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Grand Theft Auto Double Pack PlayStation 2

Published by Rockstar Games
Developed by Rockstar North
Released: Out Now
Price: £39.99

It has always been a cliche in the games industry that it's the games that sell consoles. This has never been more true than with the current generation of consoles. Technically speaking the PlayStation 2 is the weakest of the big three yet thanks to certain key titles it continues to have phenomenal pulling power. Before the PlayStation 2 was released several titles were touted as being 'console sellers'. The obvious ones were of course Gran Turismo 3, Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2. Nobody expected the third title in the Grand Theft Auto series to be the best game on the console and nobody, except the people at Rockstar North, could have had any idea what an incredible transformation had taken place by shifting the series to a completely 3D living breathing world where you could do as you pleased. Below are our original reviews of both Grand Theft Auto 3 and Grand Theft Auto Vice City.

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Grand Theft Auto 3

Over the last eight months I have had the privilege of reviewing some of the finest games on all formats but I can honestly say that the game that I am looking at in this review is up there with the best of them. Grand Theft Auto 3 is an unbelievable gaming experience that is reason enough to purchase a PS2.

Those of you familiar with the previous two versions of GTA will be gob smacked with the series' move into 3D. The flat top down visuals have been replaced with a fantastic 3D world that oozes atmosphere and charm. You can go anywhere and do anything you want, it really is up to you. Should you decide to press on with your criminal career you will be impressed by the nature of the missions. Later in the game you can choose which missions to take and which to avoid but at the beginning of the game you have to take the early missions as they move the story along.

The game is set in the fictional Liberty City. The city is made up of three main areas. These areas are Portland (where you begin the game), Staunton Island and Shoreside Vale. Each of these areas look fantastic and feel like a living, breathing city. Within hours of playing the game you'll remember where all the important locations (such as your hideout and the Pay 'n' Spray) are by memory like you would in real life.

The gameplay is unchanged from the first two games. The best improvement to the game apart from the move to a full 3D world is the ability to save your game at any point you so wish (providing you're not in a mission). You simply head to your HQ put your vehicle in the garage and walk in through the door. It doesn't cost you a penny (compared with about 50,000 in GTA2). You can steal any car you want and use all the foul means at your disposal to progress in the game. The missions have multiple solutions which further adds to the greatness of the gameplay. In one of the early missions I had to assassinate two pimps. I found it difficult so what I did was, to steal a van and smash into their car rendering it useless and forcing them to leave the car and walk the streets on foot. My van was in a bad way so I drove around the corner got out of the van and stole another van. I then drove back into the street where the pimps where and drove over them. I could have obtained some molotov cocktails, by killing some tramps that were hanging about, by eight balls garage, and just thrown them at the pimps car. There are about another five or six ways of doing this mission, such is the potential for you to do what you want in this game.

In order to take a mission you head to your employers HQ and walk over the coloured section on the floor. This triggers a subtitled cutscene (subtitles are on by default) which explains your mission objective. All objectives can be recalled at any time (using the start button on the gamepad). The cutscenes use the game engine and they look superb. If you don't want to do a mission, you can steal a taxi and play a version of Crazy Taxi whereby you have to pick up passengers and drop them off within a certain time in order to be paid. You could steal a police car and do police work or you could steal a fire engine or an ambulance and perform the relevant tasks associated with them. GTA 3 is incredible. As well as the above mini games you can also just walk about and admire the scenery. By walking about you could find one of the 100 packages that are scattered throughout the game. You may even like to steal a car, and try to find some of the locations that enable you to perform stunts as this will earn you some extra cash.

Liberty City, as I've mentioned before, is a living breathing city. The weather changes, day and night cycles occur and road works are carried out. A word of warning though don't hang about in your vehicle as doing so may lead to your car being stolen. The attention to detail in this game cannot be over stated. Jumping into a car and speeding away will leave the driver's door flapping in the wind. Sprinting down the road will leave your man gasping for breath. The best thing of all though is that the game is perfect for deaf gamers. So often does a great game come along only to be ignorant to the needs of the deaf gamer. GTA 3 is not one of these though and you will be delighted to see full subtitles/text feedback and visual clues such as your onscreen radar that shows you where your HQ is and where your mission goals are.

