Anyone who has ever played Grand Theft Auto on the PlayStation will automatically recognize Payback. Anyone who hasn't, will think: 'What a cool game.' Using an overhead viewpoint, you can steal cars, kill people and work for the local mafia. The aim is to become a master criminal, and in so doing make more and more money, while causing havoc in the city. The game, according to the bumf, is aimed at wannabee master criminals. But the rest of us ? who've never had violent thoughts - will get sucked in all the same. Although the graphics aren't great, a lot of effort has gone in to the little details - for instance, the 3D perspective on buildings, the sides of cars when they roll over, and the weather effects. The sound even changes depending on the virtual surface. Each city is huge, and you have the complete run of it. With three cities, there is enough to keep you entertained for hours. Each level has a number of missions offered to you - via phone boxes ? from the local mob boss. There are also secret missions hidden around the city. Every time you complete a mission or commit a crime, you make money. This lets you move on to another level or city. There are nine cars that you can steal, including cop cars, taxis and ice-cream vans. You can also drive tanks, helicopters and boats. There are only five weapons, but a car - as any safety expert will tell you - is the most effective killer. You steal cars by dragging its owner out and jumping in. Running someone down causes a cloud of blood to fly up. For added mayhem, every crime you commit attracts more cops.


Payback's controls are simple, letting you enjoy the game right from the beginning. The missions are sufficiently challenging to keep you interested, but not too difficult to discourage you. There's a multiplayer split-screen feature, which means you can battle it out against up to three other crims. There?s also a disappointing level-editing feature. If you never got around to playing GTA - especially the recent Vice City version - on the PlayStation, now's your chance to get bad - real bad.

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