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Portables (Games)

Grand Theft Auto Retrospective 292

Sadkey writes "In light of the release of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories for the PSP, UGO has posted a retrospective around the GTA games. "Come take a trip through time, and see how a franchise went from a cult hit to a cultural phenomenon, set the tone for an entire generation, and made open-ended gameplay a buzzword of the early 21st century. It's a long, bumpy ride, but at the end, Grand Theft Auto stands tall as the game that changed everything.' ." I remember playing the top down GTAs and just loving it. Great games.
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Grand Theft Auto Retrospective

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  • I miss... (Score:5, Funny)

    by nmb3000 ( 741169 ) <> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @10:41PM (#13894266) Journal
    Two words: Kill Frenzy!
    • The franchise hasn't been the same since the games stopped awarding you bonus points for running over an entire line of Elvises (Elvii?).
      • Re:I miss... (Score:2, Informative)

        I thought it was a line of Hari Krishnas. They would dance along chanting and run at the first sign of trouble so you had to get some speed up and plow through the whole lot of 'em. Classic. I really really really love that series.
        • Re:I miss... (Score:2, Informative)

          by Tuross ( 18533 )
          It was a line of Hari Krishnas. Gouranga! []

          But also in that version of GTA, you'd hear the voice of Elvis Presley going "uh-huh uh-huh"
          and so on. I could never work out if it was simply random or if there was something you did that triggered the king.
  • by austinpoet ( 789122 ) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @10:45PM (#13894279)
    But i've learned to prefer the 'from behind' view
    • Agreed... Missionary position can get dull all the time.
    • Top-down view was a part of GTA being GTA. When they replaced it with "real 3D" in GTA3, it was one of those things which ruined the game for me (and I absolutely loved the original GTA). The others were non-linearity (you didn't have to repeat the same mission over and over again till you get it done) and actually humorous rather than idiotic missions.
      • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @11:11PM (#13894379)
        For some of us, it's the other way around: I never really liked the top-down GTAs, but I thought GTA3 was the greatest thing ever (or perhaps second only to Half-Life). I guess it just depends on the kind of game you want -- the older GTAs were much more "arcade-like," while the newer ones are more immersive.
  • by rob_squared ( 821479 ) <.moc.derauqs-bor. .ta. .bor.> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @10:47PM (#13894286)
    ...when will they release Grand Theft Auto: Model T Ford edition when you travel the early 20th century speeding around at 15 miles an hour and running illegal moonshine.
  • Stop it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Com2Kid ( 142006 ) <> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @10:49PM (#13894294) Homepage Journal
    Stop it stop it stop it! You are making me feel old! I am only 21, it was NOT that long ago damnit!

    Ok so I did spend two entire days downloading GTA from a Warez site over dialup 2MB zip file by 2MB zip file.....

    Ouch that was awhile back wasn't it...
    • Just wait til you're 30, chief. It get's much, much worse.

      You'll tell kids nine years younger than you about what it used to be like, and they'll think you're lying to them. And after a while, you won't even bother anymore.

      Just for the record, I shined shoes to earn the money to buy a 300/1200 baud modem for my Apple ][e. Ah, The Source.

      Good times.
      • Re:Stop it! (Score:2, Funny)

        by Com2Kid ( 142006 )
        They already don't believe me about the command line!

        Heck a lot of people don't even believe me when I tell them that Windows used to crash every 10 minutes, rather regularly.

        Arg! It is like people are starting to expect their computers to work or something!
      • I remember having to put my 2400/4800 modem on layaway because I couldn't afford it entirely at the time. Paid it off $25 a week until it was finally in my hot little hands.
    • 21? Old?! What does that make me?! The game is sure nostalgic. I remember when the first game came out, I downloaded it (again with the ever-so-popular 2mb zip files from sites), played it for 2 days straight, then told all the people I know how great the game is and how its gameplay would revolutionalize the gaming world. Sadly I was the few that saw the potential of the series... I should had invested in the damn company.
    • heh. yeah.

      I think I would have really enjoyed GTA back when I played games regularly.. say, 1985-89 :-)
    • I won't tell you my age, but I agree, 1998 was a long time ago.

