanced visuals,but criticism was directed at the touchscreen controls.
The port's visuals were well received. IGN's Peter Eykemans commended the smoother textures, especially condensed on a mobile screen, while Destructoid's Jim Sterling noted improvements in the character and vehicle models. Mark Walton of GameSpot wrote that the game runs well on high-end devices like the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy S II, but noticed significant frame rate and texture issues on the Xperia PlayPocket Gamer's Mark Brown identified the game's short draw distance leading to sudden popup, although still found that the models and textures "have been given a tune-up" in the port.
The touchscreen controls received a mixed response. Eurogamer's Dan Whitehead appreciated the driving mechanics, but felt that moving on-foot is "a flaky way of navigating" the world, and criticised the "clumsy" shooting mechanics as most of the guns cannot be manually targeted. IGN's Eykemans felt that the controls "make half the experience frustrating", and Destructoid's Sterling described them as "by far the biggest barrier toward enjoying" the port. Brown of Pocket Gamer found that the touchscreen "hasn't hindered [the game] too drastically", commending simple movement and "effortless" driving mechanics. Some critics identified better controls upon the use of external gamepads, but felt that they hinder the game's portability.

Commercial performance


Grand Theft Auto III was the highest-selling game of 2001 in the United States, selling over two million units by February 2002. The game was also the second best-selling game of 2002, behind only its sequel. Take-Two stock significantly increased following the game's launch, and the game was included in PlayStation's Greatest Hits selection. In the United States, the game had sold 5.35 million units by June 2004, and 6.55 million units by December 2007. The computer version accounted for 420,000 sales and $16.9 million in earnings by August 2006 in the United States. It was the country's 34th best-selling computer game between January 2000 and August 2006. In Japan, Grand Theft Auto III sold about 120,000 copies in its first week, and over 350,000 by January 2008. The game earned a "Diamond" award in the United Kingdom, indicating over one million sales; it was the first game to achieve this milestone in the region. By March 2008, the game had sold 14.5 million units worldwide.


Grand Theft Auto III received multiple nominations and awards from gaming publications. It was awarded Game of the Year at the Game Developers Choice Awards, and from GameSpot and GameSpy. It was named the Best PlayStation 2 Game by Game Revolution, GameSpot, GameSpy and IGN. It also won Best Action Game from Game Revolution, GameSpot, and IGN, and Most Innovative from GameSpot, as well as Excellence in Game Design at the Game Developers Choice Awards. GameSpy also awarded the game Most Offensive, Best Use of Radio, and tied for Best Artificial Intelligence.


Prior to and since the release of Grand Theft Auto III, the game generated several controversies. GameSpy awarded Grand Theft Auto III with Most Offensive Game of the Year, calling it "absolutely reprehensible". They wrote that the game rewards players for "causing mayhem" and "killing innocent people by the dozen", ultimately questioning its appropriateness within the industry. The notoriety of Grand Theft Auto III resulted in Wal-Mart's decision to check the identification of purchasers who appeared to be under the age of 17, when purchasing mature titles. In an essay, assistant professor Shira Chess identified the lack of conclusion to player violence, due to the ability to respawn upon death or incarceration, and found that it denies the "reality of mortality and simultaneously [forces] it on players". When speaking about the game's depiction of violence, producer Leslie Benzies claims that is intended as comedic, and that the game is "not meant to be taken seriously". Producer Dan Houser stated that the team was conscious of the offence that the game would attract, but "never marketed it in a way that exploited that".
The game allows players to participate in sexual activities with prostitutes, and murder them to reclaim the payment. This was met with widespread controversy. The game also received controversy for its depiction of crime, and allowing violence against police officers. Psychologist David Walsh of the National Institute on Media and the Family stated that the game "glamorizes antisocial and criminal activity", and that "the purpose of the game is to perpetrate crime". In response, Kotaku writer Owen Good wrote that the game does not reward players for "proficiency at crime, no matter how much it is accused of doing so". Joanna Weiss of The Boston Globe noted the "adrenaline" that players feel when committing crimes in the game, excusing the game's violence due to its mature classification. The National Organization for Women spoke out against the game in January 2002, asking Rockstar and Take-Two to withdraw the game from sale as it "encourages violence and the degradation of women". Matt Richtel of The New York Times wrote that the activities within the game "crossed the line into bad taste".
Grand Theft Auto III was initially released in Australia with an MA15+ classification. After re-reviewing the game, the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC) banned it, due to its depiction of sexual content and violence to prostitutes. This prompted distributor Take-Two Interactive to appeal to the OFLC, who reaffirmed the banned status on 11 December 2001, after reanalysing the game and seeking the professional opinion of a forensic psychologist. This prompted Take-Two to recall the game in Australia, and Rockstar to make appropriate changes to the game; a modified version was re-released with an MA15+ classification in January 2002, removing all instances of sexual acts with prostitutes.
On 25 June 2003, teenage stepbrothers William and Josh Buckner shot and killed Aaron Hamel and Kimberly Bede. In statements to investigators, the perpretators claimed their actions were inspired by Grand Theft Auto III. In response, on 20 October 2003, the families of Hamel and Bede filed a US$246 million lawsuit against Rockstar Games, Take-Two Interactive, Sony Computer Entertainment and Wal-Mart. Rockstar and Take-Two filed for dismissal of the lawsuit, stating in United States district court on 29 October 2003 that the "ideas and concepts", and the "purported psychological effects" of the perpetrators, are protected by the First Amendment's free-speech clause. Jack Thompson, the lawyer representing the victims, denied Rockstar's claims, and attempted to move the lawsuit into a state court for consideration under Tennessee's consumer protection act.


