At first Chinatown Wars just looks like a regular old handheld port in the same vein as the first 2D Grand Theft Auto’s. This couldn’t be further from the truth however as Chinatown Wars brings new features making this DS handheld game refreshing and innovative. Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars even manages to distance itself away from it’s main console counterparts putting it on a totally new level.
Here’s how Chinatown War’s story goes; Huang Lee is the child of a murdered Triad boss. He comes from Hong Kong on a plane to Liberty City in order to deliver a sword known as the ‘Yu Jian,’ a sword that Huang’s father won in a poker game. Upon arrival in Liberty Ciy, Huang is ambushed and left for dead as he is dumped into the cities waters. The sword is stolen and Huang’s uncle Kenny isn’t too pleased by this as he plans to offer it to another triad leader as a means of securing his position. Huang then has to balance between finding his father’s killer and the sword for his uncle.
The graphics in Chinatown Wars are visually pleasing. The game is rendered in cell shaded graphics giving it a nice, comic book style. This is a first for Rockstar as no other GTA game has been presented this way. Rockstar have done a fantastic job of presenting a game in a smooth and nice way. One of the best graphics I’ve seen on the DS in a while.
On the bigger consoles, both the map and the game had been integrated in a nice way but Rockstar have improved upon this thanks to the DS consoles dual screens. The top screen is where all the action happens and there is no HUD to get in the way. The HUD, the weapon information and other bits of information have all been moved to the bottom screen. This in short, allows for a much bigger map screen rather than one tiny screen at the bottom corners. It’s much easier to watch the main action and then glance at the information to find out what you need.
The game has many features in additions to the old ones. In older GTA incarnations, you would have to outrun the police. However, in Chinatown Wars, you have to immobilise them all in order to get away. This could be by just simply ramming them off the road or shooting them down. Which ever method you choose, you’re sure to have a fun time doing so. Car jacking has also been given a totally new formula. Rather than just entering a parked car to steal it, you are presented with a series of mini games whether it’s hotwiring or a mathematical one, you are given a set amount of time to do it. Fail and the car alarm will be set off. Another interesting new aspect to the game is sniper rifle which is different from other weapons. It is different because rather than just bringing the gun out, you have to assemble it making this an interesting mini game. For the perfectionist out there, you are now able to repeat missions you have done previously in order to get a high score. Another welcome new mission feature is the ability to skip to a certain checkpoint rather than drive back there if you fail.
The environment is just trademark Grand Theft Auto. It is large and detailed. There’s plenty to do – whether it’s take cab and vigilante missions or simply walk around. The surrounding civilians are vibrant and you can normally find some comedic value out of it all. The music stations throughout are also varied – whether it’s rock, dub step or jazz, you’re sure to find a station to suit your tastes.
The online system is one thing worth checking out. Not only can you compete in competitive multiplayer games such as death match but you can also upload statistics or trade weapons enhancing the social element of the game.
The camera throughout the game is great. It gives a nice view overall and can easily be switched. However, there are times when the view is obscured making it hard to see certain things. The controls leave a little more to be desired also. At times, you’ll find yourself switching between both the stylus and the button controls. Whilst this isn’t a major problem, Rockstar could have found a better way to implement the two together.
Overall, Chinatown Wars is a sound game. It has many new features as well as old ones. Old and new fans alike should be drawn in for hours.
+ New Minigames are fantastic
+ Different to other GTA games
+ Graphics are nicely rendered
- Control scheme could be improved upon
- Camera system gets annoying at times
Score – 9/10