If I like this, then anyone will!
My intention was never to purposely seek out GTA Chinatown Wars, I bought the DS for the purpose of Professor Layton and Scribblenauts., however the shop was doing a DSi + Chinatown Wars deal, so I figured if it keeps me content for a couple of hours, its paid for itself, so i wasn't going into it with much hope that I would enjoy it. I was pleasantly surprised.
Because of the added touchscreen feature on the DS, it does give a different spin on this series and, I'm glad to say, a positive and very fun one at that. The controls are very easy to get the hang of and you get used to the below touchscreen to do the various tasks of hot-wiring the cars, throwing molitov cocktails/bombs or even jump start someones heart in the back of an ambulance.
One of the gripes that I had from my limited play of the other GTA games was the handling of the car, they used to handle like a 3 legged dog on rollarskates. With Chinatown wars, you can car-jack a fast car and phang it around the streets with no problems. Different cars do handle very differently.
Although this is a top-down view of a GTA game, I was very surprised at some of the detail that is shown up. The bonnet of the cars fly off if you hit another car (or wall), and sparks fly out of the engine, the skid marks on the road as you wheel spin the car to get away from the cops, even the lighting and weather effects are very well done. At dusk the screen turns a more orange colour and the screen flickers when there's lightening. All of these small features add to the immersive aspect of the game.
Naturally, the small capacity of the DS version, there is no voice acting, its all text. In this aspect, I did find it a little harder to care for any of the characters. When you have to read everything they say and you don't get any voice tone, I guess I felt a little numb to their personality. This is probably expected from a DS game though, so its only a small gripe.
The sound does compliment the graphics, the different sounds of the engines and even the squish when you run over someone, accidental of course! The sound is nothing special, but it does the job and there's no real complaints
So far in this game, I've racked up over 12 hours and thats probably 10 more hours than I expected and I'm still hooked. although there are side missions (buying/selling drugs to make extra money, tattooing etc), I've found myself actually not getting too distracted by them and wanting to complete the story mode to find out more. This I have not done in any other GTA game.
If you have any interest in the GTA series, or even if you've thought, like me, that they're so so, you should really seek this game out. Highly addictive and cleverly executed.