Grand Theft Auto III (Sniper)
Genre: Action
Developer: Rockstar
Publisher: Rockstar

Grand Theft Auto III is now a few years old, and it shows; despite adding a bit of "pizazz" to the X-box port, including better spectral highlighting and some nice lighting effects, this title looks extremely blurry, and the very primitive player models/textures are a dead giveaway that this was originally a PS2 game. The visuals aren't awful or anything, but they remind me of many X-box games from another publisher, Sega; they look glossed over, as if you're watching the game through a thin sheet of plastic.

While driving around this simulated city, which is what you spend most of your time doing, you can flick to different fictitious radio stations using the "black" button. There is a wide variety of music, and all of it borders on the comical given the context of the game. The sound effects are a little annoying; the voice acting is ok, but the car engine noises remind me of the motorcycle sounds from Road Rash 3DO.

You run across situations in GTA3 that are unlike any other game; a simple item-fetch endeavor can turn in to an all-out gang war, with ambulances and police cars racing into the fray. The map is huge, and allows for a great deal of exploring. Unfortunately, the game degenerates into "talk to NPC, retrieve item/perform some silly action, get money", over and over again. Also, the control scheme is antiquated, and something as simple as camera movement using the second analog stick is absent. It gets a "B" for innovation alone, but needs some work to hit the "A" range.

There are two things that I don't like about this game: first, there is no infrastructure to promote exploration-- no leveling/skills system, no elaborate side quests, no building interiors to explore, no incentives; this game is like Morrowind, minus the character development. Second, most of the quests are very adolescent, as if to target an insecure 13-year old audience. GTA3 is a good, innovative title in several regards, but lacks the depth be considered an "A" game.

Sniper's verdict: