Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars - PSP - Review
The good folks at Rockstar have made Grand Theft Auto fans proud when they released the amazing Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories on the PSP and actually made it work. Even Nintendo DS owners got a taste of GTA goodness with an excellent title that including fun touch screen mini-games. Now, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars comes to the PSP and makes the transition beautifully.
Chinatown Wars follows Huang Lee who has come to Liberty City after the murder of his father to deliver a ceremonial sword to his Uncle Kenny that would ensure that his family would not fall out of the Triad’s good graces. What he gets instead is assaulted soon after he gets off the plane and left for dead. Cleaning himself up, he heads to his uncle’s place of operations to not only get the sword back but to make a name for himself in the process.
Of course, this means going on a path of destruction and crime that includes pushing narcotics, stealing from those that cross the Triads and kill any rival that tries to stand in his way. Like in past Grand Theft Auto games you’ll be accepting missions for various sources and characters you meet throughout the game. Also like past GTA games, you can simply cruise the streets of Liberty City looking for trouble and do the missions whenever you feel like it.
Liberty City is a massive city with many locales to explore and many side missions to take on whether you decide to hijack a taxi or ambulance and make money that way or play delivery boy by delivering noodles or even narcotics. There are a number of elements GTA fans will recognize from past visits to Liberty City from Francis International Airport in Broker to Middle Park in Algonquin.
Huang’s path to save his family name and find those responsible for his father’s death takes him through numerous missions throughout the city starting with missions Uncle Kenny issues. Along the way you’ll get missions from a nut named Zhou and mobster D’Avanzo just to name a few of the people you will be working for during the course of the game’s story. The missions range from wheelman missions, breaking through a police blockade or assassinating a target for the mafia. There are even seven PSP exclusive missions that add more bang for your buck, including a mission that has you working for a woman named Mel who is trying to break into network news journalism … the wrong way.
The numerous missions are considerably fun and this is part of the reason the game manages to vault over Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories. I mean, the game even allows you to walk into a store and buy lottery tickets! There are even cool races and stunt jumps to perform. The best part, however, comes in the action as well as car chases. Run over a pedestrian in front of a cop and your wanted rating goes up and you’ll find yourself trying to evade them in a car chase that has you attempting to knock the squad car out of the way.
With much to see and do, Huang can even purchase new safe houses complete with internet access like in GTA IV. Speaking of computers, you get a portable Badger device with its PDA, e-mail, a GPS map and the ability to save your game. There’s even multiplayer fun to be had in the game but it is reserved to only one friend that allows you to race them as well as play co-op game called Defend the Base. All of this is done through an Ad Hoc connection and while the framerate can stutter here and there the multiplayer action is still loads of fun. Meanwhile, Infrastructure mode is used to post your stats on the leader board, join virtual events, compete and even earn new missions and earn items or vehicles via Rockstar’s Social Club website.
While the game may look like the first GTA games with its top down view, the action feels just as good as past games in the series. The on-foot controls work nicely since you can target enemies easily during gun fights, perform roundhouse or flying jump kicks and make defensive dives. The driving controls also work, although occasionally the camera doesn’t cooperate to offer the best view. Still, all the cars handle differently and yes they can be totaled during car chases.
The mini-games from the Nintendo DS version are back and while they were more entertaining on the DS’ touch screen they are still nice to have in the PSP version of the game. The mini-games have your moving the analog stick around or press the shoulder buttons to hotwire a stolen vehicle, make your own Molotov cocktail and breaking locks.
As far as the graphics are concerned, the PSP version looks quite spectacular seeing as it recreates the city in its own stylized manner. The cut scenes are handled beautifully as well and you have to love the visual effects that have day turn into night and gunfire flash. Explosions take on a better effect than on the DS so the PSP certainly is in a class of its own.
There are numerous radio stations catering to just most musical tastes whether you like hard rock, reggae and electronica just to name a few music genres represented in Liberty City’s radio stations. While the game doesn’t add voices to the characters during cut scenes, most of the few voice clips you’ll hear come from the pedestrians. There are solid sound effects in the game that make the city seem alive and that are a very good thing.
Without a doubt one of the most impressive and undeniable enjoyable games on the PSP, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is one of those games that GTA fans will simply adore. Packed with all the things we love about this series and then adding its own unique twist, you can expect a surprisingly deep and involving game that will have you happily playing for hours. If you love your PSP or PSPgo, do pick this one up immediately.
Review Scoring Details for Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
There are a number of missions you can take on and the good news is that the majority of them are downright addictively fun. Even the police chases, stunt jobs and taxi/ambulance/delivery jobs are more fun than in the console games. The mini games are simply Ok but we’re happy they included them.
The visuals are sharp and crisp on the PSP and the cut scenes look good throughout the game. Liberty City is huge even on the widescreen with some familiar locales fans of the series will surely recognize. The are also cool explosion effects in the game.
There aren’t voices for the main characters but you’ll hear a few voices from the pedestrians walking the streets. The sound effects are plentiful and the radio stations offer a number of cool instrumental tunes.
The missions aren’t incredibly difficult to complete but there are times when you’ll flub a few missions. Gunfights are fierce and challenging in this game and some car chases or races will make you really work hard.
Chinatown Wars fits an impressive number of features that make this a game with a lot to do and much of what you’ll do is true to the GTA games. There are plenty of weapons, vehicles and side missions that will keep gamers from being bored. There are new missions for the PSP version including extra rampages as well as multiplayer via Ad Hoc.
Aside from the online community features via the Social Club website, the only multiplayer action you can share with a friend is handled via Ad Hoc. Still the game modes are fun with Stash Dash (complete with five different scenarios) and Defend the Base (a co-op game mode) are two of the best.
One of the best Grand Theft Auto games to grace the PSP so far, Chinatown Wars makes our return to Liberty City an utterly brilliant and addictive gem. With amazing missions, a great story and plenty to do in the city, this game is just non-stop fun from start to finish. Forget the DS; this game truly shines on the PSP.