GTA3: Getting Started

Surely, Grand Theft Auto 3 is one of the games that any game-literate person must know, one of the defining games of this decade. Not only has it been tremendously influential to the industry, it’s controversial enough to have become one of the few games that even non-gamers have heard of. It’s even been satirized in a soda commercial. Strange to think that it’s taken me this long to get around to playing it.

My reasons for not playing it yet are not good ones. They stem from my completist leanings: I don’t like to play series out of order if I can help it. Thus, I didn’t want to start GTA3 until I had finished GTA2, even though there’s no continuity of story or anything like that. And it took me a while to get around to playing through GTA2 simply because it wasn’t all that good. Its faction system was an interesting experiment, but it encouraged somewhat tedious gameplay. The easiest way to complete many of the missions was to pacify the gang whose turf you’d be invading in advance, which you could do by killing your unresisting allies in the target gang’s rival gang. Still, I finished GTA2 a few months ago, and then took a months-long break from the series.

Even now, I haven’t really made a serious go of it. I’m having some difficulty getting it to work properly with my joystick, a PS2 Dualshock controller connected to my PC via a PSX-to-USB adaptor from Radio Shack. The problems I’m having are problems I’ve had before: the right analog stick seems to have its axes swapped, so that pressing forward and back rotates the camera and pressing left and right zooms in and out. Various websites suggest registry hacks to fix this, but nothing has worked yet. I suppose I could just go to keyboard/mouse controls, but that just seems wrong for something that’s primarily a PS2 game.

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