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Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars review

The groundbreaking DS exclusive gets a second chance at life

If there’s one thing we want to make absolutely clear, it’s the amount of content packed into this seemingly scaled-back sequel. The drug side quests alone account for hours of searching for the best buyers and sellers, and they’re almost entirely optional. If you stick with ‘em, your pockets will be bursting with cash, financing all your weapons, ammo and numerous safehouses scattered across the game’s three islands (sorry, no Alderney this time). It’s remarkably easy to get lost in the drug trade and forget there’s a whole other game to play.

Above: A DS shot of an impending drug deal. It looks better on PSP

Speaking of the islands (and of the size of the game), it bears repeating how well Liberty City has been reconstructed. If you played GTA IV, you’ll no doubt recognize several landmarks that we pointed out hereusing the DS version.

We realize this is a hard sell. The screens look rinky dink and piddling compared to not just GTA IV, but also earlier PSP efforts. In all honesty it looks like a game from 1997, which is actually true given that its guts come from the very first GTA titles. But don’t let any of this deter you from jumping in, even if you’ve never given the series a second glance.

There are just enough new ideas to lure those in who’ve never cared, and just enough left alone to keep the fans happy. Pity all of the DS-minded bits drag the finished product down a notch.

Oct 20, 2009

More Info


This is a superb transfer of the console GTA experience, which is shocking to see on this underpowered system.

Franchise nameGrand Theft Auto
UK franchise nameGrand Theft Auto
PlatformDS, PSP
US censor ratingMature
UK censor rating18+
Alternative namesGTA: Chinatown Wars
Release date17 March 2009 (US), 20 March 2009 (UK)
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