Reviewed on PS 2


Reviewed By: Scott MacDowall

Computer Platform: PlayStation 2
Produced by: Rockstar & DMA
Price Range: $50
Learning curve time: 20 min.
Age level: 18+
ESRB Rating: Mature

Genre: Action/adventure
Christian Rating: 1 of 5
   (very offensive)
Gameplay: 4 of 5
Violence: 1 of 5
Adult Content: 1 of 5

"Grand Theft Auto 3" is not a game many Christians will be interested in. The third update in a series where crime is the focal point, it is assured a place in infamy thanks to its incredibly immoral gameplay. Never before has there been such a vivid representation of lawbreaking. “GTA3” clearly considers itself a sick joke and boldly displays a warped sense of humor throughout, however Christians may find this joke to be in poor taste. It still deserves to be reviewed here, for “GTA3” has become of the PlayStation 2's most popular titles, and sooner or later the Christian gamer needs to make a decision about it.

Box art for 'Grand Theft Auto 3' Taking the role of an unnamed villain, it's your job to help the onscreen protagonist rise to the top of the crime ladder in a fictional metropolis. As in the previous games, work can be found in various locations and is dished out by some very sleazy looking gang leaders. Finish their missions, (the first has you collecting a prostitute), rewards the player with cash. The more successful you become, the larger the city becomes. Unsurprisingly from the title, many tasks involve stealing and driving cars.

Fantastic graphics bring all this devious action to you into brutal detail. The fully 3D Liberty City, where the “GTA3” unfolds, is possibly the most realistic yet seen in a videogame. Hundreds of cars and pedestrians wander the streets, day turns to night, and even the weather changes randomly. It's certainly impressive and for the first couple of hours you'll just want cruise around taking it all in. Sooner or later though you'll need to find a job. That's when things get really remarkable.

Screenshot from 'Grand Theft Auto 3' As stated earlier, all the work involves committing some kind of atrocious sin for profit. One day it'll be helping a corrupt cop escape justice, the next you'll be teaching a rival gang respect with a flamethrower. “GTA3” gently introduces you to its world so it won't take long for the average gamer master the controls. Success leads to more work from different gangs. When it does it's your choice what crook you'll work for. Freedom may be of the games better aspects but sadly it doesn't go far enough. There's always more than one way to beat a mission but they all involve copious amounts of violence. Had “GTA3” allowed the player solve missions more peacefully it could've been far more rewarding.

Ultimately what you'll reap from this game comes down to how offended you are by its content. Aimed squarely at an adult audience it may be, it makes no allowances for the Christian gamer. Unquestionably there is a fine, exciting game lurking underneath all the depravity on top, but it's a personal decision whether or not committing so many virtual sins is worth the unique gaming excitement only “GTA3” can offer.

Year of Release—2001

Positive—This game is simply the best I have ever played, on any console. Every aspect of the game is done flawlessly. To start with, few games provide the control u have of the main character. throughout the game I never had any problems using the controller to perfectly manipulate the character, making the game run smoothly to begin with. The storyline is exciting and the movie clips go along perfectly with the game. The a.i in the game is incredible. Pedastrians and cops don't seem like background. Of course, the game can be enhanced by a few codes which make it even more fun, such as the unlimited weapons code, incredible driving code, and the tank. I have been playing video games since I was about 6 and I cant remember feeling inside a game as I did in this one. I lost track of the hours I spent with my roommates playing this game. All this aside, this is still the most violent game I have ever played, though a lot of it is attributed once again to the flawless gameplay and realistic people. I find it a great deal of fun to just run around the game, killing pedestrians and blowing up drivers at random, though I did feel a bit guilty, such as I never did with doom or quake or goldeneye… My Ratings: [1/5]
   —Gokul Ganesh, age 20, non-Christian

Positive—I picked up this game very late, and I have been a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, before I became a Christian. Simply put, the game is offensive, but as a Christian, we are to have discernment. The game is huge, and I am nowhere near completing it. It plays out like a movie, and has excellent production value. Personally, I like just driving around the city, it is so complex and impressive. I would recommend this to adults only. My Ratings: [1/5]
   —David, age 24