      Just after playing the demo I was so amazed that I then searched it immediately on the net. I had Internet at home since 1 month at that time and 100 MB was huge at 4.5 kb/s. It was also costly, but GTA was not yet available in shops in France.
      This is the last game I played on DOS, and I still launch it with nostalgy.

      Microsoft Midtown Madness was a hit at that time and I was eargerly waiting for a 3D GTA. Midtown Madness was interesting, but not
  • Multiplayer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rm999 ( 775449 ) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @10:52PM (#13894309)
    Ironically, with the huge surge in multiplayer games in the last few years, GTA is one of the few examples of the death of multiplayer in a series. The first two GTAs (the top down ones) had wonderful multiplayer. It easily is in my top 5 list of the best multiplayer games of all time. The shift to 3D, for some reason, meant no multiplayer. Yeah, there is a mod for GTA (MTA I think) which adds multiplayer, and it's good but its still in its infancy last I checked. I really would like to see Rockstar add multiplayer to the game.
    • Anytime you're ready Rockstar. I mean San Andreas is by anyone's definition an RPG.. get on with it.
    • Re:Multiplayer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Forum Joe ( 841804 ) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @11:56PM (#13894520)
      When asked about Multiplayer in Vice City (and then San Andreas) Rockstar always said that it would have been a nice idea, but their engine doesn't support it, and it's too much work to rewrite the entire engine to a multiplayer-compatible one, or something. I thought it sounded like a load of crap (because of Multi Theft Auto) but they stuck to their guns.
      However, for the first time in a 3D GTA game, Liberty City Stories has multiplayer. Rockstar haven't stated why they included multiplayer in this version. Perhaps it's because multiplayer was a major selling point of the PSP, and they wanted to take advantage of that. Perhaps it's because this time the first platfrom is a multiplayer native one (lets face it, all the other GTAs are PS2 ports. LCS isn't). If their earlier reasoning is to be believed, I think it's because they had to build their engine for a new platform from the ground up, so they decided to design it from a multiplayer perspective.
      I'm predictin g the next GTA on a home console will be for XBOX 360 and PS3 and will include Multiplayer... Liberty City Stories is just practice. :)
      • lets face it, all the other GTAs are PS2 ports.

        They are most certainly *not* PS2 ports. The original GTA was on the PC first. III, VC, and SA came out on the PS as prototypes. I'm happy to wait for the real versions to hit the PC.
    • Re:Multiplayer (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kahrytan ( 913147 )
      They really should do an online multiplayer edition of GTA3. It would dominate the market for both pcs and consoles.

      Imagine taking on players from around the world in attempt to control the city or cities. Instead of doing odd jobs for ai bosses, you do odd jobs for actual player bosses. OR you jack into a virtual environment looking like an average citizen. And other players can't tell if you are real or ai character. It would make you think twice of hijacking a car in the game.

