Over a decade ago, Rockstar Games released a follow-up to their incredibly popular Grand Theft Auto series. For the 10th anniversary, Rockstar decided to make an Android and iOS port of that game: GTA3.
Does it feel as groundbreaking as it did all those years ago? Read on to find out.
Everything as You Remember
The port contains everything from the original PlayStation 2 version of the game: from AmmuNation to the Monorails, it’s all there. Many games brought from other consoles or time periods are modified or ‘jazzed up’. This can make it feel like a bad port, or not the same game you enjoyed in the past (I’m looking at you, Dizzy). The whole point of porting a game like GTA3 is to allow people to relive and enjoy it all over again. Rockstar have done this perfectly in terms of providing the original game in its entirety.
Claude taking up another task, the remark about the Triads is too true.
Even the little details are there, like the “Vigilante missions” you can do when you steal a police car, or the Paramedic and Taxi missions. It is the same game.
The Control Layout
In my opinion a good job has been done in moving the controls from a Dual Shock controller to a touchscreen. Many buttons perform different actions; there is no single ‘activate’ or ‘use’ button which remains in one place. As you switch between cars, run around, or stand next to certain interactive items, the buttons change their function. For example, the ‘accelerator’ and ‘brake’ buttons on the bottom right in the screenshot below become ‘run’ and ‘jump’ buttons when walking.
If you find that you do not like the default control layout you can change the position of all the on-screen buttons with drag and drop in the game’s settings. I found the default layout satisfactory, but left-handers will love this.
Cruising around Portland, looking for trouble.
The vehicle control system definitely doesn’t lend itself to the Racing missions. In fact it’s pretty much hopeless. When flying along at high-speeds, whether using digital, analogue, or accelerometer-based steering, you are destined to smash into either another car, or a wall. More on this in a moment.
I think it’s surprising that we found Grand Theft Auto 3 as impressive as we did. Though it was amazing at the time, when you look back with a modern eye GTA 3 is a little.. clumsy. The physics of ‘driving’ in the game were so rudimentary and basic. After all the modern games we play with complex physics, it’s easy to forget how things felt in the ‘old’ days. However, because you cannot easily drive with precision, the clumsy gameplay works best.
Just walking around casually with a shotgun, as you do.
Saving, and Background Running
The Android version of Grand Theft Auto 3 has a great save-game system. The classic (though sometimes tedious) method of going to a safehouse is included, and that is what you have to visit to save your game to ‘disk’ as it were.
However, you can also switch to another application on your device and GTA3 will keep running in the background. While doing this it keeps track of every detail of your gameplay. If Android decides to close the program after a long period of time, reloading the game presents a ‘Resume’ option. Tap this and you are back at the exact point you left off, same spot on the street, broken up car, everything. Wonderful for pop-in-pop-out gamers.
The Not So Good
By default the game uses digital steering with a left and right button on the screen. In the settings you can switch digital steering out for analogue steering, but that just gives you the same joystick used for walking. It’s a nightmare trying to do gas, brakes, and joystick steering with your fingers at the same time. With two control methods already available, Rockstar decided to throw in the good old accelerometer steering wheel. However this behaves like a dog, and I prefer crashing into everything with analogue steering than driving straight into the ocean with the accelerometer.
The targeting system in this game is a bit of a pain too. It usually defaults to aiming at whichever hostile character is closest to you. When you want to be tactical and take out someone who is far away, this is infuriating. You have no choice but to shoot your way through people who are holding baseball bats, whilst some other guy with a gun is shooting you from far away. Something needs to be done about that.
Why Not San Andreas?
I was curious as to why Rockstar decided to port over the original GTA 3 instead of the far more feature-rich San Andreas. I know that San Andreas was far more graphically intense, but surely if they could port GTA 3, then the same could be done with San Andreas. I had a look around the web, and a lot of people are saying the same thing. Some sites even host rumours that Rockstar are intending to port both San Andreas and Vice City.
Frankly, for the download price of only £3 it’s a great deal. You’re are getting an entire world to play around in, and if you are a retro PS2 gamer it still costs more in second-hand shops!
I am also hoping that the rumours of San Andreas will become reality. Rockstar did a great job porting Grand Theft Auto 3, and the newer game would be fantastic to have. It’s far more attractive, and feature-filled.
If you are looking for a serious Android gaming experience, or are a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series. I suggest you hop onto the Android Market and download this. Ten years ago people would have done anything to be able to whip a tablet out of their bag and drive around Liberty City, so enjoy the fact that you can!
I had trouble deciding what rating to give GTA3. Though it is a perfect port of the original game, the controls do let it down in places, and the targeting isn’t too great. With that in mind I am going to give it 8/10.