Jan 30, 2012
Grand Theft Auto III seems like a very curious choice of a game to bring to touchscreens. Not due to the quality, per se, but because bringing a game that seemingly requires a controller to a system with no buttons at all seems like a fool’s errand. It actually isn’t quite that.
GTAIII is, of course, the game that popularized the open-world genre that’s so popular now. Players control a nameless ne’er-do-well who is thrust into Liberty City’s burgeoning criminal underworld after a prison breakout. Players take on missions from various shady characters, unlocking other parts of the city and advancing the game’s deep and lengthy storyline. That, or they can drive around wreaking havoc, just being public enemy no. 1, or taking on mini-games with ambulances and taxis. For those with the propensity to waste time, this is the game to play.
GTAIII holds up very well since its original release. While its modern forbears have introduced new features, the core mechanics that many of these games utilize still work very well here. It’s still as fun as ever to just randomly drive around, committing all manner of felony. All the content is here, optimized for widescreen with updated textures. The Android port is very technically capable, with plenty of options for upgrading/downgrading the visuals to run or look better on various devices.
So, how do the controls work? They work better than expected, but they’re still clunky at times. The on-foot controls for moving, jumping, and running work fine. Driving works well, though the arrows for turning left and right are rather specific in their placement, and an analog joystick would have been a better choice. Shooting is terrible, with a confusing targeting system; this is actually really accurate to the original game, though. It’s actually possible to use an external controller with the game, though I had some issues with one generic Xbox 360 controller that caused the camera to constantly spin around. Still, the touch controls are less of an issue than possibly thought.
Really, the reason to check this game out is to either relive a defining game of the past decade, or to check it out for the first time. This is a defining part of the gaming canon, and being able to play it on a phone or tablet in all its glory, for only $5? It’s definitely a sign of the times, but the game is timeless.