Negative—A beautifully done game, GTA3 immerses you in a fictional world where everything goes. The game takes place in Liberty City, a not so nice place to live. Crime is rampant. Explore the city and you'll see muggings, fights and shootings. Businessmen, gang members, hookers, junkies and winos walk freely about. All of which you are able to beat to a pulp. Some will fight back!! If they have money or weapons you can take them and use them. The A.I is incredible!! It surprised me what all you can do in this game, most of which is against the law. A number of big name Hollywood actors lend their voice talents to the game. Most of them have played Mafiosi in movies. Hired as street-wise thug you 'make your bones' doing token tasks for the local 'family'. You get your orders from a Capo at the city Sex Club. I am not lying. Most of the jobs require a vehicle. All you need to do is yank some poor victim out of whatever car you want and toss them to the ground. If you have a gun you can shoot them while they cower in fear. If you commit a crime such as this in view of a cop (all of which are corrupt), it's bad news. He along with his cronies will relentlessly chase you either on foot or in squad cars. I didn't get too far in the game because of my disgust of the content. Playing this game allowed me to do things I as a Christian wouldn't normally do. I just turned it off and took it back the next day. I traded it for AceCombat 4. A much better game!! My Ratings: [1/5]
   —Anthony Wayne Herndon, age 37

Positive—Grand Theft Auto 3 is deservedly a game of the year. Although this game does revolve around crime, it is a satire of sorts. This game puts into perspective some of the views that people have. For once, cops are the bad guys. When you do something wrong, you have to escape them; sometimes it's a pleasant change from running down the bad guys. Actually this game is an exact opposite of the real world. There is no city on Earth where crime is as abundant. And stealing cars is not as easy as it is in the game. Calling this a “bad game” before you even look deeper into the game is totally moronic. True, it may be crime, but it also ridicules human folly. This game can easily hold your attention for 70-80 hours. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Joe, age 17

…GTA3 is simply a mirror of a very real and violent world, and it is presented with a sense of satire of pop culture. Furthermore with a title “Grand Theft Auto III” and a rating of “Mature” it is obvious to any adult that the game is not going to be peaceful problem solving. Of course it is not very Christian, although there are churches in GTA3 and going to the church you can revive your “health” meter. But no one mentions that, everyone focuses on the picking up of prostitutes, but the truth is the game offers choice. And in fact the picking up of prostitutes is not part of the game's story, and is a hidden feature. Never in any review of the game has anyone mentioned the fact that you can simply go to the hospital for “health” or visit the church. The fact that the game designers chose to make the church a healing place and not the casino shows that it is not simply random health placement, but a subtle indication of their feelings toward the church… The truth is you could spend hours in GTA3 doing nothing but putting out car fires or rescuing people in an ambulance. You could spend time walking the streets and chasing down purse snatchers… But because you can choose, often people choose the most outrageous violent acts. Whose fault is that? The onus is on the person committing the acts [not the game]…
   —Jason Ezekiel

Positive—This is the most addictively fun game I've ever played in 20 something years. Yes, it's rated M. Yes, there is a lot of violence, profanity, and "adult subject matter". But playing a game certainly doesn't make me NOT believe in Jesus Christ, that's for sure. I can't recommend this game to people who are sensitive to the above-mentioned characteristics, but I certainly do recommend it to the ADULT who can distinguish right from wrong and can deal with other peoples' shortfallings without being judgmental or hypocritical. The game is fantastic. And for those who are very sensitive to the adult content, the word on the streets is that Rockstar will being releasing a Teen rated version. My Ratings: [3/5]
   —Brian Smith, age 35

Neutral—This game is so detailed, so long, it'll have you sitting on the couch for about at least a good 10 hours. I got this game for Christmas, because I am a real big fan of Grand Theft Auto, not a real good Christan game, but its one of the best games ever! I'm looking forward to "GTA: Miami" and "GTA4", can't wait! My Ratings: [1/5]
   —Matt, age 13

Negative—To be completely honest, I thought this was the worst game ever. Both in terms of gaming technology, and in moral value. I thought the whole objective of the game was repetitive, and boring. Along the lines of moral value, it upset that me that killing people, stealing cars, picking up and having intercourse with prostitutes was entertaining. All of those things are totally against what the Bible teaches us. It upset me even more watching my college roommates laugh the whole time they played this game. If there are parents looking at these reviews because their son or daughter asked for this game as a gift, I strongly discourage you from doing so. THIS GAME IS THE SICKEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN!!! My Ratings: [1/2]
   —Aaron Smits, age 20

