back to article Grand Theft Auto 1997: 'Sick, deluded and beneath contempt'

Suddenly PC owners are playing catch-up with the console gamers. PC gamers have now been waiting over a year for one of gaming’s biggest and most controversial titles GTA V. I could have splashed out on the PS4 version but would prefer to wait and play it using my two new crossfired Vapor–X R9 290s. Amid rumours that I might …

  1. Jimboom

    GOURANGA!

    That is all

    1. Smallbrainfield

      Re: GOURANGA!

      I came here for this comment, I was not disappointed.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: GOURANGA!

      That is exactly what I was thinking, when I read the article, I kept waiting for the little orange guys, sorry, red skid stripes, to crop up.

    3. squigbobble

      Re: GOURANGA!

      I remember that appearing on bridges over various roads for years after that game came out.

      1. Thomas Duffin IV

        Re: GOURANGA!

        It was appearing on bridges for many years before GTA came out

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As much as i love retro games, seeing that on a PS1 didn't appeal.

    Now as soon at GTA3 came out that was a totally different story!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: As much as i love retro games

      By the sound of it, not very much...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: As much as i love retro games

        Everyone I knew just had the freeware version for pc.

    2. goldcd

      That's because the PS1 framerate was awful

      Even on my modest PC is was buttery.

      Only game I ever played on the basis of a demo. I'm reasonably sure the demo was the first city with a 10 minute time limit on your game. Great fun trying to pack as much as you could into that.

      Was a poverty stricken student at the time, but only game I've ever been queuing outside (HMV Dundee) to buy on day of release.

  3. Kris Akabusi

    Memories

    I bought this as a 16 year old from my local PC independent game shop. I think there was a rumor that it was banned or going to be banned so shops wouldn't be able to sell it.

    Those were the days when you got a manual and large box for your money.

    1. Lee D

      Re: Memories

      And a map, with that game.

      Though, sadly, in-game tech has increased with outside-world tech and such games have sat-nav nowadays.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Memories

        Yeah, I used to have the maps pinned to the wall above the desk, so that I could work out where I was going. You quickly learnt the maps, but sometimes they were useful, especially when you first open up a new area or a new city.

      2. VinceH

        Re: Memories

        "And a map, with that game.

        Though, sadly, in-game tech has increased with outside-world tech and such games have sat-nav nowadays."

        That is indeed so - but you still get a map with the physical media. The one in my GTAV box for the PS3 is slightly larger than A2, and shows Los Santos on one side, and the wider area of Los Santos and Blaine County on the other.

    2. Kris Akabusi

      Re: Memories

      Forgot the map - upvoted for the reminder.

      There was a Lamborghini in the game but you could never find it, but once you did every other car would be one. Still it was a fantastic game which I still played even when I had the London add on and the sequel (which personally I thought were poor)

    3. hardboiledphil

      Re: Memories

      It was rated 18 in the UK - I got ID checked buying it at HMV so your local independent was clearly more interested in your ££ than protecting your youthful innocence.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Memories

        Nah, the 18 rated was not official, that was a games industry self regulation recommendation. It had nothing to do with the BBFC at the time and was just a marketing gimick.

        1. Goldmember

          Re: Memories

          "Nah, the 18 rated was not official, that was a games industry self regulation recommendation."

          Wrong. It WAS official. While most games of the time didn't require a BBFC games rating as they were under the equivalent of today's PEGI (I think it was called ELSPA), certain games which featured "gross violence" and other extreme content were referred to the BBFC for a rating. All GTA and Resident Evil games had a BBFC rating until a few years ago, when it was decided PEGI would be the universal games rating authority for the UK.

          I was 12 when GTA came out and couldn't buy it in good old Electronics Boutique as I got asked for ID. When the next one came out and the same happened again, I did as another poster said and bought it from an indie shop. Good times

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Memories

      Same happened to me. After the bad publicity, I caught a TV news article talking about how it would likely be banned. I jumped straight into my car (late 20s gamer at the time) to the biggest video game shop and picked up a copy for my PS1. Possibly a game that I would have missed otherwise. All the kids were playing it though by the end of the year.

