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Grand Theft Auto III: 10 Year Anniversary Review

Published December 29, 2011 by |

The Grand Theft Auto series is one that many a gamer will undoubtedly hold very close to their heart. For the majority, this love affair with the now infamous action-series would have begun following the release of Grand Theft Auto III (GTA III) on the PlayStation 2, back in October of 2001.

When originally released the game was highly praised by many industry pundits. Rockstar’s first 3D entry in the series was quickly heralded as “an amazing experience” and the “most innovative, outlandish, [and] brilliant videogame”. As you might expect the game-buying public agreed, making it the best-selling videogame of 2001 in the United States.

The title was without question a breakthrough, realising the true potential of what a huge sandbox environment could do for games.

Just over ten years have since passed, and now that once seemingly massive gaming experience is available in full on your smartphone or tablet. It may not amaze everyone, but to have the entirety of Liberty City in your pocket, ready to explore, is a mark of how quickly things can change.

As you might expect when Rockstar announced that they would be releasing the infamous game for handheld iOS and Android devices it was met with some degree of skepticism. This cautiousness was mainly centered around the fear that the game simply wouldn’t translate well to the small screen, with many asking if the original game’s control scheme could be adapted effectively to a touch-based interface.

This doubt surrounding the control scheme is somewhat justified, as although this 10-year anniversary edition of GTA III is a highly faithful port, sometimes the new method of control can distract from an otherwise highly enjoyable experience.

The game plays by making use of overlaid on-screen icons which provide basic means of carrying out your desired actions. These controls are obvious enough: tap the car door icon to perform a car jacking, tap the bullet to shoot and so on. When on foot you move the silent protagonist Claude around with a control stick. When in a vehicle you steer by just tapping left or right.

Despite the straightforward implementation of the controls, which work well the majority of time, they can occasionally seem clumsy. When in a heated firefight it can be difficult to fire your weapon, move around and adjust the camera to see your foe(s) all at once. In other scenarios the controls are just a little to slow – one early mission, ‘Bomb da Base: Act II’, stands out as particularly frustrating task, due to the quick-fire sniper action required on your part. However, these control issues are few and far between in a game which has over 50 missions for you to contend with.

Beyond the rudimentary control scheme this mobile edition of GTA III is essentially the same as its PS2 counterpart. All the content is here, the graphics have seen a slight improvement and fans will be pleased to know that all the popular radio stations which featured in the 2001 release are here in full, including all the songs.

If you can overlook a few frustrating moments where the compromised control scheme hampers the experience then this re-release of GTA III is definitely worth the price of entry of just a few pounds. The cheap impulse-price is justified on the premise of having Liberty City in your pocket alone, ready for you to explore at any time.

A little more patience is certainly required to play this classic on the move when compared to its console counterpart, but it’s as engrossing and as rewarding a game today as it was ten years ago.

This review is based on playing the game on an iPhone 4S.