Review by Gunners2TopEPL

"Huang Lee takes on Liberty City...Chinaman style!"

GTA Chinatown Wars is the newest addition to Rockstar's ever-popular GTA franchise. Whenever one mentions GTA, one would automatically think; free-roam, killing people, blowing up stuff, and generally causing mayhem in however way you like. Also, add constant swearing to that list. Well, GTA Chinatown Wars seems to be no less different.

-The man from Kowloon-

You play Huang Lee, a rich, spoilt kid belonging in a family of triads. His father was murdered, and he was entrusted a family treasure; the Yu Jian sword, to deliver it to his uncle in Liberty City. Sounds simple right? What could go wrong with such a simple task? Well, Huang Lee lost the sword for starters, and got pulled into the harsh realities of Triad life in Liberty City. He would then be embroiled in a world of faith, honour, deceit, and participation in the power struggle between parties to succeed the Triad leader. The story is basic GTA stuff, and you will find Huang Lee killing gang members, blowing up property and getting involved in high speed chases. Huang Lee will also meet a colourful cast of characters, ranging from your porn-loving Uncle Kenny to the overweight private investigator Lester. The only difference, is that elements of the story is centred on Triad stuff, hence the theme, Chinatown Wars.

-Touch detonator to ignite bomb!-

GTA Chinatown Wars makes good use of the touchscreen feature of the Nintendo DS. This is especially evident in certain missions. Examples include tapping the screen to free yourself from a sinking vehicle, tapping to break a padlock, hot-wiring a vehicle to get it started, and even assembling a sniper rifle!

-GTA goes Dual Screen-

The game's interface works beautifully dual screen wise. The top screen shows all the action, whereas the bottom screen is basically the game interface screen. There is a GPS radar, main PDA (which houses everything from game settings to music player), and a couple of shortcuts at the bottom. This is tweak-able, the default settings will sport email and stats among others.

-"F*ck this up and I will f*ck you up"-

The above quote comes from one of the characters in the game. Chinatown Wars is not a text-heavy game, you will only get relevant information and general gaming instructions. Be warned, there are swearing and lots of adult jokes here; a typical Chinese joke comes to mind. Hence, the M rating is slapped tight on this game.

Following on from that, there are no voice-overs in cutscenes. There are only snippets of voice work, some coming from random pedestrians on the street when you get too close to them. The audio is generally good, but due to the limiting capabilities of the DS, there are only instrumental tracks in the 5 radio stations in the game. Sound effects are good, weapons of mass destruction sounds realistic, as are the various weapons in the game. This only adds to the realism of the game.

-Liberty City looks good, as usual-

Rockstar managed to cram almost everything we know of Liberty City in the previous games into this one. How does everything look? Surprisingly good. Chinatown Wars takes the top down perspective, as per the previous games in the series like GTA Advance and GTA2. However, the game looks good, the pre-rendered environment looks sharp, so no major complaints on the graphics department. More demanding gamers would have liked more detail on the various vehicles in the game, but considering that this is a DS game and not a console game, everything looks good and presentable.

-$1300 per packet of Heroin? That's insane my friend!-

Drug dealing is a major addition in Chinatown Wars. It is up to Huang Lee to locate the various traders in Liberty City to expand his drug collection. Trading drugs is surprisingly fun in the game, and will basically serve as the means to make big money. Huang Lee can only have up to 50 items at any given time, but excessive drugs can be stored safely in the various safehouses in the game.

-Lots to do in Liberty City-

Huang Lee has many reasons to be lost in Liberty City. Why? Liberty City is huge, and when I say huge, I mean the various secrets and minigames Huang Lee can undertake when he is not undertaking story missions. Huang Lee can choose to hunt down security cameras all over Liberty City, raid warehouses and gang vehicle for various goodies, and participate in the various street races on offer. There is also a mutiplayer option, where you can play co-op or go head to head with a friend. This does not apply in story missions though.

-Closing Comments-

In a nutshell, I would definitely say that GTA Chinatown Wars is one of the best games the DS could offer at present time. It will wow gamers new to the GTA series, and will surprise veterans with its innovative features. The only personal gripe I have with the game is its length. Chinatown Wars is a fairly short game and you can easily complete the main storyline under 10 hours. A longer story, with more Chinese elements, would have made the game perfect for me. Just my two cents.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 04/01/09

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

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