Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto III was first released in October 2001 for the PlayStation 2 and was a large step in the world of Grand Theft Auto, as the first three dimensional game in the series. It preceeded Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which was released on year later and succeeded Grand Theft Auto 2, which was the last game made in the original top-down format (with the exception of Grand Theft Auto Advance. GTA III was also the first game in the series to use the RenderWare engine, one which was to shape the new world of GTA. As with many of the other Grand Theft Auto games, it became Platinum on the PlayStation 2, having sold well over one million copies.
It is set in the year 2001 in the urban metropolis Liberty City, and follows Claude (also known as Fido) who has just escaped from a prison van on the Callahan Bridge. The protagonist, as in many games in the series, starts as a nobody and gradually works his way up to the top of the criminal hierarchy, working for some of the most notorious crime lords in the city. Liberty City is also used in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto IV.
 Story Overview
Related article: List of missions in Grand Theft Auto III
Claude and his friend Catalina had been good friends, but during a robbery on the Bank of Liberty, Catalina shot Claude, leaving him for dead whilst she and Miguel left with the money. On a journey in a prison van, whilst passing over the Callahan Bridge, an explosion killed the police guarding the van and freed Claude and his friend 8 Ball, and together they went to a safehouse in Portland where they changed out of their prison uniforms. From here, Claude began to build up contacts with bigger and bigger crime lords, including Salvatore Leone, who he does some work for, but Sal soon sees that his girlfriend Maria Latore is taking a shine for him and wants him dead, and he is forced out of Portland Island along with Maria. Other contacts Claude meets during the course of the game are Kenji Kasen and Donald Love, and eventually he managed to trace Catalina in Shoreside Vale where he chased her down and killed her.
Claude is a criminal who was shot and left for dead in a bank robbery in 2001, after which he was arrested, however he was freed by an explosion on the Callahan Bridge whilst he was being transported in a prison van. He soon began to work his way up the criminal hierarchy and began working for more big-time crime lords, but unlike Tommy Vercetti and Carl Johnson he never bought a property monopoly and rather had one safehouse on each island of Liberty City, although he does build up quite a large sum of money over the time he spends working for these crime lords. He wears the same set of clothes during the course of the game; a black leather jacket, khaki cargo pants and black and white sneakers. One thing which Claude is famous for is his lack of talking - during the course of the game, the only time players can hear him is after he has hurt himself and he makes a grunting noise. He does not speak to anybody during the game and simply remains silent - whether he chooses to remain silent or whether he is a mute, however, is unknown. It is also unknown whether this is the same person as Claude Speed from Grand Theft Auto 2.
 Liberty City
The game is set in Liberty City (based on New York) in the year 2001, which unfortunately led to big parts of the game being cut due to the events of 9/11. The city is split up into three main islands - the players starts from the east and works their way to the west, working in Portland Island, Staunton Island and Shoreside Vale accordingly. Gangs are a major part of Liberty City, the east dominated by the Leone Family and the Triads, Staunton controlled by the Yakuza, the Yardies and the Colombian Cartel, and the west also controlled by the Cartel. The city is dubbed the Worst Place in America by public voting and according to the Liberty Tree, it had been voted "The least likely place to succeed in America" eight times between 1986 and 1998.
During the course of the storyline, Claude meets a large range of different characters, some of which he becomes good friends with, and some who he does not, as with every Grand Theft Auto game. Some of the more important characters in the game are Catalina, Salvatore Leone, Donald Love and many more. The cast of voice-actors in this game is much less expensive than that on successor Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, but still used some quite well known actors including Michael Madsen (Toni Cipriani) and Frank Vincent (Salvatore Leone). The cast of characters consists mainly of gang leaders and corrupt cops and politicians, as is the case in most games in the series.
There is a large range of vehicles in the game, ranging from small sports cars, to classy saloons, vans and emergency vehicles. Unlike its successors, there are no motorbikes in the city, which we later discovered was due to A.R.S.E. protesting against them and having them banned from the streets. Although there are helicopters on the game, they are only accessible to the police and cannot be flown by players, however there is a flyable vehicle called the Dodo at Francis International Airport, which is a small plane but can be difficult to master flying. Other than that, there are no flyable vehicles available, although there are boats to sail.
Compared to its successors, Grand Theft Auto III has a very small range of weapons. Whilst it works in a similar manner, with several categories of weapons (hand-to-hand, melée, pistol, shotguns, sub-machine guns, rifles, heavy weapons, snipers, grenades and miscellaneous) where players can only carry one weapon from each category at any one time, there is a big difference in that there is only one weapon (and in some cases two) for each category, leaving little over a dozen weapons for players to choose from. Weapons have varying degrees of accuracy, firepower and firing rate, and they play a large part in the game, such as the rocket launcher in the mission The Exchange.
The soundtrack in Grand Theft Auto III is much more focused on city style music, including rap and hip-hop. Of all the 3D Grand Theft Auto games, III has one of the least expensive line-ups of tracks of all of them. The radio stations are as follows:
 The 9/11 Effect
The events of 9/11 in New York City led to problems in the development in Grand Theft Auto III, and some large parts of the game had to be edited or removed completely. The World Trade Center towers were supposed to be in the game, but were removed before release and replaced with a church - in game, players can still look carefully at the church and see some textures which would have been otherwise used on the World Trade Center. In addition to this, some missions were cut due to their nature, in that people would see these missions as a mission of terrorism, and therefore would not be appropriate under the circumstances.
 Game Launch
When the game was first released, it shot straight into the top-selling games, and is now one of the best selling games of all time, having made it into the exclusive PlayStation Platinum list within months. It was rated well above the 90% mark by most critics, and in the UK was described as "The Godfather of crime simulation" by P2 magazine, and "game of the year" by The Guardian.
With the launch of the game came a lot of controversy. On top of the killing and death, other things were also discussed, including the ability to pick up prostitutes. Soon after the release, the game was banned in Australia until a censored version was made to replace it. Additionally, lawyer Jack Thompson also attempted to file a lawsuit against Take-Two for the shooting of two people, which was allegedly influenced by the game, and he has since been pushing against the Grand Theft Auto series, and has attempted to file lawsuits against Take-Two multiple times for different reasons, including the Hot Coffee mod in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
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