by William Thompson
reviewed on NDS
The sights of Liberty City
The island city is huge (for the DS anyway). You could literally spend hours driving around admiring the scenery, visiting everything from fun parks, tourist sites, warehouses and town halls as well as the standard hospitals, police stations and fire departments. The city is presented in a pseudo-3D style, which works well for the most part, but there are occasions when Huang can be hidden behind a tall building or other structure due to the camera angle. Thankfully, these occasions are rare and not game destroying. Huang and the citizens of Liberty City are presented in a more 2D-top-down view. Seems a bit strange, considering the detail gone into the city, but does an adequate job.
The city itself is a living, breathing entity. There are day and night cycles requiring traffic to use headlights as well as various weather conditions. Rain makes the roads slippery and causes pedestrians to use an umbrella, fog makes everything a little hazy, storms make everything dark and lightning lights up the dark scenery.
The story cut scenes are done in a comic book style, with changing images representing the changing dialogue. This style of story-telling fits in nicely with the game, and although the scenes aren’t overly detailed they do an adequate job in enhancing the flow of the story. The story itself is full of ‘colourful’ language and there are times where you will be laughing at the dialogue – sometimes because it is funny, sometimes because it is just downright corny. The story contains everything you’d expect from gangland wars and people wanting to be at the top – murder, property destruction, theft and double-crossing.
Moving around the city
Controlling Huang is simple and controls are extremely natural. The D-pad is used to move Huang in the desired direction, and the B and Y buttons are used to control Huang when he is driving. Firing a weapon is a simple task too, by simply selecting a target with the R button and firing with the A button. The stylus is also used well. There are other games that try and utilise the stylus for everything, and at times this can be unintuitive. Chinatown Wars does not fall into the same trap. The stylus is used to search dumpsters for weapons, to hot-wire cars and to select items on the PDA and GPS device amongst other things. The inbuilt microphone is also utilised in a novel manner on one occasion, and again it fits in perfectly with the task.
The main missions take gamers somewhere between 15-20 hours to complete. But it doesn’t end there. There are a number of side missions to complete for various people such as a hot dog seller and a terminally ill woman. There are also a few mini-games to carry out. The Rampage mini-game supplies the gamer with a weapon with which they must attempt to kill as many enemies as possible in a time frame. Another mini-game has the gamer driving around a specified street (including parks) course. A reward is on offer for completing the time trial in a certain time. You can also take a visit to the local go-kart track and gain medals for completing the tracks in the required time. Another mission required to complete 100% of the game involves destroying CCTV cameras scattered around liberty city. Many can be difficult to spot, especially when driving around the city at high speed. There is just so much to do in Liberty City.
Coming out on top
In all, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars would have be one of the best games to be released on the DS. The story is strong enough to make you want to continue in Huang’s shoes to seek revenge on those who killed his father and took the family’s ceremonial sword. Even after completing the main story, there are heaps of side missions and other tasks that will keep gamers entertained as they try and score the magical 100% completion score. The visuals make the most of the DS’ capabilities, as does the audio despite the limitations of the console. The controls work extremely well, utilising the stylus where needed. The swearing and adult themes mean that the game is not suited to younger gamers, but for other DS gamers, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is a must have title.
No Pros and Cons at this time