  4. Shrimpling

    I loved the top down GTA Games

    Especially London 1969 because you got to drive on the correct side of the road.

    1. Lee D

      Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

      I can remember playing multiplayer and my brother and I would see how many cars we could line up in a single screen and one of us would then rocket them while the other tried to "surf" over the cars as they exploded.

      Sadly, the off-screen cars often disappeared quite quickly so it was tricky to get right.

      However, I always loved that style of game, much more so than the first / third person 3D versions.

      Also one of the first games to support 3DFX properly so you could run in some ludicrously high resolutions for the time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

      You're aware that most countries drive on the right hand side of the road rather than the left hand side (UK), right?

      1. Smallbrainfield

        Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

        Quote: "You're aware that most countries drive on the right hand side of the road rather than the left hand side (UK), right?"

        That doesn't make them correct though.

        1. Andrew Barr

          Driving on the left

          Even though there are more countries that drive on the right, I believe that there are more LHD cars than RHD

      2. Irongut

        @AC Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

        And if everyone jumped in the fire would you do it too? (to quote my mother)

        Just because a majority of people are doing something doesn't make it right.

        1. Fe26Mg12

          Re: @AC I loved the top down GTA Games

          I have a solution - we should all drive down the middle of the road.

          Then everyone will be right. {}:>))

      3. Kevin Johnston

        Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

        Actually you are completely incorrect as more countries drive on the left, it's just that the BIG countries do the reverse so most drivers doing it properly drive on the right.

        1. DJO Silver badge

          Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

          Probably apocryphal but everybody used to drive or ride on the left so their sword arm would be presented to anybody coming the other way. Napoleon was apparently left handed so he imposed riding on the right so his sword arm would be in the advantageous position and the rest as they say, is history.

        2. PhoenixRevealed

          Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

          "Actually you are completely incorrect as more countries drive on the left, it's just that the BIG countries do the reverse so most drivers doing it properly drive on the right."

          I don't know where you are getting your info to support your wishful thinking, but most world drivers are on the right, and it's not even close. China, The old Soviet states, Europe, the Middle East, the northern two-thirds of Africa, Scandinavia, all of North America, and all but two countries in South America all drive on the right. The only way your statement is even halfway correct is to count the number of minuscule island countries which are the remnants of Anglo colonization, but even then, the actual number of drivers in those places are vastly outnumbered by those in right-driving nations.

          http://www.worldstandards.eu/cars/list-of-left-driving-countries/

          1. IsJustabloke
            Trollface

            Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

            Do you mean minuscule islands like "Australia" perhaps? ;)

            Seriously, who gives a fuck what country drives on what side of the road?

      4. streaky

        Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

        "that most countries drive on the right hand side of the road rather than the left hand side"

        He said correct; all the driver's countries drive on the left, for example Japan, which is why Japanese cars tend to have the indicator stalk on the correct side unlike many supposedly British cars (hey lets play indicate and change gear at the same time).

        Driving on the right is a throwback to stagecoach driving (much like the suspension "systems" on the average US-built vehicle) and something to do with mailboxes in the USA and nothing to do with being correct - which is why many drive-on-the-right countries have to come up with weird road rules to support it.

        1. Boothy Silver badge

          Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

          Statistically, driving on the left is also safer.

          The vast majority of people are right handed, and driving on the left means your dominant hand is always on the steering wheel, while your left hand is doing things like changing gear, If you were on the right hand side of the road, most people would have to let go of the wheel with their dominant hand, in order to change gear etc.

          Also the right eye is dominant over the left eye, so driving on the left means your right eye is watching the oncoming traffic, and it also means pedestrians crossing the road, also have their dominant eye towards the oncoming traffic on their side of the road.

          As far as I know, there are no positive reasons to drive on the right, only negative ones.

