I remember the first time I played Grand Theft Auto 3. I was hanging out at my friend Tino's house. He was glued to the TV playing this game on his PS2. I saw him in a car driving around a city. I noticed how there wasn't any boundaries to where he could go. He was free to go wherever he wanted. "This isn't a racing game." I said to myself.
"What is this?" I asked.
"Grand Theft Auto" Tino said.
For real? The Grand Theft Auto I remembered was the game with the overhead view and annoying radio stations. The Grand Theft Auto I knew was the one where you had to hold X to walk and the missions were hard. I wasn't a fan of Grand Theft Auto 1 or 2. I pretty much wrote the series off as too complicated for my 12 year old self to understand, but here is this cool game that Tino's saying is Grand Theft Auto.
"Can I play?" I asked.
"Yea" Tino says.
I pick up the control and begin driving. I remember I was in a Kuruma driving around Chinatown.
"Press L2" Tino said
I press it and notice the camera is looking out the left window of the car.
"All right now hold L2 and press O"
That was the moment I fell in love with Grand Theft Auto 3. Something about being able to do drive by's that just blew me away. Something told me that this game was a classic. I realized then that it was time to jump into the next generation of videogames. No more N64, it was time for a PS2.
I had to wait a few months to finally get my own PS2, but it was all good. Not too long after I played the game at Tino's house more of my friends had copies of Grand Theft Auto 3. It got to the point to where you weren't cool in my middle school if you hadn't at least played the game. I would sleep over my friends house just so we could play GTA 3 all night. I remember one night my friend Tom and I were jamming to Rise FM for like 2 hours. We put Claude in a car and just zoned out to the 6 songs on that radio station.
Grand Theft Auto 3 became so popular that by the time I went to buy it 4 months later I had to bring my mother because the lady at Toys R Us said I was too young. It's crazy because I could have bought Halo, which has the same rating, with no problems. At the time Toys R Us had games on shelves so all you had to do was bring the game to a cash register to buy it. With Grand Theft Auto 3, I remember I had to go to Customer Service and ask for Grand Theft Auto 3.
The controversy behind the game dealing with violence, prostitutes, etc wasn't the reason why I wanted Grand Theft Auto. I wanted it because every time I played it with someone it was incredibly fun. If Grand Theft Auto was a boring game that had all of these naughty things I don't think anybody would care enough to want to play it. Instead it's this incredible game that just so happens to have drugs, violence, and prostitutes. That's my fault? I thought not.
On the 10 year anniversary of Grand Theft Auto 3, I wonder when that next game is going to come. A game that creates a new genre and gets it right. An original game that inspires copy cats that are both good and bad, but never better than the original. A game that every gamer knows something about. A game that unites us as gamers... It'll be here one day. Happy Birthday Grand Theft Auto 3. You changed everything.