GTA Chinatown Wars is a port of the largely underrated DS game. It’s the story of Huang Lee, who moves to Liberty City to deliver a family heirloom to his uncle after his father is murdered. As expected, in a GTA game, things are never that simple and after stepping off the plane Huang is abducted and the heirloom is stolen. He is then caught up in a struggle for power as various gang leaders fight over who is to become the next Triad leader. There are also all the usual GTA components such as car-jacking and shoot-outs.
The game’s graphics are unlike the other two outings to PSP. The designers have gone back to the series’ ‘top-down-view’ roots, although the graphics are 3-D and the lighting effects on the PSP help to add realism to the city. The graphics are designed to be cartoon-like and this can also be seen in the cut scenes, which are still pictures with subtitles at the bottom, almost like a comic book.
The storyline is pretty similar to other GTA games, with you going round and completing an assortment of missions for various gang leaders but there is one difference in this game. Instead of having long missions which could take a while and may need restarting a few times, Chinatown Wars has lots of shorter, bite-size missions, perfect for when you’re ‘on the go’. These missions allow you to easily pick the game up for 5-10 minutes, complete a mission and put it down again, ideal for those train journeys into work every day. To start missions you have to drive to the place on the map, but the GPS can be used so finding your way there isn’t too difficult. If you fail a mission it gives you the option at the end to restart it, so you don’t have to drive all the way back to the beginning again.
One addition to the storyline is drug dealing. Located around the city are various dealers who will buy and sell drugs. The prices vary from place to place so the idea is to buy lots of cheap drugs from one place and then sell them for a profit to another drug dealer on the other side of town. This helps you gain more money needed to buy guns etc. as the money gained from missions (around $200 a time) is not enough to buy anything with.
The game’s controls are fairly easy to get used to. When driving, the game automatically keeps your car parallel to the road, which is a great help for those bad at driving like me, but for those who want complete control, this setting can be turned off. Many of the little things you do in the game, which have been part of other GTA games, like carjacking now have little mini games to complete first. For example, if you try to carjack a parked car you will have to hot wire it, but how you go about it will depend on how new the car is. Some cars require you to put a screwdriver in the ignition while others require you to cross over wires. This is all done using the analogue stick and face buttons. If you need to search through bins for guns, you use the shoulder buttons to throw bags out of the way while you search. You don’t have to complete these mini games to continue but some of them will have consequences, for example, if you don’t hotwire the car in time the alarm goes off and the police are attracted to you. These mini games help to add variety to the game as well as some realism. If you get the police after you (highly likely to happen if you drive all over the place like me), then they have changed the way you go down “wanted” star levels (1 to 5 depending on how many times you’ve broken the law). Say for example you’re on 5 stars, this means you have to ram and disable 5 police cars to go down a rating, same for 4, 3 etc. This makes it more interesting as instead of just driving away from them you have to ram them into other cars and buildings without letting them drag you out of the car.
The menu, your PDA, is accessed from the start button, and this is where most of the options and important things are. This is where you can access your emails, which you get quite regularly in the game informing you of missions and cheap places to buy drugs. It also contains the GPS, game stats and the Ammu-Nation, where you can purchase all your gun needs. You order items via your PDA and in a couple of minutes you will receive an email telling you the gun has been delivered. You then have to go to the nearest safehouse to pick it up from the box outside. The only problems with this PDA are that it can be quite slow loading sometimes, its awkward to use if you’re in the middle of a mission and the emails can become annoying.
Overall GTA Chinatown Wars is a very good game, just perfect as you can GTA on the go with the bite size missions and tons of replayability. The few slight problems aren’t too noticeable and don’t let down this well-polished game.