      They could c
  • by el-spectre ( 668104 ) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @10:57PM (#13894322) Journal
    I seem to recall a few obscure games from a company called Maxis! Sheesh, GTA3 is great, but they hardly invented or popularized the open-ended game.
  • GTA was fun (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @11:01PM (#13894330) Journal
    GTA 1/London/2 and GTA 3/VC/SA shouldn't be called the same game series. They're vastly different (in playing style and looks) to the point where they're almost polar opposits. It's like comparing the 3D sonics to Sonic on the mega drive. One was great and the other is good but it's just not the same.
    • In the PC version of Vice City I believe there was an overhead view.
      • There's an overhead view in GTA: San Andreas too, but if it's the same as in Vice City, it's more like a cinematic view. It's awesome for driving around in the country side, but not so good for riding around in the cities. (You can enable it when walking.)
    • It involves to some extent the same character, and the same basic archetype and plotline. There are a lot of games in a 'series' that are very different, hell anythin g that still is around from the old days has pretty much gone 3d. Look at the mario games for GameCube vs NES. I've been playing Metroid Prime lately and while the gameplay is vastly different, there are identifyable elements particular to the series.
  • by miyako ( 632510 ) <miyako&gmail,com> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @11:08PM (#13894361) Homepage Journal
    I've never really liked the GTA games personally. I've thought that they had alot of potential, but for myself- and I'm sure a lot of other people, the story and the missions never really held much appeal for me. It's not that I'm against the violence in the games, I enjoy violent games quite a bit- but I've never been able to empathise with the characters of the series at all.
    What I would like to see is some of the "influence" that the GTA series has supposely had in gaming put into something other than making clones with crappier gameplay and crappier stories. Instead I would like to see developers take the massive non-linear 3D world concept and create more games like Shenmue, or given the emphasis on driving in the games, something like Fast and the Furious where the player starts down at the bottom, maybe jacking cars or working as a delivery boy, and rises on the street racing circut (OK, I would hate that game too, but it's just an idea). What about an RPG that takes place inside of a single living city? Something like Blood Omen where you play a vampire who stalks the streets of a huge vibrant faux-new york city feeding on the innocent and battling for territory against rival vampire gangs?
    Of course, GTA wasn't the first game to take place in a large, non-linear city. Shenmue had a much deeper world and IIRC was out a few years before GTAIII. Crazy Taxi had a huge non-linear city, fast dangerous driving and missions as well.
    I guess what I'm trying to say is that GTA may have been well executed in a lot of ways, but it wasn't necessarily THAT innovative, and that if it was as influential as the article states, then why are the only games I can find now that are vaguely based off the GTA formula horribly inferior ripoffs with the same criminal motif?
    • More games like Shenmue? So what you'd really like to see is more Sailors?
    • by nicky_d ( 92174 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @03:56AM (#13895102) Homepage

      if it was as influential as the article states, then why are the only games I can find now that are vaguely based off the GTA formula horribly inferior ripoffs with the same criminal motif?

      Because very few developers are as good as Rockstar - it's hardly Rockstar's fault that their imitators lack the necessary vision and inspiration...

      The Fast & Furious game idea you mentioned could actually be played out within GTA: San Andreas, which features many street racing events and car modding - all you'd have to do is ignore the rest of the game. Admittedly it's only a sidegame, so the depth isn't that great, but it's there, and it's a great example of why the GTA games are to be celebrated. There are two separate rhythm action games in San Andreas (one based around dancing, one around car hydraulics). There are casinos. Paperboy-style delivery missions. Shooting galleries. BMX stunt courses. Articulated truck simulations... the list does go on. This is what the imitators can't match, and it's why GTA's cities are a lot deeper than Shenmue's, if you give them a chance - and I love Shenmue (thanks to Shenmue, I can't walk past a forklift in GTA without going for a spin).

      You're absolutely right that the copycats are by and large atrocious, or at least dull, because they're copying what's on the surface of GTA and missing the depths completely. But that's no reason to criticise GTA itself; if fifty percent of developers/publishers cared as much about making a decent game as Rockstar clearly do, we'd be in a true golden age.

  • I enjoy so called "open ended games" for a few minutes to a few hours, after that I feel that it is a waste of time.

    All respect to Rockstar, the game is kickass, I just cannot help it but it leaves me all the time with the game unfinished and me bored to hell of it.

    I can't help it. I KNOW that it is not more of a waste of time, that playing far-cry hours long online and stealing the sample and shooting the same buddies in the same time for hours, or running thru a doom 3 map and killing monsters from hell,
    • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @01:50AM (#13894833) Journal
      I enjoy so called "open ended games" for a few minutes to a few hours, after that I feel that it is a waste of time.

      All respect to Rockstar, the game is kickass, I just cannot help it but it leaves me all the time with the game unfinished and me bored to hell of it.

      What I find interesting is that the type of games you mention above strike me as incredibly boring! I don't feel like I'm getting anything done, more like just trying to run a race fast enough.

      It gets boring very quickly. But, with the "open ended" games, I get the feeling like I can do whatever I want. If I want to break into an airport and steal a plane and fly around, I can. Or, drive a car, or swim across the ocean, or go look for shellfish, or whatever.

