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XBox Reviews: Grand Theft Auto Double Pack

 

Grand Theft Auto Double Pack Screenshots

 

The Final Say!

Gameplay
9.5
Graphics
9.0
Sound
10.0
Value
10.0

Grand Theft Auto Double Pack - reviewed by Andrew B
Review Date: February 2004
Review Score: 9.5/10 
Distributed By: Take Two Interactive

"The Greatest games of the new millennium have finally arrived on the XBox!"

 

The Grand Theft Auto series on the PlayStation 2 has always been an exclusive for the console and no matter where you look, the game has received brilliant reviews and also some heavy criticisms for the adult content of sex, drugs and rock n roll. Fortunately the exclusive nature of the two games has finally come to an end and now XBox gamers from around the world can finally enjoy the most ambitious and addictive titles in gaming history. In terms of continuity, Grand Theft Auto Vice City (the latest game of the saga) is in actual fact the precursor to Grand Theft Auto III and is based in the rock n roll era of 1980, whereas GTA 3 is set in the 1990's. Although it doesn't really matter which game you play first, I do suggest that gamers tackle Grand Theft Auto III first because graphically, it is not as smooth and impressive as Vice City.

 

For those not in the know, gamers play the role of the suave and sophisticated criminal Tommy Versetti who is only an average man trying to do his job... even though his job is thoroughly illegal and highly amoral. Although each game has its own unique storyline and set of characters, the gameplay behind both titles is surprising quite similar and Tommy must engage in a variety of illegal activities that range from assassinations, murders, pornography, drugs and of course avoiding the criminal justice system.

 

For those that love an in-depth plot and the Grand Theft Auto Double Pack is no exception, both titles support an extremely well scripted story that not only enhances the gameplay but also draws you in like the Pied Piper. In GTA III, Tommy is betrayed and shot by his ex-girlfriend and unfortunately takes the fall for his crime. Fortunately for Tommy, his luck is on the way up and after deadly attack on the prison transport van, Tommy manages to escape to freedom. Now Tommy must once again turn to crime and not only befriend a variety of criminal elements but also become the number one gangster of Liberty City. In Vice City, Tommy has once again been released from prison but after a drug deal goes sour, Tommy must now try to recoup the money that he "lost". Apart from clearing his name, Tommy also hopes to achieve something that he has only dreamed about... become a Kingpin in Vice City! From police to criminals and civilians, no matter what game you play, each game has its own unique feel and quality that had me playing these two games for hours on end. When you first set foot in Liberty City or Vice City, you immediately take control of Tommy Versetti who must then engage in a variety of unique missions through the gaming environment.

Although the storyline of Grand Theft Auto is quite linear, the game does offer the gamer a unique style of freedom that lets them indulge in their own perverse acts of crime, whether its finding "bonus" missions that are secreted away or just cruising around the town looking for mischief. The control system of both games are quite sturdy but be warned, some of the vehicles in the game such as the helicopter or motorcycle are still quite deadly to drive... both for Tommy and the player!

 

Our hero of Grand Theft Auto, Tommy Versetti also has access to a variety of different vehicles, equipment and weaponry that not only spices the gameplay up tremendously but also gives the gamer a thoroughly enjoyable time. The vehicles in the game are also based on 1980's or 1990's vehicles as is the weaponry of this title and players can either drive the stock standard suburban family car, a plethora of emergency vehicles, sleek and fast sport cars or even military vehicles such as tanks and even helicopters. When engaging enemies (or even non-threatening characters in the game), Tommy can either beat the absolute living @!#$% out of them or use guns, grenades, machine guns, rocket launchers and even vehicles to maim his friends and foes.

 

The only downside to the gameplay of this title is that if you fail a mission, you must backtrack to the start of the mission and there are no save points per se. In order to save the game, you must travel to a safe house that lets you rest up, change clothes and of course save the game. Although the majority of missions can easily be completed by the seasoned gamer, there are quite a few frustrating missions that will have you stuck playing the mission over and over again depending on your prowess with the XBox controller. Although the remote control helicopter mission on the PlayStation 2 was one of the most frustrating times of my life, it was easily completed on the XBox controller for some strange reason. The game also does suffer from some of the bugs that plagued the PlayStation 2 and the frame rate of the game isn't always the best that sometimes causes you to mess up a mission.

 

Graphically, Grand Theft Auto Vice City is the superior looking game out of the two but don't let this discourage you from playing GTA III because it's almost as nice as Vice City as it uses the same graphics engine. Both games support a variety of different real-world weather effects that look quite simply spectacular and match that with the realistic day/night cycles of Vice City and you have a match made in gaming heaven... well gangster heaven. The characters themselves contain a fairly high polygon count with amazing textures, realistic movements that almost appears that each person in Grand Theft Auto has their own unique personality. Depending on where you are travelling in Grand Theft Auto, each character that you encounter are also based in certain areas, for instance, beach goers can only be found at the beach and the working girls of the night can only be found in the seedy districts of the game.

 

The most impressive feature of the game are the lighting effects that not only blew me away on the PlayStation but also on the XBox, whether it's the shadows that each object casts or the amazing cloud effects, the Grand Theft Auto Double Pack is a true piece of modern day art. Probably the most notable difference with the graphics engine when compared to its distance PlayStation 2 cousin are the articulated fingers that now don the characters during the cutscenes, no longer do the characters look like Lego men and of course the new texture details on the cars that almost put Project Gotham Racing to shame with their reflective surfaces. Rockstar have also gone to extreme lengths to include support for high definition televisions that support a ridiculous resolution of 480p... so those owners of widescreen digital televisions have something to look forward to.

 

Musically, Grand Theft Auto is an orchestral... well rock n roll dream and Vice City has one of the most amazing soundtracks in gaming history that is also available as a CD for those that wish to listen to the tunes of the 1980's. Even my brother who rarely plays video games was impressed with Vice City and loved to drive around and just listen to the songs of the 80's that not only brought back fond memories for him but also allowed him to unleash his own personal road rage. The voice acting of both games has been professionally done but Vice City features a variety of Hollywood greats who have lent their voices to this magnificent title such as Ray Liotta and Dennis Hopper. The game also features a variety of Hollywood style blockbuster sound effects from huge explosions to a variety of different catch phrases from the denizens of Vice City and Liberty City to the realistic sounds of cars, chases and crashes. I almost forgot to mention, Vice City also features some of the most amusing radio stations in history that include religious talkback shows and of course various radio shock jocks.

 

For a recommended retail price of $99.95, this is the best value pack in history that features two games that gamers of all ages will adore, love and hate. Although this game is a port, Rockstar have ensured that these games are professional ports that not only includes new textures but also Dolby Digital 5.1 for that true cinematic and gaming experience. From Florida to New York, the 80's to the 90's, the Grand Theft Auto Double Pack is a must own game for all XBox owners that feature the most addictive gameplay to grace the XBox in a long time. Make sure you buy this title because without it, your life is just like vanilla ice cream... add a little bit of neapolitan to it..... provided that you are over 15!

- Andrew B

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