GTA 3 was a revelation. Today we’re inundated with open-world action games — they’re literally everywhere! And that’s all thanks to Grand Theft Auto 3. The original 3D GTA might be incredibly influential, but it’s a pretty old game now. Many of the design decisions are going to seem totally strange to us. There aren’t nearly as many activities as future games in the series. This game is as basic as basic can be. You have missions to complete, and a handful of optional activities… and that’s about it.
So we had a hard time coming up with 10 entire tips (and / or tricks) for GTA 3. Instead of feeding you a load of worthless nonsense, we’ve cut that number down to 7 solid tips to help you really get going in GTA 3. We’ve got tips to help you get a powerful gun right at the start of the game, how to get useful permanent upgrades that we absolutely didn’t know about when we were kids, and grabbing a barely-functional airplane for some weird semi-flying action. GTA 3 is a nostalgic wonder, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a try. Especially with these tips in your back pocket.
More Grand Theft Auto Trilogy: Definitive Edition guides:
Vice City: 10 Tips & Tricks | Vice City: How To Unlock The Best Guns | San Andreas: 10 Tips & Tricks | San Andreas: All Girlfriend Rewards & Locations | GTA Trilogy: New Konami Code Easter Egg | GTA3: Complete Cheat Codes List
#1: Stuff To Grab Right At The Start
The starting island, Portland, is pretty crappy when it comes to weapons and vehicles. Most of the cars plain suck, and you won’t be able to get good weapons until you’ve unlocked the second island — unless you know where to look. One of the best secrets at the start of the game is a hidden AK-47 and Body Armor you can get for free. Travel to Saint Mark’s and check the alley behind Cipriani’s Restaurant. Go into the narrow space (only big enough for Claude) and drop down to find these power-ups.
You can grab a pretty good car too. Explore Harwood in the northern part of the island to find the Car Dealership. Break the glass and you can steal a Banshee easily, which is one of the better cars in the game. Drop a few of these off at your garage to make life a whole lot easier when you start getting races or timed story missions.
#2: How To Use Hookers To Get 125 Health
We all know about Hookers in GTA. The infamous (and infamously trashy) inclusion allows Claude to pick up prostitutes to regain health. And not just the regular amount — they’ll heal you over your limit, making them a worthwhile boost before taking on tricky missions.
- To pick up a prostitute, just find one (they’re everywhere) and pull up in any normal, non-specialized car. Ambulances, firetrucks and police cars won’t work.
- Stop near them, and they’ll enter your car. Then drive to any alley or area where there isn’t immediate traffic to interrupt you, and the car will start shaking. That’s when you’ll get your health back.
- If you want to speed things up, use a convertible so you don’t have to watch the shaking car. You’ll just heal instantly instead.
It costs a little extra cash, but that isn’t so bad with a small boost. And there’s really no reason to shoot the hooker after your “session” — you won’t get your money back, they just drop a random amount of cash like every other civilian in the game.
#3: Watch Out For These Points-Of-No-Return
GTA 3 is an old game, and as an old game, it has some questionable design choices. One of those choices is all about the gangs — at certain parts in the story, gangs will permanently turn on you. There are a total of 7 gangs in this game, and 5 of them will be trying to kill you constantly by the end. As in, if you enter the territories of these 5 gangs, they’ll begin shooting you. Not great, and once a gang permanently turns on you, completing side-missions in their territory becomes a whole lot harder. Sometimes it’s almost impossible.
- Leone Family: Turn on you after completing ‘Sayonara Salvatore‘
- Yakuza: Turn on you after completing ‘The Pick-Up‘ or ‘Trial By Fire‘
- Diablos: Turn on you after completing ‘Uzi Rider‘
- Yardies: Turn on you after completing ‘Kingdom Come‘
- Colombians: Always hostile.
Some of these gangs, like the Yakuza, can still have missions that can be completed by the time you reach these cut-of points. If you complete either of those jobs, all other Yakuza missions will instantly become unavailable, so make sure to complete those first. And there’s another big reason why you’ll want to avoid getting far in the game — once gangs turn on you, ambient missions become almost impossible.
#4: Complete Ambient Missions Before Gangs Turn Hostile
Side-jobs (aka ambient missions) are available in GTA 3 by stealing certain types of cars. The Taxi, Ambulance, Fire Truck and Police Car each give you a different mission type — and some of them are incredibly useful to do early in the game. Annoyingly, these jobs get absurdly difficult when all the gangs are gunning for you, so try to complete them before there are maniacs pulling out guns on every street corner.
The best jobs to complete are the Police Vigilante missions and the Ambulance missions. They don’t just help you earn money, they’ll also unlock permanent useful upgrades for your safehouses.
- Ambulance: Save 40~ people to unlock health packs at your safehouse.
- Police Vigilante: Kill 10 criminals to unlock a Police Bribe at your safehouse. Kill +10 more to gain a second one.
Free health and more easy-to-access Police Bribes are incredibly handy. These jobs are also cumulative — you don’t have to do it all in a single session. Just try to get it done BEFORE all the gangs are randomly firing machine guns at you.
#5: When You’ll Unlock Each Island
Liberty City is split into three different islands, and you’ll only be able to access the first island (Portland) for the foreseeable future from the start of the game. The early GTA games all pull this trick, blocking off specific parts of the city until you’ve completely certain milestones in the story. If you want to know exactly when you’ll unlock each island, here’s a quick rundown.
- Staunton Island (Second Island): Unlocks after completing ‘Last Requests‘
- Shoreside Vale (Third Island): Unlocks after completing ‘A Drop In The Ocean‘
Last Requests is the final mission for the Leone Crime Family, and practically the last mission you can even get in Portland. Meanwhile, unlocking Shoreside Vale can happen pretty early in Act 2 by following the Donald Love quests. Once you can work for Love, just do his jobs until Shoreside Vale is open. No need to do everything else first.
#6: You Can Fly! Sort Of
Later GTA games are all about flying — in San Andreas, you can even get a pilot’s license. You’ll be flying helicopters, airplanes, and even jet packs. But GTA 3 hasn’t yet reached that level of innovation. As the first really popular open-world action game, Rockstar couldn’t quite lockdown flight controls just yet. And still, you can find an airplane in this game. The Dodo is barely an airplane, but you can hit the skies with enough practice. It’s really more like a car with the gravity turned low.
To find the Dodo, you can explore one of the far hangars in the Francis International Airport. Flying isn’t easy — you’ll need to build up speed, then aim upward and sort-of glide. It seriously barely works, but the fact this thing is still in the game is fun. Flying the Dodo just makes you even more of a daredevil.
#7: Senseless Rampage Will Earn You Big Cash
Part of the fun of GTA is senseless violence. And only GTA 3 rewards you for it. You’ll earn cash just by destroying cars — blasting every car on the street can rapidly rack up tons of cash. Just hitting cars with your car is enough to get money! Going nuts literally all the time is a great way to earn cash, and you’ll need plenty because certain missions require it. There are two specific missions you’ll want to look out for.
- Bomb Da Base Act 2: Costs $100,000. Near the end of Portland.
- The Exchange: Costs $500,000. The final mission.
If you don’t want to cheat, you can just go on rampages and return to your Police Bribe markers to quickly lower your Wanted Level. It’s worth the extra cash to escape the police. Go on rampages near Police Bribe markers for a quick de-escalation and escape.
And that’s all the tips we’ve got! GTA 3 is a much simpler game compared to the sequels, but there’s still a few things you really ought to know before getting too deep.