Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Finally, an adults only
game on the Nintendo DS or DSi. That’s right, Rockstar have finally
brought the latest Grand Theft Auto game franchise to this popular
console in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars that transforms
gamers into Huang Lee, the son of a Chinese Triad Boss who is forced to
visit Liberty City in order to fill the void from his father who was
To compound the
situation for Huang, a ceremonial sword that he was carrying from Hong
Kong for his uncle Wu “Kenny Lee” has been stolen and an attempt on his
life was made. The game begins with a brief and enjoyable cinematic as
Huang wakes up in a car, deep in the harbor of Liberty. By using your
stylus or finger, you need to smash the windscreen in order to escape.
This sets the scene for
things to come and needless to say, the Grand Theft Auto universe has
been flawlessly transferred to the Nintendo DS with violence, adult
themes and good old fashioned fun. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was
made for the DS!
Although Huang starts at the bottom of the criminal underworld, it’s up
to the gamer to assist our criminal master become the master of the
Liberty City. In its essence, the game is quite reminiscent to the
original game with its top down view.
The developers have
ensured to capture the gameplay of all the series from the missions that
you play, the battles that you fight or the cell shaded cutscenes that
are reminiscent of previous games. The sights, sounds and places of
Liberty City have been captured well and the city is quite bristling
with a lively population. The game even changes during night and there
are even some weather effects.
The missions are similar to the previous games, however they have been
modified to suit the console and features of it. The missions involve
everything from escorting porn stars, performing hits and running drugs
for your bosses.
In order to make money
in the game, besides completing missions, you need to trade with dealers
in the town that will also give you some insight into up and coming
plots that you can engage in and make more money.
Although you can
navigate the world either on foot or via car, where the game does shine
is through its wonderful weapon selection that include shotguns to our
favourites the chainsaw and the flamethrower. MDK (Murder, Death Kill)
basically sets it up.
The GPS makes a return
in this incarnation that allows you to use the touch screen to keep an
eye on things in the game from destinations, safe houses, people and
missions. Setting checkpoints on your GPS is quite easy, the tricky bit
is looking at your GPS on the bottom screen and using the top screen of
the DS to navigate.
The control system of
the DS works well, however it does become tricky trying to balance the
console and the stylus and in the end you’ll be using your fingers. In
relation to the DS and DSi, it's easier to play on the DSi due to the
grip texture of the console.
Apart from going on missions and getting into battles, the developers
have included some wonderful mini-games such as hotwiring cars with a
screwdriver that uses the stylus or our favourite, sabotaging a rival
gang leaders car. These mini-games with the stylus give this game a
sense of ownership on the DS. You can even buy scratchies or "Lotto"
tickets in the game to attempt to make money which is quite cool.
The game does offer a
multiplayer mode for local wi-fi only, however the other player needs
another cartridge to join in though. Unfortunately no online multiplayer
mode but considering how successful this game will be, we’re hoping
Rockstar will introduce this with subsequent games or with the new DSi
Graphically, the title is quite reminiscent of the original game with
the top down view, however the cell-shading cinemas and 3D-esq
environments is a strange yet likeably hybrid between all games. Great
lighting, special effects and pixel based gaming environments.
When it comes to music, Rockstar have ensured that the player has access
to the radio, five radio stations to be precise that does add to the
ambience of this impressive gaming universe. Unfortunately there is no
voice acting during the game which is a small price to pay for a game
that has been successfully converted and made new on the DS.
At the end of the day, Rockstar have created a fun game in Grand
Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars that features an entertaining story,
interesting characters and gameplay that only the Nintendo DS can boast
about. The missions are fun and the mini-games are equally as addictive.
The control system does take some time getting use, however at the end
of the day, this is what Grand Theft Auto IV should have been about. If
you want something less serious than this is the game for you. Be warned
though, it’s definitely for older games!