Grand Theft Auto III (commonly abbreviated as "GTAIII"), is a 2001 game published by Rockstar Games and developed by DMA Design (now Rockstar North) for the PlayStation 2 and, later, Xbox and PC. It is considered the single most groundbreaking entry to "sandbox" genre, and, like its sequels, was the source of a major controversy over adult content and violence in video games. The game was the highest-selling game of 2001, and over 12 million copies have been bought since.
The player takes control of an unnamed, non-speaking mob enforcer who roams the nefarious Liberty City working under various criminal contracts, outrunning the cops, and generally wreaking havoc on the city's citizens. While the objective is unchanged from the previous GTA games, this is the first in the series with a three-dimensional environment, previously attempted with the Driver series.
Although his name is never mentioned and, thanks to his mute demeanor, very little is ever revealed about the main character (at times as a plot device), it is commonly accepted by fans of the series that he is named Claude Speed, and is the same character that appears in the previous installment, Grand Theft Auto 2. For reasons of simplicity, he will henceforth be referred to as "Claude."
The story opens with Claude and a gang of Colombians, headed by his girlfriend Catalina, robbing the Liberty City bank. However, he is betrayed by Catalina and left behind to take the wrap, pumped full of shotgun by the woman herself. He serves time, and while being transferred across the Callahan Bridge, his van is hit by a bomb that rips the bridge apart. He escapes, along with a convict named 8-Ball, and they make their way to a small loft in Portland owned by the co-manager of a nearby strip club named Luigi. He employs Claude to work for him and the powerful Leone family, and through this work he meets other members of the family, including Toni Cipriani, Joey Leone, Maria Leone, and finally, the boss Salvatore Leone himself. Claude begins to rake in more work as the drug "SPANK" begins to fill the streets. With the offer to "make" Claude into the family, Salvatore hires him and 8-Ball to destroy a major shipping operation by the Colombians, but soon after betrays Claude, who is tipped off by Maria and Asuka Kasen of a rival Japanese syndicate. With Asuka's help, Claude snipes Salvatore as he exits the Sex Club 7, and begins working for the Yakuza.
Through the Yakuza, Claude becomes involved with media mogul Donald Love and a corrupt LCPD officer named Ray Machowski. Through Love he assassinates Asuka's brother Kenji Kasen, head of the Yakuza, in order to instigate a gang war with the Colombians. This works, resulting in Asuka being killed and Maria being kidnapped. Claude travels to Shoreside Vale to confront the Colombians, and chases Catalina back to the Liberty City dam, where she attempts to make a getaway on a helicopter, which Claude shoots down with a rocket launcher.
Claude and Maria walk off into the sunset, although it's implied that her nonstop jabbering drove him to shoot her.