          1. PhoenixRevealed

            Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

            "If you were on the right hand side of the road, most people would have to let go of the wheel with their dominant hand, in order to change gear etc."

            Bull... I'm left handed in a right-side driving country. As such I am forced to use my non-dominant hand to operate everything in the vehicle except the windshield wipers. That requires more of my attention than it would if I could use my more coordinated left hand, but I am NOT forced to take my left hand off the steering wheel to do so. When using the shifter I am sometimes forced to take my eyes off the road and look down at it since my muscle memory is less developed on that side and I find it harder to "feel" that it is in the correct position than if I could use my left hand instead. I actually find it easier to drive in a left-side drive country. Your argument is just wishful justification of what at its core is just a emotional position that makes you feel superior because your country "does it right".

            Show me a scientifically conducted study that there are more accidents caused by right-handed drivers in right-side driving countries than in left-side ones (adjusted for population and overall accident rates) and maybe I'll take your argument more seriously. We all know how great the drivers are in Calcutta, and they drive on the left.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

            Statistically, driving on the left is also safer.

            Citation, please.

          3. Sweep

            Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

            It's also safer/better for cyclists (and horse riders)- most will naturally mount up by throwing their right leg over (i.e. from the pavement in the direction of traffic in a sensible country). Also the reason why bicycle drive chains are on the right hand side.

        2. gotes

          Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

          He said correct; all the driver's countries drive on the left, for example Japan

          So what are the "driver's countries"? Not Italy or Germany then?

          1. streaky

            Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

            So what are the "driver's countries"? Not Italy or Germany then?

            I've never driven in Italy but I've experienced the roads.. I'm going with no.

            They make nice cars but..

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0MDY9fl-IA

            1. Spotfist

              Re: @streaky I loved the top down GTA Games

              The nice cars argument doesn't actually count either because they make FIAT which negates everything else, even pizza's! Poor old Italy.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

          Japanese cars tend to have the indicator stalk on the correct side unlike many supposedly British cars (hey lets play indicate and change gear at the same time).

          Mirror, signal, correct gear, manoeuvre anyone (mirror, manoeuvre for testing purposes)? It's actually easier if the indicator is on the left in a right hand drive car as one hand is always on the wheel - you know that bit responsible for the vehicle's direction? Make sense now? On a roundabout I can steer whilst signalling to come off the roundabout and changing gear where necessary - the movement is natural as I hit the indicator downwards on my way to the gear stick. Decidedly easier for a British car on British roads than a Jap one where they cannot be arsed moving the stalks around on the steering column. Don't mistake lazyness for aptitude.

          1. Van

            Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

            "On a roundabout I can steer whilst signalling to come off the roundabout"

            That might explain why mainland europeans struggle with indicating around or over roundabouts.

        4. PhoenixRevealed

          Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

          Get over yourself... there is no "correct" side of the road to drive on, as long as everybody drives on the same side. As a southpaw I wish North America drove on the left since then I'd be able to control my stick shift, radio, HVAC, etc, and pick up my coffee cup with my left dominant hand instead of being forced to use my right, less coordinated appendage. Since the vast majority of humans are right-handed, it actually makes more sense to drive on the right. That said, it really doesn't matter unless you regularly travel to places that drive opposite to what you are used to.

      5. Dabooka

        Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

        "You're aware that most countries drive on the right hand side of the road rather than the left hand side (UK), right?"

        None of the ones that matter do

        1. Tom 11
          Headmaster

          Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

          The side of the road we drive on derives from days gone by when we used to walk small trodden paths and carried swords.

          We walked on the left hand side as most swordsmen sheath their sword on the left hip to be accessible by the right hand. Walking to the left ensured that the pommels of each carriers swords did not mesh when passing closely. This is true for Japan also, another civilisation with strong warrior roots.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

            Sweden used to drive on the left, however a lot of cars were imports from other Scandinavian countries.

            They switched over to driving on the right one afternoon in the 60s.

