GTA III is still beloved by its fans in 2021.
When it was released, GTA III was one of the highest-rated games of all time. The PS2 release had a critic score of 97/100 on Metacritic, which is tied with the beloved GTA V and only below GTA IV. Both of those games are loved by the community at large, but a lot of them diss GTA 3 for how outdated it looks in 2021.
However, GTA 3 still has its legions of fans. Between nostalgia and a different tone from other titles, GTA 3 is a game that not everybody should dismiss immediately as a relic of the past. It has its good traits that some fans do genuinely enjoy when they replay it in 2021.
Five reasons why GTA III is still beloved by fans in 2021
#5 - Its grittiness
The criminal world is often a dark and scary place for most people, but it's easier to overlook that when playing a modern GTA game in 2021. Most GTA games lack the grittiness GTA III has, which makes GTA III more appealing to some parts of the fanbase in 2021.
GTA III is less comical than other GTA titles, so players playing it in 2021 can enjoy the game for what it is without having to expect the usual Rockstar humor other GTA games are often plagued with. By having less humor, GTA III allows the player to immerse themselves in Liberty City and experience how dark and treacherous Claude's journey of revenge truly is in 2021.
#4 - Simpler characterization
Although GTA III's characterization is often brought up as one of its weakest points, some fans actually appreciate the lack of characterization. Specifically, they appreciate how the characters aren't as flanderized and outlandish as later GTA characters tend to be. Not all fans care for specific characters and their story when playing a game in 2021, so they don't want to be burdened with having to see annoying characters.
By the same token, GTA III's simpler characterization allows players to grasp the storyline scenes for what they are. Oftentimes, there is no witty joke or Rockstar humor to accompany it, which is something some fans love about GTA III. Sometimes, being overly simple isn't necessarily bad depending on who is playing it in 2021.
#3 - Simple control scheme
Some players just prefer playing a game that's simpler in nature. While some will accuse GTA III of being outdated and having archaic controls, its fans will appreciate the game for what it is.
There are no advanced tricks for the player to learn to truly enjoy the game. While there are glitches to exploit, that's more of a bonus than a requirement in a game like GTA III. If fans love GTA Vice City's gameplay in 2021, chances are, they'll also enjoy GTA III's gameplay too, as there are minimal changes between the two games.
#2 - Good difficulty
Some fans love to endlessly complain about how hard GTA III is for either its missions or its control scheme. On the opposite end of the spectrum are fans who love GTA III for how difficult it is at times. It's similar in philosophy to how some fans enjoy Dark Souls for how difficult it is.
Modern GTA games tend to be too much on the easy side, which makes nostalgic fans appreciate the harder missions of yesteryear even more. It is important to note that this reason does drive away some fans from playing or enjoying GTA III, but it's still a reason that some fans love the game in 2021.
#1 - Nostalgia & legacy
GTA III is a pioneer within the GTA franchise. While the previous two games were financially successful, they were nowhere near as monumental to the video game industry as GTA III was. Some fans appreciate how revolutionary GTA III was for not only the franchise, but for the video game industry as a whole. For this very reason, players sometimes feel nostalgic about GTA III and wish to revisit it from time to time.
"GTA Clones" is a moniker people use mockingly for games that replicate the style of gameplay found within GTA III and its subsequent games. It's not used for GTA 1 or GTA 2-styled games seen from a top-down perspective because those games don't have the legacy GTA III has. Legacy and nostalgia go a long way, and it doesn't look like the game's fans will stop loving this game anytime soon in 2021.
Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.