Review by Chunkey Simmons
Not the best GTA port. It has decent qualities, but I'd stay away from this game.
Grand Theft Auto is a game that was released in the late 90s by a company called DMA Design. They had a nice little logo of the D being the head, the M being the hands, and the A being the feet. They were responsible for the original GTA for the PC. Of course, they were bought out by Rockstar and then the 3D versions of GTA were born. However, not too many people were very familiar with the old 2D concept of this game. It was all about completing the mission you were assigned to do, and of course having a little fun on the streets, killing people, evading cops, it was always fun. I never understood the title at first. I thought "Auto" was the name of the person you were controlling or something. But whatever. I was surprised to see that there was a Grand Theft Auto game for the Gameboy Advance. I had to try it out. There's no subtitle, no GTA Advance, or GTA: Adventures of car-stealing man, it was labeled as "Grand Theft Auto."
When first starting to play this game, I was impressed by the amazing attempt that Rockstar has made to revive the feel of the old PC version. There were a lot of things, the map, the layout, the graphics, that had reminded me of the original game.
Aside from a few graphical features however, it's pretty obvious that they were trying to have this game emulate the newer Grand Theft Auto games (III, Vice City, San Andreas, etc.), which is totally fine since they are all great games, but it doesn't work too well for a 2D Gameboy Advance game. It's hard to explain what I mean.
The problem with the game isn't the controls. The controls are near perfect, because you can always see where you're going because the screen gives you a lot of room when you're driving, there's a map on the screen and they even bother to dot the area you're supposed to go so it's easy to maneuver. The big problem is that this game is so easy, I could play it blindfolded. Depending on what vehicle you use, you can evade the police more easily than ever! The fun factor is no longer there. The only real difficulty in this game is trying to figure out what you're supposed to do and where you're supposed to go. Most of the missions consist of jacking cars and going to a specific location. I'll be honest, Grand Theft Auto for the PC was so long ago that I can't really remember most of the missions, especially since all that I did was fool around on the roads, but I don't remember the missions being so stupid. The missions in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are so much more creative and fun. It doesn't involve 100% car driving. I'm unsure if all of the GBA version consists of such, because I haven't finished the game, but it's not like the 3D versions; it's not like you can walk into a Burger Shot and buy a hamburger, or even walk into buildings in general. The game sort of fails at making a GTA world, because I don't feel like I'm in the game like I do in the 3D versions. I know that's mainly because this game is 2D but the original GTA felt more real. Maybe I'm not making any sense.
The graphics are great. Rockstar does a stellar job with the zooming in and the zooming out of levels so that it's easier to see. Plus all the buildings parallax scroll kind of, giving it a more D3 style. Not to mention that it looks like the classic GTA that I grew up with, but that's only a cover-up of what the game really is. Overall, the graphics are amazing.
The music and sound are average. I don't really have any complaints, except that the car horns are really annoying. The gameplay itself sports no music, but there's some music during specific scenes (the title screen, mission start-ups, etc.) It's nothing special.
One thing I liked about the original Grand Theft Auto is that you could speed the game up to make everything go faster. Although you can run, this version lags so much to the point where it goes pretty slow. When it comes to all the cars, there's no too much of a selection to chose from, it's as if they all bought their cars from the same dealership. Then again, it is GTA world so I can't imagine there being too great of a selection of cars to chose from. I bet that importing these cars from foreign countries to GTA world has gotta be expensive too, so the dealerships have to response to the economic downfall by jacking up the prices of cars. That's my theory. Either that, or the company was lazy. Usually, the smaller the car is, the faster it goes. I think the police cars are the fastest, which of course you will have no difficulty stealing one in this game. I remember in the original PC GTA, when you stole a cop car, you got all 4 stars (the more stars you get, the more extreme the cops go after you) except in that version they weren't stars, instead they were police officer heads who would open and close their mouth at the top of the screen. That was the gist of the game, Grand Theft Auto, you committed GTA so the cops are coming at you at full force, but in this version, if you steal a cop car, it's so easy to step on the gas and take off.
There's a save feature. I think it can handle three slots, and the game does a good job with it. they tell you what mission you're on when you return to the game, they give you the conversation and the details again so that you can jump in and complete the mission. It's all good to know for when you come back to the game. They did a good job with this.
Now for the conclusion. They attempted to make this port successful, but something had went wrong. Whether it was the limitations of the Gameboy Advance or the lack of work efforts put into the game, it was not successful at being a successful port. There are some redeeming qualities of the game, like the graphics, the controls, the gameplay (for the most part), but there was just a huge mix-up. I don't really know what the game was trying to be, either a remake of the classic GTA for the PC or a mediocre knock-off of the newer GTA games. It doesn't have to be the best port in the world for it to be a good game, but I feel that in order for it to be successful, there needs to be some difficulty. I don't recommend trying this game out. I'd skip over to Chinatown Wars for the Nintendo DS, or buy an Xbox 360 and play Grand Theft Auto 4. The 3D GTA games for the most part are way better. Sorry gamers.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Grand Theft Auto (US, 10/26/04)
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