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How GTA 3 changed the video game industry through its successes and failures

GTA 3 redefined the open world experience in 2001 (image via PCGamesN)
GTA 3 redefined the open world experience in 2001 (image via PCGamesN)
Danyal Arabi
ANALYST
Modified 21 Apr 2021
Feature

Rockstar Games' breakout hit from the early 2000's, GTA 3, heralded the franchise into the form that fans know and love today.

Transitioning from a top-down 2D experience to a complete 3D universe, with fresh mechanics and new storytelling methods, GTA 3 was influential in more ways than one. While GTA 3 did a lot of things well, its failures too helped the industry move forward and build open-world experiences that still hold up today.

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GTA 3 how it revolutionised the industry


Releasing just two years after the simplistic top-down viewed GTA 2, GTA 3 turned heads when Rockstar revealed it as a fully 3D, open-world action-adventure title. Built on Criterion Games' RenderWare engine, the developers set out to create an experience no one had seen before.

With the objectives of "freedom and diversity" in a "living, breathing 3D world," GTA 3 harnessed the power of the PlayStation 2 and the additional space provided by DVD's to up the ante on every aspect of the gameplay experience.

A physics engine that in 2001 was nothing short of revolutionary, transformed the driving experience of video games for years to come. The mission and progression structure set by Rockstar in 2001 is something video games follow till date.

While GTA 3 did a lot of things right, what it got wrong marred the experience permanently for a lot of people. Although not a common practice at the time, mission checkpoints are something players sorely missed from the game, as some missions towards the end of the game get incredibly difficult.

The police AI, although hailed for being a lot of fun, was incredibly belligerent and obstructive during missions, leading to a lot of frustration and rage quits. Vehicles were criticized as flip machines, as they turned turtle on a dime and instantly caught on fire.

While GTA 3 was by no means perfect, its impact was felt through the decades, with "GTA clones" becoming its own genre in the years to come, including Dead to Rights, Mafia, Saints Row, Spider-Man 2 and more, all spawning within 2-5 years of its release.

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Published 21 Apr 2021
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