Grand Theft Auto is made up of six levels split between the three main cities. In each level, the player’s ultimate objective is to reach a target number of points, which is typically achieved by performing tasks for the city’s local crime syndicate. Each level is initiated at a telephone box and has its own unique set of tasks.[ Successful completion of a mission rewards the player with points and opens the opportunity to attempt harder missions for higher rewards, while failure awards fewer points and may permanently seal off opportunities for more tasks. Completing missions also increases the player’s "multiplier”, which increases the points the player gets for doing other tasks. When the player amasses the target score (which starts at $1,000,000, but becomes higher in the later levels), the next chapter is unlocked.[
There are eight playable characters in the game, four male and four female: Travis, Troy, Bubba, Kivlov, Ulrika, Katie, Divine, and Mikki. In actual gameplay, there is no real difference, since all player-characters wear the identical yellow jumper, although they do wear different coloured trousers and hair colours to each other and have the correct skin colours. Players may also name their character which, with the correct name, acts like a cheat code and alters gameplay.
The player is free to do whatever they want, but have limited lives upon doing so. The player can gain points by causing death and destruction amid the traffic in the city, or steal and sell cars for profit. To get to the large target money required to complete a level, players will usually opt to complete at least some missions to build up their multiplier. Some criminal acts have an inherent multiplier; for example, using a police car for running over people doubles the number of points received. If the player is arrested then their multiplier is halved. Unlike in later games in the series, the player can be killed, or “wasted”, in one hit without body armour. If the player is wasted then they lose a life. In both cases the player loses their current equipment. If the player is wasted too many times, they must restart the level.
- OS: DOS 6.0, Windows 95, Windows 98
- Processor: 75 MHz Pentium or equivalent
- Memory: 16 Mb of RAM
- Hard Disk Space: 80 MB of Hard Disk Space
- Video Card: 1MB VESA compatible SVGA graphics card
- Sound: Sound Card