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Grand Theft Auto 3 | Android App Review

By on 13 March 2012

Car jack, shoot, blow up, run people over and cause general mayhem during your commute to work thanks to this near perfect port of Grand Theft Auto 3 for your Android device.

Welcome to Liberty City, on your phone and in full 3D (not the kind of 3D that requires glasses and gives headaches, I mean good old 3D graphics)!

To start I must share that, having played this game on the PlayStation 2 & Xbox, I’m absolutely shocked at how far mobile technology has gone that I can play this on a device that fits in my pocket.

Nothing is missing! The radio stations, the beautiful graphics, large selection of cars to steal, missions and a huge city to explore, this isn’t Liberty City Mobile Edition, this is the real deal!

When I saw that GTA 3 was released for mobile phones, I immediately had negative thoughts about the control scheme. There was no way this would be playable without physical buttons. I’m glad to report however that this game is actually quite a pleasure to play when using the touchscreen. I feel total control of the on-screen character on his feet and while driving. The only requirement is that you spend some time with the game, I’ve seen other reviews mention how poor the controls are but I wonder how much time some of those reviewers have spent with GTA 3 for Android.

During gun fights though, there was a problem with the controls, I often struggled to shoot at the intended target and it just became a frustrating mess at those times. Imagine retrying the same mission 10 times because every time you finally arrive to your target, you start shooting everyone but the person you mean to. Next thing you know, cops are chasing you, you’re running for the hills and you either get arrested, die or your target gets away.

The city is alive, people around will often be heard talking when you get close enough, random turf wars will break out with zero involvement from you and bullets will fly all over the place, people will dive out of the way if they notice you driving at them, and you might even see people steal cars from other drivers. Basically, if Rockstar Games held anything back in this port, I haven’t noticed it. Even 10 years later, GTA 3 still shows just why it was credited with debuting a whole new genre of gaming.

There are some improvements made to the game versus it’s PS2 and Xbox counterparts, the biggest of which are auto-saving and the ability to retry missions.

It’s not all perfect though, I’ve run into game breaking issues on my Galaxy Note & Galaxy Nexus playing this (though luckily a reboot fixed any issue 100% of the time). At times, the menu just ceases to work. You can navigate it and partially see the options, but some of the selections will be gone. This is especially frustrating if you want to exit the game and want it to actually end, not stay paused in memory. You see, if you hit the home button, your phone will go to the home screen but the game will pause and stay alive in the ram while giving you an option to return to play in the notification bar. To truly quit, without a task manager, you need to do it through the game’s menu.

Another flaw in the game is that, often, it won’t run at all. Click the icon to start the game and you are greeted by a black screen. I’ve tried force closing the game, emptying my ram and nothing has worked to bring it back without either rebooting the phone, or there was one occasion where after about 30 minutes I tried the game again and it worked.

Despite these quirks, this game is a must have, it’s super fun! The humor isn’t lost on the story telling, and it may even be more engaging now that you can wear earphones while enjoying the sights and sounds of Liberty City. At $5 this is a total steal for 2001 console quality gameplay.

Liked

  • Console quality, portable convenience!
  • Ability to turn features off to improve gameplay (turning shadows off drastically improves framerates)
  • The radio when driving has hours of audio, though I just leave it on Chatterbox
  • Auto-save feature makes perfect sense for a mobile game, great addition
  • Mission retrying is even better! Fail a mission, start right where it began with whatever weapons you had
  • I managed to write this review without mentioning prostitutes
  • Once you get the hang of it, the controls are great! Except…

Didn’t Like

  • Causing mayhem and killing everyone in my sights.. except the one person I meant to shoot at, shooting controls are horrible
  • Issues with menu not working randomly and game not starting up at times
  • Where are the cheats from previous versions?
  • Please make this compatible with the iControlPad (and other bluetooth controllers)

Kiss it or Diss it?

Grand Theft Auto 3 + $5 + Ability to play while I wait for my wife to choose a jacket at Winner’s = Kiss!