Grand Theft Auto (all of ’em)

Steam had a sale to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of GTA 3. The sale was for the entire collection of the main GTA games on PC for £5. I bought it before my brain had processed the signals my eyes received. Pure muscle reflex – anything GTA-related, I will buy it. I got Chinatown Wars on my iPhone. It’s amazing. Anyway, I digress.

The reason I bought a PS1 back in the day was to play the original Grand Theft Auto. I was obsessed with the game. Hunted for rampages, tanks, flamethrowers, hare krishnas, everything. It consumed me. Wasn’t that keen on GTA 2; the future stylings left me cold. Loved the soundtrack, in fairness. Thinking about it, I never did get the expansion discs. I really should have.

GTA III though, that was something special. I played that to the point where a police siren outside the house would make me flinch. The first decent 3D game; cars looked like cars, buildings were made of four polygons, and human faces looked like badly mangled shoes. At least they tried.

Of all the GTA games though, Vice City is my favourite. Might be because of Ray Liotta voicing Tommy Vercetti, might be because it has the most enjoyable driving model, might be because of the hidden motorbike jumps, or it might just be a combination of all three. Of all the GTA games, Vice City is the one I still love to play.

San Andreas was the one I should have loved more than Vice City. Set in the early 90s, it has the perfect soundtrack (I’ve been listening to Radio Los Santos on mp3 players since the game came out, and still do), a likeable lead character in Carl “CJ” Johnson, an impressively huge map to play in, an unrivalled selection of vehicles to play with; what stopped me from placing it higher than Vice City is the occasional ruthless difficulty spike (the mission where you shoot down radio-controlled miniature planes with a minigun will be forever hated), and the fact it is just too big. It can take half a fucking hour to get from one side of the map to the other. There’s about 500,000 missions in the game. I did eventually finish it, but by fuck it was a hard slog.

And then Rockstar decided to be different with GTA IV. They wanted it to be dramatic. What they did was make it boring. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the game, but I’ve got no desire to go back to it. Liberty City is drab and uninteresting, and it’s a toybox with no fucking toys.

So, I bought all the above for £5 off Steam. Downloaded and installed them all. Happy times ahead! No, not really. With the exception of GTA IV, none of them work with a Xbox 360 controller. I’ve tried them third party programs that remap controls, but they just don’t work. I’ve tried playing them with the keyboard and mouse, but it doesn’t feel right. I’ve been playing GTA games with pads for over 10 years, damnit! And to add insult to insult, GTA IV on my ultra brick shithouse PC looks even worse than it does on the Xbox 360. Noticeably worse. Like, “I think some bastard has replaced my graphics card with an Etch-a-sketch” worse. And this is kinda ironic, cos the older games on the PC all look even better than GTA IV does. Mind = blown.

I got them all for £5, so I shouldn’t have a right to complain, but I do, so I will. It’s so frustrating, being this close to being able to play some of my favourite games, on my favourite format, with my favourite controller. Two out of three ain’t bad, but it’s still only two. Grrrr.

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