Cyberpunk 2077 is no GTA, but GTA 2 was a cyberpunk game


Society is in rapid decay. With the crime rate soaring and biochemical dependency in healthy proliferation, you are about to have the time of your life. The city is on the edge of collapse, with law and order beginning to break down completely. People are running wild, half-addled on food additives and semi-legal pharmaceutical pills. A giant corporation controls every aspect of society, from entertainment to organ transplants. Everything is polluted, dirty, unpleasant. Life has never been cheaper.

It’s a premise that belongs in a sourcebook for Cyberpunk 2020. Instead, improbably, it’s the way Rockstar chose to introduce GTA 2. Just two years before the series unfolded in three dimensions, expanding its audience in kind, the mainline Grand Theft Auto was a rock ‘n’ roll sci-fi dystopia.

GTA 2 belongs to an experimental period in the late ‘90s, when Rockstar believed the series could be basically anything. Earlier the same year, the publisher had released GTA: London 1969, a reggae-soundtracked tribute to The Italian Job. Rather than a recognisably real American city like LA or New York, GTA 2’s backdrop is ‘Anywhere, USA’—a post-industrial deathtrap where corps sells their drugs with slick ads on the radio, while openly engaging in factional warfare on the streets. Unless you change the setting in the launcher, the place exists in a state of perpetual dusk. Talk about Night City.

Society is in rapid decay. With the crime rate soaring and biochemical dependency in healthy proliferation, you are about to have the time of your life. The city is on the edge of collapse, with law and order beginning to break down completely. People are running wild, half-addled on food additives and semi-legal pharmaceutical pills. A giant corporation controls every aspect of society, from entertainment to organ transplants. Everything is polluted, dirty, unpleasant. Life has never been cheaper.

It’s a premise that belongs in a sourcebook for Cyberpunk 2020. Instead, improbably, it’s the way Rockstar chose to introduce GTA 2. Just two years before the series unfolded in three dimensions, expanding its audience in kind, the mainline Grand Theft Auto was a rock ‘n’ roll sci-fi dystopia.

GTA 2 belongs to an experimental period in the late ‘90s, when Rockstar believed the series could be basically anything. Earlier the same year, the publisher had released GTA: London 1969, a reggae-soundtracked tribute to The Italian Job. Rather than a recognisably real American city like LA or New York, GTA 2’s backdrop is ‘Anywhere, USA’—a post-industrial deathtrap where corps sells their drugs with slick ads on the radio, while openly engaging in factional warfare on the streets. Unless you change the setting in the launcher, the place exists in a state of perpetual dusk. Talk about Night City.
Society is in rapid decay. With the crime rate soaring and biochemical dependency in healthy proliferation, you are about to have the time of your life. The city is on the edge of collapse, with law and order beginning to break down completely. People are running wild, half-addled on food additives and semi-legal pharmaceutical pills. A giant corporation controls every aspect of society, from entertainment to organ transplants. Everything is polluted, dirty, unpleasant. Life has never been cheaper.

It’s a premise that belongs in a sourcebook for Cyberpunk 2020. Instead, improbably, it’s the way Rockstar chose to introduce GTA 2. Just two years before the series unfolded in three dimensions, expanding its audience in kind, the mainline Grand Theft Auto was a rock ‘n’ roll sci-fi dystopia.

GTA 2 belongs to an experimental period in the late ‘90s, when Rockstar believed the series could be basically anything. Earlier the same year, the publisher had released GTA: London 1969, a reggae-soundtracked tribute to The Italian Job. Rather than a recognisably real American city like LA or New York, GTA 2’s backdrop is ‘Anywhere, USA’—a post-industrial deathtrap where corps sells their drugs with slick ads on the radio, while openly engaging in factional warfare on the streets. Unless you change the setting in the launcher, the place exists in a state of perpetual dusk. Talk about Night City.

Society is in rapid decay. With the crime rate soaring and biochemical dependency in healthy proliferation, you are about to have the time of your life. The city is on the edge of collapse, with law and order beginning to break down completely. People are running wild, half-addled on food additives and semi-legal pharmaceutical pills. A giant corporation controls every aspect of society, from entertainment to organ transplants. Everything is polluted, dirty, unpleasant. Life has never been cheaper.

It’s a premise that belongs in a sourcebook for Cyberpunk 2020. Instead, improbably, it’s the way Rockstar chose to introduce GTA 2. Just two years before the series unfolded in three dimensions, expanding its audience in kind, the mainline Grand Theft Auto was a rock ‘n’ roll sci-fi dystopia.

GTA 2 belongs to an experimental period in the late ‘90s, when Rockstar believed the series could be basically anything. Earlier the same year, the publisher had released GTA: London 1969, a reggae-soundtracked tribute to The Italian Job. Rather than a recognisably real American city like LA or New York, GTA 2’s backdrop is ‘Anywhere, USA’—a post-industrial deathtrap where corps sells their drugs with slick ads on the radio, while openly engaging in factional warfare on the streets. Unless you change the setting in the launcher, the place exists in a state of perpetual dusk. Talk about Night City.

Society is in rapid decay. With the crime rate soaring and biochemical dependency in healthy proliferation, you are about to have the time of your life. The city is on the edge of collapse, with law and order beginning to break down completely. People are running wild, half-addled on food additives and semi-legal pharmaceutical pills. A giant corporation controls every aspect of society, from entertainment to organ transplants. Everything is polluted, dirty, unpleasant. Life has never been cheaper.

It’s a premise that belongs in a sourcebook for Cyberpunk 2020. Instead, improbably, it’s the way Rockstar chose to introduce GTA 2. Just two years before the series unfolded in three dimensions, expanding its audience in kind, the mainline Grand Theft Auto was a rock ‘n’ roll sci-fi dystopia.

GTA 2 belongs to an experimental period in the late ‘90s, when Rockstar believed the series could be basically anything. Earlier the same year, the publisher had released GTA: London 1969, a reggae-soundtracked tribute to The Italian Job. Rather than a recognisably real American city like LA or New York, GTA 2’s backdrop is ‘Anywhere, USA’—a post-industrial deathtrap where corps sells their drugs with slick ads on the radio, while openly engaging in factional warfare on the streets. Unless you change the setting in the launcher, the place exists in a state of perpetual dusk. Talk about Night City.

The resemblance to Cyberpunk is undeniable, and alluring at a time when players are still craving the chaotic open world CD Projekt Red promised. Although the developer more-or-less delivered on a satisfying RPG story told by interesting characters, launch week was defined by images of cops clumsily spawning directly behind players like pantomime actors, or halfway up the side of steep buildings like mountain goats. Worst of all, they proved incapable of car chases, the bread and butter of urban action.

GTA 2 may be incapable of a two-sided conversation, but it does all that cop caper stuff by default. It’s built on the Wanted system that fuelled GTA from the beginning, and was the first entry to introduce FBI and army response levels, nailing the sense of overwhelming escalation that’s been a fixture of the series since. There’s even a subtle detection meter: rather than stars, GTA 2 displays cop heads, which shake disapprovingly if the authorities know your location.

Once the sirens die down, you can get the best sense of GTA 2’s world from its radio—a surrealist and dreamlike source of daft comedy that drifts in and out of signal as you travel under bridges and emerge from tunnels. Skipping records segue into yodelling into news about a rock band called Sticky Fingers, whose hotel room destruction is so extreme it claimed 18 lives in an explosion.

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