Friday, 7 December 2012

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City for iOS Review

The moment this game was released on iOS, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I'd spent countless hours on the PS2 game and I was damned if I was going to let go of the opportunity to spend further countless hours on my phone. The release celebrates the 10th anniversary of the game's first emergence - can you believe it's been 10 years?! 
Now as this was released yesterday, I've not had the greatest amount of time with which to play, but all I know is - I. LOVE. IT.

At first, I was petrified I was wasting £2.99 on a game that simply wouldn't work on my now-ancient iPhone 3GS (is it just me, or do prices of things on iTunes look a million times more expensive than they would if you'd seen them in the shops?), but thankfully, breaking my bank balance was worth every penny.

Despite my archaic handset, the game works fine providing you have no other apps open. I found the best performance when I slipped it into Airplane Mode, and with no fear of lag or popups from texts from friends asking if I'm still alive, I can play seamlessly and ignore the world around me.
The graphics, even on my phone, are exquisite. I've yet to find a pedestrian with a detached body, a broken wall, anything. Anyone who remembers GTA3 on iOS will be grateful of the optimistic, brightly-lit graphics you get with Vice City.

I'm astonished at how true-to-original this format is. I faced a concrete wall at the entrance to the multi-storey car park on the first island, sighed to myself and accepted that Rockstar would never have fit the entire game on the iPhone. That was, until that concrete wall disappeared a second later, revealing its hidden treasure beyond.

Of course, reality is always stretched beyond its limits. I accidentally hopped out of a moving car as I tried to honk the horn, found myself running a mile and a half down the road to locate the moving car which had somehow also turned a corner minus a driver.

Those of you who remember the games in their original console guises will look at this in disgust at the sight of the touchscreen controls. Let's face it, there's no better feeling than grasping a PS2 controller and feeling the power in your very palms. I'll admit the gaming is a little uncomfortable if you have a bulky case, ironically more so if you have a bare naked phone which slips in your hands, and even more still if you have headphones inserted, because your index finger will no doubt try to lean on them and it will eventually become impossible to make any sort of turn, let alone a handbrake turn.

That being said, I've found the touchscreen steering a lot better than I had expected. I predicted smashing into walls every five seconds and accidentally demolishing the odd innocent lamp post, but it's easy to get used to and what's more, it's quite intuitive. It doesn't expect you to make sharp turns, so it doesn't give you them, it makes movements in slight increments depending on the pressure you exert on your poor device.
The other controls, however, are a bit hit-and-miss. Should you wish to honk your horn to signal your desires to a passing prostitute, you can expect to be accidentally jumping out of your car instead of honking, the horn button is tinier than any human finger. While that situation would be uncomfortable in real life, remember, this is a game, and prostitutes here aren't judgemental... I rolled up in a bashed-up, nearly-on-fire beach buggy once and I was still offered services. But perhaps that's just my natural babe magnet, I can never tell...

One reservation I hold about this format is its ability to translate the shooting aspect of the game. So far, I've only smashed a few cars with a hammer, I've yet to witness how exactly one can aim at all on a touchscreen, let alone accurately. But as this game has impressed me so far, I have no immediate fears I won't be able to progress without the touchscreen skills of an Angry Birds multi-champion.

What appeals to me most is the ability to customise the game further than we had with the PS2. Before, I would sit in front of the television with the volume muted and my headphones blasting my own music because the 80s soundtrack was just not the kind of thing I wanted to relax to while driving around and shooting innocent pedestrians simply because they were wearing socks with sandals or a Hawaiian shirt that brought back horrific memories of family photographs from that same era.
Now, with the magical technology of the iPhone, you simply create a playlist on your phone entitled 'VICECITY', sync your phone in iTunes, and return to Vice City and BAM! Those Justin Bieber tracks fit perfectly with the murders of civilians, don't they? There's nothing like the added effect of pedestrians hurling the odd insult at you for not only your bad driving but also your appalling music taste.
Your tracks are played on the Tape Deck radio station, which you can access by swiping left/right in the bottom left hand corner while you're inside a vehicle, a manoeuvre I found quite tricky as I have a big silicone case that blocks those perimeters of my screen. The game makes it out that this is a breakthrough in gaming technology, but actually, the app only opens up your Music app in the background to stream your playlist, as I noticed by closing down the app and finding my music still playing.

So overall, despite the few complaints and teething problems, I'm in love with the game already, and I can't wait to finish it, even though that took months on my PS2 in the first place. I hold my hands up and admit I had to search for cheats last night, on the off chance some geek had been working overnight on finding some, but alas, there are none... yet.

Have you tried Vice City for iOS yet? Do you think it's worth the price tag?

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