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A.P.I Review: Grand Theft Auto: London 1969
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Distributor: Rockstar 1 Player
Game Type: Driving/Shooting/Crime Requires original Grand Theft Auto to play
Review Date: June 1999 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

"You're a big man, but you're out of shape, whereas for me it's a full time job, so behave!".

Welcome to London, 1969: home of the Queen, Leicester Square, the British bobby and organised violence. Grand Theft Auto is back to offend the moral majority, your mother and your MP but now it's got a retro feel and an even better soundtrack.

Above all, London is the home of the Crisp twins, Albert and Archie, the self-styled "worst thing to hit London since the Black Death". You may have proved yourself on the mean streets of San Andreas and Liberty City, but you're in London now, and it's got to be 'done proper', with a 'bit of class'. The world of the PC comes to the PlayStation as the console gets its first add-on software, so pay attention, lie on the floor and nobody play the hero.

Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 is the first add-on mission pack for the PlayStation (according to the manual). It's a top-down perspective Driving/Shooting/Crime simulation, as per the original Grand Theft Auto. If you've played the original, you know what to expect. If not.... you need to get the original to play this game, anyway.

Sound & Vision

GTA: London brings a whole new set of vehicles to the game, which appear to be slightly larger sprites and on the whole, better defined. The cars (designed by FIF Engineering, apparently) seem more distinctive, with the faster cars generally easier to pick out of the general traffic (essential for quick getaways). The cityscapes are the same blocky representations, with all the major London landmarks: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Battersea power station, shown in a slightly abstract manner. The missions are introduced and rounded off in cleverly done CG animations which nicely capture the seedy feel of back alleys and snooker halls in gangland London.

Since the add-on uses the same game engine as the original, there is still the same problems with dodgy camera angles. This leaves you stacking into an oil tanker while you're looking at a roof top, but in general, the graphics do their job (getting over London Bridge in rush hour is hard enough, without a police car on your tail and a car stuffed with drugs and explosives, so I suppose a momentary loss of vision is a fair simulation). One really trivial point is that there seem to be more discarded boxes and dustbins everywhere, and everyone knows you can't have a proper car chase without plenty of boxes to plough through. As in the original GTA, though, it's not really the graphics which suck you in, it's the gameplay.

As in the original GTA, the soundtrack to this game is superb; in fact it's probably the best I've ever heard. The tracks range from Ray Davies-style guitar numbers, Jamaican Ska through to groovy jazz and cheesy movie soundtracks, provided by, (amongst others) "Radio Andorra". The music really provides the '60s feel of the game, and I guarantee you'll find yourself humming at least one of the tracks to yourself at work.

The one blot is that when you 'obtain' one of the Rolls-Royce limos (as you have to in a couple of the later missions), you get this awful MIDI track which is supposed to sound 'British'. Other than that, the music is absolutely spot-on. The general effects are greatly adapted for the British theme: passersby will curse in fluent cockney and the police usually say "come on now, son, let's have you", or something similar just before you toast them with the flamethrower.


Anybody who has played Grand Theft Auto will be instantly familiar with the episodes presented in this add-on, which makes it rather strange that the programmers of the game have seen fit to include an introductory episode which involves simply stealing a Vespa and driving it to a garage under moderate police surveillance.

This easy start isn't just a one-off: my main complaint with the game is that it's (gasp!) too easy. After about four and a half hours total of gaming time, I found myself all dressed up with no-one to kill, the game was over! There doesn't seem to be any police mounting pursuit and I never saw a single roadblock. Furthermore you can easily finish the game without losing a life because at the end of every mission and kill frenzy your wanted level is reduce to zero. As a result many of the missions become a simple matter of ferrying stolen cars from Southwark to Bermondsey without a copper in sight. I admit that I haven't found all of the secrets, nor finished all of the missions, but I can't see the game offering long-term playability, because of the lack of opposition.

That said, the game is tremendously entertaining while you're playing it. The storyline seem to have been written with more care and the whole game is shot through with a great selection of one liners. The missions are varied and entertaining, ranging from killing football teams to driving the getaway car for Lord Lucan and acting as chauffeur to "skanky old tarts" from Mile End. If you've ever fancied killing mods, taking amphetamines and stealing the crown jewels in a Mini, then this is the game for you. The problem is, it ends too soon., [….] Some of the gameplay offers a tantalising glimpse of what might be coming in GTA 2, however in that the add-on seems far more story-based, with missions linked together, rather than episodic missions from a phone box.

This add-on is relatively cheap compared to a regular PlayStation game, but it probably won't offer the experienced gameplayer a great deal of challenge. While it is tremendously entertaining to play, too many of the challenges involve straight-line journeys and limited opposition. Enjoy the music, enjoy the laughs, and it might just keep you going till Grand theft Auto 2.

Adam Gillogley Mari
GRAPHICS: 10/20 This game could have been so good, but eventually disappoints. It's half the price of a new game, but I don't think it offered half a game. Essentially, GTA has got itself a new suit of clothes, but they're stylish, Italian, and there's brass knuckles in the pockets.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 7/20


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