Grab a pint of bitter, my duckies, mods and rockers alike, it’s time for a Retro Revisited of Grand Theft Auto: London 1969. The game was pretty unique for it’s time being the first expansion pack for a PS One game, an idea so unique that someone, somewhere should have realized it was terrible. To break down how an expansion pack for a PS One game works, first you would insert GTA: London 1969, at which point you were asked to insert the original Grand Theft Auto, at which point you were asked to re-insert, GTA: London 1969. This has to be repeated every time you want to play. Every Time. I get game companies being greedy and all, but really they could have just saved everyone time and made this a stand alone budget title.
For those of you that started the GTA franchise with 3 or later, let’s run though the gameplay. You have a top down perspective, while this limits your view, I’ve never found it to be that unbearable until you get in a very fast car. This of course means there is no indoor gameplay, streets and rooftops (accessible via ramps) only. There is only one set of controls, so you handle your character the same way you drive a vehicle. While awkward, you eventually get the hang of it when you play long enough. That was always the downfall of the original GTA games, playing long enough. The major selling point was running around stealing and smashing cars, blowing things up, shooting little blobs of pixels representing people, it’s short term wreck everything sandbox fun, not Final Fantasy VII. This is why I have always felt that the Saint’s Row series was much more the spiritual successor to the original PS One GTAs than… oops hang on, phone, it’s my cousin, he’s going through some things so I have to stop having any fun and talk to him, maybe take him out to dinner (you get the idea).
As for the story, there isn’t too much to be said. You choose a character, not that it matters in gameplay or appearance, and get sent on missions delivered via public phones for the “Crisp Twins” a nod to the infamous, Kray Twins. Sadly the classic red British telephone boxes aren’t really noticeable and for some reason you have a pager. Which brings me to my next point, for heavily pixelated PS One era graphics, GTA: London 1969 does have some nice and easily identifiable nods to Britain: Mini Coopers, a Jaguar painted to look like the Union Jack, Big Ben, etc. As I said in the intro, the game is an expansion pack so it’s no where near as big as GTA 1 or 2, but there is so many fun nods, black humor, and crazy free roaming carnage, it’s worth a play. Now, let’s blow it up again:
P.S. We’ve had next gen GTA games set in Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas. When are we going back to London, Rockstar?