hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Grand Theft Auto III

Review: Grand Theft Auto III: 10 Year Anniversary

2:00 PM on 12.27.2011 // Jim Sterling

We live in a privileged age indeed. Less than years ago, something like Grand Theft Auto III was amazing to behold on a home console. Its size, sense of freedom, and explosive production values were so amazing, one could scarcely believe it was running on a PlayStation 2.

Now, we can get that on our mobile phones. 

Gaming has come a ridiculously long way in the ten years since Grand Theft Auto III first released, and the fact that such a game is now available on iOS devices is nothing short of amazing.

Grand Theft Auto III 10 Year Anniversary (iOS, Android)
Developer: Rockstar North, War Drum Studios
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Released: December 15, 2011
MSRP: $4.99

Grand Theft Auto III effectively defined an entire genre of game, one so popular that many games today still desperately attempt to ape its success. The open-world "sandbox" style of game may seem like a dime a dozen today, but back in 2001, the idea of a living, breathing, 3D city was staggering. We're used to it now, but opening up such a game on an iPhone or iPad goes some way toward bringing that magic back. 

As the silent Claude, players are busted from a prison transport van and let loose into Liberty City. An increasing variety of missions unlock as players undertake jobs from a rogue's gallery of nefarious crooks, but they can always earn money by driving taxis, posing as paramedics, or just beating people to death and robbing them. Doing these things still carry that simple, often sadistic, satisfaction that it had a decade ago, with GTA III proving once again that being the bad guy is jolly good fun. 

The 10 Year Anniversary edition of GTA III is more than a simple port. The game has been enhanced with fresh graphics, improving the look of characters and vehicles. While the game is still obviously dated in the visual department, the higher definition and richer textures make for a far more visually appealing game than fans are used to. Nothing has been skimped in the shrinking process either -- radio stations are all present and correct and cutscenes are fully voiced. This is Grand Theft Auto III in its entirety, only better looking, and tweaked to work with touchscreen controls. 

The touchscreen controls, however, are something of an issue, providing by far the biggest barrier toward enjoying this updated release. Despite a range of control options that make use of both the screen and the iOS device's accelerometer, there's no comfortable way to play the game. Be it walking or driving, every control scheme has its own set of unique problems, contributing to a more difficult and frustrating experience. 

There's no fixed virtual movement pad while walking, the screen instead placing one where you put your thumb. While such input can work in certain titles, I feel this particular game would have benefited more from a definitively placed pad, as allowing it to appear anywhere in such a densely packed screen often leads to one's thumb dragging off the device while trying to walk. The camera is also unhelpful, wildly swinging to accommodating the player's awkward movements. Manipulating the camera means placing a finger on Claude and dragging in a desired direction. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess how much the interface can get confused between walking and camera controls. 

While driving, one can either use virtual direction buttons to steer, or physically tilt the device, but either choice will be problematic. The buttons are too sensitive, causing vehicles to swerve violently left or right, while the accelerometer isn't sensitive enough, requiring exaggerated tilts in order to turn a corner effectively. Coupled with the game's already hyperactive and unrefined physics, this can lead to some annoying driving indeed, especially when racing against the clock. 

Grand Theft Auto III requires a lot of patience and practice to play on an iOS device, because despite claims of optimized controls, there are similar games on the iPhone with far more effective interfaces than the one presented here. However, those games lack the one trump card Grand Theft Auto III has that cannot be beat -- it's Grand Theft Auto III. Despite the dodgy controls and the very real frustrations present, this is still one of the most outrageous and entertaining games ever developed, and the sheer novelty of carrying it around inside a phone is worth the price of admission alone. 

Once you get used to the annoyances, all the fun of GTA III is still in place. You have to work a little harder for it, but it's all there. All except for cheat codes, unfortunately, which means that you can't spawn a rocket launcher and go crazy like you used to. With a little luck, future updates may bring these back, because let's face it, one of the best things about GTA III is dropping a tank from out of the sky and crushing cop cars. 