            They chose the afternoon such that people wouldn't forget first thing in the morning rush hour, and by the evening rush hour occurred it was already in place.

            I loved the top down GTA games, they were like a violent Micro Machines (another great top down racing series). The London expansion packs had some great humour mocking 60s British films. The series on a 3Dfx card looked great, games until then looked blocky and low resolution, GTA ran reasonably quickly, smooth graphics and at a resolution that would put today's consoles to shame.

      6. MJI Silver badge

        Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

        You're aware that most countries drive on the right hand side of the road rather than the left hand side (UK), right?

        We were never invaded by Napolian so we could keep to the left.

        1. PhoenixRevealed

          Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

          Neither was China or North and South America. All those places (except two small South American countries) drive on the right. While what you say may be true for Europe and North Africa, it doesn't apply to the large number of other right-driving countries around the world.

      7. ZankerH
        Trollface

        Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

        The UK drives on the right side of the road, as opposed to countries that drive on the wrong side of the road.

      8. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: I loved the top down GTA Games

        The only reason so many countries drive on the right was a rule brought in by a short frenchman of the name napoleon. Besides, left hand side was the defacto method until only the past couple of centuries.

    3. Mister_C
      Boffin

      @ Shrimpling "drive on the correct side of the road"

      If you were bothered about that then you're playing it wrong...

      1. Shrimpling

        Re: @ Shrimpling "drive on the correct side of the road"

        It bothers me in most games.

        After years of playing Halo I still try to get in the passenger side of a Warthog.

  5. Simple Si
    Mushroom

    Awesome Soundtrack too!

    Great game! I remember playing the demo for ages and saving up for the release and hoping I wouldn't get asked for ID when I purchased from WH Smith back in the day (Electronics Boutique/Game had turned me away earlier - bastards).

    .

    They put a lot of effort into that soundtrack with the various radio stations corresponding to tracks on the CD and it certainly paid off. You could also put your own audio CD in too if I recall.

    1. auburnman

      Re: Awesome Soundtrack too!

      Oh god, the soundtrack! I'd forgotten all about that!

      #The menfolk found their women scary,

      # 'cos they were so big and hairy...

    2. Halfmad

      Re: Awesome Soundtrack too!

      Vice city had my favourite tracks, also the DJs were fantastic. I use to listen to it in my car a lot on the long drives, it was so much better than radio 1 or 2. These days I'm old so I listen to Radio 4..

  6. billy no mates

    I tested them

    Had alot of fun testing GTA, GTA London and most of all GTA 2.

    it was a chore but I just about coped playing GTA 2 for six weeks.

    Only thing is when the game was released I had had enough of it then.

    ah good old days of playing and being paid to play games. ahh bliss

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    GOURANGA

    GTA is the reason I cannot drive past Elvis impersonators or Hare Krishnas without feeling the need to run them over.

    1. PhoenixRevealed

      Re: GOURANGA

      "GTA is the reason I cannot drive past Elvis impersonators or Hare Krishnas without feeling the need to run them over."

      Haven't seen a HK in many years, do they still exist? Maybe they all became Elvis impersonators.

      1. Yugguy

        Re: GOURANGA

        I've also wondered about this. I remember seeing them handing out leaflets in the early 90s, and then they all seemed to disappear overnight.

  8. Kurt S

    Good times

    I always liked the extra bonus when you ran down a line of those monks in one go

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good times

      Or the bonus when you steal a car and then run the owner over with it!

  9. Irongut

    Did anyone actually do the missions? I could never be bothered and usually just drove around till I found some Krishnas or a flame thrower and then went on a rampage.

    1. D@v3

      +1 for the comment

      That was mostly what I did too (don't think I ever made it out of liberty city). Shame I can't give you another +1 for the pic.

