While GTA 3 has left an undeniable mark on gaming history, its portable counterpart GTA Advance has mostly been forgotten.
GTA Advance takes place in 2000, a year before the events of GTA 3. Mike is the main protagonist of this handheld game, which debuted on the Game Boy Advance from Nintendo. Unfortunately, it had the rotten luck of being released on the same day as GTA San Andreas.
Since GTA Advance was held back by technological limitations, it serves as a footnote to GTA 3. Rockstar Games were highly ambitious in trying to get the former title on a handheld device. As a result, there are several differences between the two interlinked games.
5 main differences between GTA 3 and its prequel GTA Advance
#5 – 2D vs 3D dimensional areas
It doesn’t take long for players to notice how the point-of-view changes between GTA 3 and GTA Advance. While GTA 3 uses fully 3D-modeled graphics, GTA Advance goes back to the series’ roots and uses a top-down perspective with 2D graphics.
One of the main selling points of GTA 3 was how Rockstar Games managed to turn a previously 2D series into something really special. Many players weren’t really keen on going back to the old style of GTA Advance. It certainly takes some time to get used to, especially if players are yet to play a 2D game in the series.
#4 – Technical hardware limitations
GTA Advance is held back by the hardware. Given that it was on the Game Boy Advance, the game was unable to use recorded voice acting like GTA 3. Instead, it uses line art and text similar to Chinatown Wars.
While GTA Advance has songs, they are looped instrumental versions of GTA 2 songs (for the most part – there is a GTA 1 song in there). The game has eight songs in total, which is a paltry amount.
The lack of radio stations is noticeable since players cannot change songs. There are a few limited soundbites from GTA 3 in this game. Since there are so few, repetition is to be expected.
#3 – Mike is slightly more sympathetic than Claude
GTA 3’s Claude is a sociopathic criminal who doesn’t care about anybody but himself. This is proven time and time again when he constantly betrays his employers. There is not a single moment in GTA 3 where he is sympathetic.
By contrast, Mike from GTA Advance is far more likable. Unlike Claude, he values loyalty and doesn’t sell out to the highest bidder. Mike also goes out of his way to avenge fallen allies. He does this whenever a boss dies.
Mike also has standards he abides by. While Claude is amoral in his actions, Mike draws the line at questionable behavior. For example, whenever Asuka Kasen gives Mike a specific task (such as harming someone), he wonders if there are other ways to complete the job.
#2 – Changes within the map
Liberty City went through major changes between GTA 3 and GTA Advance. It’s quite understandable, given the technological limitations.
Rockstar Games were unable to convert everything from 3D to 2D. GTA Advance got rid of sloped surfaces, considering it would be difficult to tell them apart in a 2D format. The entire train system as well as the tunnels have also been removed. Apart from that, all three islands are slightly bigger than in GTA 3.
All the pickups, rampages, jump ramps, and hidden packages have changed locations since GTA 3. This gives GTA 3 players a fresher experience when collecting these items in the game. It feels like a new gameplay experience, and not just because of the 2D graphics.
#1 – Player choices
GTA Advance gave players the choice to determine a character’s fate long before GTA 4 did. It remains the only game in the 3D Universe to change plot elements, such as the survival of a character.
For example, Ante Up is a mission where Mike can either destroy an entire casino or kill a corrupt officer. These types of missions end differently, depending on the player’s choice. The monetary reward also changes – burning the casino nets $5,000, while the cop’s death results in a payment of $10,000.
While GTA Advance was primitive in certain areas, they also tested the waters for future features in the series.
Aside from player choices, GTA Advance is also the first title in the series that allows players to save their game anywhere on the map.
Note: This article reflects the writer’s personal views.