Hands On: Grand Theft Auto III for iOS

By Scott Lipowitz

November 6, 2011

At NYCC, I had the privilege to not only check out Max Payne 3, but also the re-release of Grand Theft Auto III for the iPad and iPhone.  Upon getting my hands one with the game, one thing became clear; this game is Rockstar’s baby.   They were celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary of what rapidly became one of the most influential games of all time, and literally changed the industry overnight.  

To begin with, GTA III does actually look better on the iPad.  It is a bit crazy to see the game now running on what is essentially the same hardware as my phone.  Main protagonist Claude has much more detail on his body than I ever remembered.  The other graphics looked fine, though we are talking about what amounts to an HD remake of an old GTA game here on a platform that can run the Unreal Engine.   In spite of that, I reiterate, there was a particular joy in seeing Claude’s face again after so long.

The gameplay is still the same fun, chaotic gameplay you remember.  Aiming was a bit tricky, but the controls were surprisingly adaptable.  What surprised me the most was when the person who was walking me through my playthrough reminded me that GTA III did not have dual analogue controls.  The camera tracks Claude well though, and the fact that it was not a dual analogue game meant that the controls were actually surprisingly comfortable, as I didn’t have to worry about the camera.

The controls were actually the most surprising part of my GTA experience.  I expected to hate the on foot controls, and deal with the driving controls.  I actually found that Rockstar has gone out of their way to make the controls comfortable.  They’re surprisingly customizable; able to be moved around and resized.

The game plays very smooth, and in the mission and sanboxing I was able to play around with, I saw no hitches.  Combined with the well done controls and the totally nostalgic gameplay, Rockstar has recreated what was a masterpiece for a whole new platform, ten years after it was first released.  I doubt it will be perfect, but it plays smoothly and still retains the fun it had back when it was first released in 2001.  I’m honestly not sure how the game  will pan out on the much smaller iPhone screen, but if you have an iPad, it finally has a proper use as a GTA III machine.

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Scott Lipowitz

Scott just graduated from Law School. But he didn't let that stop him from gaming, a hobby that he has stuck with ever since he received his NES at age 5. His favorites are Metal Gear Solid, OutRun, Half-Life, Deus Ex, Ratchet and Clank and most recently, the Mass Effect series.

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