Review by Pikachu1918
"A good game in theory, Shame it Doesn’t Deliver"
Hey gaming fans, it's your old pal Pikachu1918 back with yet another game review. I've logged allot of time in both the Grand Theft Auto universe, and I've spent a load of time doing Nintendo DS game reviews. This means I have a good idea of what both ends of the deal are able to deliver, on the graphics and sound end with the DS, and I know good Grand Theft Auto games when I see them.
Now as a recap, the Grand Theft Auto franchise for people who don't usually play this kind of game. You play a criminal in a city, usually a low ranking one who works his way up the food chain. You do various criminal acts, and work your way up the food chain interacting with criminal. Depending on the game, you can advance up the food chain until you run that city.
Grand Theft Auto: China Town Wars is a spinoff of GTA IV released on PC, PS3, and Xbox360. You play the role of a son of a recently murdered Tong leader, and one of your final duties is to deliver your father's sword to your uncle and avenge his death. Just like every other anti-hero in Grand Theft Auto, you're going to be sucked into this town, hit rock bottom, and work your way up trying to get one simple job done.
Grand Theft Auto usually has a few strong selling points, good story, good music, and a decent level of action. I tried my best to love this story, and I played it cover to cover so to speak, and you know what, I can't love it. I am out and out disappointed with the story. I am going to try and keep this as spoiler free as possible.
You meet the final bad guy, within 5 minutes of starting the game. He's not an enemy at the time, but its minimal reversal, since you get hints he's the guy you'll want to kill at the end at the start of the game. There are sub stories, but nothing that keeps you off the revenge angle established by the intro. It feels like any deception attempts are weak, and that if you're an experience Grand Theft Auto player, you know where this is going way before you come to the end of the line.
The actual physics of the game and how the parts work together is decent. I hate to admit it, but I've seen improvements over other Grand Theft Auto games. Bullets for the most part hit their targets, but it's next to impossible not to kill people, i.e if you have any reservations over killing someone, this is the wrong game.
Now here is one of the largest bugs I've ever seen I n a game that made it to commercial levels. You can shoot and kill someone while having an honor duel, with swords. This sort of breaks the whole purpose of actually having said duel, if you can swap from a sword to a machine gun at your choice. There is no attempt to block you from doing the dishonorable thing.
Now one of the improvements from older games is you're not hunting for a gun supplier anymore. It's literately the click of a mouse away. You can call or order online from Ammunation any of weapons , and armor they carry and you want, and it's delivered to your doorstep. Talk about convince for today's criminal.
Occasionally you have to laugh at what developers put in a game due to sheer irony. In this case, they put the theft back into Grand Theft Auto. Since you can steal Ammunation trucks, or vans and trucks from rival gangs, and clean them out in a garage you own. Why spend money ordering weapons, or paying for drugs for resale, when you can steal them, and use them. Safe yourself a few bucks.
When it comes to the game, there are good points, and bad points. I see a good mix of the established controls using the directional pad, buttons, and touch screen. The guys at Rockstar even used the microphone, which allot of games don't do and for good reason.
Let's go over the good points, for the most part the controls are instinctual. Even when confronted with an unfamiliar situation like picking a lock, hot wiring a car, making a Molotov cocktail, it's all so easy you almost don't need the on screen prompts. Firing guns, and movement in the general sense are equally as easy.
This is why it's hard to believe it's impossible to switch targets, so you don't waste ammo or kill innocent people. The microphone feature is at best buggy, I had to get within an inch of it, and blow into it, to hail a cab. Not every gamer will have that kind of patience, and the alternatives to hailing a cab are equally as hard. One of the complaints is primary use within the game, and the other complaint is based on secondary used feature in the game, you can work around it.
I wanted to score it higher, and don't get me wrong the cut scene work is amazing. Since while it's not a good as full motion videos found in the none portable versions of GTA, the voice work, and the drawing style do make up for it. Since Rockstar chose to give the game a very oriental feel with the cell-shaded anime drawing style which makes sense, since this game is called Chinatown Wars.
You're thinking this sounds good, right? I mean nice animation, this has got to be good. WRONG! As someone who played GTA IV, I know Liberty City via the street view, not this above person view. I mean as an experienced player from this city, I felt lost for 90% of the game. Just imagine that, you've logged 20 hours or more in a game, you're given the same game with a few new tweaks, and you feel lost. That's a bad sign. They try cheap 3-Dism, but nowhere near to what you have in GTA IV.
Want to know my problems? It's not just the above person view, and the fact we saw over 1/3rd of Liberty City vanish. Don't get me wrong, if this was a new consol, and the memory limitations and abilities were still being tested. I'd be cheering. However, frankly the idea that over 1/3rd of Liberty City is gone, and that this entire game takes place from the above ground point of view doesn't work for me. I know allot of reviews note how one island is missing, which means a third. However, since the subway system is also missing, it's over a 3rd. I've seen too many games played via 3rd person view on the DS, to kill this line about memory limitations. Rockstar was lazy, simple as that.
As usual, we have a decent job done here for weapons, noises of the city, and so forth. The voice work done is adequate enough that you don't feel like you're dealing with cheap actors. You can tell these guys put time and effort into it.
When it comes to the radio, it's less than the usual standards we have from Rockstar. I mean I am not upset we can't upload our own songs to the radio. With the DS limitations it's not possible. However, the fact that we have five stations, and nothing close to a talk radio station is a major killer for that front. The music is enough to keep you feet taping as you play, but nothing to write home about.
Man another low score for this game, and I usually save a breakdown of Multiplayer for last, so you know we can't see any improvements after this one. There is limited multiplayer ability in this game. You have 2-4 ways to play.
The only method that works online is something close to find the flag with your friends, there is NO WAY to use this with strangers, since you need friend code to play it. You can trade with your friends, or try to kill them via a local connection, and you can share the experience via the game card locally to try and kill them.
FINAL CALL TIME!
You've read the review, and you're asking me the one liner question, Should I buy this game or not? At the price of $15-$20, I'd buy it in a heartbeat, if it's costing you more, it's a rip off. Before I hear the flames, I pre-ordered this game, so I wanted to love it. However, I've played enough games to know when I smell a good old goose egg.
Let's break it down, the average score on this game is a 40%, I doubt anyone's parents are going to cheer for their kid if he or she got 40% on a test at school. We have problems in the user interface, limited online features, over 1/3 of the actual city is gone. Where are the high points in this title? There are none at the end of the day.
The best we have are a few decent things like the sound, and game play. There is nothing that screams that this was a well thought out, and hard worked on title, and it comes off like that. Well gaming fans, this is your old pal Pikachu1918 signing off to play something other than this sinker.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 02/12/10
Game Release: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (US, 03/17/09)
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