by William Thompson
reviewed on NDS
Not one for the kiddies
The Nintendo DS console, well Nintendo in general I guess, has often been regarded as the domain of the casual gamer, with many titles aimed at younger gamers and families. It is not surprising then, that when a more adult-targeted game comes along, it gets a fair bit of hype from the hardcore DS gaming community. One game that had many eagerly anticipating its release is Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. The Grand Theft Auto series is well known for its adult themed story and could be regarded as one of the best sandbox games of its type. Would this translate well to the Nintendo handheld?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Grand Theft, Sword
Chinatown Wars starts out with the main character Huang, arriving in Liberty City only to be robbed of his dead father’s ceremonial sword, beaten and left for dead. The sword was to be delivered to Huang’s uncle as a gift to the Triad boss. Of course, you, playing as Huang, want it back and vow revenge on those who gave you such a ‘warm’ welcoming.
Huang eventually meets up with his uncle, who brings you up to speed on the happenings in Liberty City and informs you that the family business isn’t travelling so well. It is then up to you to work your way up through the ranks. Along the way, you will meet other various crime bosses who are vying for the control of the streets, as well as undercover cops trying to put an end to the gangland crimes. Each will give you quests to achieve in order to boost their standing in the gangster community. And upon completing a quest, you will be rewarded, in most cases with a handsome sum of money.
Money makes the world go round
Apart from the money earned when completing missions, there are various other ways to increase your wealth. The trading of illegal substances is probably the easiest way to make a buck. It is a new addition to the GTA series that works really well, and should probably be introduced to the console and PC versions in their next instalments. Buying low from dealers and selling high to those in desperate need of a hit can be quite rewarding (in a monetary sense). Of course, selling drugs is illegal and at times the cops will bust the sale and attempt to arrest you.
But there are also some more legitimate ways of earning money. You can ‘borrow’ a taxi and deliver customers to their specified destination. Speedy service will earn you a nice fare, but a safe service will also earn you a tip. A side benefit from the taxi service is that all the driving helps to familiarise yourself with the Liberty City streets. Another way of making money is with luck… by winning the lotto. This is a bit of fun, but not nearly as rewarding as the other methods.
Heaps to do in the city
There is more to Liberty City life than vendettas, drug trafficking and driving around in taxis. You can decide to be a good guy by jumping into an unmanned ambulance so that you can pick up injured citizens and give them a ride back to the nearest hospital. You could also decide to commandeer a police car and carry out some vigilante work. Upon starting the cop car, you can activate the police scanner and take down the criminals perpetrating various crimes.
Of course, the police don’t like you borrowing their cars and will try to capture you. In fact, any crime committed in the plain view of the police results in them assigning you a wanted rating and they will immediately set after you. The higher the wanted rating, the more police want to ‘bring you in for questioning’. There are a number of ways to reduce the wanted level. On a low wanted level, you can simply speed away from the nearest cop and find a quiet location until everything blows over. You could even visit a pay ‘n’ spray outlet – at a cost – to change the look of your vehicle, to throw the boys in blue off your trail. But as your wanted level goes up (which will happen if you shoot at them, or at innocent bystanders, or commit further crimes while in their view) you will need to dispose of the chasing cop cars. To do this, you are required to make them crash whilst they are chasing you by any means possible. This could involve ramming them into walls, making last minute turns so that they smash into buildings or just winding through traffic so that they crash into other vehicles at high speed.
No Pros and Cons at this time