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'GTA Chinatown Wars' returns the series to an isometric viewpoint and many of the 90's gameplay facets. Does this make for a retro funfest or a dated pile of junk?

Posted by Staff on May 14, 2009 11:44 (May 14, 2009 11:44)

Written by: Ian
Classic wars?
When GTA came out, it revolutionised games forever. However, it wasn’t until GTA 3 came out that the series really became truly massive. In fact, GTA 2 was a bit of a disappointment that it was still top-down in 1999.
With this new title returning to the old style after 10 years, can "GTA: Chinatown Wars" still live up to it’s impeccably high standards on such a small and underpowered handheld?
The storyline in GTA Chinatown wars is one of the best stories on a handheld game, ever. The writing from Dan Houser’s team is absolutely top notch, and it had to be.
GTA Chinatown Wars DS screenshot #3
There’s little to no speech in the game, and all the cut-scenes are delivered through cartoon- style comic book sequences with text. Much of what made the 3D GTAs so good was the incredible delivery of the lines.
Therefore I was really impressive that I found the story so engaging and so hilarious despite the fact that it is entirely text-based. The only real problem is that it is so short. The game can be finished in roughly 5-7 hours by an average player, so there is roughly only ¼ of the content found in GTA IV.
GTA games have proved to be so popular not just because of the fantastic stories and violence, but also because of the tight gameplay and sandbox world.
Whilst GTA CTW delivers in spades on the first point, on the latter, there are some problems. The game gives you the world of GTA IV, but minus Alderney, so around 1/3 of the total landmass has disappeared.
Secondly, the controls don’t always work that well. DS games normally use either the buttons or the stylus exclusively, but Rockstar has decided that you should use both, and normally give you little to no indication when you’ll have to change between the two. This is frustrating when you have to fart about to get the stylus out.
GTA Chinatown Wars DS screenshot #2
Also, the AI can be pretty poor. The wanted system is part of this, and I don’t like it. To get your wanted level down, you need to destroy that number of police cars +1. So if you have a 5 star level, you have to destroy about 20 cop cars to escape, which is completely unrealistic, and can be frustrating to boot. 
Cops have a tendency to destroy themselves because they are wont to crash into everything and anything that isn’t you.
However, flaws aside, the rest of the game is really really good. It’s classic GTA stuff that pretty much everyone will enjoy.
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#3 Jul 29, 2013 14:18:23 (Jul 29, 2013 14:18)


 I'm a fan of all the gta games, but going back to the top-down shooter classic style had me wondering if I'd enjoy gta: chinatown wars. I haven't put it down for a week! There's so much to do, explore, and I often find myself wandering around causing havoc, buying weapons and racing cars, just cos! I don't want to finish the game becauseI'm enjoying it so much!!! If you have a DS, you NEED to play this game!!

#2 Aug 21, 2012 15:41:11 (Aug 21, 2012 15:41)


 Yeah, I saw that, could be worth picking up it was a good handheld GTA… though without real buttons don't know how it would work. On PSP or Vita is also an option. 

#1 Aug 13, 2012 21:57:52 (Aug 13, 2012 21:57)


This game now came out for the iPad

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GTA: Chinatown Wars
Nintendo DS

ESRB - Mature 17+: Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
Our Score
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Our members have ranked GTA: Chinatown Wars 94 out of 4,763 total games.

93. Tony Hawk's Project 8
Xbox 360

94. GTA: Chinatown Wars
Nintendo DS

95. Trials HD
Xbox Live Arcade
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