980th played so far

Genre: Action/Adventure
Platform: Nintendo DS/PSP/iPhone
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: Rockstar Leeds/Rockstar North
Publisher: Rockstar Games

For the final Grand Theft Auto series we go to something atypical for the modern series – a handheld entry in the series that I’m sure will be compromise. The game has an overhead perspective rather than the 3D action/adventure set up the series has become known for, instead going back to the overhead perspective from the Grand Theft Auto original installments. It’s a change and I’m looking forward to seeing how this one holds up.

Our Thoughts

It’s tricky to get used to the top down perspective for this game. While the original games had the same perspective, it worked better there than it does here. The graphics for this game are obviously an upgrade over what was released 12 years earlier, but in this case that’s to its detriment. There are a lot more overhead elements – signs, bridges and so on – that keep blocking your view, and the graphics upgrade makes it harder to parse what’s where as well. It means that it takes some time to get used to what’s happening, and there are still plenty of times that you just don’t know what’s going on.

The controls get similarly awkward and that’s where you feel the other side of the problem – while this game is trying to imitate its console siblings, the hardware limitations get in the way and the small screen, handheld controls and limited processing power all work against it. The game becomes an exercise in frustration, and some of the missions requiring you to run over the city just get frustrating to try several times over as it feels like the game isn’t making any allowances for the differences here.

Final Thoughts

I played on the PSP and I have to wonder whether that makes a difference to my experience of the game, but I doubt the iPhone version would have fared much better. While a noble attempt to bring GTA to the handheld market, it’s missing out on some elements and can’t match up to what its previous games suggest.