For a mere three bucks (Edit: This is a current sale price, regular price is $4.99. Sorry!), Grand Theft Auto III 10 Year Anniversary is very much worth picking up, even if its controls could use an overhaul. Once you get used to its awkward input, the sheer joy of riding through Liberty City is nigh impossible to deny, and the improved visuals certainly help. At the end of the day, few games are as iconic and amusing as this one, and to carry it in your pocket is something truly quite special. 



Grand Theft Auto III - Reviewed by Jim Sterling
Likable - That's a seven, which is actually a different number than five. It's more than ok. We like this game. I don't want to play it every day forever and ever, but it's definitely worth the time I invested in it, and I'll be picking it up again to relive the fun sometime down the line.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Jim Sterling, Former Reviews Editor
 Follow Blog + disclosure JimSterling Tips
Destructoid reviews editor, responsible for running and maintaining the cutting edge videogame critique that people ignore because all they want to see are the scores at the end. Also a regular f... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Virtua Kazama avatarVirtua Kazama
One thing I've learned about the Japanese fighting game players: They are willing to play any fighter no matter how good or bad it is, and they don't shit on the game or the community behind it.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
I killed Darth Vader by crashing a spaceship into him 10/10
Parismio avatarParismio
Watched the first ep of One Punch Man and I was not disappointed. It seems like they'll be adding their own stories into it because I don't remember that fight in the last 5 minutes in the manga. I'll have to reread it to make sure.
Paul S avatarPaul S
What the hell is Sega using in the printing of their PS3 game manuals? I wouldn't be surprised if some dumb kid stuck one in a plastic bag and started huffing the fumes to get high.
CeeDotGreen avatarCeeDotGreen
Been playing MGO obsessively, still can't find anyone in their right mind that uses the Hush Puppy. So of course I'm gonna be the dumb bastard that tries.
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
Why don't we have more games that use filtered 3D models to creat faux-pixel art? It's such a cool, smooth style, but you never see any games using it.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Oh lawd. Next Saturday, Gamestop will have three hour access to Tri-Force Heroes. Nintendo, really wish we could just get normal demos from you more often, please!
MeanderBot avatarMeanderBot
I made this. Want one? [IMG]HTTPS://[/IMG]
JawshButturBawls avatarJawshButturBawls
Star Wars Battlefront is pretty good. Except the beta is basically a demo with nothing in it so that upsets me. but it's still pretty good.
gajknight avatargajknight
Just cleaning up the last of Gotham's Most Wanted before I finish Arkham Knight. Those Riddler trophies...much more fun than Arkham City but my word, stop it Rocksteady. Love the game though, outstanding. In my top 5 this year, fo sho.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
SCIENCE. IS. AWESOME. [youtube][/youtube]
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Looks like my copy of Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash won't be here till Tuesday. What do I pay for Amazon Prime for again? I think I might have to stream me playing it.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
I have just heard someone say Uncharted was a "role playing game."
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
The glitched walking animation people carrying crates in Novigrad do is hilarious.
TheLimoMaker avatarTheLimoMaker
Undecided what to do with my weekend now my fiancée is away. One part of me says I should work my ass off, another says I should go watch The Martian while the last part tells me to be a slob, play games and masturbate to Highschool DXD.. Such a hard lif
Steel Squirrel avatarSteel Squirrel
The 1.10 patch for The Witcher 3 is out. Downloading for PS4. Pretty excited to see the changes, especially since it said the damn swamps in Velen would finally see performance enhancements, along with like a million other areas. So good! Yes?
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
Just got confirmation that a feature I spent way too long writing is going up on Sunday. Not a bad way to start the weekend off, though I wish I had a slot on a weekday.
gajknight avatargajknight
PB&J sandwiches. Saturday morning cartoons. A blanket. Ominous sounds coming from the next room. Blood seeping from the walls. A dark figure standing in the corner, staring, watching. Darkness, everywhere. Such darkness. This is childhood.
Torchman avatarTorchman
Dear Namco, give me a proper localizer Super Robot Wars title. I need it in my viens, especially this
Mark Plechaty avatarMark Plechaty
more quickposts


destructoid's previous coverage:
Grand Theft Auto III

  May 15

Grand Theft Auto Trilogy now on Amazon Fire TV and Kindle Fire

Buy GTA: San Andreas and receive 2000 Amazon Coins

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -