When Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto III was released a decade ago, the non-gaming population decried the game a number of titles usually saved for terrorist and criminals. Here we are ten years later, and while media attention has dwindled, the game still contains the same open world sandbox that revolutionized the gaming industry. To commemorate its release 10 years ago, Rockstar Games has translated the game to our smartphones with the Grand Theft Auto III: 10th Anniversary Edition.
How Rockstar managed to cram a whole PlayStation 2 game for mobile consumption is nothing short of magic. Graphically, the New York-inspired Liberty City looks the same as it was a decade ago. Citizens parade the sidewalks and occasionally get into a tussles with one another without player involvement. Random events such as these gives the illusion of a living and breathing world. Start a bonfire of vehicles and minutes later a fire truck and its crew will attempt to put it out. From minor details such as weather and radio stations, to much grander scale events, Rockstar spared nothing from the original. This is the same Grand Theft Auto III you played years ago.
While this port will strike some nostalgic feeling, newer players will still appreciate this classic gem. Sure, newer and and prettier games such as Gameloft’s Gangstar series have claimed some territory, but GTA III still stands on its own. With a strong written story line and believable voice acting, this game is one of the ultimate interactive crime dramas.
Unfortunately, while Rockstar Games delivered the software, there’s no way they could deliver the hardware. Specifically speaking, the touch controls, while manageable, are very unpleasant. As there’s no physical controls, you’ll have to rely on the dreaded touch input. Rockstar implements a number of context-based commands so you’ll get a cluttered screen filled just for the controls. Shooting leads to more shoot and spray as there’s no manual way to aim your weapon. Driving is a little easier, but you never get the same feeling of responsiveness. This is where the Android OS picks up the slack. Lucky tablet owners can just stick a wired USB controller into their device because the game support it, and can easily play the game the way it was intended.
Other features that makes GTA III mobile friendly is auto-save. Sure, safe houses are still present, but you’ll no longer be trekking all the way back. Rockstar also implements the “Trip Skip” feature from GTA IV so failing a mission no longer warrants long transportation time. Added features like this make the game feel more action-packed.
If you missed out on the series that ignited the open world sandbox genre ten years ago, or are looking to go down memory lane, I highly suggest you pick up this excellent port. Grand Theft Auto III is packed with things to do. Like many did ten years ago, prepare to lose yourself to an incredible experience. Just don’t forget to bring a controller.