Having enjoyed all the GTA games including the original top-down ones on the PC, I was looking forward to playing it on the DS. I was, however, concerned Rockstar were being a little ambitious squeezing it onto Nintendo’s little machine but the good news is, it’s incredibly enjoyable and uses the hardware perfectly.
You play as a rich guy called Huang Lee who’s come to Liberty City to deliver a family heirloom in the shape of a sword to your uncle. Unfortunately you’re robbed and left to die at the beginning of the game and so go about trying to get the sword back, doing jobs for your uncle and other unpleasant characters along the way.
Missions are what you’d expect from a GTA game. There are races, deliveries, assassinations and even salvage missions which constantly vary to keep the interest levels up. There’s also a drug dealing aspect which is important to earn money to in turn buy weapons, safe houses and cars with.
Like the old school games, the view is top-down but it’s also in 3D. Once again the city feels like it’s living and breathing around you and it’s amazing how playing in this way again feels so good. Rockstar have taken what worked with the newer 3D titles and applied it here. All the 3D action takes place on the top screen and all the 2D cut scenes and mini games are on the touch screen. Most of the time you’ll be using the touch screen to view the GPS. You can set routes by touching hyperlinks from emails containing missions and then these show up on your GPS. It all works great, my only gripe is you sometimes crash when you take your eyes off the top screen to look at where to go – something which can lead to mission failure if you’re chasing someone or have a time limit.
The touch screen is also used for filling molotovs at gas stations, assembling sniper rifles, searching skips and wallets and hotwiring cars. Of course, it’s also tightly written and very funny in places and there’s multiplayer modes both locally and over Wi-Fi.
There’s so much to do in here and technically it’s up there with Zelda and Metroid Prime Hunters. Chinatown Wars gets an almost perfect 9 out of 10.