As a Nintendo gamer who's never had a chance to play a GTA game before, I was blown away.
Obviously the DS is not built for 3D graphics. I've seen games try and fail miserably. It can output slightly worse than N64. Therefore, Rockstar made the right choice by not attempting a 3D presentation of its flagship series. Instead they presented a 2.5D top down perspective on a cel-shaded cartoony action shooter. Of course, that cartoon element allows for over the top blood and gore, such as heads laying half a screen away from the body your chainsaw just removed it from. I understand how some would criticize the cartoon nature of the presentation, but I think for the platform its on, there was no better way to animate this game and bring Liberty City to life.
I play most of my games on mute, not because I don't like the music, but because MIDI just can't compare to the full stereo sound on my MP3 player. But I always try to give a listen for a little while before I turn it off, and I was most impressed here. From the accurate sound effects in explosions, crashes, and murders, to the variety on the 5 different radio stations (not gonna lie, I only listen to the rock station), to the crowd reactions when you run through with a shotgun blasting peoples chests away, the audio is perfectly married to the action. Also, this is the only DS game in which I've ever been called a f***ing c***. (I'm sure you can figure out what that means if you've played the game).
Amazing. That's all that needs to be said. But I have verbal diarrhea, so I'll say more. When you first start the game, you are thrown into the ocean while trapped in a car. This introduces you to the first of the touch screen challenges, namely bashing the crap out of a window so you can escape. The city contains many more little challenges, including, but not limited to three ways of hotwiring cars, pouring your own Molotovs, and slicing open door panels to get at the drugs inside. As you travel the city you will find many dealers with whom you will buy and sell drugs. Starting with weed and downers, you'll soon have enough money to start dealing acid and ecstasy, before finally moving into the big leagues and dealing heroin and coke. Of course there is driving, you can hijack and even purchase a great variety of vehicles, all of which are named similarly to real automobile models, for instance the Saber(Cutlass). You can also steal cop cars, ambulances, taxis, and fire trucks and go on missions for the less scummy side of the populace. Of course, if you actually run over any of said populace, even in a cop car, your wanted level will immediately jump 2 stars. Finally, the gunplay is excellent, with a large variety from single shot pistols, to pellet-spraying shotguns, to rapid fire, if inaccurate SMGs, to heavy weaponry which I haven't unlocked yet :P. Of course there are handheld weapons too, but it is often difficult to kill people with them, as they tend to run away pretty fast before you can finish them. The exception is the chainsaw, which can cut them in half before they even know you're there.
So there you have it, this game is absolutely phenomenal, and a must have for any DS owner. Of age 17 or above.
Final rating 10/10