Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (Nintendo DS)

Started by aruljothi, Jun 11, 2009, 02:46 AM

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aruljothi

Release Date: 03/17/2009
ESRB Rating: Mature
Genre: Action
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Leeds

I assume that most gamers don't expect much from a portable Grand Theft Auto game. I don't either, but not necessarily in a negative way. I don't expect occasional bouts of morality (or post-game discussions about it) from the characters. I don't expect HBO-caliber writing. But after the mammoth GTA4, I do expect a less mentally-taxing game that's more of a time-killer; a GTA distilled down to its basic game elements. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is that, plus a little bit more. And that's pretty darn good.

From the start, Chinatown Wars looks impressive, though I admit that's mostly because of the platform it's on. If nothing else, praise must be given to the game's artists, who re-crafted Liberty City in a comic-book style. The look, combined with the cast and story, makes the whole thing feel like "Grand Theft Auto: The Animated Series." More importantly, it feels "right" on the DS, where its lesser power simply wouldn't get anything as graphically detailed as the PSP "Stories" games.

Chinatown Wars' central character is Huang Lee, one of the younger members of the Hong Kong Triads. After his father dies, he comes to Liberty City to deliver the Yu Jian, a sword and token family heirloom, to his uncle "Kenny" Lee. Long story short, the sword is stolen, Huang is left to die, and after surviving, he sets out to reclaim the sword while using Liberty City's dark underbelly to find out more about his father's death. The story is told through simple still-art cut-scenes, though none of them are voiced. But that lack of voice, coupled with the cartoon style, does help "free up" the writing. Chinatown Wars' tone is much goofier than recent GTA games, which is primarily because of the protagonist. Huang is a humongous wiseass, constantly working in insults about his mission-giver every time they talk. It's a wonder he isn't shot on the spot after mouthing off, but for the most part, it's pretty light. Laced with the "F" word, but light nonetheless.

The game uses the DS touch screen often and ably, which is its most highly-touted feature. At the start of the game, Huang is locked in a car that's subsequently thrown into the water, and you're taught how to use the touch screen to crack the rear window and escape. The approach is clever and practical, as are the times when you need to hotwire a car, fill a bottle with gas to make a Molotov cocktail, or set a bomb detonation code by matching "Simon"-like button patterns. But the best example is when you have to assassinate an informant with a sniper rifle -- you must assemble the gun before you can use it. At times, the touch screen activity makes the game feel more toylike, but you are actually doing these things instead of pressing a button and watching your character wave their hands in a mime-like demonstration.

But the intuitive gameplay mechanic occasionally suffers from overkill. If you're feeling generous and want to pay the bridge toll, you have to tap the screen to toss a handful of coins into the booth. And that's one thing that was better as a canned animation. Selecting and changing weapons becomes a hassle, too, since you're forced to tap the associated icons on the lower screen; there's no button for quickly swapping to the next best weapon. And having to hold and drag to toss grenades requires far more time to set up than the enemy needs to shoot you. You'll either have to use your thumbs/fingers on the screen (which I personally don't like doing), or be inhumanly quick with sliding out the stylus when needed.

pradeep prem

gta is amazing
from this game i have finished all levels

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