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When the original Grand Theft Auto was released last year it somehow managed to cause quite a stink among those who have been 'chosen' to protect us from evil. Clergy, police, politicians, teachers and the media all somehow managed to toss a few verbal stones in the general direction of the GTA development team (in some States it was actually banned). The reason? The makers had actually dared offer our children access to the kind of repulsive material that the average adult population watches for enjoyment in their spare time.
Car theft, ram-raiding, joy-riding, road violence... we can view these activities most evenings on one of the many Police... Crime... Action... cable TV shows.
Murder, mayhem, gun smuggling, street violence... nothing new back in the seventies when Starsky and Hutch ran the beat.
Drug dealing, prostitution, smoking weed, domestic violence... which popular Soap doesn't include these lawless activities somewhere in the plot. Shocking, huh?
Senseless, mindless violence sells and Grand Theft Auto 2 will once again sell like the proverbial hot cake because of it's controversial theme and content. That's society for you!
You have complete freedom to steal any vehicle and then cruise around miles of freeways, roads, city streets and back alleys. It is your duty to earn a small fortune by seeking out illicit free-lance work in a huge sprawling metropolis where corruption, arson, murder, drug pedaling and hijacking are all part of your days 'employment'. Mingle with prostitutes, shoot cops, slaughter pedestrians, set fire to clergy, smoke cigarettes and plant explosives outside pizza restaurants. If it's illegal... then it's Grand Theft Auto 2.
Sound and Vision:
The introduction movie could easily be a trailer for a GTA television series as a compendium of law breaking activities, using real live actors, are thrust in your face. It may not be a Hollywood production, but it would sure get you to watch the TV series.
They say if it ain't broken... don't try to fix it! Grand Theft Auto 2 is once again viewed from the top down perspective as the camera follows every law breaking event on your wanton trail of destruction. I'm not really a big fan of this viewpoint as I often find it difficult to negotiate the oncoming traffic that suddenly appears on screen at the last possible moment. This results in many unwanted collisions, which only slows down the pace of the game. Moving these points to one side I suppose GTA wouldn't be GTA if it were viewed from any other perspective... it would be Driver.
The character the player controls is minuscule but is somehow instantly distinguishable form other roaming townsfolk. Strutting the streets he appears slightly larger than most, but the dead giveaway is the three different colored arrows that constantly circle his body (more on these pointers in the gameplay section). As small as the passersby are it's amazing how you can immediately tell whether it's a group of gang members on the prowl, or a gathering of kids playing in the street.
The traffic that travels constantly back and forth along the busy urban highways is made up of dozens of different makes and styles of vehicles. Vans, coaches, lorries, motor bikes and open back trucks stand out for the obvious reason, but it is the sheer number of different models of motor cars that impresses the most. Red cars, metallic blue cars, silver cars, green cars. Hatchbacks, sports cars, saloons, limousines. Make and model affect each car's performance so you know exactly what you're getting when you steal it. If you wish to shake off the cops and mingle in with the traffic then grab an eight-seater caravette and drive carefully. If you need a quick getaway then go for a top of the range sports car that has high acceleration and handling to match. As a last resort you can even steal one of the emergency service vehicles which are on active duty and can be hijacked. Every collision will damage the vehicles body work until it finally burns like a smoldering wreck. Thankfully there are a few dodgy back-street dealers where, for a small fee, your car can be re-sprayed and given new number plates. That should shake off the law for a while.
The city is massive and again it will take you some time before you get your bearings. Once more there's parks, housing estates and docks offering a short-cut, and way too many cop stations for a villains liking. Multi-level shopping malls may be driven through to cause wanton chaos, death and destruction, thus racking up a few extra killing bucks. If you are looking for the main differences between last years and this years offering then it must be said that the resolution is much, much higher. This leads to crispier, clearer graphical content.
