We have been playing Grand Theft Auto III for mobile for about a week now and so we have had plenty of face time with the uncensored bat swinging car thief game. So with the high expectations one could put on a company like Rockstar Games, did we walk away from this hit game ported to Android impressed?
Rockstar Games took their time with bringing Grand Theft Auto III over to mobile and you can tell by how polished a lot of it is. We already knew that there would be some graphical improvements to the game before it landed in our laps but there were some added bonuses that were not mentioned previously. This game, and it the series itself, has been a hit since its initial release and each addition to the series has proven to be an enjoyable, and humorous experience. You get all of that with this mobile version as well.
The gameplay is right out of the console version as you are freed during a jail transport break-out and go under the wing of a fellow escapee in order to get work. From there you get to enjoy all the missions ranging from simple picking up of your boss's girls to beating down the competition with a baseball bat and everything in between. Of course there is also plenty of car thievery going on as well. Thakfully, and we sort of knew this was happening, the game does not come censored from the original version.
There are all the cut-scenes as well between each mission so nothing was left out and you can follow the storyline throughout the game. You don't have to follow the storyline though if you feeling on the more aggressive side of thing, you can always just go have fun which there is plenty to be had.
You have all the bloody beat downs you can handle, the bone crunching sounds when you 'accidentally' run over someone and plenty of gun shots to keep you entertained. Grand Theft Auto III also comes with all the funny radio stations, which you can sift through, as well as all the fake ads that made you laugh in the original. There are plenty of good tunes as well.
A couple of new features are available that were never in the original version though. One is the fact you can auto-retry a mission when you fail it. This is especially handy for the rather difficult ones later on in the game. The other neat feature is the fact the game auto-saves now. Obviously this is beneficial in many ways considering it's on a mobile platform.
Graphics and Sound
Graphically the game does see some improvements with just about all the models in the game. The cars, people and general environment seem more details than the original which is what Rockstar Games had said they would be doing. Animation is smooth throughout the entire game regardless of how many stars you get on your wanted meter for beating down too many people and all the cops chasing you because of that.
There is the blood too. Plenty of it. In fact you can really create a nice puddle with the stuff, especially if you stand there for 2 minutes straight beating the same body with a bat. Car damage is also there and as your vehicles crashes into other cars and buildings, your current vehicle reflects the damage it takes, until it blows up. Luckily you can just go steal another one.
Like we previously touched on, there are all the radio stations and fake ads you can handle and you can sift through each one to find the type of music you like. There are a lot of good tuned on there to enjoy while running from the cops or while you're on your way to go beat/shoot someone. I prefer some classical music while on a hit.
All of the controls had been re-designed for mobile gaming and while this can be played on a phone, chances are you'll enjoy it better on a tablet thanks to the extra screen real estate that comes with them. Considering all the controls are touch screen, that means at any time you will have at least four button on the right plus the virtual joystick on the left while outside of a car. The joystick is not static though and will move to where ever your finger is which is very nice feature.
When inside a car you will be using two buttons on the left to steer and all the buttons on the right to break/back up, accelerate, open the door and honk your horn. Picking up items off the ground is just a matter of running over to them and you will automatically grab that item. There is a separate button for shooting your gun or beating people with your bat as well and you have run/jump buttons also. This all translates into a lot to deal with on the screen which is why I'm going to say people with tablets will enjoy this better.
Grand Theft Auto III also comes with controller support so regardless if you have a phone or a tablet, if you have a controller you can use it which will make things a lot easier for those of you who are used to controllers versus the on-screen controls. For the most part though the virtual controls work well and are pretty responsive. It's easy to over steer a car though it seems which can make driving around a bit frustrating at times.
If you were going to port a console game like Grand Theft Auto III, this is the way to do it. There are plenty of settings to play around with and you get the entire experience you had back in the day on the Playstation 2 but instead on your Android device with improved graphics and some extra features. While the controls may seem a bit overwhelming to some people, it is fairly easy to get used to everything on your screen.
The only issue I found was that panning the camera seemed to be a bit touchy at times. Other than that thought Grand Theft Auto III for Android is a prime example of what mobile gaming should be, and it's getting there. For a price of $4.99 you are getting the total console game and endless hours of fun if for no other reason than to just run around and cause havoc. If you own one of the supported devices, this is pretty much a must-buy game.
Every time I hit someone with a baseball bat and take their money, I smile, just a little, every time. Now we can't wait to get our hands on Max Payne for Android.
AndrewH - Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DroidGamers. Having been a hardcore PC and console gamer all his life, this passion is now applied to Android gaming and writing about it. When not playing or writing about Android games, he spends his time with is wife and son.