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First Impressions: Rockstar's GTA Vice City On iPhone

You know what? It's fine. Just fine. And the game's amazing anyway.

My viewpoint’s probably slightly skewed because I actually don’t have a problem with touch controls. As a new generation grows up playing games on smartphones and tablets, this’ll become the norm rather than the exception (if it hasn’t done already) and I’m hardly going to avoid a game like Vice City on my iPhone just because the buttons are on the screen.

So I didn’t. And the game’s actually just about fine. Yes, having a ‘proper’ controller is the best way to play a game like this, but there isn’t one on the iPhone, so that’s that. The controls that are in the game are fully configurable (you can move and resize everything, and there’s loads of options including motion control) and I’ve blasted through the first missions and had a jolly old drive around without any real fuss to speak of. That might change as the missions get tougher though.

Visually it’s definitely a clear step above the original. On an iPhone 5 it’s all pin-sharp and widescreen, and although Rockstar have bumped up the polygon count and the texture detail it’s clear that most of the game is still based on last generation’s graphics. It’s so high resolution that you can actually see through bits of cars when close up (in one of the very first cut-scenes too) but on the whole it’s not a bad looking game at all, considering.

Of course, the music’s still as brilliant and you forget just how good the voice acting was in this game – the characters are so deliciously over the top and soaked in 80’s day-glo that you can’t help but raise a smile at the script. Vice City was probably my favourite out of the GTA III-era games – the storyline’s superb and as a child of the 80’s this connects perfectly with me.

Loading is snappy, the frame-rate’s solid (again, I’m testing this on the latest iPhone) and the ‘tap-to-shoot’ is inspired, meaning there’s little to moan about in terms of how the game is presented. Even the menus are cool in they way that you’ve to drag over them rather than just blinding tapping to make a selection – a small touch, but a neat one nonetheless.

Of course, the real test will be whether this is just another novelty – it’s hugely exciting to play a game you fondly remembered from years back on nothing but your everyday phone, but will you be playing it tomorrow, or next week? I’d imagine this would be heavenly with an Android phone that has a controller built in, but without one to test, all I can say is that I’m happy enough with how this has turned out. It looks decent, and plays as well as I’d hoped.

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  1. 3shirts
    Since: Aug 2008

    Will this be updated when the Android version releases later today? I’m keen to know how that runs especially in light of the SixAxis app that will let me play it on the best control pad ever made.

    Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 12:07.
    • Alex C
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      Not by me, I don’t have access to any Android devices.

      Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 12:16.
  2. Forrest_01
    Since: Jun 2009

    Waah! Seeing those screenshots just makes me yearn for the title, but i simply refuse to play stuff like this on a little piddly screen that wants me to touch it all over like a needy prostitute who desperately needs the cash.

    Maybe i should just stop moaning about it & actually create a petition or something to attempt to get Vice City HD made.

    Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 12:24.
  3. Carl
    Since: Jan 2009

    Never played it before and don’t intend for my first time to be on a shitty small mobile phone screen with touch screen buttons.

    If they did a HD remake for PSN/XBLA i’d buy it in a heartbeat.

    Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 12:39.
  4. MICKY17
    Since: Dec 2008

    Downloading this for iPad right now, can’t wait to play this again!! Best GTA game in my opinion.

    Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 13:16.
    Since: Dec 2012

    If I can grab this for my Nexus 7 later I’ll be more than happy, well if it is cheap enough. I don’t get on with touch controls when playing 1st/3rd person games though.

    Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 13:18.
  6. stage1
    Since: Feb 2012

    Cannot play GTA games with touchscreen at all so this will be a ‘Not Buy’

    Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 13:48.
  7. KeRaSh
    Since: Nov 2009

    Tried playing GTA3 on my cell phone and it was just too awkward.
    Touchscreen controls are not the norm and they will not be for the foreseeable future. It’s just a compromise to allow gaming on cell phones. Growing up with such controls doesn’t mean it’s less awkward compared to real buttons. If someone is serious about gaming he/she will use a real controller at some point in his/her childhood and experience how a game is meant to be played. After that, virtual on screen buttons just feel wrong.
    I’m specifically talking about scenarios like GTA on cell phones with virtual buttons (e.g. ports from console games), not something that was built for touch input from the start, like Cut the Rope.

    Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 14:30.
    • 3shirts
      Since: Aug 2008

      I agree, the fundamental problem is that you can’t feel the buttons. I never look at my PS3 controller when I’m playing games, I know where the buttons are and can feel my fingers on them.
      Even if you know where the buttons are on your mobile device (and each game uses it’s own layout which doesn’t help), you still don’t get any feedback. Also, there is no analogue control so racing games completely lack subtlety.

      Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 14:49.
      • bunimomike
        Since: Jul 2009

        With you on this one. I don’t think it’ll change generationally either. Sure, people will be used to having it as an option but we have over a billion people who are happy with smart phones and they didn’t have gesture-based technology and touch screens to faff about with as children. Your reply is spot on. Whilst people can differentiate between console X (with buttons) and the iPhone without buttons it will always feel poorer for it.

        Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 18:55.
  8. Krisaim
    Since: Feb 2012

    I play GTA 3 on my Sony S1 with a PS3 controller. I wish and hope they port this to the Vita mind.
    Maybe my age but I think this is the best ever GTA. I was a teen at the time all the music was about so the game just sits so well with me.

    Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 16:28.
  9. Nate
    Since: Apr 2010

    I can’t find this on the store, is it iPad only?

    Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 19:17.
  10. Roynaldo
    Since: Nov 2008

    Played GTAIII on Iphone and put it down saying to my mate “How the hell can you play this even remotely good enough to complete it? It’s hard enough to just run down the street and beat up an old lady!”

    Maybe on a tablet it would be much better but on a piddly ass phone? it is just not built for it.

    Comment posted on 06/12/2012 at 23:03.

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