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Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars DS & DSi Review - -

Gameplay 9.0
Graphics 8.9
Sound 8.0
Value 9.2
Distributor: Rockstar
James Wright


Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars

Finally, an adults only game on the Nintendo DS or DSi. That’s right, Rockstar have finally brought the latest Grand Theft Auto game franchise to this popular console in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars that transforms gamers into Huang Lee, the son of a Chinese Triad Boss who is forced to visit Liberty City in order to fill the void from his father who was violently murdered.

Key Game Features:

  • The Largest DS Game Ever - Contemporary Liberty City is a massive world complete with pedestrians, weather and traffic patterns, five different radio stations and four different sprawling boroughs to explore.
  • Endless Gameplay - Mature storyline with over 70+ story missions; plus dozens of side quests, collectibles, contextual mini-games and the all new mission replay feature.
  • Street Economics - Addictive drug dealing side game with 6 different drug types, 80+ drug dealers and a supply / demand driven narcotics economy.
  • Play with Friends - Nintendo Wi-Fi mode for head-to-head and co-op multiplayer mayhem.
  • Bragging Rights - Chat, trade guns and commodities with your friends, and compete for glory via online tournaments and leaderboards on the Rockstar Games Social Club.
  • PDA Interface - Use the touch screen as a PDA device to set GPS waypoints, change radio stations, communicate via e-mail with in-game characters and order weapons on the Internet.

To compound the situation for Huang, a ceremonial sword that he was carrying from Hong Kong for his uncle Wu “Kenny Lee” has been stolen and an attempt on his life was made. The game begins with a brief and enjoyable cinematic as Huang wakes up in a car, deep in the harbor of Liberty. By using your stylus or finger, you need to smash the windscreen in order to escape.

This sets the scene for things to come and needless to say, the Grand Theft Auto universe has been flawlessly transferred to the Nintendo DS with violence, adult themes and good old fashioned fun. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was made for the DS!

Although Huang starts at the bottom of the criminal underworld, it’s up to the gamer to assist our criminal master become the master of the Liberty City. In its essence, the game is quite reminiscent to the original game with its top down view.

The developers have ensured to capture the gameplay of all the series from the missions that you play, the battles that you fight or the cell shaded cutscenes that are reminiscent of previous games. The sights, sounds and places of Liberty City have been captured well and the city is quite bristling with a lively population. The game even changes during night and there are even some weather effects.

The missions are similar to the previous games, however they have been modified to suit the console and features of it. The missions involve everything from escorting porn stars, performing hits and running drugs for your bosses.

In order to make money in the game, besides completing missions, you need to trade with dealers in the town that will also give you some insight into up and coming plots that you can engage in and make more money.

Although you can navigate the world either on foot or via car, where the game does shine is through its wonderful weapon selection that include shotguns to our favourites the chainsaw and the flamethrower. MDK (Murder, Death Kill) basically sets it up.

The GPS makes a return in this incarnation that allows you to use the touch screen to keep an eye on things in the game from destinations, safe houses, people and missions. Setting checkpoints on your GPS is quite easy, the tricky bit is looking at your GPS on the bottom screen and using the top screen of the DS to navigate.

The control system of the DS works well, however it does become tricky trying to balance the console and the stylus and in the end you’ll be using your fingers. In relation to the DS and DSi, it's easier to play on the DSi due to the grip texture of the console.

Apart from going on missions and getting into battles, the developers have included some wonderful mini-games such as hotwiring cars with a screwdriver that uses the stylus or our favourite, sabotaging a rival gang leaders car. These mini-games with the stylus give this game a sense of ownership on the DS. You can even buy scratchies or "Lotto" tickets in the game to attempt to make money which is quite cool.

The game does offer a multiplayer mode for local wi-fi only, however the other player needs another cartridge to join in though. Unfortunately no online multiplayer mode but considering how successful this game will be, we’re hoping Rockstar will introduce this with subsequent games or with the new DSi technology.

Graphically, the title is quite reminiscent of the original game with the top down view, however the cell-shading cinemas and 3D-esq environments is a strange yet likeably hybrid between all games. Great lighting, special effects and pixel based gaming environments.

When it comes to music, Rockstar have ensured that the player has access to the radio, five radio stations to be precise that does add to the ambience of this impressive gaming universe. Unfortunately there is no voice acting during the game which is a small price to pay for a game that has been successfully converted and made new on the DS.

At the end of the day, Rockstar have created a fun game in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars that features an entertaining story, interesting characters and gameplay that only the Nintendo DS can boast about. The missions are fun and the mini-games are equally as addictive. The control system does take some time getting use, however at the end of the day, this is what Grand Theft Auto IV should have been about. If you want something less serious than this is the game for you. Be warned though, it’s definitely for older games!


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