Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Liberty City - the
location familiar to many GTA fans and this is the location of GTA:
Chinatown Wars, recently released on PSP. GTA: Chinatown Wars was
exclusively released on DS quite a while ago and critically
acclaimed. It was an excellent game and it was amazing what Rockstar
managed to fit in. I never thought that it would ever stay a DS
exclusive and with the reasonable but less than expected sales of
the DS version, it was no surprise when Chinatown Wars eventually
popped up on the PSP.
follows Huang Lee, a son of a recently murdered Triad Boss. During
the initial cutscene, Huang is delivering his father's ceremonial
sword to his Uncle Kenny when he is attacked and the sword is
stolen. Upon meeting Uncle Kenny, Kenny reveals that he was to give
the sword in to the current Triad boss, Hsin Jaomin, in order to
garner favour and become his successor. Huang, on the other hand,
is not only interested in who attacked him and stole the sword but
also who killed his father. Thus begins Chinatown Wars.
The game is based
around missions that Huang must complete, each mission being
delivered on Huang's mobile. Missions usually involve driving
somewhere, shooting or blowing something up, but include a lot of
other things like stealing, sniping and even defibrillating (one of
the missions involve an ambulance). Each mission will advance the
story as Huang gets contacted by different seedy characters wanting
certain things to be done.
The missions are
great fun and have a lot of variety although a lot has been lost in
the control system in the conversion from DS to PSP. Compared to
the DS controls, the button/controller combinations seem to be more
fiddly - perhaps we are just too spoilt with the DS offering a lot
more flexibility in its gestures. Despite this, people who have
played other GTA games will be familiar with the general controls as
they are similar to previous games.
Chinatown Wars is
viewed from a rotatable overhead view, unlike recent GTA releases,
slightly reminiscent of GTA 2. The cutscenes are also well done cell
shaded in a comic book style. These scenes are sans voice acting
which surprisingly is not really missed. The graphics from the DS
version have been cleaned up with added detail and lighting and the
music has been modified to take advantage of the improved PSP
hardware. A suggestion to prospective players - don a set of
headphones and appreciate the music and sound effects. As with a
lot of PSP games, one misses out a lot of aural detail when using
the tinny PSP speakers instead of a good set of headphones.
The mobile in the
game is not only used for receiving mission emails. You also
receive drug emails alerting you to good drug deals going down.
Prices of different drugs depend on the region but at certain
times, bargains may be had and drug emails alert you to the location
of the dealer and at what time the bargains will finish.
side activity is a lot of fun and brings in a lot of dosh, The
mobile also includes a GPS, allowing you to set GPS destinations,
with the route then appearing in a minimap on your main screen. One
of the features removed from the DS version is the addition of
arrows that appeared on the road, something that made the DS driving
much easier. You do have to concentrate more in the PSP version, as
your eyes flick backwards and forwards from the road to minimap and
back again, whilst avoiding obstacles and ensuring you make the
While driving, there
will be many instances when you catch the attention of the police.
Stars will then appear - the more stars, the more police will do to
arrest you (with the full complement of stars, expect helicopters
and APVs to be on your tail). Your only recourse is to outrun them
such that they crash. Each crashed police car ultimately removes
one of the stars and with the disappearance of all stars makes you a
The police chases
are exciting and strategic as you look for areas where you can force
a crash or ram a police car, without slowing yourself too much to
allow the police to pull you from your car. Away from missions,
there's a lot more to this game where you can practice with
different weapons, order weapons online, be a part time tattoo
artist or taxi driver, steal different cars, buy up different
apartments and more.
Chinatown Wars will
certainly keep you busy for a long time. The story is interesting
and involving, and the gameplay is fun and diverse. It is
disappointing to know that Chinatown Wars is not doing too well
sales-wise on the PSP. Let's hope that the sales pick up as it'll
be a shame if more of these kind of games don't get the development
investment that they deserve. If you're looking for one of the best
handheld games out there at the moment, Chinatown Wars is worthy of
your game time.