Grand Theft Auto III
|Grand Theft Auto III|
|Release date:||October 22, 2001|
|Series:||Grand Theft Auto Series|
|Platforms:||Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox|
Grand Theft Auto III (abbreviated as GTA III or GTA3) is a sandbox-style action-adventure computer and video game developed by DMA Design (now Rockstar North), and published by Rockstar Games. It is the first 3D title in the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series and the third original title overall. It was released in October 2001 for the PlayStation 2 video game console, May 2002 for Windows-based personal computers, and in November 2003 for the Xbox video game console. The game was preceded by Grand Theft Auto 2 and succeeded by Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
The game centers on a nameless criminal who was betrayed by his girlfriend in a bank heist, and is required to work his way up the crime ladder of the city before confronting her. Like its predecessors, GTA III implements sandbox-like gameplay, where the player is given the freedom to explore a large city, complete missions, commit criminal acts, or complete side missions.
The game's concept and gameplay, coupled with the use of a three dimensional game engine for the first time in the series, contributed to Grand Theft Auto III's positive reception upon its release; it quickly became 2001's top selling video game and is cited as a landmark in video games for its far-reaching influence within the industry. GTA III's success was a significant factor in the series' subsequent popularity; as of 2008, five GTA prequels set before events in GTA III have been released. GTA III's violent and sexual content has also been the source of moral panic and controversy.
Grand Theft Auto III takes place in Liberty City, a fictional city on the East Coast, which is loosely based on New York City, but also incorporates elements of other American cities. The timeline of the game was set at around the autumn of 2001, the present time around the first release of GTA III, October 22, 2001; this was indicated by the Liberty Tree website, which included plot points that connect to events in the beginning of the game, in its last existing monthly entry, dated October 18, 2001.
Throughout the story, the protagonist is never named and never utters a single word, though he is often referred to as "Kid" and sometimes "Fido". However, he's referred to as "Claude" in the sequel to the game, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, in which he appears as an NPC.
The player character has robbed the Liberty City Bank with his girlfriend, Catalina, and a male accomplice. While running from the scene, Catalina turns to him and utters, "Sorry, babe, I'm an ambitious girl and you ... you're just small-time". She shoots him and leaves him to die in an alley; the accomplice is also seen lying nearby. It soon becomes apparent that the player character has survived but has been arrested and subsequently found guilty and sentenced to jail. While he is being transferred, an attack on the police convoy aimed at kidnapping an unrelated prisoner sets him free.
With the help of a fellow escaped prisoner, the player character then takes on work as a local thug and rises in power as he works for multiple rival crime gangs, a corrupt police officer and a media mogul. In the process, Maria, the wife of a local Mafia boss, begins to take a liking to him. The Mafia leader, Salvatore, grows suspicious and lures the player to a death trap; but Maria saves him, remaining close to him throughout the storyline. He later goes to work for others, including the Liberty City Yakuza and media mogul Donald Love. Eventually, his exploits attract the attention of Catalina, now affiliated with a Colombian drug cartel, resulting in the kidnapping of Maria. This gives him the opportunity to face Catalina once more, which results in a large firefight and Catalina's death.
Grand Theft Auto III was and remains very controversial because of its violent and sexual content, and it generated outrage from many upon its release. Various critics hypothesized that if children were to play the game, they might acquire sociopathic attitudes toward others.
For examples of video game violence, many TV news channels often show a play session of GTA III where the main character is gunning down pedestrians and blowing up police cars. The player is rewarded with cash for various illegal and immoral actions. Frequently cited in the press is the opportunity for players to carjack a vehicle, pick up a prostitute, have (implied) sex with the prostitute, and then kill her and steal her money. This action, while permitted ("sex" restores the player's health, up to 125% of its normal maximum), is never actually required, nor is any particular suggestion made in the game that the prostitute should be killed. In addition, all in-game crimes incur the wrath of the police.
It was because of GTA III that the Wal-Mart chain of retail stores announced that, for games rated "M" by the ESRB, its stores would begin checking the identification of purchasers who appeared to be under 17.
After its initial release in Australia, the game was banned for a period and a censored version of the game was to be released in its place. A key reason why this course of action was taken was that Rockstar did not submit GTA III to the Office of Film and Literature Classification (OFLC), the body that, among other things, rates video games according to their content in Australia. Lacking a suitable R18+ rating (the highest rating being MA15+), the game was "Refused Classification" and banned for sale because they felt that the game was unsuitable for minors. Australia still does not have an R rating for video games like it does for movies. Among other things, the censored version had the gore (except for the “Gore Mode” cheat) and the ability to kill prostitutes immediately removed; however, it was later found that the uncensored version was also playable by changing the computer's time zone to that of the United States.[verification needed]
While the Australian version of the sequel Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was censored by Rockstar, the next sequel Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was not, despite featuring more "mature" content (although, later, San Andreas was once given a Refused Classification rating amid the "Hot Coffee" controversy).
On October 20, 2003, the families of Aaron Hamel and Kimberly Bede, two young people shot by teens William and Josh Buckner (who in statements to investigators claimed their actions were inspired by GTA III) filed a US$246 million lawsuit against publishers Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive Software, retailer Wal-Mart, and PlayStation 2 manufacturer Sony Computer Entertainment America. Rockstar and its parent company, Take-Two, filed for dismissal of the lawsuit, stating in U.S. District Court on October 29, 2003 that the "ideas and concepts as well as the 'purported psychological effects' on the Buckners are protected by the First Amendment's free-speech clause." The lawyer of the victims, Jack Thompson, denied that and is attempting to move the lawsuit into a state court and under Tennessee's consumer protection act.