Grand Theft Auto: London 1969
PSone / PC / April 1999
Originators DMA morphed into Rockstar, and GTA was transformed into the big-bloused, bellbottomed GTA: London 1969 - all the car-jacking, pedestrian-squashing gameplay of the original but with a 1960s London vibe.
Far from being a true successor, GTA: London 1969 was essentially a stylistic add-on that required ownership of the original game. The changes were mostly cosmetic - Chevrolets became Capris (or non-copyright-infringing ‘Crapis’), Greyhound buses were transformed into the capital’s iconic Double Deckers and the mission dialogue was now inspired by slang from classic Brit TV and movies such as The Professionals and The Italian Job.
But underneath the paint-job, the gameplay was identical. While GTA: London 1969 featured a whole new environment, the go-anywhere, do-(almost)-anything gameplay remained. As did the familiar top-down 2D perspective, the phone-based mini-missions and the radio stations, now complete with hand-picked ’60s tunes. But for half the price of GTA, you were treated to half the content - GTA: London 1969 only featured one city map (compared to GTA’s three). Admittedly, the visuals were a little better, the framerate a little faster. But this semi-sequel was still an ugly duckling of a game, boldly trading on its gameplay rather than its graphics.
Sold for only half of standard full-price games (and later in a handy Director’s Cut set with the original Grand Theft Auto), GTA: London 1969 offered cheap, extended GTA play. With hindsight it was a cash-cow, designed to hold our collective attention until the sequel arrived six months later...