Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Posted 3 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
After delivering the goods on the Nintendo DS earlier this year, Rockstar and developer Rockstar Leeds did not wait long to bring the amazing Chinatown Wars to the PSP, a console where the GTA franchise is no stranger to success with past titles such as Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories. By porting Chinatown Wars to the PSP, not only did Rockstar want to get their critically acclaimed portable game to a wider public but also take the opportunity to make the game that feels and looks better on a much powerful handheld. Some may say economic strategy; others will say the DS isn’t where the GTA mature audience really was in the first place. Either way, GTA: Chinatown Wars for the PSP is an interesting game worth your bucks if you couldn’t get your hands on the DS version back in March.
In the game, you play as Huang Lee who returns to Liberty City after a few years of absence to deliver the Yu Jian, an antique sword previously owned by his recently assassinated father, to his uncle Kenny. Soon after his arrival, Huang gets attacked and left for dead, losing the sword at the hands of his assailants. With the help of his uncle, Huang now needs to retrieve the sword. From that point, Chinatown Wars becomes what players have been accustomed to see in a GTA game: creating havoc and chaos, getting rid of your enemies and complete missions while getting revenge in the process.
Like stated earlier in the review, the game was first released for the Nintendo DS so changes had to be done mostly control-wise in order to make it work on the PSP since the handheld doesn’t have a touch screen. What once were touch-based controls have now been mapped to the analog nub and buttons combinations. Hot-wiring, dumpster searching and making your own Molotov Cocktail are not what they once were as their charm brought by the use of a stylus isn’t there. On the other side, the driving and the character movement is much more precise on the PSP because of the analog nub. You still have the option to customize your controls to use the directional pad more often but honestly, you may want to stick with the analog nub as much as you can. Also, the weapon switch system and the thrown weapons have a much more natural feel this time around and certainly gained a lot by going away from the touch-based controls.
Aside of these little changes, Chinatown Wars for the PSP remains faithful to what was once presented on the DS. The same amount of side missions (including new ones featuring a hard-nosed TV journalist) and tons of hidden collectibles scattered around Liberty City are all paired with a good selection of cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes. The Rockstar Social Club support has also made its way to Chinatown Wars PSP in the form of trading items with friends, unlocking new missions and posting your game progress to the web.
Graphics & Sounds
Past GTA players on PSP might feel a bit off at the beginning because of the over-the-top view but see it as a throwback at the old 2D GTA from the PC days and you’ll be okay. Actually, this view gives the game a bigger sense of realism even if the camera will play a trick or two on you during a few missions. Still, the camera can be rotated and adjusted at any time so following the action can be done without much hassle. Bringing Chinatown Wars to the PSP would also mean a few revamps in the visual department without undergoing a complete revamp. The game looks sharper thanks to an improved lighting, the 2D/3D cel-shaded look remains a strong feat and the still-image cinematic are crisper but don’t introduce anything new.
Sound wise , the limitations given by the DS are not an issue here. Still no character voice-overs (except for the civilians) but the game takes advantage of the PSP audio capabilities to render better quality sound effects coming from the cars smashing, explosions and weapon firings. Additionally, the in-game radio system from the DS has been expanded with six additional radio stations, each featuring new artists and tracks. This is a great addition for those who care to have a much more diverse musical choice while creating chaos. One thing that I would have like to see in the PSP version is custom soundtrack support. That would have been the icing on the cake.
The mission replay system introduced on the DS version returns, allowing you to replay any previously completed mission as much as you want either for the thrill or to post a better completion time for competitive purposes. But where you will spend most of your time will be with the drug dealing simulation mini-game which reminded me a lot of Drug Wars, a cool DOS game that I used to play on my calculator back in high school. Basically, the game revolves around buying drugs for cheap and selling them in certain zones in Liberty City where the demand for that specific drug is high. If you find the security cameras scattered around the city you can disable them and increase your trade power by affecting drastically the drug economy in the game and become filthy rich! Very addictive feature if you want to take a break from missions. Add these two elements to the length of main storyline (that could vary from 15 to 20 hours) and you will get a great bang to your buck.
If you already have played the DS version to death, getting the PSP version may not be a good idea since it’s basically the same game only with a few but noticeable improvements. Now, if you haven’t bought or played the DS version, there’s no way you can pass on what is being offered here. GTA Chinatown Wars for the PSP is a great game that deserves your attention and a place in your collection.
One thing needs to be said though: DS players should not see this refined version of their favourite game as “the best version” on the market but more as a different take on a great game for a different platform, as simple as that. None of either the PSP or DS crowds is getting the upper hand.
+ Rockstar Social Club support
+ Great number of side-missions, lengthy storyline and multiplayer modes
+ The ability to replay previously completed missions increases replay value
+ Overall controls handle way better on the PSP...
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Release Date : 2009/10/20
System : PSP
Publisher : Rockstar Games
Developer : Rockstar Leeds
Category : Action
ESRB : M
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