      Typical gameplay might go something like this:

      I do missions for a while, and get bored. Then, I grab a bike, and try to see how much money I can get for an "insane stunt bonus". After a while of that, I drive the bike into a lake, and start mowing down cops just to see what kind of gun I can get. Then, I buy a house and save game to shed the wanted level. (wouldn't it be neat to be able to mix/match Sims2 with GTA?) Do a mission or two. Grab a boat and do some jumps. Then, be a cab driver and try to get 5 people delivered before having to bail the cab. Etc.

      If I could do this multi-player, it would just so rock. Also, it'd be way cool if the map could be edited. Can you imagine how lost you'd get if you could make buildings with arbitrary graphics, sorta like the WAD or PUD files of old?

      But, whatever you do, don't give me a boring, linear, mono-topic game where I just run around and shoot people. Ayugh!
      • I do missions for a while, and get bored. Then, I grab a bike, and try to see how much money I can get for an "insane stunt bonus".

        Me too, but it's a shame how little reward you get for insanse stunts in GTA: SA!

        What I'd really like to see is for a way to save a replay - for those hilarious moments you occasionally experience :)
  • Net play (Score:5, Funny)

    by lampiaio ( 848018 ) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @11:11PM (#13894377)
    One of the best bugs^H^H^H^H features of the first two GTAs was the fun-packed, sync-less net play! I remember playing it in my school's computer lab (which had a very laggy network) with other "students":

    Player 1: HA! Burn, mother fucker!
    Player 2: What do you mean? I just ran over you!
    Player 3: Hey guys, will you stop walking towards the building's walls?

    the good side was that everybody always won.
  • Biased Media? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Thursday October 27, 2005 @11:11PM (#13894378) Homepage
    I was looking forward to GTA: LCS because I thought they would finally fix the series problems (in my eyes). I've seen from the reviews that they haven't. But everyone is giving it great reviews (not 100%, but high up, 90s at least). But have you read the reviews? Read this Joystiq post [] to see what I'm talking about.

    I realize that GTA has fans, and that this game is unlike ANYTHING that has ever been on a portable platform (self-made portable PS2 hacks notwithstanding). But how can a game with such terrible flaws (read the reviews) as no difficulty difference between early and ending missions (except for the fact your weapons are terrible at the start), a bad camera and terrible targeting system, and mind-numbingly boring/anoying missions get 90+% grades?

    Simple: no one wants to risk pissing off GTA lovers and losing them as readers/viewers/subscribers.

    Don't get me wrong. I loved GTA 1 and 2. I played GTA 3 and found it fun to drive around but I didn't get far due to the terrible targeting. I loved Vice City even more (great soundtrack) and got farther, but I eventually dumped the game for the same reasons. The game was better, but it still wasn't there. I haven't played San An, and I don't intend to play LCS now.

    Bugs and problems were OK for GTA 3, it was a first of it's kind (being a 3D world). Vice City was buggy and they should have done better. I don't know if the targeting was fixed for San An (I heard it was better) but I didn't care by that point. Then they release this game shortly after with all these problems. I realize it's the first on the platform for the series, and that the second analog stick is missing, but come one. You've made THREE OF THESE GAMES BY NOW, can't you fix some of this stuff?

    They were rushing it, or they didn't care. Those are the only two reasons I can think of for having the same problems that put me off of GTA 3 four years ago this week.

    The sandbox they created is fantastic. The stories and great, and the games have tons of replay value. But playing occaisionally makes me feel like I'm running towards $1,000,000 in a foot and a half of water. There is something great there, I can see it, but getting there is just so hard .

    These days I'm getting less and less time to play games. My backlog is piling up. I just finished Pyschonauts (Great game, but the framerate on the PS2 version was a JOKE), and I'm in the middle of Sly 3 now (better than Sly 2!). If I was a freshman in highschool and had the time to commit, I may be able to play it. But at this point I don't need to fight a game to play it. There are a couple of games I've got RIGHT NOW that I know will be good that I won't have to do that for.

    Sorry Rockstar. Try harder, huh?

    -- A guy who wants to love GTA

    • Re:Biased Media? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tedrlord ( 95173 )
      It's one of those games where your expectations coming it do a long way toward how much you take from it. Since it has such a broad presentation, people see it as different things, so they judge it differently.

