Game Review: Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars

AllHipHop Staff

Developer/Publisher: Rockstar LeedsPlatform: Nintendo DS (Exclusive)

Players: 1 / Online MultiplayerRelease Date: 3/17/09

Rating: A

Amongst a never ending cloud of controversy, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series still remains one of the most respected gaming brands. So after eleven years of success it’s no surprise the title has been given shot on Nintendo’s DS. While this handheld platform might be the weakest next generation system due to its lack of punch, Chinatown Wars (Rockstar Leeds) still picks up where GTA IV left delivering hours of portable Liberty City madness.

At first glance many gamers familiar to the entire series might liken Wars to the first two titles with the similarity in graphic style. But Wars shouldn’t be confused for a 2 dimensional top down view sand-boxer. In actuality Wars has more in common with GTA 3 and beyond.

For starters Wars is set in the updated Liberty City found on GTA IV minus one island. The town is fully modeled in 3D with the gameplay seen from an aerial perspective, allowing the player to see each and every side of all cars, bikes, and buildings. The only drawback is the cartoonish graphics and the lack of live voice acting.

The game’s story keeps in line with the GTA saga. Wars centers on Huang Lee, a young member of the Chinese Triad gang. His daddy dearest is murdered and Huang finds himself in Liberty City embroiled in solving the homicide while trying to rise up the ranks of said crime syndicate.

Where Wars shines brightest is in its engaging gameplay. As in true GTA fashion you advance the story by completing missions for random characters including underworld bosses, other Triad gang members, and questionable detectives. Just as the cell phone was the core of communication and the interface for the menus in IV, the PDA is implemented in this title. You will receive messages offering missions, tips, and deals on weapons.

What gives things a new twist is the use of the Nintendo DS stylus and touch screen. When jacking parked cars, Huang Lee is sometimes made to put in some additional work through the stylus pen in three mini-games (hotwiring, etc.); other touch screen activities including tattooing, Molotov cocktail mixing and sniper rifle assembly.

Other spicy additions to the game include a drug trading element and a twist to ditching wanted levels. Besides making money through your standard jack moves, players can buy and sell different types of drugs on the advice of tipsters pointing you out to the best prices and neediest dealers in the city. Additionally loosing unwanted police attention becomes a little more fun with the option of loosing stars by destroying the cop cars on chase for you.

Backed by a strong gameplay engine, this title has enough features, curves and twists to keep gamers glued for hours. With some local Wi-Fi multiplayer modes to boot, Chinatown Wars is an amazing ride. Hands down a must have for any owner of a Nintendo DS.

Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars Trailer: