GTA: Chinatown Wars hitting PSP Oct. 20

[UPDATE] Rockstar dates port of its critically acclaimed handheld Grand Theft Auto game; first screenshots inside.

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Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories
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Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
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The graphic-novel style panels will look crisper on the PSP.
The graphic-novel style panels will look crisper on the PSP.

Two months after it was first announced, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars has a release date. The PSP port of the Rockstar Leeds-developed DS game, released on March 17, will ship in the US on October 20, according to Rockstar Games' official Twitter feed. The game has not yet been rated or priced, but the original version is rated M for Mature and sells for $34.99 when it's not on sale. It will be available both as a UMD-based game and a digital download for the UMD-drive-less PSP Go, which goes on sale October 1.

Lighting and textures will also look better.
Lighting and textures will also look better.

The original Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars will go down as one of the great game paradoxes of 2009. Despite being the highest rated DS game of all time on Metacritic and GameSpot, the Rockstar Leeds-developed title was only a middling performer at retail. Despite the DS handheld's massive US installed base, Chinatown Wars sold less than 90,000 units in its debut month. However, it has cleared over 228,000 copies to date domestically, according to the NPD Group.

The HUD will also look sharper.
The HUD will also look sharper.

More successful were the two GTA games for the PSP, Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories, which have sold over 1.6 million units and 960,000-plus units in the US. (Both games were later ported to the PlayStation 2.) However, when Chinatown Wars was announced for the PSP, it perplexed many because it was unclear how the original's touch-screen-intensive gameplay and, by PSP standards, crude graphics would translate onto Sony's handheld. [UPDATE] Now, Rockstar has released the first screenshots, which show it will have sharper widescreen graphics, improved lighting, and a slightly tweaked HUD.

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