Some months back, I was eager to connect with my chaotic side through the likes of Grand Theft Auto III: The Definitive Edition. For a while, Claude (the main character) and I were inseparable peas in a pod, summarily solving all the problems of gang warfare in a nascent Liberty City. We did good, or “good,” escorting dubious figures from here to there, taking down criminal forces with ease (mostly), and racing against the clock to battle competing forces. But, as they say, it was fine until…it wasn’t.
I don’t have a grandiose tale of sorrow and woe, rather, (TL;DR) there came a point in GTA III where I had trouble progressing and subsequently lost interest in trying. I don’t count myself among the throngs of extraordinarily competent GTA players. I enjoy the games well enough; know how to aim, shoot, and drive; and like how they each weave together their own unique stories. Having never played the original version of GTA III, I can’t necessarily say that there’s anything wrong with the new version, but boy oh boy, its gameplay turned out to be far more aggravating than I initially thought. Me repeating my manta of “I’m playing a prettier game from 2001” didn’t help overcome much.
To be honest, it’s hard to go back in time with some games. I was heartily reminded of this after paying some of GTA Online’s new content and then returning to GTA III. I simply couldn’t do it. I gave Claude everything I could in trying to complete a mission that had him driving from spot to spot to take out groups of gang members, but my attempts proved futile. It was literally as if I couldn’t aim Claude weapon correctly to save his life. Granted, this had been an issue from the very beginning, but I was willing to be patient and at least try to give the game the benefit of the doubt. Suffice to say, it wore my patience clean out.
The clearest sign of trouble came when I started trying to “cheat” the system. Going DIY in GTA games is nothing new, because sometimes it helps to “accidentally” park a large truck in path of vehicle you’re chasing or to lob grenades at things when you should actually be aiming for specific targets. Whatever it takes to be the “mission complete” signal, right? I like the creativity that GTA games allow; however, when it feels like I have to come up with my own schemes for each and every mission because I simply can’t aim quickly enough or am nothing but a bullet sponge, I have to wonder who’s doing it wrong, me or the game?
The other big problem I encountered was glitchiness. So many glitches! Rockstar did attend to some of these issues — they fixed the rain, at least! – but as far as my copy of the game goes, the glitches were pretty consistent. At first, most were on the silly side, like cars stuck in the air and people walking through each other. But as I progress, and as I opened up more of Liberty City, the glitches became more numerous, and more annoying. During a couple missions, my weapons magically disappeared. Another time, my specifically-parked getaway vehicle disappear and reappeared down the street. And one time, I had loads of fun falling through one of the city’s bridges, which led to a literal crash (and me restarting the game). But the worst offender of all was the traffic. Yes, traffic is a (purposeful?) headache in GTA games, but GTA III, there came a point where cars started materializing on the road out of thin air, and always right in my speedy path. Not cool, man. Not cool.
As much as I tried, I’m officially giving Grand Theft Auto III: The Definitive Edition a DNF. I really can’t see myself gathering enough patience any time in the near future to contend with its unevenness and unpleasantness. My condolences to Claude, but I tried, I really, really did. While I may give the game another go someday, that day is not today. (And especially not after starting God of War, which is like buttery goodness, if there was any comparing the two.) It may be that I have better luck with Tommy Vercetti in Vice City, but he’ll have to wait until I’m ready for a beach vacation, with some car chases on the side.
Lede and in-line images were taken by author during Xbox One gameplay of Grand Theft Auto III: The Definitive Edition (© Rockstar Games, Inc.).