With the news last week that Leslie Benzies has left Rockstar North having been on sabbatical since September 2014. I thought I’d talk a little bit about GTA in his honour, since he was such a vital part of making that series what it is today.
Ironically enough, my favourite GTA is the first one Mr Benzies worked on released in 2001, GTA III. GTA III was the game that made the 3D open world game a thing, it’s a fantastic technical achievement and started the industry down the path that The Witcher 3 and Metal Gear Solid V are now calling their own.
But the real reason I love GTA III above the others, even Vice City which is a damn close second, is simply that it was first. It was the first truly open world game I ever played. It was the first game I played where I really got that sense that, I can do what I want; I could run red lights, I could run people over, speed everywhere, do insane jumps and anything else that tickled my fancy.
I even collected the cars that I liked; The Banshee (which is my favourite), the Cheetah, Stingray and more. I’d spray them the colour I wanted and trick the garage into staying open so I could get extra cars in that I wasn’t meant to be able to fit in it.
GTA III was the first game I really felt allowed you to just go have fun, separate from the main story of gang wars and what not. In a way no other games could do it before. Sure, many of them were all fun but everything you did led to progress in the game, this was pointless fun that served no other purpose than to keep me and my friends amused for hours.
Maybe in some quantifiable ways Vice City, San Andreas and GTA V are better games, they have voice acting for your own character, there’s more variety in activities and so on. But they’ll never be able to capture that feeling for me in quite the same way as GTA III did.
They’ll never be first.
As always, thanks for reading! If you want to hear more GTA talk then listen to this weeks Out of the Xfire podcast, where Paul, Mete and I will share some of our memories. While Lee is taped up in the corner so he can’t moan about not liking any of them.
Don’t forget to check back next week for yet another exciting blog!