Daily iPad App: Grand Theft Auto 3
I'm not quite willing to call Grand Theft Auto 3 old school -- I spent so much time on the original top-down versions of the series that those are still more retro to me than the fully 3D graphics and living, open-world city that GTA3 made famous on the consoles (a tradition that continues right up into Saints Row: The Third, which I recently played on my Xbox, and next year's Grand Theft Auto 5). But it's been ten years since we first saw the streets of Liberty City from the ground up, and Rockstar Games has now brought this classic to iOS as a universal version.
And especially on my iPad 2, I'm willing to call it the best console port I've ever seen. The graphics look and run terrific, and the virtual controls, while still a little creaky, actually work really great despite all of the various things you can do. Newcomers to this one used to modern console games will probably notice all of the polygons, but as a reproduction of the original game, it really does look and play very well. And though it's only been ten years, it's really awesome to drive around the streets of Liberty City once again, and listen in to Lazlo's Chatterbox and all of the other great radio stations, checking out all of the open world city conventions (from grabbing any car to escaping the cops) that originated right here.
If you've never played this game, you might find it a little aged. The missions are a little unclear compared to today's more simplistic fare, and there's no line to follow on your minimap: All you get is a little dot to go after. But for those of us who really enjoyed the heck out of this one all those years ago, this is great to see, and it's clear that Rockstar has brought it over to this platform with great care. This is an excellent version of this great game, and playing it on my iPad 2 took my right back to those days in my parent's basement when my friends and I would just drive around trying to get four stars and try to escape the cops.
One note of warning: The game says it's built for all current iOS devices, including the iPad 1, but a lot of the iTunes reviews say it doesn't run great on those older machines. If you have an iPad 2 or an iPhone 4S, however, it should run quite well. I had one audio glitch while playing, but it definitely wasn't gamebreaking. Grand Theft Auto 3's anniversary iOS edition is available for $4.99 right now.