The best thing about computer games is how they let us do things that would have some pretty dire consequences in the real world. Reckless driving, speeding through busy city streets, stealing high performance cars or generally being an all round bad guy, it’s not something many of us would want to try for real. In a game however, sign me up! Grand Theft Auto III (GTAIII for short) was the first game in the series to move the perspective from a top down 2D view to a fully 3D world. While it’s graphics may seem primitive now, it was a controversial title at the time and one that re-ignited the debate around violence in videogames. Make no mistake, this is no game for children, but for adults it’s still a great bit of escapism after a hard day at work.
Grand Theft Auto was available at retail on CD-ROM and is still available on several popular digital download sites (such as Steam). To install the original retail version, place the Install CD into your computers optical drive and follow the on-screen prompts as normal. If the games installation utility does not start automatically, browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and run the “Setup.exe” program manually.
To complete installation of the retail version, we also strongly advise that you copy the contents of the play disc to your GTA3 installation folder. To do this, first locate your GTAIII installation folder. By default this can be found in “C:\Program Files (x86)\Rockstar Games\GTAIII”. Now, pop the Play CD (CD2) into your computers optical drive. Use Windows Explorer or File Explorer to copy the files from the CD into the GTAIII game folder. You can exclude the folder “DirectX RunTime” but everything else should be copied over.
No special steps are required to install the Steam (digital download) version.
Before taking to the streets of Liberty City, you’re going to need to install some patches. Which patches you need depends on which version of the game you are playing, so check below carefully.
Patch 1.1 – This is needed for the retail CD version of the game, but should be automatically installed if you buy a digital download version of the game. You can download it here.
To install the patch, simply open the zip file and run the gta3patch.exe file inside. Note that the patch does not automatically detect the games installation folder, so you will need to manually browse to the install folder instead (it’s at C:\Program Files (x86)\Rockstar Games\GTAIII by default).
SilentPatch – This is a fan-made patch that fixes lots of issues in the game that Rockstar themselves never got around to fixing. This is highly recommended for all versions of the game, digital download or retail. You can download it by visiting this page. Once on the page, click on the big “Download mod” button and then choose the “SilentPatchIII” download. To install the patch you simply copy the entire contents of the downloaded zip file into your GTAIII game folder.
dgVoodoo2 – The retrogamers best friend, dgVoodoo2 is highly recommended for GTAIII if you have a PC capable of using DirectX 11. Follow our tutorial here for instructions on how to install it. GTAIII is a DirectX game. Once installed, be sure to start the dgVoodoo configuration tool and on the general tab, under “Scaling mode” choose “Stretched, keep aspect ratio”.
SP DDraw for GTA III/VC – This is only needed on older PCs where dgVoodoo2 cannot be used. You can download it from the same page as SilentPatch. To install it, simply copy the file into your GTAIII game directory.
No CD crack/hack – Unfortunately, the retail CD version of the game uses a form of copy protection that is incompatible with Windows 10 (and Windows 8 and 7 with the latest security patches installed). To get around this problem, you will need a no CD patch. Unfortunately we cannot tell you where to obtain this file due to copyright laws. We can tell you that the crack we used was by a group called “MYTH” and had the MD5 hash EF92C0915F06E5F3DDBFB096D1587B96.
This step is not required for the digital download versions.
With the basic patches installed, you can go ahead and start the game and set up the graphics options.
Tweaking visual quality
If you’re playing GTAIII on a reasonably modern machine you should be able to max out all the graphical settings no problem. Start the game and then from the main menu, choose “Options” and then “Display Setup”.
First of all, you’re going to want to turn “Draw distance” up to the very maximum. This will make sure the city is as detailed as possible. We recommend turning “Frame sync” and “Frame Limiter” on too. Without these options, the game may run too fast and you will encounter several game breaking bugs.
There’s also an option to play in widescreen, however many users have reported that this causes issues with aiming and other bugs, so we recommend sticking to 4:3 in this game.
For screen resolution, select either the highest supported resolution or the highest supported 4:3 aspect ratio resolution. Make sure that you choose a resolution with “X 32” as the last number. This is the colour depth and this should always be set to 32 on a modern PC.
Tweaking sound quality
Audio settings can be configured by choosing “Options” from the main menu and then “Audio Setup”. If you don’t have an EAX compatible sound card, there’s not a lot to change here. If you have a surround sound setup, you can try selecting “dsound32 software emulation” and choosing “more than 2 speakers” for the speaker configuration.
If you are lucky enough to have an EAX compatible sound card, you can use Creative Labs ALchemy software to restore full hardware accelerated audio to the game. We’re not sure if this benefits the games sound quality or not, but it certainly can’t hurt. First of all, add GTAIII to your list of ALchemy apps in the usual manner. Now, you need to download the GTAIII/Vice City ALchemy fix. Again, just hit the “Download Mod” button to download the zip file, then copy the contents into your GTAIII game folder.
Once this is done you should be able to start the game and from the Audio Setup menu, set audio hardware as “Creative Labs EAX 3 (TM)”. This should give you the best possible sound quality.
GTAIII does support game controllers, though configuration is a little problematic. When this game was new, there were all kinds of difficulties getting controllers to work correctly, with axis that were incorrectly inverted and other problems. Luckily, the modding community has come up with a solution for modern game controllers such as the Xbox 360 controller or the PS4 controller. Simply download and install the GInput mod and the game will be upgraded to support modern Xinput compatible controllers. Not only that, but all the button prompts in the game will match your chosen controller too (Xbox and PlayStation controllers are supported).
To download the mod, visit the page here. Click on the big “Download mod” button then choose “GInputIII 1.11 (for GTA III)”. To install the mod, copy the “GInputIII.asi” and “GInputIII.ini” files into your GTAIII game folder, then copy the three files from inside the “models” folder to the models folder in your GTAIII game folder.
Once installed, you’re ready to go if you’re using an Xbox 360 or Xbox One controller. For PlayStation controllers, you will want to edit the “GInputIII.ini” file in Notepad or your favourite text editor. If you’re not familiar with how to do this, see this tutorial.
To enable PlayStation button prompts, find the line “PlayStationButtons=0” and change it to “PlayStationButtons=1” (don’t copy the quotation marks). You can also invert the controllers axis if necessary by replacing “InvertLeftYAxis=0” with “InvertLeftYAxis=1”.
Freezing on loading screen – If the game freezes while loading a level or a save game, try restarting your PC then disabling any in-game overlays.
Game asks for disc 2 and won’t start even when it is inserted – Make sure you copied the contents of the Play disc to your GTAIII game folder.
Game does not start – If you’re using the retail CD version, you must use a no-CD patch in order to bypass the games copy protection.
Save games and configuration data for GTAIII is stored in “C:\Users\(your username)\Documents\GTA3 User Files”.
If you use dgVoodoo2 to play the game, you can access in-game overlays such as Steam, Evolve or Nvidia Shadowplay. We had some compatibility issues with the Evolve overlay and if you experience lockups or unusual behaviour we recommend you disable it.
Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.