Grand Theft Auto 2 Review: More Chaotic Criminal Mayhem
Grand Theft Auto 2 was released in 1999 and once again challenged the player to climb to the top of the criminal scene. This time around the graphics and sound were improved and the game-play revolved around earning respect for various competing gangs in an unnamed city.
Grand Theft Auto 2 offered an update on the original Grand Theft Auto game and introduced a few new ideas. The game-play remained largely the same as, once again, you were cast as a small time hood and had to steal and murder your way to the top of the criminal underworld.
The cartoon style was accentuated and the graphics and sound improved for this release. It wasn’t as well received as the original game but there was still plenty to recommend Grand Theft Auto 2 and it proved to be an inventive and enjoyable PC title.
The game-play is much the same as the first game and you complete levels by reaching a target score. This title features the same open ended sandbox system which allows players to plot their own route to the top through violence, car theft and taking on missions for the various gangs that run the city.
The main difference with GTA 2 is the fact that the city map is divided into territory held by various gangs. The gangs do not mix well and you must choose who you want to work for, although you’ll need to change allegiance as you play through if you want to try all of the missions. In order to work for a gang you need to earn their respect and this can be done by killing rival gang members. Once you have caused enough carnage to impress them you pick up missions via payphones.
The missions themselves are similar to the original game and range from drug deals, car theft and assassination to picking up bank robbers and, in one particularly nasty mission, collecting pedestrians with a bus so they can be processed into hotdogs. The comedic elements have been ramped up in this title and the criminal activity feels further removed from reality.
There are a few new weapons in this game including a silenced machine gun for stealthy missions and a taser. You can also get your car kitted out with mines, machine guns and oil slicks. The wide range of vehicles is once again astounding and each handles differently. The police are the same as in the original and your wanted level is clearly displayed on the HUD. You can re-spray your car to escape them and as your wanted level increases so does the police presence out to catch you graduating from cops to SWAT, FBI and eventually the Army.
The missions in this game are slightly more complex than the original and definitely less realistic. However the inclusion of the gangs and the ability to play them off against each other is an interesting addition and this makes for a challenging game.
The game features top down 2D action again and the map is the same grid system with a paper version provided with the boxed version of the game to help you find your way around. The lighting system has been improved and in general everything looks smoother and a bit less crude than it did first time around. The animations are still fairly basic and the character models have little detail. There is more of a sense of height which introduces a 3D feel to the game and some raised sections and ramps make the world feel more like a real place.
Once again the sound is the key feature which makes the game work and while the basic sound effects are decent the real star of the show is the radio stations. Taking the idea from the first game and developing it further each region has a dedicated radio station that fits with the style of a particular gang and in addition to some excellent exclusive music recorded for the game there are some hilarious voiceover lines from the various DJ’s. There are also some great fake advert gags and the humour is really enjoyable, if a bit childish.
This release actually featured a small multiplayer component where up to six players could face off to compete for kills or high score. It wasn’t a great addition and failed to have the depth or playability needed to really make it a draw. For real GTA junkies it did offer a good boost to the replay value.
This title came out two years after the first game, and so the various improvements required a slightly better system. You need a 200Mhz processor, 32MB RAM, DirectX 6.1 compatible sound card and a Direct 3D compatible graphics card. You also need around 65MB of hard drive space to install the game.
Grand Theft Auto 2 was another enjoyable blast of dodgy action with a witty sense of humour, improved visuals and more excellent game-play. The new features didn’t go far enough to make this feel completely different from the original game and although the graphics were better they were still a long way off the amazing 3D that we are used to now. The cartoon violence was also even more stylised here and this proved unpopular with fans of the series, all the titles that followed returned to a much more realistic and gritty real world style.
You can also download and play Grand Theft Auto 2 for free now by registering at the Rockstar website. It is still a lot of fun and a worthy sequel to the original but it was to be completely blown out of the water by the third release in the series which was the game that really catapulted GTA to the top of everyone’s wishlist.