      1. Reading Your E-mail

        Re: +1 for the comment

        There was one mission I never got past, not because it was difficult, but because it was so much fun. IIRC you had to "borrow" a taxi, pick up a guy then scare him silly with your driving till he confessed to something or squealed on someone, don't recall. It was the sound of his protesting coupled with driving like a loon that was such a laff. Played it soooo many times :)

        1. VinceH

          Re: +1 for the comment

          "There was one mission I never got past, not because it was difficult, but because it was so much fun. IIRC you had to "borrow" a taxi, pick up a guy then scare him silly with your driving till he confessed to something or squealed on someone, don't recall. It was the sound of his protesting coupled with driving like a loon that was such a laff. Played it soooo many times :)"

          I never played any version before GTA3 - but that was sort of one of the fun things about the free roaming in that version: When you car-jacked someone, if there was a passenger they sometimes didn't get out fast enough, so you could then drive like an utter maniac and hear them screaming the whole time.

          That seems to have been dropped in later versions. I'm not sure if it was still there in Vice City, and although I have San Andreas I haven't played it - but in GTAV it doesn't seem to be possible. I've been deliberately car-jacking people with passengers, and so far *every* passenger has been able to get out before I can drive off. :(

    2. BigAndos
      Happy

      Even in the modern ones, I tend to do just enough of the missions to unlock the whole map and then just mess around! They always pack in so much to reward exploration and goofing about.

    3. Bleu

      I did all of them in Chinatown Wars

      Still boot it up at times to redo missions and to work out how to get the top ratings for them. Not easy.

      Must try the old top-down view ones some time, I seem to have the wrong impression from the lameness of the graphics given the platforms they were on.

  10. ukgnome

    Chinatown wars on iPhone is a must for anyone wanting some nostalgia.

    1. Jimboom

      Re: Chinatown wars

      They do it for Android as well you know.

      And yes, I agree, well worth it. Have played it every day since purchasing it, even if it is to go in game, steal a car/ hit a cop car/or just cause general destruction and see how high I can make my wanted rating before getting killed or busted. Or, for a bit more of a laugh, see how high the wanted rating can get and then see if you can kill off enough cop cars to loose the rating all together!

    2. Bleu

      Never played the old GTAs.

      They looked a little lame to me.

      Chinatown Wars on the DS (the original version) was great.

      For a top-down view, a real work of art. Fun to just drive around and admire the scenery at first.

      I got to 6 wanted stars and still escaped. Record was over 24 hours (game time) pushing wanted levels higher and higher.

      PSP version did not look as good, but did look good.

      I can't imagine how it would work on a touch-screen device, dabbing on bits of the screen for control.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Never played the old GTAs.

        "I can't imagine how it would work on a touch-screen device, dabbing on bits of the screen for control."

        For me personally, bloody awful.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Never played the old GTAs.

        They looked a little lame to me.

        I could never see the appeal, myself (for the older or newer releases).

        But clearly many did enjoy them, and I have to say I find these articles interesting even when I didn't play the game in question and have no inclination to do so.

  11. Amorous Cowherder
    Happy

    Voodoo 2/3DFX support!

    Jeez, memories! I actually went out and bought a Voodoo 2 card so I could play this with enhanced 3DFX graphics!

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Voodoo 2/3DFX support!

      I bought my Voodoo 2 for Quake 2. It was incredible!

      EDIT: Actually, I bought Quake 2 for my Voodoo 2, now I think about it. I had read the card reviews, bought one, then bought Q2 while wandering around town to show it off. Glad I did, though. Q2 was ace, especially with the Action mod!

  12. Andy Tunnah

    Ah memories

    I'll never forget the look of horror the guy at PC World gave my Mam when she bought me this. I would have been around 12 or 13 I think, and I was fortunate enough to have very liberal parents - they let me watch Terminator 2 when I was 8, let my sister watch Freddy when she was 12 (who in turn shown it to me when I was 8, which in turn scared the living shite out of me), etc. etc.

    The look the guy gave my Mam though I'll never forget, you'd think she was buying me sex toys. He started to give a whole speech about it being about murder and mayhem, me there the whole time trying to make him explode with my eyes. My Mam though just laughed him off and said "it's a bloody computer game".

