"The only GTA game on a Nintendo system"

A Grand Theft Auto incarnation on Nintendo's portable had been in the works since development of a GTA4 began, which was quite a while ago. Originally this game was supposed to be GTA3 on the GBA, but it eventually became it's own game. Grand Theft Auto Advance is basically an amalgamation of two different styles: the top-down look, feel and control of the old 2D GTA games and the mission structure, storyline and game mechanics of the newer 3D GTA games that made the series so popular.

Graphics wise, the game looks fairly good. The entire game is in 2D, but the buildings look pseudo-3D, and there is a fake 3D effect on the cars. The sprites are decent, but it is rather difficult to tell a gang member, cop and civilian apart at first glance. The cars are the best part; they contain the most detail. However, many cars also look similar, so you might carjack what you think is a sports-car, but is actually a sedan. The framerate suffers, especially later in the game when the levels become smaller, more cramped and filled with more onscreen entities.

Basic sound includes stuff like gunshots, screams and car noises. There's also audio clips, which are ripped basically from GTA3. You'll recognize them if you've played that game. There's also two music samples in the game -- on during the main menu and one during gameplay and dialogue.

Average revenge drivel; same stuff you've seen in past GTA games and in countless Hollywood movies, with a very obvious plot twist. The game itself takes place on Liberty City, a few years before the events of GTA3.

The gameplay is ripped right out of GTA3 and it's successors. Basically, you complete a bunch of missions that relate to the main story. These range from robberies, simple escorts and mass murders. Unlike the console games, however, you don't get any side missions that don't relate to the story. Most of the missions are incredibly easy, taking two or three tries at the most to beat. Some however, take ages to complete, and for all but hardcore gamers, pretty much ruin the game, such as "Smackdown". To further aggravate players are the game's constant glitches, such as being arrested by a gang member to name one.

There are also other things to do while passing the time planning another run on an impossible mission, such as vehicle missions, package collecting, rampages and races, again similar to GTA3. The most important ones to do early are the vehicle missions (Ambulance, police car, taxi, etc) to gain rewards such as free police bribes and a flamethrower at your hideout, or infinite sprinting. Packages bring you rewards at increments of ten, such as weapons and money. Rampages are just killing sprees, rewarding you with a free weapon and tons of money if you survive. Lastly are the races, wherein you race around whatever island you're on, passing checkpoints within the timelimit. These are frustratingly difficult because of the impossible timelimits, the confusing routes, and most importantly the omnipotent AI. In *EVERY SINGLE OTHER* GTA game, your opponents race with you and you can shake them off, thus being able to race at your leisure. Here, the AI opponents pop in randomly in between every other checkpoint and ram you off course with great success. Even if you shake them off, they appear again right on schedule. Talk about bad game design.

Lastly are the guns and the vehicles. Committing firearms offenses are a cornerstone of GTA, but here the weapons lack any punch or sizzle. The melee weapons such as the katana rarely have any practical use. The dual pistols, Uzi and assault rifle all lack any sort of stopping power. The rocket launcher is the weakest in any GTA game, the minigun lacks a decent ammo count and the flamethrower causes heavy onscreen lag along with mass destruction. Running people over is more efficient. The best weapon in the whole game is the shotgun. Almost all of your encounters will be in point blank and the shotgun packs a godly amount of power. The vehicles handle like they should. The slower ones have excellent handling while the fast ones fly out of control. Especially fun is the army tank, which can cause massive urban havoc.

+ It's GTA on GBA, what more can you ask for?
+ It looks nice
+ Most of the game is fun and accessible
+ GTA3 done 2D
- Crappiest.Framerate.EVER
- Difficult suddenly ramps up 2/3 into the game
- Omnipotent AI and horrible turd-like game design
- Glitches, glitches, glitches!

Conclusion: The game will occupy you for quite a while, especially if you're a casual gamer. There's a lot to do, but the difficult missions will have you pulling your hair out. Needed to be Q&A tested a bit more; feels a bit rushed. 8/10 (NOT AN AVERAGE)

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/09/05

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