Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Updated Impressions: Touching (the Screen) Is Good

We get one more look at Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto experience for the DS.

Rockstar's upcoming Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is quite possibly the most shocking entry in the famed series to date. But, if you know GTA, it isn't for the reasons you might think. While the game offers the immersive experience you'd expect from a GTA game thanks to a meaty story, a colorful cast of characters, and the Liberty City setting, the most shocking thing about the game is that it has shaped up as well as it has on the Nintendo DS. We got one last chance to take a tour of the town recently and were mightily impressed by how Rockstar Leeds has made use of the DS's unique features.

All the mayhem you've come to expect from the GTA series now fits in your back pocket.

As we mentioned in our last look at the game, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is serving up a hybrid GTA experience that marries the immersive experience pioneered by GTAIII with an overhead camera that recalls the first two games in the series, albeit in proper 3D. The look is a good fit for the DS hardware capabilities, but the gameplay also makes use of the hardware's unique features. The game's touch-screen mechanics are smartly implemented, actually making sense in gameplay, and are doled out in short bursts.

Although some of the touch-screen mechanics have the minigame simplicity that comes with most stylus-driven activities, they fit into the bigger gameplay picture pretty well. Whether you're assembling your own sniper rifle from component parts, picking locks, making your own Molotov cocktails, hot-wiring a car, or tattooing someone--to name just some of the touch-screen mechanics--your actions feel organic and contextual to what's happening. In addition, using the touch screen to select weapons, toss Molotovs, or use the features of a hijacked car, such as a fire engine's water hose, while in action in the top screen, are nice touches that work well from what we've played so far.

In addition to taking advantage of the touch screen, we have to call out a cool little touch that many may miss: the game's microphone support. While not essential to gameplay, it's a cool touch to be able to whistle for a taxi when you're near one. One tip: Use your judgment when playing the game out in public as you may get an actual taxi or get smacked if you're in mixed company.

From what we've played, it seems like there's a lot to like in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. The game looks to be offering an authentic GTA experience that has never worked on a cartridge-based handheld (yes, we're glossing over GTA for the GameBoy Advance). The sheer amount of content and the smart use of the DS hardware should make for a compelling package that we reckon very few people outside of Rockstar's development studios would have thought possible. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars ships next week for the DS. Look for our full review then.

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Discussion

112 comments
bemushroomed
bemushroomed

Just bought a DS Lite to play this (but im sure there are a few other cool games as well). I also bought the 360 "just" to get GTA IV, i was happy with that purchase, hopefully this will be the same ;) GTA is the best game series ever created.

-Raiden-
-Raiden-

wow, getting this game soon:-)

DarqKiller
DarqKiller

you know, back when they announced this at E3 I didnt really have high hopes for it, but now, man oh man, I was way off. Im finally getting this game tommorow along with a new DS, cant wait to go on rampages while on the go. as Jack Offson would most likely say: "I'll have a murder simulator in my back pocket!"

xgalacticax
xgalacticax

When I saw the screenshots, I didnt think it was great but I saw someone play the game today and it looks amazing. Definitely getting it.

onthe_dl
onthe_dl

the game runs and looks amazing. The aiming system takes a little while to get used to but overall this is the best game i've ever played on the ds.

Franconomicon
Franconomicon

Panther Everybody Knows that! Raiko writes about the backward movement of the GTA, since touching is not it all in the gaming experience

sayy666
sayy666

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Halpo14
Halpo14

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Raiko101
Raiko101

I still don't understand this belief that particular games just can't be developed for particular platforms. GTA was always possible for the DS, and the quality should never have been doubted.

BigDaddy973
BigDaddy973

Sounds like a good purchase for the DS! :)

itchyflop
itchyflop

i gotta say this is a real good looking game for the ds, and the level of attention to touchscreen versus what you have to do (ie jack a car) is genius. It somehow adds a completion to what was damn fine anyway, and it isnt quite 3d but is it style works perfectly with the old school balanced speed and total mayhem from the origional.

tidyspidey
tidyspidey

I'll be stealing the Mrs' DS from her to play this one..... if I can stomach the Care Bear stickers she's put on it whilst playing it that is, ha ha

sayy666
sayy666

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

ComboTroop
ComboTroop

I seen the news, some pirate got the an copy of the game a few days early, and guess what, ripped it and patched it! Search about it! on Google! : GTA Chinatown wars piracy, you'll see some very bad news about this disaster!

02sfraser
02sfraser

im actually really looking forward to this. it will be great to see the DS get some more "grown up" titles

sayy666
sayy666

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

casket56
casket56

out on the 20th cant wait!

Auricom-R
Auricom-R

This is looking promising, hopefully it delivers. I might have to pick it up at some point

blazamane
blazamane

Can honestly say I am anticipating this more then Pokemon Platinum

blankshore
blankshore

Looks incredible. I've never actually purchased a GTA game before--or any rated M game for that matter. I've played all of them at friend's houses, but I'm really looking forward to be able to actually own a GTA game--and take it on the go!

sdxermacx
sdxermacx

Looks good i hope it will be.

birthofastar
birthofastar

THis reminds me of the OG Grand Theft Auto that I used to play when most of you posting on this board where still embryos.

xunhallowed
xunhallowed

The game is very good. The graphics are some of the best I've seen. And to the person saying there won't be DS games anymore, seriously? It's one of the best selling platforms of all time. Nintendo doesn't need to worry about losing their sales to piracy, and I get over 3500 free games. It's really a win-win situation. But I digress. I've played a few missions, it's really fun, the driving is a little challenging (it slightly assists you to the road, but that can be turned off) because the roads are a little thin, but that's really inconsequential. The thing I like is that whenever you drive your car into water, you can use your stylus to break the glass of the windshield, allowing you to escape. And you can swim! That's some good stuff right there over GTA 3. Did I mention that the game looks REALLY good?

kevin9701
kevin9701

my favorite of the gta new features is the touch screen hotwiring cars hope when dsi comes out gta makes a game for it too

sayy666
sayy666

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

kevin9701
kevin9701

and if they do make gta Chinatown wars for psp later on in the year it will SUCK compared to the ds edition

kevin9701
kevin9701

i also wonder can you whistle in the game to get chicks for dances in alleyways or something?

sayy666
sayy666

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

DeathsFatalPlan
DeathsFatalPlan

Good to see such a respected company like Rockstar taking quite a large risk. I hope it gets the attention it deserves, looks to be a great game!

ethweg
ethweg

As a huge gta fan, and as different as this one looks, I cant wait!

acfjosh
acfjosh

Wat the hell? good job i traded in my DS for PSP to buy REAL GAMES. Im impressed at the scale of the PSP GTA's but this? whats the world coming to!

r_gam3
r_gam3

we see how it does!!

DrHappy
DrHappy

I cant wait to start hearing people shout "TAXI!!" out on the bus. Mind you, I will be one of them. XD

sar1995
sar1995

rockstar has the ability to make a game out of this world for any console

ComboTroop
ComboTroop

COME ON! COME ON!!!! BRING US AN GOOD GAME FOR DS! COME ON!!! (Finally another good non-shovelware game for the DS!!!) OH 2 MORE DAYS!!! I CANT *BEEPING* WAIT!!! OHHHH I WANT IT!!!!

vidurvij
vidurvij

jus want dis game....:-}