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Grand Theft Auto III Review: An Amazing Rendition of the Console Classic on the iOS

Little introduction is required when talking about the Grand Theft Auto franchise from Rockstar Games. Chances are, you’ve played through the whole thing on Playstation 2—or you’ve at least heard people complaining about its glorification of violence and crime… While we don’t expect this iPhone/iPad port to re-spark those annoying debates, it won’t be for lack of loyalty to the original. For $4.99, Rockstar has given us the mobile GTA we’ve been waiting for. It’s open-world action how it was meant to be on the iOS platform, and for now Grand Theft Auto III Grand Theft Auto 3 - Rockstar Games has buried Gameloft and their Gangstar ripoffs.

So what puts GTA miles ahead of the competition? Where to start… From top to bottom, Rockstar has brought the whole Liberty City atmosphere to the iPhone. That means the characters, the music, the dialogue, and the compelling missions are all represented—and with surprising execution. It’s interesting to notice how much these creative touches make a difference, because when you turn to the controls, we find that GTA III is not without it’s flaws.

For the most part, you can navigate around the city without much trouble. Walking, running, and driving are pleasurable experiences by and large. It’s when things get dicey that the mobile version of GTA starts to feel a little less polished. Gunplay in particular can be frustratingly inaccurate, relying on an auto-target system that can leave you shooting multiple pedestrians rather than the fleeing villain who owes your boss money. This troublesome shooting system can be lumped in with the turn arrows that dictate your vehicle’s direction. These elements are definite workarounds when compared to the precision that existed on the console version of GTA III, and they serve to make the mobile version much harder (which can be a turnoff at times). When working with a screen full of digital “buttons,” it’s all too easy for things to descend into frustration in a hurry.

But enough about the game’s flaws, because there are precious few others to mention… I’ve got to admit that some of the things making this a standout title in the App Store are intangibles. It’s far more possible to lose yourself in Liberty City than it is in any other open-world game available for iPhone. While Gameloft’s efforts might LOOK similar, they’re not as tightly-scripted and nowhere near as compelling. In GTA III, you’ll often find yourself replaying a mission until your eyes get tired of staring at the screen—never giving a second thought to the fact that you’re gunning down a bad guy while in a full-on police pursuit, and it’s all on your iPhone in full 3D… The quality of what goes on in Liberty City is good enough to make you forget this incredible feat and just focus on the downright good times to be had.

So whether you’re a veteran returning to your old haunts 10 years after the fact, or if this is your first time stepping foot in Liberty City, get ready for a wild ride. As was always the case, one of the great things about GTA III is that it can be played however you’d like. Just get behind the wheel of a sports car and cruise around if you feel like it, or get busy taking jobs if you want to pull in cash and purchase some nasty weapons. We’re glad to see this departure from Chinatown Wars (or this return to traditional gameplay), and we can only hope that the community response to this 10th anniversary edition of GTA will encourage Rockstar to get busy bringing something completely original to the App Store. This port is more than enough to ensure that iOS gamers all over would highly anticipate such a release.

Our Score: 4 Out of 5

Grand Theft Auto 3 - Rockstar Games

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