Escapist Editorials

Escapist Editorials
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Hands On

Tom Endo | 12 Feb 2009 14:58
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To be sure, Chinatown Wars does exist on very different terms on the DS than it does on your Xbox360. The game is unabashedly fun. The seriousness of GTA IV, which was supported by the complicated gameplay and incredible graphics, just wouldn't have worked here, and Chinatown Wars at times has the feel of an arcade game. Evading the police turns into a game of wrecking their cars - each car commensurate with a star on your wanted level. Molotov cocktails are as simple as going to the gas station with a few bottles and playing a touch screen mini-game where you direct a gas nozzle spewing fuel into the bottles. The flamethrowers and chain guns are also back and available early on for you to wreak San Andreas style mayhem.

There's still plenty of serious game for everyone as well. Drug dealing is a major theme, and learning how to manipulate the drug economy based on market forces is important to success. For instance, the equivalent to the pigeons of GTA IV are security cameras, only instead of being a benign mini-game, by shooting out security cameras near drug dealers it lowers the price of their product. Another aspect of the game that was hinted at, but not really discussed, is the presence of other gangs. The game map I saw had other gang territory represented by colored circles which looked like they shifted about. I can only guess that the game might also involve edging in and wiping out other criminal organizations.

The missions are classic GTA, but they've been carefully tailored to meet the DS's needs. One mission I played had me pick up a briefcase, use the touch screen to assemble a sniper rifle and then guide the cross hairs with the stylus over the character I needed to kill. I should note that as much as I've mentioned the touch screen, it's really a secondary control scheme, as your character and driving are guided by the d-pad. I'm curious how cumbersome it will be to constantly switch between the stylus and d-pad. Also the script was written by Dan Houser who was responsible for GTA IV's, so it's probably fair to say there will be a fair amount of interesting characters, humorous asides and surprising twists to keep the player entertained.

*More screenshots on last page of preview

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