Who remembers the halcyon days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the Playstation 2 and the Xbox were battling it out for supremacy? You know, when the Grand Theft Auto franchise was fast becoming one of the biggest gaming franchises ever?
Grand Theft Auto III was the big one that really revolutionized the way people looked at video games, all the while causing untold controversy with its depictions of sex, drugs, violence, and murder.
Just a year later, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City arrived—and it also caused an uproar with how it depicted the unseemly and criminal aspects of life, plus its stereotypical look at Italian-Americans.
Two years after Vice City came Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It was subject to the same controversial opinions that bombarded its predecessors, but the times were changing as violence became more mainstream—more acceptable—in video games.
This trio of classic Grand Theft Auto games are now available on the App Store and Google Play Store, meaning you can play them on your mobile phone. But is it worth it?
Here are several reasons why you should play Grand Theft Auto on mobile phones and how you can get started.
1. The Sweet Feeling of Nostalgia
The tangible feeling of being young, sat in front of the TV screen, controller in hand, wires connecting you to the gaming console, and hearing Tommy Vercetti shouting expletives at whatever enemy is daring to fight you? Ah, those were the days!
If you want to revisit those days gone by, firing up any of the GTA mobile games on your phone will take you right back.
You'll feel the nostalgia of driving around the same old streets, except this time it'll be in the palm of your hand—and with better graphics. What could be better? Isn't this the point of video games?
2. Zero Loading Times
The experience of going between islands was painful in GTA because the loading screen would always interrupt your rhythm. Well, on mobile and tablet devices, loading screens are a thing of the past!
What's more impressive is that you're made fully aware that your phone is now so much more mighty than your huge PS2 or Xbox were back in the day. Of course, the screen you're playing on now could also be just as big—or even bigger—than your setup from back then.
All of which makes for a transcendent experience, as modern technology outshines what you thought was impressive then.
3. GTA's Stories Are Still Great
The classic journeys of the old GTA games are a big part of what made them so good. Who can forget driving Phil Cassidy to the hospital in Vice City while he was bleeding out, watching that blood trail out of the car? Or bringing down Officer Tenpenny in San Andreas?
The grandest part of the GTA games has always been the stories they told—and you can relive them now on your mobile phone, possibly with a better understanding of what was going on. The incredible work that went into those tales is still evident two decades later.
4. You Can Play With Gaming Controllers
Using touchscreen controls in a GTA game can be a pain. Rockstar has done the best they can to adapt the games for mobile devices, but the controls are still unnecessarily fiddly.
However, if you have a mobile-compatible gaming controller—like an MFI, PS4 Dualshock, or Xbox controller—you can connect it right to the device and play it like the old days.
The control scheme on the PS4 controller remains the same as it was for the original game, and playing the games on your device with a proper controller just feels right.
All you have to do is set the controller to Search Mode (which can be done on the PS4 Dualshock by holding down the PS button and the Share button simultaneously until the bar begins flashing), then pair it on the Bluetooth menu on your device. Presto!
5. You Can Play GTA Anywhere
The biggest gripe about console gaming is that, for the most part, you have to be sat at home—or at a pal's place—to take part. Even if you can link into your gaming console using Wi-Fi and a laptop, it just doesn't feel the same.
With the mobile versions, the GTA games can be right there on your phone with you at all times. Whether you bring along a gaming controller or use touchscreen controls, you can play anywhere.
The younger version of yourself always dreamed of playing the PS2 or Xbox console wherever you went. Now, with GTA, you really can.
How to Play Grand Theft Auto on Mobile
The classic trio of Grand Theft Auto games are available to purchase on Android devices, iPhones, and iPads via the Google Play Store and App Store, respectively.
By "classic trio," we mean that only Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are available for mobile devices (as of this writing).
Grand Theft Auto III
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
What about Grand Theft Auto IV? It isn't available yet, but it will probably make its way over to mobile app stores eventually. The main reasons why it hasn't yet? The game's file size plus mobile phone tech limitations would severely restrict who could play it.
By the way, you shouldn't play Grand Theft Auto mobile games on a small phone—whether iPhone or Android—if you can help it. The best GTA experience will always be on a bigger screen, which means playing on an iPad or Android tablet.
Combine that with a mobile-compatible gaming controller and you'll have the best GTA gaming experience, except this time you can carry it around with you anywhere you go.