We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Games software Reviews
15,670 Reviews PC Advisor Recommended

Grand Theft Auto III 10 Year Anniversary review


Manufacturer: Rockstar Games

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

How does Rockstar's breakthrough GTA hold up on iOS and Android after a decade of notoriety?

Rebels aren't supposed to get old. If any game was ever a rebel, it's Grand Theft Auto III, the first time the infamous urban violence series went 3D. Its lead character even looks like James Dean, for goodness' sakes. Now re-released on iOS and Android phones and tablets, can it possibly retain the same controversy-courting bite it once did?

Well, no. It looks, feels and sounds crude and tame by today's more sadistic standards. But then GTA III wasn't really supposed to be a scandal-chaser at the time: it's just that outraged newspaper headlines and the wider world's dawning awareness of 3D games converged into crazy hype for Rockstar's first PlayStation 2-era effort. Coming back to the carjacking and pedestrian-bothering crime game a decade later, there's something almost charmingly innocent about it. Unlike its most recent successor, GTA IV, it's entirely cartoonish in both appearance and tone.

Your character looks like a hair-gelled puppet, and is even silent throughout his various escapades. You'd never mistake any of the characters here for real people: they're just broadly-painted caricatures there to propel you from mission to mission. The cars handle like cardboard boxes in a stiff breeze, pedestrian death-wails are straight out of an episode of Tom and Jerry and the city is little more than a place to drive fast and squish people. It's not meant to be realistic. It's just meant to be a hoot. GTA III seems refreshingly free from the arguable arrogance that has crept into later GTAs: there's no pretence or artifice to it.

So, what about the transition to modern mobile devices? Well, a mixed bag. Graphically-speaking, GTA III is perhaps few steps behind what an iPhone 4 or recent Android could manage, and very little has been done to update it. It looks dated and a little clunky, with stuff like car engines being nothing more than single blurry, flat grey textures, but on the other hand you do get a large city to bomb about it without anything in the way of loading screens. So while it might not be able to hold even a dim candle to Infinity Blade's lusciously rendered hulks, you're not pinned into to claustrophobic tunnels. All told, it fits the tech well.

As for controls, it's all over the place. On an iPad 1- our test device for this game - there's plenty of screen real estate for the on-screen virtual buttons, but placement leaves a little to be desired. When your character's on foot, steering him around with a virtual thumbstick is deft and natural; when he's in a car, it switches to fixed-position left and right buttons. Let your fingers drift even slightly and you'll be touching dead space. Same for the break and acceleration buttons over on the right-hand side of the screen. It's bewildering that the vehicles don't use the virtual thumbstick too.

Grand Theft Auto III 10 Year Anniversary Edition

Meanwhile, reports are that the Xperia Play Android handset offers a far superior control system, but as the game isn't actually optimised for physical controls there are serious issues with things like exiting the map. So, a patch or two seems pretty likely for this. (Or not: developers Rockstar aren't traditionally big on admitting to error, after all).

Nonetheless, the ageing rebel has had a remarkably successful transition to young devices all-told. It's not as slick or intuitive as it is on a gamepad, but its comparatively simple and direct nature (which it would be spanked for if it was a contemporary console game) makes it a surprisingly natural fit for our complication-shunning mobiles and table.

Grand Theft Auto III 10 Year Anniversary Expert Verdict »

Supported platforms: Apple iOS Devices: iPad 1 & 2, iPhone 4 & 4S, iPod touch 4th Generation Android Phones: HTC Rezound, LG Optimus 2x, Motorola Atrix 4G, Motorola Droid X2, Motorola Photon 4G, Samsung Galaxy R, T-Mobile G2x Android Tablets: Acer Iconia, Asus Eee Pad Transformer, Dell Streak 7, LG Optimus Pad, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and 10.1, Sony Tablet S, Toshiba Thrive
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

So-so in both graphics and controls, but raw, simple entertainment in the old dear means it still earns its keep after all these years.

  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 10th Anniversary Edition review

    Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 10th Anniversary Edition

    The best of the Grand Theft Auto games comes to iPhones and iPads, and Android smartphones and Android tablets, as did its predecessor Grand Theft Auto 3 for iPad a few months ago. Here's our Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 10th Anniversary Edition review.

  • Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned review

    Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned

    Good things come to those who wait. First Rockstar pushed the original release date of GTA IV back six months, then the game's first DLC (downloadable content), "The Lost and Damned," wasn't made available until almost a year after GTA IV's release.

  • Grand Theft Auto V review - the slickest and the most varied Grand Theft Auto yet

    Grand Theft Auto V - the slickest and the most varied Grand Theft Auto yet

    Three men in a boat, a car, a lorry, a tank, a plane, a helicopter, a zeppelin... Here's PC Advisor's Grand Theft Auto V review.

  • Grand Theft Auto IV for PC review

    Grand Theft Auto IV for PC

    A demanding port of an excellent game, Grand Theft Auto IV PC is only worth a look from gamers that missed Niko's venture to America the first time around.

  • Red Dead Redemption review

    Red Dead Redemption

    Arguably Rockstar's finest effort to date, Red Dead Redemption is a game that does an exquisite job of capturing the iconic essence of the Wild West, presenting one of the most engaging and enjoyable open-world climates in recent memory with the dusty plains of New Austin.

IDG UK Sites

What is Google Photos? How to back up and share all of your photos for free

IDG UK Sites

Why I think the Apple Watch sucks and you'd be mad to buy it

IDG UK Sites

Swatch launches a colourful smartwatch

IDG UK Sites

New Apple TV 2015 release date rumours: TV streaming service delayed, hand gesture interface being...