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Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars iPhone/iTouch Review - -

Gameplay 9.0
Graphics 8.5
Sounds 8.0
Value 9.1
Developer: Rockstar
Review Date:
January 2010
Andrew Bistak


Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

The epic game series Grand Theft Auto arrives on the iPhone and iPod touch in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars that turns this gaming universe portable. Originally a cool DS game, it was ported to the PSP with mixed reviews and thankfully for the iPhone, it has received a great smart phone makeover which easily makes this the definitive port. Best of all, the iPhone version combines the stylus version of the DS with the impressive graphics of the PSP to create a game that works perfectly with the innovative features of the iPhone.

It's real!

Another thing I noticed about the iPhone version is that it's considerable faster to load than the aforementioned platforms, so when you want a quick burl of Chinatown Wars, you can virtually jump straight into the game and start playing. Of course the gem of this series has always been Grand Theft Auto San Andreas and if you're thinking that this is a cut down version of the franchise, than you'll be mistaken. That's because it features a majority of the bells and whistles from its console siblings, ensuring that the not only the gameplay remains intact but the fun factor is also quite high.

In relation to fun, the story revolves around Huang Lee whose Triad father was murdered in a gang attack and he has been given the arduous task of delivering an ancient family sword to his uncle in Liberty City... and of course seeking blood for the death of his father. Unfortunately for our protagonist Huang, he is ambushed from the airport and after a vicious attack, he is left for dead which creates the catalyst needed to fuel his revenge. Although Huang has  been disgraced by his family for losing the sword, you will help him slowly make his way up the food chain in this virtual sandbox game, thanks to the varied missions.

As the title is a free roaming sandbox game, it gives a healthy amount of freedom to the player and the scope of what you can do in this virtual city is quite amazing. Whether driving around the city, engaging in different missions, avoiding the police and even masquerading as a paramedic, it's these little aspects that will make this game so memorable for hardcore and casual gamers because you're not boxed in. The game does have a darker side, whether it's the sexual innuendo or dealing in heroine, this game is strictly for adults!

In relation to missions, you perform a gamut of missions for your uncle which generally involve force but if you want a break, there are dozens of side missions and fun to be have by exploring Liberty City. This generally involves in you getting hunted by the police but that's the joy of GTA, channelling your wicked side for enjoyment.

The biggest learning curve for me was the control system and the touch screen of the iPhone, however after an hour or so, I was controlling Huang and his vehicles like a pro and of course kicking some ass from melee weapons to those that shot big bullets.

Other fun things about the game which were entertaining on the DS version is the use of the touch screen such as hot wiring cars, sniping and other mini-games which assist in keeping things diverse. Thankfully to help you with your missions, Huang has access to a PDA which assists with missions, maps (GPS) and e-mails in the game and even gives you some statistics of how you're performing. As the story and certain gameplay scenes are so cool, it's hard not to spoil anything and let's just say, this game needs to be experienced!

Like the original game, the iPhone version is played via a top down view which works quite well as the graphics mimic the other titles in this series from the cell-shading graphics. The game uses still cutscenes to progress the story but the star of this title for me is definitely the smooth and sharp graphics. The attention to detail by the developers is brilliant and they have succeeded in making Liberty City come to life.

The sound effects of Chinatown Wars mimic the virtual city well and you hear a variety of background sounds to help bring the city to life. Sadly, the game doesn't support the radio stations from the console versions, however the unique aspect of the iPhone version is that you can listen to your music stored on the iPhone. Some one off shock jock comments would have been nice though.
Final Words?

At the end of a hard day at work or between meetings or whatever... Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is the perfect game to unwind because it has been successfully ported to the iPhone/iPod Touch so well. This is not just some hacked up port that lacks content, rather, it's an interactive experience into Liberty City and after hours of play, I can happily say that I have conquered the game, however there is also quite a bit that I missed which means I'll be visiting Liberty City another time. Besides, for $12.99AUD, you really can't complain on the high calibre of this game, highly recommended!



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