Thursday 2nd May 2002


Woah. Grand Theft Auto III on Game Boy Advance? In 3D? You should see the current state of my bed

18:48 Yikes. Can you imagine it? Tearing around the streets in nicked cars only stopping to bust a cap in some sucker's ass? Those of our readers from Manchester probably can but for the rest of us the nearest we've ever come to this has been Take-Two's epic gangster sim on PS2. That and listening to our deputy editor's tales of growing up in Wales. It's a bold plan but if developer Destination Software is to be believed, we could well be doing just this in 3D on our GBAs come autumn.

With the plug unexpectedly pulled recently on Tarantula Studios's Game Boy Advance ports of PSone classics Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2 [see story], things have seemed a little bleak for fans of violence, destruction and car-jacking. Other than yesterday's May Day protests here in London there has been very little to look forward to of late. No reason was given for pulling the cancellation of the projects, however speculation was rife with rumour pointing to Take-Two wishing to keep its next-gen crime sim franchise just; perhaps ports of the previous titles seemed a little dated next to one of the finest games on PS2.

Well check out Destination Software; the company has obviously impressed Take-Two Interactive with its programming skills, enough for the publishing giant to do a volte-face and sanction a Game Boy Advance release of Grand Theft Auto III. With the game still in the design stage, the US developer is not promising anything but does assure us it is making every effort to bring the game to us in what should at least look like full 3D.

We recently had the chance to chat with Destination's Bruce Kain briefly to find out just what the developer has in store for us with one of the top licences in computer games.

How did your deal to produce a Game Boy Advance version come about?

Bruce Kain: Well, we did the deal with GTA3 last year; we did a deal with Take-Two, which included Midnight Club, Smuggler's Run and Grand Theft Auto III.

There's a world of difference between the PS2 and Game Boy Advance. How are you planning on adapting the game to GBA?

Well, it's still in the early stages of development. We did Midnight Club as a top-down and we did Smuggler's Run, which is getting ready to come out in June, in a behind-and-above the car view. We went for speed with Midnight Club; when a car goes to make a quick right or a quick left in a city it's hard to have the next screen set up, so you either slow the car speed down or you have no choice but to go to a top down. So we went to a top-down in Midnight Club because of making the rights and lefts and making the quick decisions that you have to make on a fast game like that.

We did Smuggler's Run, as I said, from behind the car, but Smuggler's Run is out there in a lot of wide open spaces and it doesn't demand the same immediate mapping and immediate turns that a game like Midnight Club did and a game like Grand Theft Auto will. So we're looking into using a different engine or a new engine for the game that will allow for quicker decisions and quicker speed in a city environment in something other than a top-down. If we're forced to have to use a top-down then I guess we have no choice but I'd prefer not to because of the style of the game; there's just so much going on in that game that you really can't appreciate it in a top-down.

Midnight Club was in development a year ago and we've had a lot of technological advances in Game Boy Advance and we're hoping that we can bring Grand Theft Auto in behind the car or even a driver's-eye view. I'll be honest with you, it's not been determined yet whether it is possible; our developers are looking at it right now.

At the end of the day, the worst case scenario is no bad thing. After all look at the success of the first two games in the series

That's true, you're right, but a lot of the elements of the PlayStation 2 game can't be captured on a top-down. Obviously you can't get the same sort of graphic violence, not that we're shooting for that, but you can't get the same sort of things out of a top-down environment that you can out of a 'first-person'-type environment. So we would love to be able to do it otherwise.

It's a bold move trying to make the game in full 3D

It will be, but of course 3D really is impossible on a Game Boy Advance. You can give the illusion of 3D, but it really isn't very possible. There are few developers that we've looked at that have great, basically-functional fake 3D. It looks great. We've seen quite a few things and like I've said the technology is evolving on Game Boy Advance; we really hope to push the envelope on Grand Theft Auto.

You're going to be restricted in a lot of what you can do with the size of the game on GBA. How do you see the mission structure adapting?

The Game Boy Advance is certainly a limited format compared to the PS2; it's a lot limited. We plan on putting as much in it as we can get away with; we're going to push the technology, we're going to get the best we can get out of the view, the best we can get out of the speed and the best that we can get out of the storyline. There are elements of the game, the 'naughty' elements of the game, which you can do with the PS2. We'd really like to keep as much of the 'shock-value' of the game in it as possible while still making a game that Nintendo is happy with. You know Game Boy Advance does tend to cater for a younger crowd.

Destination Software plans on making an official announcement on Grand Theft Auto III in the next few weeks. We'll keep you posted on news as it happens.