Grand Theft Auto III Turns 10

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On this day ten years ago, October 22nd, 2001, Grand Theft Auto III was released into an unsuspecting world. The simple, top-down GTA series had a complete makeover and stepped foot into the 3D realm. Players could now explore a truly virtual world filled with people and life. Many of the gameplay elements that made the previous GTAs successful returned except they were bigger, better, and bolder.

It was a game like no other at the time. GTA III combined action, adventure, story lines, taboo material, and above all, freedom in a 3D environment that enticed players to stray away from the story line and have fun exploring or taking part in an assortment of challenges scattered throughout the city. You didn't need to complete mission after mission with the same boss. You could take a break and drive around, only to find a random Hummer which turns out to be an off-road challenge. You could be climbing around rooftops and find a hidden package. If you felt a little guilty about your destruction there were vigilante and paramedic missions. In addition to all that, there was a variety of music to choose from inside vehicles which made it easier to find a song to match the mood. The game had something for everyone to enjoy.


Prior to 2001, the Grand Theft Auto series wasn't nearly as popular as it is today. GTA was a notorious title due to its criminal gameplay but was among many other more successful games on the market. Over time it developed a cult following of people and was a popular "underground" game. When GTA III came out, the small cult following of the series was overwhelmed. Like a virus, interest in the game spread quickly as word of the title's expansive gameplay and details echoed from one person to another - a pyramid of friends telling more friends, telling more friends, and so on. Grand Theft Auto III was the game that brought the GTA series to the masses and made Grand Theft Auto a household name.


Even though the backbone of the game involved driving from point A to point B, there was so much given to the players option-wise. That, coupled with the controversies of violence, catapulted GTA III and Rockstar Games to the top. Grand Theft Auto III set the bar higher for the GTA series and the gaming industry as a whole. That is why we celebrate the game's 10 year anniversary of release today and watch with glee as each new game in the GTA series continues to raise that bar.

What memories do you have of Grand Theft Auto III? Do you remember your first time? Let us know in the comments below and join us at the GTA 5 forums!