Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars


posted 2/2/2010 by Tina Amini
other articles by Tina Amini
One Page Platforms: iPod
The graphic novel similarities do not end just with the artistic visual qualities; you’ll also be reading cut scenes as opposed to listening to them. As I often don’t use headphones with my iPhone, and keep gaming on silent, I didn’t mind this at all. Perhaps the only reason you’d want to listen to the game is for the radio stations, which are medial at best.

If you’ve played the DS or PSP version of GTA: Chinatown Wars, you’ll find essentially the same game minus a few control tweaks to fit the new device as well as some missing audio. The touch screen controls were surprisingly reliable for the most part. While most games in general seem to have a difficult time perfecting driving controls, I actually found the Chinatown Wars controls to be sturdy. You direct where your car is meant to go, and the game will align your car on the road. Walking was actually more of an issue for me. With touch controls, you direct a virtual joystick in the direction you want to walk. It was easy to get stuck in a corner you couldn’t jump out of. This also makes picking up loot a difficult procedure while trying to direct your joystick in what always turns into giving vague instructions.

To keep on track of your missions and updates, Chinatown Wars comes with a built in PDA with full access to your email. The interface was really sleek and perfect for the iPhone. You can swipe your finger in the menu to access the other tools, making it feel like a real PDA device. You can access your GPS with all points of interests noted, your brief containing all recent HUD text updates, your game statistics, and many other useful in-game tools.

Some of GTA’s gameplay rules can be more of an annoying obstacle than a challenging one. The cops, for instance, can be an incredible nuisance. I like their presence because it reminds me that I’m in a somewhat civilized city committing crimes and escaping not just other gangs, but also the force of the law. At the same time, however, even scratching their car on the freeway will get a star in my HUD and my tires burning in my escape. In such a tiny screen that is so unforgiving, this situation becomes all too familiar.

Although I didn’t mind the driving controls, I still wish there wasn’t as much driving involved. Being that this is an iPhone game, and that I’m most likely to be on the train somewhere in the real Liberty City while playing it, driving to each destination can become a time consuming matter. There should have been a teleport option after receiving an email of a mission for the iPhone version. Missions that require driving skills are perfectly acceptable, but for mere travel purposes it seems excessive for a cell phone game.

Otherwise, however, Rockstar knew pretty well that this is a portable game as evidenced by the gameplay. Every mission is a fairly short one, giving me enough time to finish it between stops on my train and therefore making the ride a satisfying one. Playing a console GTA title for 5 minutes will probably give you enough time for a conversation with your next target, but Chinatown Wars for 5 minutes is enough to get through an entire mission. Make no mistake – the game is by no means a short one, providing more than enough game time to warrant the price of $9.99.

Chinatown Wars brings the idea of progression to iPhone games. Most iPhone games that I’ve played don’t have much of a concept of progression, especially nowhere near the degree that Chinatown Wars does. There is an extensive storyline to get through in this game, much like the other GTA titles. Rockstar and the GTA franchise bring the same experience of storyline to the iPhone, with solid gameplay that is finally making use of the iPhone’s title of an upcoming gaming device. As opposed to most iPhone games that have one gameplay concept, Chinatown Wars brings the same versatility that you know from the GTA franchise. If you want to play a real game on the iPhone, Chinatown Wars is one such game to consider.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars isn’t your average iPhone game. The extensive storyline, solid and versatile gameplay, and witty nature make this version of Chinatown Wars a good rival to its DS and PSP predecessors. If you’ve been in the market for a game that provides an almost parallel experience to games you’ve played on your console, this iPhone game might just be what you’re looking for.

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