Experiencing GTA III on the iPhone was like a huge shot of nostalgia straight to my brain. The translation to mobile devices hasn’t hampered or toned down Rockstar’s open world game that pretty much redefined gaming as we know it today. The mobile version of GTA III is identical to its older counterpart so everything from mission structure to characters to plot stays the same, the only obvious difference being the control scheme. In my opinion, mobile gaming works best with games like Angry Birds where a high level of accuracy is not required but Rockstar nearly overcame these issues to present a rather solid control scheme for their game. Once again, I emphasize on the nearly bit.
You could turn on gyroscopic controls and control cars by moving your iOS device like a wheel or you could use the default control scheme that presents a virtual accelerator and brake. Even though this takes some getting used to, eventually it works quite well once you get a hang of things. The only issue I had with this scheme was that buttons for turning left and right were too close to each other so I often turned right when I wanted to go left. Of course this is also due to the fact that I have rather large fingers.
Simply tapping on the door icon on-screen allows you to leave or enter your vehicle. On-foot, you’ll end up using a virtual joystick that controls Claude’s movements as well as the camera. All that’s fine but the real issue crops up with combat that’s terribly clunky. In fact it’s so bad, it could actually put you off the entire experience altogether. Factor that into some of the timed missions and you’re looking at a world of frustration.
GTA III’s combat is a lock on system that’s supposed to snap onto the nearest threat. In theory, it sounds fine but in-game, it’s all over the place. Since there’s no button to alternate between targets, there’s really no accuracy involved so you may want to shoot an enemy but the game will most probably lock on to a random pedestrian. Also since there’s no secondary controller to view camera angles, you will more often than not die real fast especially if someone’s shooting you from the back.
Technically, this game is very impressive, especially on some of the newer, more powerful iOS devices. On the 4S, it’s amazing how Liberty City actually looks in the palm of your hand. Character models and environments look crisp while the frame rates hold up rather impressively through most of the action. The game obviously plays better on something like an iPad 2 since the game looks and controls a lot better courtesy of a larger display. It would have been nice if the game could pick up songs in your device’s library and implement them into a user made radio station. But at the end of the day it’s not much of an issue since the game’s OST is pretty solid.
Shooting sadly is the worst part about the game
To be brutally honest, I wouldn’t pay the $5 price for this game simply because one half of the control scheme sucks. The game’s technically very impressive sure, but all that feels redundant if the actual act of playing the game feels like a chore. GTA III fans may feel like picking up the same simply from a nostalgic point of view but I must warn you, it may not be a very pleasant experience.
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