    So I thanked her by repressing those murderous urges it brought forward, because games may have warped my lil' ,mind, but nobody makes Mam look wrong.

  13. clockwork.satan

    I found the first game fun but ludicrously difficult - and that soundtrack was bloody brilliant!!

    I returned to the franchise with GTA 3 but since then the series just hasn't held my attention, I'm afraid. I'm still hankering for a proper current-gen version of Carmageddon, with all of the glorious violence and fun that goes with it. I don't care for the gangsters, prossies and butch criminal nonsense.

  14. SminkyBazzA

    Speed challenge

    I had a time limited demo of GTA and I played that for months. Reaching a million points in 4 minutes is definitely a life achievement for me :) I knew the exact order to do the available missions to get the score multipliers as soon as possible.

    There was a tiny island with cops on that you could jump to on a bike - nearly drove me insane missing and/or dying so often. Another was trying to drive three fuel tankers around with getting them damaged - many many explosions!

  15. Michael Strorm

    GTA Prequel - Before They Went Bad

    I've never actually played them, but the overhead view of the early GTA games always reminded me of Synapse's "NYC: The Big Apple":-

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBj1B9k_5vI

    This was one of the games I played a lot (along with friends and brother) when I first got my Atari 800XL. It was never strictly a sandbox game, but we treated it as such- as with GTA, you could choose the order you played many of the main games and side-games in.

    The lead character is a tourist in New York who has to see all the sights. There's this one car in the city that's much larger than all the rest, and- unlike normal cars- sends you to hospital if you crash into it (or get intentionally crashed *into* by it), costing you $200.

    That big pink m**********r was the "patrol car", i.e. the cops. (*) Was it this bullying by the police that turned our protagonist from a sappy, law-abiding tourist into the psychotically amoral cop killer of the GTA series?

    (*) The police were obviously too bothered chasing tourists to stop the shootout that was taking place at the bank every time you visited.

    1. asdf

      Re: GTA Prequel - Before They Went Bad

      Zombie post but GTA ! always reminded me of Ghostbusters for the Atari home computers.

    2. ThomH

      Re: GTA Prequel - Before They Went Bad

      If we're covering precursors then let this be the obligatory reference to Turbo Esprit, Durell's 3d free-roaming city driving game for the usual three 8-bit suspects.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I miss driving the tank around.

    Once I found where it was hidden, I never bothered with much else in the game - except running down the Krishnas.

  17. FireBurn

    ilovescotland

    I can't remember which GTA this was in - but if you typed it on the PC version it started raining - there was also a replica Forth bridge in the games too

  18. Tom_

    Mods

    I remember finding the data file that specified how the vehicles worked and mucking about with that in some hex editor or other. Making 900mph, indestructible taxis was fun.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For a bit of fun…

    Piss the cops off enough so they start to chase you, then go walk onto an overpass.

    They'll try to "arrest" you from the road. Naturally this will not work, and they'll keep hovering beneath you. Eventually one of their gung-ho colleagues will race past in his car and splatter them: instant points.

  20. Anonymous C0ward

    buckfast

    suckmyrocket

    1. kdh0009

      Re: buckfast

      porkcharsui

      Seriously though, thinking back I spent a lot of my youth standing my GTA man on walkways above freeways getting high speed police cars to mow down the hapless coppers standing underneath, unable to fathom how they couldn't arrest me from down there...

    2. Robert Baker

      Re: buckfast

      You forgot "6031769" — THE classic text cheat code surely, up there with the Konami Kode in legendary status.

      1. Stuart Elliott

        Re: buckfast

        Good ol' Manic Miner !!!

  21. Robert Baker

    Such a pity...

    ...that Mary Whitehouse was no longer around by the time of GTA. If she had been, they could have had the complete set of condemnation.

    Imagine how that would have boosted sales.

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