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Letters from the Front


2001 was a very different period in gaming, gamers just got their hands on the Playstation 2 and  a few months later, we would also get our hands on the Xbox in November of 2001. The launch games of the Playstation 2 weren’t the best and there were gamers who weren’t really looking at it and Sony was desperate for a good system seller, on October 22nd, they got it with the release of Grand Theft Auto III.

The importance of GTA III cannot be overstated, it is one of the most influential games of the 2000’s and of all time. No other game in history has made the most impact in the industry then Grand Theft Auto III, it is one of the most important games of all time. Rockstar forever changed the gaming landscape with it’s open world and it brought forth a new genre and popularized it: Open World.

Grand Theft Auto III brought a wave of new games such as Saint’s Row, True Crime, and Crackdown to just name a few. It also coined the term, “GTA Clone.” a term that’s used for every single game that seems similar to Grand Theft Auto. Grand Theft Auto III not only brought a new wave of games  but it’s legacy can still be felt today, 16 years later.

Grand Theft Auto III redefined everything gamers wanted within an action game. The arrival of Rockstar’s open world title redefined the genre and it altered everything that would come later, it changed the future of gaming. It wasn’t the first open world game but it did the most impact and it was certainly the best, open world games became the new world order and it stated if your game wasn’t open world, your game was nothing.

From the game’s opening cutscene, you know what you would be getting into but you didn’t expect the surprise that the game would actually be a masterpiece. The game teaches you it’s mechanics with ease and organically, there is no lengthy tutorial or sections of gameplay where you’re being taken out of the fun- the game hands you new toys in a slow and steady manner and allows you to become accustomed to trial and error, as you go through the game: More islands will unlock, and all of a sudden: there is this big open world you can get lost in. It’s dripping water on your face and teasing you to go further, something Rockstar likes to do. At that time in gaming, GTA III’s mechanics were solid while being married to perfect gameplay: It was smooth control schemes, quirky characters like Misty or 8ball were well-written and the world came alive.  The game just worked all across the board. Also radio stations made the game what it is, these music stations would be played by quirky DJ’s to the funny radio station that was Chatterbox FM. No matter what you were into, there was always a soundtrack for you to cause mayhem or just cruise around Liberty City.

The story in Grand Theft Auto III was a classic tale of betrayal and revenge, missions usually boiled down to go here and kill this man and kill that man and became mundane, it would certainly be criticized if Grand Theft Auto III released this year or anytime before 2017 but it set the bar for what gamers expected and there was a sense of you were accomplishing things and moving on, Rockstar at that time didn’t nail the narrative beats as they would later do with other games later on in the decade. Sadly, this is one of the game’s major shortcomings and this portion of going here and killing this man would just drag on.


Of course, if we’re talking about Grand Theft Auto III then we must mention the infamous controversies that Rockstar inherited throughout the decade but it began here with the arrival of Grand Theft Auto III: Jack Thompson famously took a dislike to the game while parents were afraid of their kids playing a game like this while the media saw the game has a nightmare. Not since the release of the original DOOM in 1993 had everybody talking about a videogame, everyone from news anchors to parents to politicians, never before had there been a game of this size where violence was depicted with such realism–the game had brought a huge change and this was the first time that a videogame was up and center in people’s lives. For the rest of the 2000’s, Rockstar would be in most people’s lives with the controversies that their games garnered to have such as Bully, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and Manhunt to just name a few.

Without a doubt, Grand Theft Auto III is one of the most important videogames ever created. It took an established franchise and turned it into a powerhouse, the sequels that the game managed to create in the years following raised the bar especially one called Grand Theft Auto V, that would release 12 years later.  Grand Theft Auto found it’s footing with the creation of Grand Theft Auto III, there’s no questioning that Grand Theft Auto III deserves it’s place in the annals of video game history.

2 comments on “The Importance of GTA III

  1. You make a lot of good points here. Having played a lot of GTA and GTA 2 as a kid (not too young, I promise!) I didn’t see a 3D version taking off. How wrong I was! Whilst the series isn’t one I particularly enjoy, I do appreciate what it has done at various points in its lifetime. Rockstar have handled it well too, not releasing a new game year on year.

    1. Physics says:

      They did release a game each and every year until GTA IV, that’s when they stopped. I played GTA III on the original Xbox and PC when they came over although I did get a glimpse from my friend in 2001. I was in Middle School when GTA III was ported over to the Xbox and PC. GTA III was the talk of the town for those who hadn’t played it, yet. Rockstar has handled it well, I believe they’re alot like Bethesda where they take their time to perfect. It’s alot like cooking meat of any kind, if you want it done, then do it well and that takes time.

      I was introduced to the series with GTA III, similar to the majority of the fanbase.

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