Games

Grand Theft Auto Advance

Arun Subramanian

If I were asked why Grand Theft Auto 3 was such a phenomenal success, I would likely avoid a discussion of freeform gameplay.


Publisher: Rockstar Games
Genres: Action
Price: $29.99
Multimedia: Grand Theft Auto Advance
Platforms: GBA
Number of players: 1
ESRB rating: Mature
Developer: Digital Eclipse
US release date: 2007-07

Most people are familiar with the Grand Theft Auto franchise with respect to this console generation. The roots of the series, however, extend further back to a top-down perspective PC and PlayStation romp, where the characters spoke in a gibberish language that was translated as text to the screen. After a forgettable add-on pack which transported the series to London in 1969 and an equally ignored sequel, the franchise rose like a phoenix from the ashes to become the superpower of gaming it's known as today. In an effort to make a portable version, and notably the first iteration of the series to ever be featured on a Nintendo console, Rockstar has released Grand Theft Auto Advance. This game returns to the origins of the series. Set in the Liberty City of Grand Theft Auto 3, Advance offers a top-down version of events and an entirely new storyline.

If I were asked why Grand Theft Auto 3 was such a phenomenal success, I would likely avoid a discussion of freeform gameplay. It was possible to grab rocket launchers and shoot cops from the very beginning of the franchise. I would instead argue that Grand Theft Auto 3 brought the series to life by placing it in three dimensions and making the city seem to be a living, breathing entity unto itself. Further, I would discuss the strong narrative and Hollywood-caliber voice acting. Finally I would touch upon the game's far-reaching and sardonic sense of humor. The lack of all of these things makes Grand Theft Auto Advance difficult to enjoy in the context of its bigger brothers, and as such it can't help but feel like a huge step backward.

Although the Grand Theft Auto series has drawn the ire of media watchdog groups in the past, Advance is not likely to register a blip on the radar. If writing underwent the same technological advancements as graphics, we might refer to Grand Theft Auto Advance's dialogue as "8-bit". Although the static character screens are well-drawn, the game stutters in motion, and realistically, some of the graphics are 16-bit at best. That said, it's hard to be upset about wanton violence and destruction (either conveyed through text or action) in this game when there are others that convey it much more realistically. On another technical note, the top-down perspective coupled with the relatively small size of the GBA screen make driving at any significant speed rather difficult, as the scaling and zooming feature of the game doesn't always provide for the best possible view of the action.

The real problem with the game is that it seems less like an original entry in the Grand Theft Auto 3 universe (which is essentially how it's billed) and more of a nostalgia package akin to a Mega Man or Sonic collection. Unfortunately, the top-down Grand Theft Auto games don't really deserve nostalgia. They were fun for a little while, but never had the strength to pull you into their world. Rockstar has since made great strides with the series, adding untold layers of depth. Without those layers, the experience is a remarkably shallow one. Certainly the limitations of the GBA hardware must be taken into account here. That said, if ever a PSP GTA were released, the grandeur of the home console versions might be adequately transcribed to a portable machine.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image