Grand Theft Auto 5 was released last week, shooting to the top of the sales charts and marking its place in history as the most expensive video game ever made. With over 700 playable missions, the biggest landscape GTA has ever seen, and increasing levels of violence, bad language and controversy, the game has come a long way since the overhead views and 32 bit graphics of the original version back in 1997. So if GTA has advanced that much, was else has come a long way in the last 16 years?
The Playstation 4 will be at the top of many people’s Christmas list this year, boasting a 1.84 TFLOPS graphics processor, wireless controllers, BluRay player, online gaming and much more. Back in 1997 we were playing the first Grand Theft Auto the original Playstation, which offered 32 bit graphics, no internal memory to save game progress, and the controllers had to be plugged into the machine.
Cloud technology and the ability to store large quantities of digital files wirelessly was still a dream back when we were playing the original GTA. In those days even the USB flash drive that most of us have hanging off our keyring was still two years away. If you wanted to store files in 1997, you were restricted to memory cards, hard drives or burning everything to CD (if you were rich).
The average mid-range home computer today will offer in the region of 8Gb of memory, 2 TB of storage, and a 3.2 GHz processor. Screens, too, are pretty good, generally offering at least 21 inches and 1080p HD quality. Back in 1997 the idea of a flat screen monitor was akin to witchcraft, and your tower was likely to be stocked with something closer to 32Mb of RAM, a 2Gb hard drive and a 233Mhz Pentium II processor. And you’d be lucky to have a CD burner let alone a recordable DVD drive. In short, it was less powerful than the phone in your pocket.
Back in 1997 we were still getting our internet via dial-up access, meaning we had an average speed of just 56 kbps. Modern technologies, such as fibre-optic broadband and Ethernet internet mean we can now access the web at up to 1000 mbps. Not so much the tortoise and the hare as the tortoise and the hare on roller skates, with a rocket pack, strapped to a space shuttle.
Today’s mobile phones are more like handheld computers allowing us to search the web, check emails, video chat, book tickets, look up recipes, listen to music, watch movies and download apps. And if you really need to, you can even make phone calls. But back in the days of the first GTA, mobile phones were a much simpler tool. More basic in design mobiles were used primarily for calling people and texting was still in its infancy. And we were still a year away from the revolutionary Nokia 5110 that allowed us to change the colour on the front.
What else has come a long way since 1997? Leave a comment and let us know.
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