With the massive success of the last three Grand Theft Auto titles, I often find my self-wondering if anyone still remembers the original GTA PC games. I for one do, not only because they were the seeds from which Rockstar grew, but also because they were actually really good.
Now another thing I ask my self is: How many people played the gameboy colour port of the pc originals? If your one of the many people who hasn’t then just imagine Rockstar spitting directly into your handheld and you’ll get a pretty good picture of their failed attempt.
So what would happen if you mixed these two renditions together? We would get GTA advance, a solid game with a few annoying flaws.
The story is your standard; man is framed and must prove innocence, type of premise. You are put in the shoes of Mike, a gangster looking to get himself and his partner out of the game. Of course, something goes wrong, Mike’s partner is killed and he becomes the main suspect in the investigation. So Mikey goes to work at climbing the criminal ladder in order to find the real killers. The story is a bit generic but its delivery is well implemented. The use of still shots accompanied by text and a great art style, do a great job of keeping the game unique while bridging the gap to the better know GTA titles.
Graphically it doesn’t get much better than this on the GBA. 2d sprites are placed in 3d environments and it works well for the most part, but there are frequent drops in the frame rate and occasionally the game crashes (both due to the overexertion of the GBA’s hardware). Another gripe I have about the graphics is the fact the all the sprites seem to be using a very limited palette of colours. If my handheld can handle 256 different colours, why do I keep seeing the same 8 colours over and over again?
Where as the glitches I’ve mentioned don’t hurt the game graphically to much, it’s unfortunate that when it comes to the gameplay it’s a whole other story. There is nothing worse than having a game crash after you’ve made a lot of progress, it can even deter hardcore gamers and often causes us to leave the game to collect dust among others of its kind. Aside from technical issues, the games 300+ missions are repetitive and lack variety, but the ability to roam freely throughout three large islands and an abundance of side missions (Taxi driving, Firefighting etc.), help to make up for it. The inclusion of an array of different vehicles and weapons doesn’t hurt either.
It wouldn’t be a GTA game if it didn’t sound good. Rockstar has made sure that every console bound GTA game “must” include a killer soundtrack. Of course, you can’t fit albums worth of high-quality music into a GBA cartridge, but you can try to recreate the musical feel of its big brother. Not only was that mission accomplished here, but I will even go as far as to say that this game will set the bar for what GBA audio can and should be. As far as sound effect, they too are more than sufficient in their job of immersing you into the game’s world. Eventually (probably somewhere around mission 200) you’ll begin to get tired of the music, but let’s be real about this, there’s no way they could have fit any more of anything into this game, let alone more space-hogging music.
By far GTA advance’s saving grace is its tight control’s, though awkward to adjust to controlling your persona mike, from a top-down viewpoint, once you do get the hang of it you’ll feel real comfortable with the overall button scheme. From vehicle driving to combat, the game keeps it simple yet challenging, faster cars are harder to turn and vice a versa. While slower firing weapons may do more damage they will be harder to hit with and may slow you down depending on the size and weight of the weapon. Hands down it’s the great controls that are going to have you playing this game even after it’s gotten a bit monotonous, as long as you can jack a cop car and mow people down in it with ease, this game will remain fun.
So overall in my opinion GTA advance is a good game, not a great game but still worthy enough to be placed alongside Rockstar’s other gems.