Review by Dash_Jr

"Fun and interesting yet....AGAIN we go to Liberty City."

I'm sure everyone has heard of the Grand Theft Auto(GTA) series. After the blockbuster release of GTA III, the series became popular and critically praised from then on. People had high standards for GTA. The sandbox style gameplay and freedom to do whatever the hell you want worked like a charm plus it was addicting. Then there was Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, which was the best GTA ever. So when I heard bits and pieces about GTA IV and saw what they were doing to the core gameplay and such, I wasn't too hyped because a lot of the stuff that made SA good was taken out of GTA IV. Well, after hearing that there was going to be a GTA for the DS based on GTA IV, I sparked a little interest. And what better way to start off a GTA line of games on the DS than to place it in Liberty City, of all cities in GTA. What we have here is the latest GTA game, Chinatown Wars, that takes place in the Liberty City that was in GTA IV.

Chinatown Wars does a lot on the DS, which surprises me as to how Rockstar was able to pull all of this off on the DS. I mean, there's a lot to do - you have odd jobs from various characters on the street, the return of Rampage missions, the usual storyboard missions, and the addicting drug selling minigame(if you can call it that since it can act as a stand alone game). There's a lot of options to last you a while in Chinatown Wars, but as usual with GTA games, it does become boring after a while. After causing various amounts of chaos and attacking pedestrians, it just becomes repetitive after a while. There's only so many times you can break the law and raise your wanted level before it becomes a chore. Same thing for the missions. They amped up the difficulty of the cops in this game, yes. No longer will they stop chasing you after getting some distance. The cops in this game will continue attacking you left and right. Not only that, but they've become a lot meaner in the game, whereas just bumping into them causing a One Star level. This is a good and a bad thing. While making the cops more vicious makes the game fresher, it can also make missions difficult to finish if the cops continue chasing you left and right, especially if you have to keep someone alive in a mission where the cops are shooting and/or trying to run you over. Overall, it makes the game fun, yet it does get frustrating and repetitive after a while.

Now, there's a quite a bit of focus on the touch screen, but sometimes it can be a bit awkward. Like, in order to change your weapons, you have to click on an icon on the touch screen rather than change them with the buttons. It's also a bit cumbersome to map grenades and molotov bombs onto the touch screen, but it's not too bad. You have to use the touchscreen to throw them. Still, the touch screen has some nifty uses like using Scratch Off tickets to win various prizes or making your own molotov bombs.

There's a lot of gameplay added into Chinatown Wars, but in the long run, it all suffers from the repetitive nature prevalent in GTA games. Granted, it's not as bad as earlier GTA games since the missions are shorter, but the repetitiveness is still there.

Soundwise, Chinatown Wars is pretty good. You'll hear a lot of pedestrians saying random things that're usual in GTA, which are funny at times. With this being a DS game, there aren't any of the radio shows from console GTAs along with the detailed music, but it doesn't distract from the game in any way. It's just the limitations of the DS, but I am pleased with what Rockstar was able to do.

The graphics however are awesome. I love the gritty look to Liberty City and how Rockstar was able to fit all of GTA IV's Liberty City(minus Alderney) onto the DS. The cell shaded looks works really well with GTA which makes it look as if I am reading a graphic novel. The animation is very fluid and detailed with minimal slowdown. Though, the games does slowdown whenever there's a lot happening onscreen, but this is very minimum.

Story-wise, Chinatown Wars is the usual GTA affair. The main character, Huang Lee, comes to Liberty City to deliver a sword after the death of his father and to avenge his death. There are some nice plot twists to the story, so I won't spoil them for you. The way the story is presented is nice even if they aren't in cut scenes. Regardless so, this is the GTA you know and love. Rockstar didn't tone the story down in any way.

Overall, I am pleased with how Rockstar made Chinatown Wars, though the game does suffers the repetitive syndrome usual in Grand Theft Auto games. You have the usual story based missions, but there's quite a lot to do on the side, which is good. Chinatown Wars is a game worth purchasing, but the overall hype for was unnecessary because when you look down, it's the same GTA we've been playing since GTA III. And the fact that Rockstar chose Liberty City, AGAIN, isn't much help because we've seen the same base style Liberty City over and over already. It's time for something new.

Pros:
+Nice detailed visuals
+Drug Selling Minigame is addicting
+Very detailed Liberty City

Cons:
-Controls are awkward and can't change them
-Gameplay gets too repetitive at times
-Awkward usage of the touch screen at some parts of the game


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 03/20/09, Updated 03/23/09

Game Release: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (US, 03/17/09)


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