Grand Theft Auto comes to smartphones, tablets

iPhone 4S, Galaxy S II, iPad 2 and other devices to run port of 2001 classic

As part of the 10th anniversary of the seminal Grand Theft Auto III — the first 3D game of the extensive Grand Theft Auto series, and the progenitor of the critically acclaimed Vice City, San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV — Rockstar Games has announced that the game will be ported to a range of the most powerful smartphones and tablets running iOS and Android operating systems.

We're not sure on how the game's free-looking controls will translate (it's likely an on-screen, touch-sensitive joystick will be used) but it's a big move that brings Rockstar further into the mobile gaming market. Almost every game in the Grand Theft Auto series has had overwhelmingly positive critical reception, and Grand Theft Auto III on PC has a solid Metacritic rating of 93. A PlayStation 2 version of the same game scored 97.

Pessimists will see it as another nail in the coffin of PC gaming, while more educated gamers should realise that this release means the latest tablets and smartphones are still ten years behind PCs in practical graphics and processing grunt. In its 2001 heyday, Grand Theft Auto III required an Intel Pentium III 450MHz (a sixth the speed of today's budget Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 powerhouses), 64MB of SD RAM (none of this double-data-rate DDR nonsense), and a 16MB Direct3D-compatible graphics card (we're now up to 2GB+ DirectX 11 beasts). The 'recommended' specs were a gutsy 700MHz, 128MB RAM and 32MB graphics. By comparison, today's smartphones use dual-core processors around the 1-1.2GHz point with over 512MB of RAM; tablets are slightly more powerful again.

Grand Theft Auto III will be available soon (we hope) on these devices, although pricing has not been announced:

Apple iOS Devices: iPad 2, iPhone 4S

Android Phones: Motorola Droid X2, HTC Evo 2, LG Optimus 2X, Motorola Atrix, Samsung Galaxy S2

Android Tablets: Acer Iconia, Asus Eee Pad, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

The celebrations for the game's 10th birthday continue with the limited edition release of an awesome-looking action figure of the game's protagonist Claude for US$150 through the Rockstar Warehouse online store.

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