      Me, I see it as an update to the old school adventure games, with the action bits tacked on. So while the targeting issues and such can be a little bothersome sometimes, it just makes me work harder to figure out creative ways to solve the problem. Then again, I hate FPSes and such and would get bored
  • by wo1verin3 ( 473094 ) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @11:12PM (#13894384) Homepage
    GTA 1 and 2 are free downloads now from RockStar...

    Grand Theft Auto [] - Free Download

    Grand Theft Auto 2 [] - Free Download
  • Overrated (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vonPoonBurGer ( 680105 ) on Thursday October 27, 2005 @11:32PM (#13894465)
    For my money, the GTA series has to be one of the most overrated franchises currently being milked. While it certainly enjoys lots of free press by virtue of its once-shocking but now-old-news violence and depravity, it really doesn't seem to have grown much since it first went 3D. Rockstar found a working formula in GTA3 (after the the original games failed commercially), and have been suckling at that same teat ever since. I played the original GTA3 for a short while, and saw a little of Vice City, and I have to say, it does nothing for me. Once you get past the shock value of being able to beat a granny to death with a baseball bat, there's really not much in the way of compelling gameplay. The missions are fairly uninspired, the story is utterly generic, and there's nothing in it that really grabs me. I think "open-ended" in and of itself doesn't necessarily make for a good game, and leads to the pacing of the game being very haphazard, depending. I'm sure fans of the series would disagree, but perhaps they're better able to overlook the games' flaws than I am.
    • Re:Overrated (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      At a default score of 1, your comment, for my money, has to be the most overrated nonsense currently being milked.

      Aside from weapons, cars, etc., VC improved on GTA 3 by giving the main character lines, making the map a loop as opposed to a line allowing for more fluid movement between sections, had better side characters, such as the coked up lawyer no doubt inspired by Kleinfeld from Carlito's Way, and of course a more satisfying ending. SA further evolved the main character idea away from the simple brut
    • I agree.

      Grand Theft Auto is a game that provides a lot of game styles, but excels at none of them. Every facet of the game is done better in another.

      For instance here are the games I'd rather play for each exciting gameplay option:

      Crashing cars and running over pedestrians: Carmageddon
      Killing people on foot in a mall: State of Emergency
      Killing people in general: Unreal Tournament
      Flying a helicopter: Pilotwings 64
      Taxi Sim: Who the hell would want a taxi sim?
      Mafia Storyline: Watch a movie or the Sopranos. May
    • Re:Overrated (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tedrlord ( 95173 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @04:28AM (#13895183)
      I don't really get it when people say the game hasn't grown. I mean, sure, they didn't add yet another dimension to make the first 4d game or anything, and they didn't break new ground by turning it into an underwater high-crime baking sim, but they took the stuff that worked and expanded upon it, and fixed the stuff that didn't. Hell, in San Andreas I could break into the airport, steal a 747, and fly twenty minutes in any direction. There's a frigging Harrier jet.

      Personally, when I first got that game, I spent the entire day riding a mountain bike through the countryside north of Los Santos, finding paths and doing jumps. I kept getting lost, though. I think San Andreas' map was six times the size of Vice City, at least. Los Santos proper is probably bigger than the entire area in the last game.

      Personally, while I agree GTA3 was pretty generic, Vice City and San Andreas really had decent stories. They're not oscar contenders or anything, but compared to most insane video game plots, they're quite well-written and keep my attention. I liked the characters I was supposed to like, hated the characters I was supposed to hate, and was appropriately outraged whenever I was betrayed. A popcorn flick at best, but that's still high praise in the game industry.

      Of course, it depends on what you're looking for in a game. As another reply states, there are a lot of games that do specific things GTA does and does them better, but that's obvious. I like it because I have this large area, the open-ended feeling, and all these possible choices. Sure I could grab a game where I'm Bike Man and do crazy bike tricks, or Nameless Racing Person in a car with better graphics and courses, or Heavily Armed Guy In Space Armor that specializes in running around and shooting stuff, but it loses the experience that GTA has. I like being Tommy or CJ, with the silly little catchphrases and the outfits, going through my town and wreaking havoc or playing relatively harmless games as I choose.

