DMA Design

Rockstar Games


Grand Theft Auto 2 Review

By: Jason Dickson

Grand Theft Auto 2 for the Sony PlayStation is a high-octane sequel that lives up to the GTA name. A violent and somewhat twisted adventure through the world of urban crime, GTA 2 features all kinds of action, cars and weaponry inside three huge new city environments.


Grand Theft Auto 2 is the sequel to the cult-favorite 1997 title, which introduced gamers to a comically violent world of mobsters, thugs and police. GTA2 takes the unique gameplay of the original and adds several new features, creating a similar but also very different experience. As a side note, both games were developed for personal computer and transferred to the PlayStation, and as a result, certain features were cut from both to fit the capabilities of the PSX.

GTA2 is set in the near future, where urban decay has continued to reduce the quality of life in our cities. The first thing fans of the original GTA (and its London 1969 & London 1961 expansion packs) will notice is the new game features more abstractly designed vehicles. Instead of a modern-day pickup truck or motorcycle, you'll be racing around town in a futuristic Corvette-lookalike or the cigar-shaped Schmidt.

In fact, the programmers dropped motorcycles completely for GTA2. This is a little disappointing, because the detail of riding a motorcycle and hitting a car, resulting in your character flipping over the handlebars, was good for a laugh. But there are still dozens of vehicle types to choose from, including old favorites like taxi cabs, ice cream trucks and school buses, as well as police cars, swat vans, ambulances, fire trucks and tanks. You can (and believe me, you will) steal all of them in the course of a game.

For your listening pleasure, cars in the GTA series are equipped with radios, each featuring a twisted lineup of songs, news reports and even commercials, a lot of which feature thinly veiled sexual innuendo, such as the "Silky Milky breast implants" ad. There are at least half a dozen such stations in GTA2, and you can even change the channel with the up button on the controller.

There are 10 weapons available for your character to kill with, including pistols, silenced Uzi submachine guns, flame throwers, grenades and rocket launchers.

Before I go further, let's face it, Grand Theft Auto 2 is first and foremost a game about crime. It puts you in the position of the criminal, and the thrill of the game is the thrill that comes from committing a bank robbery, a hit-and-run or an assassination without getting caught. For this purpose, GTA2 is a step ahead of its predecessors, as it boasts over 60 playable missions and vastly improved police response.

Your success in GTA2 will be greatly affected by the new "Respect" system. Your operations are assigned by one of seven gangs, from the blue-collar Rednecks and the Japanese Yakuza to the city's ever-present corporate manipulators, Zaibatsu. In each of the three districts (Downtown, Residential and Industrial), you can choose to work with any of three gangs, provided you have the proper respect. The gangs have divided the area into sections, each represented by color-coded arrows, pointing to phones where the gang leaders will dispatch your character on jobs.

If all this sounds complicated, it is. Players of the original GTA will fare better with the newer features of GTA2, because the basic gameplay controls remain the same. However, GTA2 is one of the rare games where a novice will have just as much fun as an old pro, because the freely explorable city makes learning how to play actually enjoyable.

There are several problems with GTA2 on the PlayStation, however. There is a frustrating glitch in the save game system, a system that was improved (in theory) from the original. It allows you to save the progress in your crime spree by accessing a save point in the city. Unfortunately, this system is not compatible with the high-scores system. Saving your game will keep your place and score in the level, but a saved score after completing a level will be attributed to the next level's list. For example, if you beat the Downtown level with a score of 5 million dollars, and save it to a memory card, that score appears under the residential list.

Including an option to turn off the directional arrows would be a change that would benefit the series in the future. Sometimes it's fun to just cut loose in GTA2, stealing a fast vehicle, running over innocent bystanders and killing as many cops as possible before getting caught. The arrows pointing out the way to the phones can be annoying when you have no intention of looking for an actual mission from the crime bosses.

Also, while it's fairly convenient for the players to refer to the fold-up map of the city included in the game's packaging, it's easy to envision gamers 5-10 years from now buying a used copy of GTA2 and not having the benefit of the instruction booklet or map. For this reason, an in-game map feature (similar to Driver for the PSX) would have been helpful.

Last but not least, it's disappointing that some of the bloodshed from the first GTA has been toned down in Grand Theft Auto 2. There's no pleasant way to detail this: In the first game, dead policemen, gangsters and pedestrians decomposed. Lying on the pavement, they bled, made a big mess and later disappeared. Granted, the process was a little too quick to be realistic, but there was just something wonderful about revving up your Corvette with its back wheels planted on some poor sap's corpse, then spinning out with a trail of blood matching your tire tracks. Gross? Yes. Sick? Maybe. Fun? Definitely. Too bad they took all this away from GTA2.

Grand Theft Auto 2 is an extremely violent game. It could be said that this is the sort of game that deserves a Mature "M" rating, although it passed by the Entertainment Software Review Board (ESRB) with a Teen "T." However, it's also an enjoyable and comical romp through the world of organized crime. If you enjoyed the original GTA, or games like Driver and Carmageddon, you will love GTA2.






Second Opinion

By: John Doe

Aside from the completely disturbing nature of this game, GTA2 is more of what made the first such a cult classic. Now, I'm not condoning the behavior in this game; it's deplorable and if your child is playing this game, perhaps you had better take a look. That being said, remember it's not Rockstar's fault that your 8 year old is getting his jollies killing cops and innocent bystanders; it's all yours for being an ignorant, un-involved parent. Take that! Anyway, if you liked the first game and the expansion pack, GTA London, you have probably waited with baited breath for the true sequel. Yes, some things have changed, but for the most part the game remains true to it's roots.

The idea of the gangs and the implementation of the "respect" system is cool and adds a new dimension to the game. Of course, you'll probably just get off on driving around and car-jacking all of the cool looking vehicles, while listening to the incredibly entertaining radio stations. I'm not a huge fan of the top down view of the game, and I look forward to the day that the game is realized in full 3D like Driver. Can that be far behind? I hope not.

You might miss the blood, but other than that GTA2 plays very similar to the original. A special mention goes to the incredibly entertaining radio stations; they were my favorite part of the whole GTA2 experience. With 60+ missions, there is little chance that you'll get to the end very quickly. My experience with GTA2 (or any GTA game) is that boredom will set in way before the game ends. Maybe it's just me but due to the nature of the game, I just can't get into it for very long. You however, might just dig it right until the last drop. Check it out, if you dare.






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