Rockstar Revives GTA III and My Love for Mobile Gaming

Rockstar Revives GTA III and My Love for Mobile Gaming

It’s rare that I spend more than a few fleeting moments with any game on my phone. Yet Rockstar’s 10th Anniversary release of GTA III on the Android market has resulted in many hours of lost sleep and a massive urge to be 15 again.

I have always been somewhat of a proponent of portable gaming as my family tended to be rather mobile during the summer months and I needed something to occupy the trip. Well, that and I really like games. But in recent years, the focus on portable gaming has taken a drastic shift and I am not quite sure my approval made the transition as well.

I quickly lost interest in my PSP, sold my DS Lite, and completely passed by the 3DS as the market began to place a major empahsis on casual portable games for devices like the iPhone, iPad and other portable devices. This may just be my age showing here, but up until just recently the term ‘cell phone games conjured’ up images of brick breaker and snake; you know, those games that were only meant to be played in the doctor’s office or on the crapper. Nothing earth shatteringly profound in the least.

However, my mind changed a bit last December when I was due for a new cell phone. I fell into a bit of a goofy pocket of people who adopted one of the earliest Android smartphones, but it wasn’t really capable of handling anything too terribly exciting. Thus, I had largely written the platform off as a non-contender for my portable gaming attention. That was… until last week.

Rockstar Revives Grand Theft Auto III

An evening spent spilling off the sides of the couch quickly turned into a nostalgic filled night of car theft and mass murder when I discovered that Rockstar had in fact released GTA III for the Android.

My initial thought was ‘Right, this is going to be some top-down adaptation that blows.’ How wrong I was. As a result, upon loading the game, my mind was completely and utterly destroyed. I had pegged my phone as a gaming device incapable of engaging me for more than 5 minutes and there I sat, totally immersed in a game that defined a large portion of early high school years.

Rockstar Grand Theft Auto III Android and Apple App Store

The game itself looks and feels exactly how I remember, but with loads of polish. I was afraid that the textures would suffer due to the fact that the game was running on a phone, but the Samsung Galaxy S 2 Touch performed flawlessly. If you find yourself on a less powerful phone take solace in the fact that you can adjust the display settings of the game to best suit your device. Unfortunately, with toned down settings, you are going to have a less than stellar looking game.

Rockstar  Grand Theft Auto III 3 Android textures low

Rockstar Grand Theft Auto III (3) Android maximum textures

Looks aside, I have fond memories of this game and its ability to captivate me on every level, to the point where I would sit at school and day dream about plowing through the streets of Liberty City with no obvious objective in mind. I’d be curious to go back to my game save and see just how many hours I dropped into this game in its heyday.

With the exception of a couple hours on the PSP remake, I haven’t touched this title since the day before Vice City came out and I found myself a bit nervous to see how it’s held up over time, especially on a mobile device. Thankfully, it’s held up very well.

From the moment I was set loose on the streets of Liberty City I was experiencing the now decade old wonder and magic of the game all over again. It was almost as if I had never left in the first place. All the stunt jumps, all the hidden locations, and all the missions came rushing back to me a flood of excitement. But, nostalgia can cloud good judgement from time to time and with a game this complicated racing around on a device with absolutely no buttons to speak of, surely it can’t control welll, can it?

But it does.

Rockstar Grand Theft Auto III Android and Apple App Store driving controlls

Rockstar never does anything half-assed and that’s readily apparent with the control scheme for this touch-only game. Generally complicated on-screen controls tend to, well… for lack of a better term, suck. However, GTA III pulls it off gracefully and with loads of customization. There is an option for accelerometer controls, but I’m pretty sure you know how well those work. As for the actual controls, everything is mapped out to individual buttons that can be resized and placed anywhere on the screen. The joystick is quite versatile, as well, as it will appear wherever you set your thumb down, negating the need to keep an eye on where your thumb is migrating to.

The controls, my major hesitation for the game, are beyond intuitive and very easy to use and even easier to fall in love with. If you have any reservations about on-screen controls, leave them at the door because this game executes touch-only controls perfectly.

So I guess in all, what does this mean for my perception of mobile phone gaming? Well, I am willing to reevaluate my opinions and give it another shot, on one condition: they continue churning out games of this calibur!

Rockstar Grand Theft Auto III Android and Apple App Store Liberty  City

 

If we can run the full version of GTA III on our phones  that effectively means we can run any number of other PS2/Xbox era games, but for the time being, I only hope Rockstar has plans to continue the series with Android iOS ports of Vice City and San Andreas. That would be a treat.

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