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The biggest crime about the DS's amazing felony ‘em up wasn’t the random car-jackings, cop killing or drug dealing; it was the fact it didn't sell as well as it deserved. But justice could yet be served with the release of the PSP version of Chinatown Wars next month. But can you really improve on a portable classic we recently awarded a perfect 10? Well, thanks to some revised controls and a sexy graphical spruce-up (courtesy of PSP's beefier processing power) that answer could yet be a resounding yes.
Playing through one of PSP’s exclusive missions, we take main character Huang Lee through a dilapidated apartment, shooting, beating and flame grilling everyone in sight. The twist comes in the form of an unscrupulous reporter who follows us throughout, filming all our dastardly deeds. It’s essentially a protection mission, with added shady journalism practises. You’ll be glad to know the script during the stylised cut-scenes is as acid-tongue and brilliantly stupid as ever.
Alright, so it doesn’t compare with Liberty or Vice City Stories, but this is still the Cinderella to the DS’ uglier sister. Rockstar’s rotten take on the Big Apple now looks super sharp when presented in widescreen on PSP, meaning it’s now far easier to pick out the little details. After all, it’s just not a GTA game if you can’t read irreverent, offensive billboards about children’s underwear every thirty seconds. The game also uses bloom lighting, which gives different times of day a unique, natural look.
In the DS version, the murderous Mr. Lee also looked like some sort of psychotic greenish, blue blob. But hey, Nintendo’s little handheld was rendering a whole city, so we could forgive the lack of detail. Thankfully, the extra grunt under the PSP’s sleek black bonnet has been put to good use. And now you can clearly make out Huang’s jeans, jacket and t-shirt as he splatters the screen with high-res blood.
Don’t get us wrong, we liked the touchscreen controls in the DS game, but having to whip out our stylus every time we wanted to hotwire a new motor was pretty painful. Those controls are obviously now gone, with mini-games now using the PSP’s face buttons. It makes for a far more fluid, cohesive experience. And anything that makes it easier to deal dope (eh… the virtual kind <cough>) is fine by us. The stick on Sony's console also makes steering around Liberty City's criminal streets far smoother than before.
GTA: Chinatown Wars hits stores and PSN on October 20th, 2009.
Sep 4, 2009