+The full and original GTA III experience
+Full list of radio stations and audio content
-Horrible aiming system
Final score: 6.5 / 10
Controller support: No
iOS devices: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later.
Android devices: Compatible with most new smartphones and talets. Requires Android 2.2 and up
While it may be hard to believe for quite a lot of older gamers, over 10 years separate us from the initial release of the iconic Grand Theft Auto III, a title that pretty much changed the way we view open world titles, as well as games in general.
Now, as a testament to how much technology, not just games, has progressed since then, Rockstar has released a special Grand Theft Auto III: 10 Year Anniversary Edition onto mobile platforms like the iOS (including iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad) as well as Android (including various mobile phones and tablets).
We have had the chance to try out the title on the Asus Transformer tablet, powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 2 technology, and see just how the game looks after more than 10 years since its initial release.
So, does this re-release honor the classic game or should it be thrown into the trunk of a car and crashed through Liberty City? Let’s find out.
Go from humble beginnings ...
... to living the good life
In case you’re among the few people in the world who don’t know what GTA III is, here’s a brief description of the game.
It’s an open world title, with its action taking place in Liberty City, although it’s not the one from GTA IV, however. This copy of 1990s New York is constituted of several island neighborhoods connected by various bridges and filled with all sorts of characters and criminal organizations.
You play as Claude, a silent protagonist that’s just been part of a prison break, who needs to make a name for himself by doing all sorts of various jobs for all sorts of various criminal organizations, from the mob to the Yakuza. The missions usually consists of some mix between driving and shooting, but you can also engage in a variety of side missions, like driving Liberty City residents by taxi, saving them with an ambulance or making the streets a safer place through Vigilante activities.
This is what made GTA III such an impressive game, that after you got over the open world, the great third person shooting or driving, not to mention the graphics that were stunning at that time, you could still do all sorts of things and not get bored during your adventures in Liberty City.
While the original game is still here and as glorious as ever, it’s time to talk about the 10 Year Anniversary Edition and how it actually feels on a tablet, instead of regular gaming devices like consoles or the PC.
This is where things go awry, however, as the touchscreen input generates some mixed results, largely because Rockstar didn’t really try to adapt the controls to the special needs of a phone or tablet. Instead of rethinking some actions, the studio just threw on the screen a variety of buttons that are clunky, to say the least.
Thus, you can use the left side of the device to control Claude’s movements, thanks to a dynamic virtual joystick that appears wherever you press your thumb. On the right side of the screen, however, is where things get really messy. While on foot, you have buttons for things like running, jumping, punching or shooting, as well as entering cars or changing your camera settings. While in a car, you now have buttons for braking or accelerating, as well as for the handbrake, horn, or camera, not to mention getting out of the car.
While this cluster of buttons makes controlling GTA 3 difficult, things get even more awkward while trying to move the camera around. The auto-adjust does a decent job of following your car or character around but, if you want to manually adjust it, be prepared to get angry, as you can only tilt or pan the camera by pressing with two fingers on the center of the screen and the movement of the camera based on your input is clunky, especially when on foot.
Then we have the even more awkward shooting, which becomes a chore thanks to an auto-aim system that targets people based on their proximity to the player. While such features were present in other GTA games recently, the one in this 10 Year Anniversary edition is horrible, managing to even target pedestrians around Claude instead of enemies that are shooting at him. Also, once the player meets more than one enemy, your chances of surviving the encounter drop considerably, especially if you factor in the clunky camera or the lack regenerating health or even the infamous cheats that could be used to cause even more havoc in Liberty City.
These control and camera issues are quite a shame, as the game looks pretty good, especially when compared with previous console iterations of the original GTA 3. While the PC version may look better, it’s still quite impressive to see the classic game running on a mobile platform, even if its age is showing through character models or the damage on the vehicles.
Sound-wise, you’re treated to the full GTA 3 package, with lots of varied radio stations offering hours of entertainment while you drive around Liberty City, although the audio quality depends on the speakers of your device.
Steal cars ...
... and do whatever you want with them
Grand Theft Auto III: 10 Year Anniversary is a technical achievement but, unfortunately, it’s borderline unplayable game. While it shows how far mobile gaming and platforms have come in terms of quality, it’s let down by complicated controls and the clunky auto-aim system.
You could get the game just for nostalgia’s sake or for a quick drive in a car around Liberty City, but trying to complete the campaign will only result in frustration.
Grand Theft Auto III: 10 Year Anniversary Edition is available for the iOS and Android platforms, costing $4.99 or €3.99.