In the sound department GTA 2 remains the tops. Aside from all of the sirens, screams, screeches, cries, name-calling and many other verbal assaults thrown around this game, it's the in-car effects that really excel. Steal a vehicle and the particular radio station that it is tuned too not only gives away the make of vehicle, but the character of its previous owner. Grab a small hometown family car and the chance is that it's relatively easy to handle, extremely slow in speed and catchy pop tunes come out of the radio. Nab a hillbilly's truck and then sing along to your favorite Country & Western music. Steal a Japanese saloon and, while the overall performance goes up, you can bet your bottom dollar the radio blurts out non-stop Chinese recipes and oriental music. Gangster cars have hip-hop tunes, the wheels of a street dude blasts out techno, dance and funk, while a cop cars radio warns you that the entire force is on your butt.
Although GTA2 sticks close to last years winning formula the most immediate change is how the missions are now received.
Once again our young hooligan wanders the streets seeking out a public call box where the telephone is ringing (thought he would have a mobile phone by now). Only this time the city has been carved up into three rival territories, each zone run by feuding gangs. The mission depends entirely on whose pitch he is presently on.
Each gang is color-coded. The Yakuza dress in blue clothes from Milan, the Loonies drive bright green cars with smiling faces on the top of them, while the Zaibatsu are represented by gray colored attire and drive ZZ Top style cars.
To work for a particular gang you must follow one of the three colored arrows that circle your character. Following the green marker will lead you straight into the heart of the Loonie territories, the gray to the Zaibatsu's turf and blue to Yakuza's. Before any particular gang offers a job you must first gain their respect. Respect is everything so take care who you kill as spilling one gangs blood will reduce their respect for you, but increase standing with a rival gang. The idea is to balance jobs with each gang, trying to stay in favor with them all.
On the other side of the law there is... the law. Cops do not really care if the rival gangs kill each other off completely. What does get their goat is the slaying of innocent civilians. Run a few too many down and up to four police forces will be chasing your tail. Hassle then for too long and the SWAT team takes over. Keep up the aggro and the army will eventually intervene. You have been warned!
There are many things that Grand Theft Auto 2 will undoubtedly be accused of but there is no way that it could be found guilty of lacking in gameplay. Not only is the playing area the size of a rather large city but there are hundreds of different missions and thousands of crimes and misdemeanors to carry out before you can move up the ranks from being a petty thief to the city's most wanted gangster.
You are initially given five lives. Getting busted, taking too much damage, failing a crucial mission or even dying will end each. This time cash is awarded for successful missions and damage created. When all lives are lost your criminal record is displayed on the screen showing your total earnings and a list of offenses.
The game has a gentle learning curve and you are initially only expected to carry out a few 'trivial' crimes such as dropping off suspicious packages, unloading hot cars and ferrying drug scientists to the lab. Before you know it you are drawn into the seedy world of crime with bigger and more profitable offers - the odd assassination here and the occasional terrorist activity there.
The AI is set very high and the whole playing area appears to be a living, breathing city. Should you start a fire a fire engine will roll up to curtail the flames. Flatten a few pedestrians and an ambulance will arrive to aid the wounded. All clever stuff.
To drive the vehicles you have an accelerator, brake and reverse. On the wide-open highways they handle quite well. Top of the range car's can powerslide around corners and the steering is responsive enough to weave in and out of oncoming vehicles. Where the game becomes frustrating is down those narrow back streets and due to limited space you can easily become jammed in between vehicles and buildings.
The big fix of this game, and possibly the reason why so many do-gooders get up in arms, is that whatever your little hooligan wants... he can just go and take. The appeal in wandering the streets and stopping any car, giving the driver a good thump, and then driving off with their prized possession is hardly teaching kids good manners... but then neither is shooting limbs off other beings in Quake II?
This is a 1 disk game for 1 Player. It is compatible with the standard (digital) joypad and the analog stick controls of the dual shock joypad. Games can be saved via memory card (1 block per save).
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