GTA III Anniversary Edition on iPad 2

Grand Theft Auto 3, or rather GTA III, was on sale at the Apple app store over the weekend, and at 99 cents who can resist? I finished this game sometime in college so there wasn't much new here for me, but I found myself playing the game again nonetheless on the iOS. If nothing else, it's given me something to write about :)

The biggest difference between the ipad version and the playstation console version? The controls. Part of it is going back to GTA III physics and handling a decade after playing through GTA IV, but believe me when I say that it goes beyond just that. The screen touchpad interface takes a lot of getting used to after years of using console controls for GTA, despite the presence of two different control schemes for for driving, a virtual control stick vs. simple left / right buttons. Since the virtual control stick seemed to work well running around on foot, I thought I'd give it a try behind the wheel. Mistake. I reverted back to the left/right scheme, but even then I'm still having some troubles reaching the level of responsiveness that this game demands sometimes.

And somewhat related to controls (or lack thereof), the act of aiming in this iPad version of Grand Theft Auto can also be a hassle since there's not actually an aiming / targeting mechanism like in the console GTA. You just hit the shoot button on the iPad and hope the game auto locks onto the right person. I personally found that this was not always the case and made the missions I've played through just a little harder than necessary.

Beyond my struggles with the controls, the second and third biggest differences are both positive changes for the game, but also a lot more subtle. Load times which used to be killer between missions are now non-existent, and I think it helps the game a lot in terms of presentation and flow. No more waiting for missions to load! I remember that back in the ps2 days, I had time to get drinks and snacks, but those days are gone; you hit the markers, get the cutscenes, and off you go.

The last difference that I'll cover is really understated, and it's the ability to retry a failed mission instantly ala GTA IV. I'm pretty sure this wasn't a feature in the original GTA III - if you failed a mission, you had to drive back to the mission marker from your current position at the time and do it over, with less ammo / health / armor etc to boot. This change allows you spend less time worrying about doing things carefully and more time thinking about the next thing to blow up / shoot / kill. It really is a game changer, and I'm glad that they took the time to incorporate this into the game.

The rest of the game is like I remembered it, which isn't a bad thing; I just wished the main character actually talked ... that would have really put a new coat of shine on this classic.


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