|Grand Theft Auto Advance|
|Director(s)||Michael Mika Sr.|
|Series||Grand Theft Auto|
|Platform(s)||Game Boy Advance|
|Release||26 October 2004|
Grand Theft Auto Advance, marketed as Grand Theft Auto, is an action-adventure video game developed by Digital Eclipse and published by Rockstar Games for the Game Boy Advance, released on 26 October 2004.
The game is played from a top-down perspective; this view angle was seen on the first two games in the series, Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2, but vehicle-based side-missions (such as "Vigilante" and "Paramedic"), the heads-up display and a large majority of the weapons, first introduced in the three-dimensional counterparts, were also included.
The game is set in Liberty City, a fictional city that appeared most prominently in Grand Theft Auto III, in the year 2000. Indeed, the earliest announcement of this game was that it would be a port of Grand Theft Auto III, but at some point in development (it is unclear exactly when this occurred) this idea was rejected, probably due to technical limitations and the time needed to reconstruct the previous game's missions in the new two-dimensional environment.
The game was actually released as a prequel to Grand Theft Auto III, taking place one year prior to the events in Grand Theft Auto III. As it takes place in Grand Theft Auto IIIs Liberty City, familiar landmarks re-appear and the overall street layout is the same. However, the locations of familiar secrets such as Rampages, hidden packages and jump ramps have all been changed, so players familiar with the city's corners and alleyways in Grand Theft Auto III will have to explore them afresh in Grand Theft Auto.
The city's three islands have been noticeably changed in its conversion and elements impossible to interpret to a top-view perspective, so there are no longer any sloped surfaces, and the tunnels and train system have been removed.
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In 2000, Mike is a small-time criminal, working for the more connected Vinnie. Mike is reconsidering to leave Liberty City with Vinnie and retire from their life of crime elsewhere, like San Fierro or Vice City, but Vinnie decides that they should look for a few more jobs from their employers, the Mafia (although it is not revealed which Mafia family it is; the game's place in the Grand Theft Auto timeline suggests it is either the Forellis, or more likely the Leones), before they leave Liberty, so they could gather more money to leave and settle up.
Vinnie is suggestively killed in a car bomb, with all of their money burned with him. Mike swears revenge, and his quest for revenge leads to a falling out with the mafia.
Mike first works for 8-Ball who advises him to look into Jonnie, a bartender who has criminal connections all over the city. Mike works for Jonnie in hopes of uncovering the truth, despite being annoyed by Jonnie's paranoia. Eventually, Mike finds that Jonnie was killed because he came close to finding the truth. At the same time, Yardies are seen fleeing Jonnie's bar and Mike chases them down to Staunton Island.
Mike comes to suspect Yardie leader, King Courtney is responsible and takes him at gunpoint. King Courtney denies the accusations claiming that he is also after whoever is responsible because Jonnie owed the Yardies money. Mike and King Courtney team up to find out the truth, but Mike finds himself no closer to learning the truth. King Courtney tells Mike the mastermind is Colombian Cartel leader, Cisco. After Mike confronts Cisco, it becomes apparent that King Courtney was only using him.
Mike decides to work for Cisco, who promises to find out who is behind everything, and Mike's criminal exploits also catch the attention of Asuka, who also offers to help Mike. This has Mike working for two warring gangs, and he ends up having to rescue Asuka's kidnapped niece (who he had abducted earlier on Cisco's orders).
In the later stages of the game, Mike finds that Cisco has been assassinated and chases down the killer. Mike ultimately finds out that Vinnie has actually staged his own death, as well as his master plan; to leave the city with his and Mike's share of money, but was stalking Mike throughout the city to keep him from finding out the truth. Vinnie and his bodyguards attempt to kill Mike, but in the resulting gunfight Mike wounds Vinnie and is warned that he will be a target of the criminal underworld for his wealth, but Mike finishes him off anyway.
During the next few missions, 8-Ball is arrested (setting the stage for his escape in Grand Theft Auto III's intro sequence), and Mike learns that he is now a target of the Cartel. Mike fights the Cartel leader and learns that King Courtney is now after Mike for his wealth. Mike and the yakuza team up to attack King Courtney's hideout, but the yakuza flee before the initial assault. In the gunfight, Mike holds his ground and nearly kills King Courtney, but is interrupted by a sudden police raid. Mike is forced to flee while King Courtney escapes. In the following chase Mike finds Cisco's private plane and leaves Liberty City for good, leaving for Colombia.
The game has an all-new storyline. The protagonist is no longer Claude but a new character named Mike.
Some of the characters from Grand Theft Auto III appear in the game, including bomb-shop owner 8-Ball and the yakuza crime boss Asuka, although none of the Italian Mafia characters from Grand Theft Auto III appear, and entirely new characters such as Vinnie (Mike's friend and first employer), Cisco (the leader of the Colombian Cartel), and Yuka (Asuka's niece) have been added to the mix. Several characters which were only referenced in Grand Theft Auto III are now met face-to-face, such as King Courtney, the Yardie boss.
The game had to be adapted to the Game Boy Advance's hardware limitations. As a result, it does not have animated cutscenes, nor does it have Grand Theft Auto III's much-lauded pedestrian dialogue. All cutscenes are text-only with hand-drawn pictures of the characters' faces, with a thematic backdrop behind. The art style is consistent with that used for the cover and loading art of the three-dimensional releases in the series. Replacing the pedestrian dialogue, some soundbites taken from Grand Theft Auto III are played when the player hits someone's car. Short police radio voiceovers will announce the player's location and vehicle type when the player commits a crime.
The game does not feature radio channels. Like the Game Boy Color ports of Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2, each car has one fixed tune that is constantly repeated and cannot be changed. These include parts of some familiar Grand Theft Auto, Grand Theft Auto 2 and Grand Theft Auto III tunes, in instrumental versions. Despite this, radio stations from Grand Theft Auto III still appear on billboards around Liberty City.
The graphics of the game received mixed to positive commentary from critics, who likened it to other Game Boy Advance games. Craig Harris of IGN said that the game "does a good job of looking like the old GTA games." Loki of Game Chronicles said that the game uses "plenty of tricks" to give it a "3D feel," and that there's a "real sense of depth and perspective as you gaze down upon Liberty City." Conversely, 1UP staff said that the game has "flat visuals" that are a "poor leap" compared to previous games in the Grand Theft Auto series.
The game's music received mixed reactions. IGN's Craig Harris said that the songs on the radio stations in the vehicles are "pretty repetitive and aren't so great."1UP.com's Scott Sharkey stated that the music is "pretty bad," and named the radio tracks "very short and repetitive." Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot commented on the camera movements whilst driving, and that it "doesn't zoom out far enough to give you a good view of the road."