Grand Theft Auto 3 is currently the finest game you can purchase for the PS2. Its' ability to let you play the game as you so desire is priceless and every PS2 owner should own this game. The criminal theme of the game may be off putting to some (it is to me) but should not deny you experiencing this great game. No other title on the PS2 can claim the excellence that this title has.

9.7/10

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Grand Theft Auto Vice City

Vice City is set firmly in the 1980s. The clothes, the vehicles and the mannerisms of the characters reek of the 1980s. Immediately this will amaze those who remember the decade and it's films and TV shows. Rockstar North could simply have expanded upon GTA 3 but as their talents continue to blossom it's becoming obvious that these are the chaps who could finally bring true cinematic quality to games software. The cutscenes are a testament to this statement. At times the quality of them (and no I'm not talking about the graphics) is amazing and you can't help but be impressed by them.

The game begins with a scene in Marco's Bistro in Liberty City. Tommy Vercetti (the character you control) is about to be released from prison and the family wants him out of the neighbourhood as he's bad for business. They agree to send him to Vice City to establish a drug operation to bring the family some extra dirty cash. Tommy and his two associates travel to Vice City and are met by their contact, Ken, and arrange to purchase some 'merchandise'. The exchange goes horribly wrong when as the money is being handed over for the drugs an ambush occurs and all but Tommy and Ken are killed. This is where you come in to the game. Tommy has to pick up the pieces and not only get the drugs and money back but get revenge on those who killed his friends.

Of course you don't have to plough on with the story, you can just roam the city, of which a lot is shut off to begin with. GTA 3 was so popular because you could do what you wanted when you wanted and Vice City is exactly the same. The map in the lower left of the screen points the way to the next objective and when you are ready you simply make your way to the coloured zone to collect your mission orders. You can even buy up some of the local businesses, when you've earned enough cash to do so.

Visually it is fair to say that things have improved a bit since GTA 3. The draw distance is greater and the pop-up traffic problem seems to have been sorted out. Of course I could be a little cynical and say that the amount of traffic (and people for that matter) on the streets has been reduced quite a lot from GTA 3 so perhaps this is the reason for the greater draw distance etc. The framerate also seems to be improved, which also seems to have had a beneficial effect on car handling which seems so much smoother this time around. This is more noticeable if you turn the trails (a kind of blurring feature that kind of hides the jaggies as well as adding a distinctive style to the game) off. The vehicles seem to look better this time too and the bikes, cars, helicopter etc., that you can drive all look good.

Generally the game is great in it's provision for deaf gamers. There are a couple of areas that could have been improved upon though. First of all the cutscenes aren't subtitled by default, these have to be enabled. If you are familiar with GTA 3 you'll know that the first time you begin the game it goes straight into the introduction and thereafter it immediately loads your saved game. Vice City is the same in this respect. The first time you'll load the game the introduction will not be subtitled. What you will have to do is to skip the introduction and enable the subtitles and then start a new game. It's a small thing but enabling the subtitles by default would have prevented this problem. Once enabled though the subtitles make the game great for deaf gamers. The only other verbal information that is missing is the comments that you get from passers by in the street. These are only usually one or two word comments and have no bearing on the gameplay. All tutorial tips are given in text so you'll have no problem getting used to the game.

Vice City was never going to have the dramatic impact of GTA 3 because GTA is the game that it's compared to and that is a tall order for any software title. However if pushed for an answer I would say that Vice City is the better of the two. Sure the game is still not for those who are offended by the criminal flavour of the game but for those who can ignore the theme and enjoy the gameplay. This is going to be one of those titles that people write about when a history of gaming is compiled.

9.6/10

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The only way this double pack is not going to appeal to you is if you already own the two games. Rockstar have released the double pack at the superb price of £39.99 and they have not skimped either as the games each come in their own case with a special double pack sleeve. All the manuals and maps have been included too. So for the price of one PlayStation 2 game (Vice City is still £39.99) you get two of the very best games on the console. If you've recently purchased your PlayStation 2 this pack is an absolute must. There are months of top gameplay here and you'll love every second of it. In simple terms this is the best double pack ever in console gaming history and a must if you don't own either title.

Overall Game Rating: 9.8/10
It may be October but Rockstar must surely be on for a Christmas best seller with this magnificent double pack. For just under £40 you can own two of the very best games on the PlayStation 2. Fantastic.

Deaf Gamers comment:
Not only are GTA 3 and Vice City brilliant games but they also cater for deaf gamers too. What more could you ask?