I've spent the last couple of weeks binging on Grand Theft Auto 2. It lacks the depth and the 3D graphics of the more well-known titles, but this is still a fantastic game that carries the reckless GTA atmosphere of driving around a city, wreaking havoc, and getting rewarded for it.
There's some arcade game influence. You have lives. Money is little more than a score. You need to earn a certain amount of money to go to the next level. There are ways to multiply your earnings, but you rarely need to spend money, and once you've completed a few missions you'll never be strapped for cash again. The method of saving the game is quite archaic and feels as though it was thrown in at the last minute, although this is certainly not a game you can finish in one sitting. There are three levels all with the same goal. Get lots of money. Technically you could do this by doing whatever you like. You get a small amount of money for killing someone, and for ramming your car into another. If you find a tank you could get enough cash very quickly without having to complete a single mission because running your tank over cars gives you a fuckton of money, especially with a high multiplier. Then there are the "kill frenzies" which give you a weapon with infinite ammo (temporarily) with the goal of killing X amount of people in Y amount of time. But the main point of the game is to impress the three gangs that rule the city and complete their seven missions. To earn the respect of the gang leaders you have to slaughter the members of another gang in a rock/paper/scissors style system. Getting maximum respect means the gang members will help you out in shooting muggers and the cops. Getting minimum respect means the gang members will be out to kill you. Even if you're in a vehicle. They have the power to immediately know which car you are in. With clever engineering (or blind luck in my case) you can get high respect for two gangs, meaning that you're safe in most of the city.
The missions are pretty repetitive. Most of them are of the form "Drive to point A, then to point B, then to point C" with some potential obstacles such as cops or rival gangs attacking you. Most of the remaining missions involve killing a bunch of gang members, sometimes on your own, sometimes with a retinue of fellow gang members to help you out. Funnily enough the NPCs have a wider field of vision than the player does. And they aim better. However there are a handful of very creative and fun missions that go against the norm. Despite the general repetitiveness of the game, it never ceases to be fun. I soon became addicted. Once I started playing, I was unable to stop for a number of hours. The controls are very smooth (except for the rare occasions you have to platform on rooftops) and it's very satisfying to drive at maximum speeds or gun a bunch of people down. Some of the later missions have an epic feel about them, having to walk over long and winding walkways to blow up a generator in a power plant while guards chase you down. Or the insanely hard mission where you have five minutes to steal a SWAT van, then a Special Forces car, then an army tank. The only way to do this is to get the police meter to maximum and somehow survive while pilfering their best vehicles.
It's not a perfect game. The overhead 2D perspective limits your frontal vision significantly, making it impossible to react when you're driving at high speeds and the road you're on comes to a dead end. Either you drive at max speed and drive into brick walls a lot, or you drive at half speed and give yourself a chance to weave in and out of traffic like a pro. I did a bit of both. The jump mechanic is a bit finnicky. The ability to jump over cars (or vans or buses) is a simple but effectic mechanic that makes navigating on foot easy and stops you from getting stuck between vehicles. However jumping over gaps is very finnicky and it's very easy to just fall short and go splat on the concrete. The biggest flaw with the game is the flamethrower. It's broken as fuck. You get touched by a pixel of the flame and you're dead in seconds. No matter how much armor/health you have, your health rapidly drops down to zero and there's nothing you can do about it. In the second and third levels some of the gang members get flamethrowers. It's OK if you're in a car, but on foot, the only risk-free solution is to inch forward and shoot the enemies when they are barely on screen, out of range of their flames. The end of the game is an anticlimax in classic arcade/NES style. You finish the third level, head to the exit, you get a basic screen that says "game completed". Maybe there's a credit screen and something more. but my game froze at that point
If you can handle 2D graphics and you like GTA games, you can't go wrong with this.