Review by AndyKaotik
"A tough name to live up to."
Grand Theft Auto Advance (hereinafter referred to as GTAA) has a tough standard to live up to. The Grand Theft Auto series is one of the best selling sagas in the history of video games. Quietly released just one day after Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the biggest release to date in Rockstar games crime-based series, GTAA is a good game that stands on it's own merits.
Those seeking portable 3D GTA should approach with caution.
GTAA returns to the series' roots with an overhead, pseudo-3D perspective on the action. The story is based in Liberty City, one year before the events of GTA3. Rockstar has done an admirable job tying the various console GTA games together in reference and familiarity, so that all of the games feel like they take place in the same universe. GTAA is no exception to this, as Liberty City is laid out in the same manner as GTA3, and some familiar landmarks and characters are right where they should be. Rockstar even boasts that GTAA has "triple" the amount of land mass as GTA3 - a droll assertion when one considers that this is a top down view 2D sprite game and not a full blown 3D polygonal world. When
comparing GTAA to other GTA games, it would be only fair to compare it to GTA1 and GTA2. How does it hold up?
Fun-ness (7.5 / 10)
I always like to consider how fun the game is first, over any other factor. GTAA is a fun game once you get used to the controls. The GTA series basically invented the open-ended "go anywhere/do anything" gameplay, which GTAA pulls off nicely. The story is progressed by individual missions, and you will receive these missions from different people in different parts of the game. The missions keep the story linear, which counteracts the open-ness of the gameplay perfectly - standard fare in the world of GTA. Considering that the Gameboy Advance library is flooded with old SNES-ports, platformers & Poke-dung, GTAA is a welcome addition to the GBA's library. If you liked the first two GTA's on the PC or Playstation, than you will probably find GTAA appealing. The foul-language and violence is intact, which is a nice change of pace for Nintendo's handheld. I was a fan of GTA2 on Playstation, so I was eager to purchase this. A friend of mine who loves GTA3, Vice City, and San Andreas tried GTAA, and needless to say he was not fond of it. I was even given a verbal disclaimer from the clerk at the shop while purchasing the cart that "this is not like the console versions".
Consider yourself warned!
Graphics (6 / 10)
Gameplay visuals for this game are almost on par with the first two GTAs. There is nothing outstanding or mind-blowing about them. The storyline visuals that drive the tale are very well done and give the game that extra GTA flavor that the series acquired from GTA3 and later. The illustrations are clean and make GTAA stand apart from the older GTAs with a far superior storyline. The majority of the gameplay graphics are what you would expect from a GBA GTA. The view zooms out when you are driving, but it doesn't zoom out far enough. This causes you to look at the map to see where you need to be going. The arrows that appeared on the screen in the first two GTAs during missions, which helped guide you to your destination, are not in GTAA and are sorely missed.
Sound (3 / 10)
The Gameboy Advance is not known for it's good sound capabilities. This conflicts directly with one of the GTA's most charming and endearing features - the radio stations. In all of the console GTAs, when you "borrow" a vehicle, there are a handful of radio stations to listen to and surf through. Even in the first two games, the radio stations were there, they were funny, and they added pizazz
to the games. Obviously, the GBA's cartridges are incapable of handling
music that a CD can, and the game suffers from it - more than you might expect. Each car in GTAA has it's own loop of music, some of them are recognizable from GTA2, but they sound awful and get old really fast. Each different car is set to one sound loop, which you cannot change. The voice samples from pedestrians and police are present, barely. As is the case with most GBA games, GTAA is better off played with the sound OFF.
Controls (6 / 10)
The controls in this game are good but take some getting used to. Controls during the on-foot action are tight. Rockstar has wisely added a strafe button, which comes in especially handy when attacking and shooting on foot. Driving is a different story. The physics of the cars, especially when you collide with other cars, just plain feels weird. And collide with other cars you will, as the view of
the action does not scroll out enough to make the map useful. Even after getting used to the control, I find myself constantly hitting walls and other cars because I am always looking at the map. Again, the arrows used in the original GTAs would have really helped out things in GTAA. Rockstar offers two different control schemes, both of which I found to be equal to each other and superior to both GTA1 and GTA2.
The final word? If you liked the original two GTAs, then you will like GTAA! It could have used a bit more polish in the graphics and controls, but it's a fun time nonetheless. It's tough to rate a game in a series and not compare it to the previous releases. GTAA holds up on it's own as a fine game and one of the better picks for your Gameboy Advance, especially if you are looking for something
different! Buy, rent, or borrow?
If you like the old-skool GTA: BUY!
If you aren't sure: BORROW BEFORE YOU BUY!
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 10/30/04
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