Positive—Take a sprawling metropolis, throw in a good bit of grittiness, sprinkle generously with street gangs and the Italian mafia, and top with the weapons of your choice. These ingredients are what makes Grand Theft Auto 3 the car-jackin' joyride it is. This is more of a simulation than anything else. The city your character 'adventures' in is huge, complete with a day and night cycle. There are hundreds of people going on about their daily lives all around you. You can even listen to a bunch of different radio stations while you're driving a car; you have the ability to do whatever you want (well, almost). In a game named Grand THEFT Auto 3, you can bet there's going to be some burglary going on. Your character can steal (or, as I prefer, 'jack') any unlocked vehicle, regardless if someone is inside it or not (if someone is, your character will toss them out). The better cars are obviously harder to attain; luxury cars are commonly driven by the mafia, and they aren't going to stand by while you waltz up to their vehicle and drive away with it. You can also jack boats (watch out for the Coast Guard). There are also some cool things with regards to stealing cars… if you steal a police car, for instance, you can actually go around arresting criminals. Steal a taxi and deliver people to their destinations. You can jack an ambulance and go around saving people. I haven't found every mini-game yet, but there are definitely a ton. There are also a number of other criminal activities your character can take part in. If you decide to work for a gang, the mafia, or just go 'Dirty Hairy' and be a vigilante, you're going to need some firearms. You can shoot upon anyone, civilian or enemy. You don't have to, however, and killing civilians isn't a good thing (this gets the cops involved, and that's never good!). You also have a 'Wanted' meter. The more crime you commit, the harder the police will search for you. It's pretty amazing to be in a building, piled with weapons, and have a SWAT team outside shouting "Come out with your hands up!". They'll never take me alive! Objectionable elements… let me think. Well, aside from stealing everything in sight and filling a few people with lead (which isn't a big deal because they're just pixels on a screen), there is some harsh language. This is to be expected in a game such as this… you know those mafia hitmen—always with the potty mouths! Also, there are prostitutes walking the streets of the city. This is a simulation, however, so all facets must be presented. Though you never prostitute yourself, I have heard that you can hire them. After you get one in your car, if you drive into an alley, the car starts a rockin'. Nothing explicit is shown, however, and the only reason anyone would want to do this is to get their health meter up. How sleeping around heals deadly wounds, I'll never know. Grand Theft Auto 3 isn't for the kiddies (think 'The Godfather'). It has an 'M' rating, which means it's for people around age 17 and up. This is one of the funnest games I've ever played, and no, it doesn't make me want to go beat up a hobo or hijack some ice-cream truck. There are easily 70 hours of gameplay here, and you can play it many more times after that and try different things (maybe the first time go as a 'good' criminal, while the next time you could go as a psycho-maniac). Grand Theft Auto 3 comes highly recommended. My Ratings: [3/5]

Negative—I think this is the worst game in history. I'm speaking in Moral terms of course… To go around beating up on innocent people and taking their cars is downright evil. And soliciting prostitutes is bad as well. I can't believe how any Christian could play this game. It's full of everything that Christ doesn't want you to do. Who knows??? Some may even be convinced to try out some of this stuff in "real life". Rockstar games is a totally unresponsible company and they continue to make games like this. It's utterly ridiculous! My Ratings: [1/4]
   —Ron Coley, age 27

…It's a shame, though, that such a marvel would have to be chock full of blood, vulgar language, obscenities, and sexual innuendos to satisfy the average consumer. But to anyone familiar with the “Grand Theft Auto” series, these things should not come as a real shocker. Stealing cars and other vehicles, fulfilling gang-style objectives, slaughtering people, smuggling items, escorting baddies; it's all in this one. With over 80 official missions and quite a few alternative (“side”) missions, it's pretty long, and will keep a person occupied for quite some time. The gameplay is excellent. The graphics are beautiful. The sound effects, voice-overs, and radio stations are well-recorded. The replay value is phenomenal. Everything that makes a game good is contained within "Grand Theft Auto 3". However, everything that makes a game bad is also contained within. The best thing about this game, though, is that it's in 3D. Unlike the previous “GTA” titles, this one has complete, 100% unhindered exploration in an expansive 3D city. It's huge, to put it simply. And the artificial intelligence (AI) this time around is fantastic. Pedestrians jump out of (or into, depending on their situational awareness) the way of your speeding vehicle as you race down streets. The police, FBI, and army AI is also improved. When you've caused enough trouble, they will be upon you with a sizable force, setting up roadblocks and letting their choppers and tanks take potshots at you. As a Christian, this game is horribly offensive. It is probably the most controversial game on the market right now. I, therefore, warn anyone who is just starting their walk with God to stay away from a game such as this. It is a force to be reckoned with, in itself. As a gamer, though, I love it… My Ratings: [1/5]
   —Jason Lee McMullen, age 18

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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