My new project: Tact, a simple chat app.

I finished GTA3 on iPad

November 12, 2014

I recently finished playing GTA3 on iPad.

By “finished”, I mean I got through the final mission when the credits rolled and the game is officially considered “over”. There’s around 10 missions left according to the stats, but I don’t know how to find those, and I did not complete all the side missions (police, medical, or firefighting). But I do feel that the final mission brought some closure, and I’m probably done with the game.

If you’re not familiar with it, GTA3 is a key episode in the long-standing Grand Theft Auto franchise. It’s the first one that uses a 3D perspective, and was originally released in 2001. This is truly ancient in computer history.

Nevertheless, I never played it originally when it was released, because I wasn’t really into gaming and didn’t own any required console at the time. That it was released at all on iPad many years later, and that it plays so well, is a true testimony to its original high quality.

Yes, I can attest to that: it truly plays well on an iPad. Maybe not fully as well as some other titles that are designed for touchscreens, but remember, this is a game that was designed long before any good touch device became mainstream. They managed to port it over and it is highly playable. The touch countrols are a bit awkward for a game that was originally designed for a console controller, but it just takes a little bit of time to get used to, and you’ll be up and running in no time.

Now, I admit. It did take me more than a year of calendar time to get through this game. It’s ridiculously long, but of course, it wasn’t a sustained effort. Sometimes I wouldn’t play it for months, and then I would just pick it up again. That it kept sucking me in and re-inviting, is a testimonity to the thing that matters the most in games: the core gameplay experience.

The gameplay and missions were pretty smooth and straightforward, though I did have to try some of them many times. But the design is such that you can keep learning while repeating a mission until you nail it. This went on right until I got to the final mission, The Exchange, which I miserably failed the first few times. The final mission becomes much easier if you have access to a bulletproof car and all the weapons. You get the bulletproof Patriot car from one of the previous missions, and you can get the weapons by finding all the 100 Hidden Packages in the game.

So I took a bit of a detour and went on a journey to find all 100 of them, which is also a cool way to find more corners of the game universe than you otherwise woudl have. Of course, I wouldn’t go look for them all through the universe myself, but there’s some great guides available these days. I recommend this one that I followed myself and I indeed did get all the 100 packages using that guide. This gives you all the weapons, and makes the final mission a breeze and even somewhat anticlimactic, I completed it just after a few tries.

GTA3 had a rich universe and my favorite style of open-world gameplay. You do have missions, but you can pick at your leisure when and how you go through them. In the meantime, you can wonder around the world, do side missions or just generally cause mayhem. Another more recent title of the same genre I would recommend is Far Cry 3. I’ll definitely try also Far Cry 4 that will come out later this year.

Why do I keep spending my time on these games? It would be an interesting psychological exercise. As I go forward, I’ve found that I keep developing my taste for games that I like and don’t like. Open-world single-player shooters a la GTA and Far Cry seem to be my favorite.

Gaming device choice is another interesting question. I recently got a retina iMac with maxed out specs that is a fantastic computer. Yet, sometimes I use my iPad Mini just to “get away” from my computer (nevermind that it is also a powerful computer, just in a different form factor). It’s also more convenient when traveling. Touch controls can’t entirely match a mouse and keyboard, but they come pretty damn close in most of the gaming scenarios that I see.

GTA3’s distributor Rockstar Games has released some other GTA classics for iDevices (GTA San Andreas and GTA Vice City). Will I play those as well? Not sure at this point. I might.