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   PlanetDreamcast | Games | Reviews | Grand Theft Auto 2
    Grand Theft Auto 2
Don't help old ladies across the street, run them over when they get half-way - Review By Subskin

Grand Theft Auto 2 Logo In 99% of video games, you play a lone hero fighting an evil group. In fact, I can think of very few games where you are not some sort of hero figure, and most of those are sports titles. Sure, Driver may have offered the chance to race against cops, but you were still just a good guy undercover. And TIE Fighter was a look inside the Empire, but it still managed to make you a hero by making you prevent smuggling and a civil war.

The Grand Theft Auto series, on the other hand, is a true rarity. In GTA you're nothing but a two-bit punk in a criminal organization. You have no redeeming qualities -- except, that is, for your hardened knuckles and deadly aim. In other words, GTA2 finally gives Dreamcast owners the chance to be the bad guy. (Although not quite as bad as in Kingpin, but hey, small steps.)

  • The Good

    The common police car is one of the best rides in the game, oddly enough. Unfortunately, the cops aren't exactly giving them away, so you might have to negotiate with them a bit. Or, you could just run them over.
    "Being bad feels pretty good, huh?" - Bender, The Breakfast Club

    Grand Theft Auto 2 takes place in the very near future. You live in a city overrun by gang wars and police corruption. Innocent people are being killed every day by the violence. So what should you do? Simple -- stop being innocent! Steal a car and join the malicious fun.

    That's pretty much all there is to GTA2 - but it really is fiendishly fun. You start off as a no-name punk with nothing but the shirt on your back. In a typical video game, you might build up money or experience before buying a car or a weapon. In GTA2, you just beat the Hell out of whoever has it.

    Carjacking is the biggest thrill I've had since impaling vampires in Soul Reaver. In GTA2, you just walk up to a parked car and press X. Your character will dive in the car, throw a couple of punches, and toss the previous owner to the curb. The variety of autos for your robbing pleasure makes it even more worthwhile - roadsters, semi-trailers, fire engines, sports cars, pretty much anything you can think of is available. It's rarer to see a Jagular (get it? Jagular? Jaguar? oh, the blessed humor of video games...) than say, a pick-up truck, but that's part of the excitement. Coming across an expensive sports car, beating the yuppie out of it, and driving away from cops... it's like my high school graduation all over again.

    The cops are ruthless in GTA2. Running over pedestrians is good for a few points, but if a police car is cruising by you better book it. They'll track you down all over the city, sirens blaring. The AI on the cops is pretty good, and fun to mess with. They'll ram you into a building, throw you down and lock you up. Being the crooked donut-eaters they are, all they really want to do is get you in the back of the car and Rodney King you. Then they'll drop you off in some random part of the city, and its back to the mayhem.

    ROBOT SAYS: LACK OF SKILLZ DETECTED. Oh well, at least it took four cars full of 'em to stop me.
    Other criminals are even more dangerous. In every part of the city, there are three gangs vying for turf. Run over a Yakuza, and his gang members may be less likely to invite you over for dinner. Kill enough, and they'll shoot you on sight. At the same time, the Yakuza's enemies become grateful for your help. They'll start offering you jobs doing things like delivering drugs, bombing universities, and stealing police cars. Serious crime for them means serious cash for you. More importantly, you earn respect.

    GTA2 is strictly two-dimensional. The whole game is an overhead-view feast of destruction. In the year 2000, we typically expect three-dimensional gameplay using polygonal models. GTA2, on the other hand, practically requires its 2D sprites: the whole game is based on an abundance of gunfire and out-of-control car chases. GTA2's two-dimensional graphics allow for a nice field-of-view, and present the action in a format that is both appealling and recognizable.

    Music in GTA2 isn't as good as Crazy Taxi's, but it does have a novel little effect. When you steal a car, you listen to whatever station its radio was already playing. DJs chime in with little ad libs about how dangerous the city is, and then you hear some variation on the typical hard rock video game soundtrack. Like I said, it isn't exactly awe-inspiring, but it's a nice effect when you first steal a new car.

    The controls in Grand Theft Auto 2 fit nicely with the Dreamcast controller. The analog stick turns, while A and Y control acceleration. The rest of the buttons are nicely configured for jumping (while on foot), honking car horns, firing weapons, and other miscellaneous skills. Unlike Rainbow Six, GTA2 is a nice conversion that does not bog down the DC controller with incomprehensible functions. Within minutes you'll be running down pedestrians with ease.

    Perhaps the difficulty of Grand Theft Auto 2 is what makes it most enjoyable. While progressing through the game is tough-as-nails, it's easy to just boot it up and go for some criminal escapades. Classic video games like Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers, and Final Fight were enjoyable for a quick run-through of the early levels, or for the challenge of reaching the game's pinnacle. Many modern games have sacrificed that instant playability for depth-of-story. GTA2 returns to the old school formula, and its damn nice to see that in a twenty-first century game. Whether you're intent on rising all the way to the top of a criminal empire, or just content to steal as many Ferarris as you can in fifteen minutes, GTA2 is there.

    Next: The Bad and The Final Word

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