Grand Theft Auto III has been frequently included among the greatest video games of all time. In 2007, GamePro called Grand Theft Auto III the most important video game of all time, explaining that the "game's open-ended gameplay elements have revolutionized the way all video games are made". Similarly, IGN ranked the game among the Top 10 Most Influential Games, and GameSpot listed among the greatest games of all time. In 2009, Game Informer wrote that Grand Theft Auto III "changed the gaming landscape forever with its immersive open world sandbox", and in 2016 GamesRadar named it "the most important game of the decade". Time named it one of the greatest video games of all time in November 2012 and August 2016.
Grand Theft Auto III is considered to have a leading role in the popularisation of sandbox games, inspiring those such as True Crime (2003–05), Saints Row (2006–present) and Crackdown (2007). The term "Grand Theft Auto clone" is frequently used to describe subsequent video games released with similar open-ended gameplay as Grand Theft Auto III. While previous video games used open world design, including earlier Grand Theft Auto games, Grand Theft Auto III took this gameplay foundation and expanded it into a 3D world, offering an unprecedented variety of minigames and side-missions. Due to the greater success of the game over its predecessors, it is credited with popularising the open-world genre; Dan Houser felt that the game made it "one of the most vibrant genres today".
The game also led the trend of mature video games; Dan Houser felt that it allowed other developers to create violent shooters. Hal Halpin, president of the Entertainment Consumers Association, described Grand Theft Auto III as the "lightning rod for the violence-in-games debate". Metro's Roger Hargreaves wrote that it "emboldened a whole new wave of games that were ... fixated with violence, gang culture". Greg Ford of Electronic Gaming Monthly felt that the game allowed the medium to handle mature subject matter in a more serious manner than previously perceived, and noted the improvement of video game classification as a result of the game's controversy.
Following the game's success, Rockstar developed further titles in the series. Vice City and San Andreas are set in their titular locations in 1986 and 1992, respectively. Grand Theft Auto Advance (2004) is set in Liberty City roughly one year before the events of Grand Theft Auto III. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (2005) takes place three years before the events of Grand Theft Auto III in the same rendition of Liberty City. A completely redesigned version of the city was later used in Grand Theft Auto IV (2008),The Lost and Damned (2009),[135] The Ballad of Gay Tony (2009) and Chinatown Wars (2009).

Ports and remakes

Grand Theft Auto III was released on 21 May 2002 for Microsoft Windows, supporting higher screen resolutions and draw distance, and featuring more detailed textures. A GameCube release was planned, but later cancelled. For its release on the Xbox in December 2003, Grand Theft Auto III was bundled with its sequel Vice City in a compilation titled Grand Theft Auto: Double Pack. The Xbox port features custom soundtrack support as well as improved audio, polygon models, and reflections over the previous ports. Double Pack was later bundled with San Andreas in a compilation titled Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy, released in October 2005. The Trilogy was also released for OS X on 12 November 2010. For the game's tenth anniversary in December 2011, War Drum Studios ported Grand Theft Auto III to several iOS and Android devices. The port is almost identical to the Windows version of the game, in addition to enhanced textures and models and touchscreen controls. A PlayStation 3 version of Grand Theft Auto III was released on 25 September 2012 via the PlayStation Network. The original PlayStation 2 version of the game was released for the PlayStation 4, as a PS2 Classics title, on 5 December 2015. In 2012, a modding community under the name RAGE Classic Team released the map of Grand Theft Auto III ported over to Grand Theft Auto IV, named Grand Theft Auto III: RAGE Classic.

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