Developer: Rockstar Leeds
Release Date: 10/20/2009
Also Available On
Awww…good ‘ol GTA on the PSP once again. We had two great outings so far with Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories which were your standard traditional GTA games that were executed almost flawlessly. Chinatown Wars is a great treat because it is not a “mini” version of past console GTA games, but the first top-down GTA game since GTA2, but this time it doesn’t suck.
There are a lot of new elements in Wars, but we’ll get to that eventually. You play as a Chinese guy (instead of all those Italians and that one black guy…) named Huang who is supposed to deliver a sword to his dead dad’s boss so his uncle can become the new leader of the triad. It turns out the sword gets stolen and you are on a wild goose chase to find it. Like previous GTA games, this one’s story has great plot twists all the way to the very last mission and it will keep you playing for hours. Since this was a port from the DS there is no voice acting, but drawn panels with written dialogue which is just fine for this type of game.
If you’re thinking top-down GTA hinders gameplay you’re dead wrong. The controls are so smooth and easy to use. Unfortunately, lock-on targeting is still an issue, but everything you love in a GTA game is here plus some. You can sprint, jump, shoot, and toss grenades all in you’re criminally intent glory. Controlling the cars in this game is sweet and smooth (unlike GTA4) and they turn without a fuss. You can shoot from your car, or pretty much anywhere.
The GPS system is similar to GTA4‘s with the lines telling you the best route to your destination, and using cabs can get you there faster. One thing that you can’t do, however, is use cabs during a mission so you are forced to drive yourself which is fine. Missions vary from escorting, to shooting people up, to blowing things up, and so on just like in other GTA games. Wars have a great variety of missions from using boats to homing in on wireless signals, so you never feel bored.
One disappointment is that you don’t get your huge income from completing missions. You get it from dealing drugs. Yeah, it’s a new element and not one that’s warmly welcomed. You can deal with anything from weed to heroin to coke, but you have found these dealers from tip-offs you receive in your email. Sometimes you even get rewarded with drugs on missions instead of cash, and lots of times nothing at all.
You’re going to need lots of green if you want weapons, especially through the express order from your phone feature. Having it delivered can be a bit tedious, but it works. You can also hijack certain vans for drugs and ammo if you’re low on cash as well.
One of the most noticeable additions is the minigames there were carried over from the DS. Anywhere from attaching a bomb, to opening a panel in a car, to rummaging through trash for guns, and assembling a sniper rifle has some pretty fun and interesting mini-games. These don’t hinder gameplay but make you feel more involved in minute details which have always been missing in previous GTA games. Another great addition is how you shake off cops. You get your wanted level then underneath are icons of cop cars, and if you make them crash hard they disappear and it lowers your wanted level. Each level adds a car so getting 15 cars to crash can take a long time.
The game also looks amazing and has a cell-shaded style in terms of graphics, but the game is still full of life. This is probably one of the best-looking PSP games out right now, and this includes no load times. Chinatown Wars is superior to the DS version, and may also be a reason to buy a PSP if you haven’t already. The game is short for GTA standards, so if you just do the main missions you can beat the game in less than 10 hours.