Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Review
PSP | DS
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars box art
System: PSP, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Rockstar Leeds 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Rockstar 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: March 17, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Mature 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

While this is a bit of a departure from previous GTAs, the story and missions in CW are exactly what you would expect from the franchise. You will play as Huang Lee, a character trying to figure out who killed his father. Your attempt to deliver a symbolic sword to your uncle in Liberty City utterly fails when you are immediately attacked at the airport upon your arrival. This results in a lengthy story that has Lee stuck in the middle of a power struggle to control the Triad in Liberty City following his father's death.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot

Surprisingly, CW also takes place in the Liberty City from GTA IV. The geography should be instantly recognizable to anyone who has already played Niko's story. All of the real estate is present, minus the entire island of Alderney. This is pretty respectable and impressive considering the size of the city and the limitations of a DS cartridge.

Throughout the course of the game, you'll find yourself traveling all over the map for missions but you'll also likely want to spend time seeking out the game's many drug dealers. Prior to the game's release, much was made about the ability to buy and sell drugs in CW. Besides perhaps feeling shady when dealing and having the real names of illicit drugs in the game, the drug dealing is actually pretty harmless. This aspect of CW essentially boils down to an illegal, makeshift stock market. Players will need to follow emailed tips from dealers to find where to score these illicit substances the cheapest, and then turn them around for a huge profit. While the game won't force you to do this past an introductory mission that serves as a tutorial, it really is the best way to earn cash in the game, especially considering you can make thousands of dollars in one deal and most of the early missions in the game only provide you with fifty dollars apiece.

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Even after you've made yourself rich by becoming a drug kingpin and have completed the entirety of the single-player campaign, there's still plenty to keep you coming back for more. Every mission in the game can be replayed for a chance at a better score or finishing time. There are also a few multiplayer modes offered that provide a nice distraction from the single-player campaign. Players can take part in single races as well as a series of tournaments, compete to find randomly spawning vans before your opponent in Stash Dash, and work together to protect a base from enemy gangs in the Defend The Base mode. While these options aren't playable over the internet and require multiple copies of the game to be played, they can be quite fun if you happen to have a nearby friend with another copy of CW.

I have to say, while I was fairly worried about a DS version of GTA, CW delivers above and beyond what I expected from it. The visuals are great, the gameplay is entertaining, and all of the new things that were tried in the game are welcome additions. The semi top-down view can take a little getting used to, especially when driving, but CW does a great job of compensating for this and just about any other issue you'll run into with a handful of assists that can be turned on and off. If you are looking for a great new GTA experience on the go, look no further than CW. It is easily one of the best GTAs in recent memory.

By Adam Brown
CCC Staff Contributor

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.6
Graphics
The cel-shaded look used in the game is beautiful and endearing.
4.5
Control
Good uses of the touch screen mix perfectly with the familiar GTA controls.
4.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects are great and the music is excellent, although it is entirely instrumental.
4.8

Play Value
With a lengthy single-player story, tons of side missions, a deep drug trading economy, and a few multiplayer options, CW will keep you tooling around Liberty City for a ton of hours.

4.6
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • All new replay feature allows you to replay all of your favorite missions.
  • Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection means head-to-head and co-op multiplayer mayhem.
  • Stat tracking and leaderboards that track your criminal career.
  • Epic storyline with tons of side-missions, addictive mini-games and hidden collectibles.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars screenshot - click to enlarge

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