Grand Theft Auto Advance
Probably one of the most controversial game
franchises in history, the Grand Theft Auto series has always been
associated with anti-social behaviour and was even banned in Australia
only a few years ago. Not only did this game break all the social norms
of society but it also took gaming to the next evolutionary stage of
almost unlimited freedom with some of the most impressive looking
graphics to grace the console world. Fortunately for owners of the
GameBoy Advance (& Nintendo DS), the title finally arrives on the system
and promises the same excitement and storyline from its big console
The story revolves around two thugs who are
contemplating going straight but unfortunately for you, your partner
Vinnie wants to do a few more jobs to help get some extra cash before he
goes on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately things go wrong and after
a few missions, Vinnie is killed by a car bomb. This provokes you to go
on a roaring rampage of revenge as you try to find the answers behind
Vinnie's death and also make a quick buck or two along the way.
Although this current incarnation is extremely similar to the original
PSOne and PC version with its top down view of the city and similar
gameplay, it is, in actual fact more similar to the previous game on the
PS2 and XBox, Grand Theft Auto Vice City. With that said, the player
must embark on a variety of different missions but as this is a free
roaming game, the gamer can also perform a myriad of different side
quests or go on the occasional killing spree when things get a little
tough. The missions themselves are good fun, if a little repetitive,
such as having to drive to certain destinations, leap out of your car
and collect items and gun people down or time trials such getting from
one point to another (sometimes extremely frustrating).
Besides the top down view, you also have a few other bits and odds in
the corner of your screen, providing a variety of useful information.
These include the amount of money you have, which weapon is equipped for
when you jump out of your car, your infamy rating (the higher this is
the more cops chase you) and your health. There's also the obligatory
and absolutely essential map, which shows you where to find things and
provides the layout of Liberty City. As you play the game, more locales
are highlighted on your map, such as your hideout, weapon shops and the
famous garages that are used for re-spraying your cars.
Grand Theft Auto Advance is something to behold. Its top view is
purely GTA I and II but then again, when you’re passing through the
familiar street corners of the Portland Red Light District, you’ll see
the influence of the third game throughout. The three islands are
connected to each other, making this one massive playground filled with
alleys, parking lots, hospitals and even the Shoreside Vale airport.
The vehicles are pretty basic but you get the idea which one are the
slow cars and which ones are made for zipping through traffic. Speaking
of traffic, the game does a marvellous job of showcasing dozens of
moving vehicles and pedestrians but unfortunately causes some heavy duty
frame rate issues. There’s also the traditional gore that spreads
around a flattened (or shot) pedestrian or gang member and explodes
right before your eyes when they’ve taken enough damage.
The sound effects and music is rather impressive on the GameBoy Advance
and to give Rockstar some credit, they did try and vary the different
themes depending on which car you get into, which reflects the radio
station the driver may have been listening to, but this novelty wears
off fast when you realise how short the continuous loop of each is.
There are voice samples which raise the bar a little but they're so few
and far between as to be drowned out in the cacophony.
In conclusion, Grand Theft Auto Advance is one of the most impressive
Game Boy Advance games to come along this year. Its style pays homage to
the series by offering an action-packed jaunt into a living, breathing
world filled to the brim with dozens of things to do whenever you feel
like it. The missions are more than plentiful and the controls are as
perfect as they come. Highly Recommended!