      That's the one other thing. The violence was hardly the focus for me. I mean, sure, I'd run down gang members when I had the chance, and I hated drug dealers, but I'd swerve to avoid the elderly and some of the more likeable citizenry. In San Andreas, when you were given the option to chat with passers-by, I was very polite to people that complimented me. It just made the game more interactive. That was why I played. It's a city sim from the little guy's perspective. And you can do whatever the hell you want with it.
  • I'm Still Waiting for Grand Theftendo []

    8 Bit NES Grand Theft Auto.
  • Can anyone point me towards a good open-ended rpg game? And I don't mean morrowind. I want a game similar in spirit to the old ultima 6/7 where you could just bake bread if you wanted to, get married etc etc and basically completely ignore what you were supposed to be doing wihout it feeling completely forced?
    Even GTA is extremely limited in it's interactions with the surrounding worlds.
    Oh and the game should have individual NPC schedules too :D
  • Two words.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Mario Crimespree.
  • The article wasn't exactly in-depth - I was hoping for something more like the retrospectives found in Edge or GamesTM or whatever where they actually talk to the people involved.

    Had it even mentioned Body Harvest (N64, 1998), which was also made by DMA Design, as a direct ancestor of the modern GTA games I would have been more impressed. Body Harvest might have been a different genre (sci-fi shooter), but it had a lot in common with GTA (large landscapes, loads of vehicles, wacky characters giving you mi

  • MMORPG (Score:4, Funny)

    by todd10k ( 889348 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @03:58AM (#13895109)
    Only a matter of time till someone takes this and runs with it. I mean, christ, think how amazing it would be to play online against 5000+ other people trying to steal your car. Driving along, heading to do a mission, and BAM, your radio, pants, wristwatch, and anal virginity get stolen.
  • Priceless (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deep_zeus ( 926001 ) on Friday October 28, 2005 @04:07AM (#13895136) Homepage
    My first experience with the GTA series was renting the top-down version and thinking "this game sux", I promptly took it back to the blockbuster. When GTA III hit with the third person perspective I was willing to bive it a try and from the first meeting with the Leone family sluming for work I was hooked, even though the system of opening up the islands sux. Vice City was craaazy and added to the excitement of the franchise with Tommy doing his own thing was nothing like chasing them fools on that motorcycle or running from the cops with 5 stars trying to get to the ocean view then hard braking and sliding up onto the steps popping out onto the hood with police slamming into you trapped taking incoming til you could wiggle a space between the car to enter the door and feeling like whoah I made it. I still wished I was able to buy lots of clothes from Rafaels, pimp that club I brought more, and make really good porn flics. But hey, I was just a game right. Then Uber-Hyped SanAndreas hit the pipes and I gotta have it, the whole switching from Tommy/mafia to CJ/gangbanger thing some getting used to, and what was with that orange blurr heat wave effect. It looked for a few minutes like I was headed for gamers hell trying to take a g back I didn't want. Once I got pass the culture shock I was sucked into the modding cars (nitrous... how cool is that), rapid fire missions... come on who didnt just love the mission with smoke shooting from the back of the motorcycle being chased into the aqua ducts. Wow. The schools system was a blast and the selection of cars, boats, and bikes was awesome, not to mention my favorite talk radio station... nothing like going berzerk listening to talk radio. But for me, loading up on molotovs and rocket laucher shells, securing 5 stars baiting them back to CJs moms house, climbing atop the alleyway rooftop letting them have it til the tanks came was priceless. Though I did get a bit annoyed with the relentless dating, just for a few suits.
  • "Come take a trip through time, and see how a franchise went from a cult hit to a cultural phenomenon, set the tone for an entire generation,..."

    Are you kidding? Looks like the editor has lost the ground.
    After all the GTA series is just a bunch of games. Very good ones, at least the 3D games. But there is no way these games a "cultural phenomenon, set the tone for an entire generation". Not for a generation of people, maybe for a generation of games. Depens on how you read it.
    If you look at the culture port

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein