Why GTA: Chinatown Wars is bigger, better and bloodier on PSP

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.

It's got new story missions

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.

Next to the DS game, it's blooming beautiful

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.

The controls are as sleek as Heat's bank heist

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


  • bamb0o-stick - September 8, 2009 12:04 p.m.

    Seeing Rockstar port their game over to the PSP and iPhone makes me sad because its so obvious that they're trying to make the money back from the DS version they made. They poured their heart and soul into that game and no one bought it. I can see this game being played on these other handhelds, but I seriously doubt it'll be as seamless and fun as the DS's version with touch interface. Defusing bombs, hot-wiring cars, and that damn PDA just made things so much more immersive than any of the other GTA games. The few people here who have played it on the DS will know what I'm talking about. We may never see another GTA on the DS again, but I sure hope enough people will buy this game on PSP and iPhone so Rockstar can at least break even.
  • miiwiitarded - September 5, 2009 4:39 a.m.

    I really wish that ChinaTown wars had sold better on the DS so that Rockstar wouldn't be forced to make it for other platforms. It was built from the ground up specifically for the DS and probably didn't plan on releasing it on other platforms. I simply don't think that it will be as enjoyable on the psp or worse, the iphone, than the ds.
  • Cwf2008 - September 5, 2009 3:48 a.m.

    GTA4 made me cry because they decided to make it so damn realisitc, so if this game is anything lke it i'll pass
  • lovinmyps3 - September 5, 2009 3:30 a.m.

    Nice! I enjoyed GTA 2 so this should be a good portable game!
  • miiwiitarded - September 5, 2009 12:44 a.m.

    I liked the touchscreen controls on the ds. I didn't think that whipping out the stylus was a huge pain because the game didn't force you to do that every second. I don't think the iphone version will be enjoyable because motion sensors don't work on the handheld when you are moving. The PSP's lack of a touchscreen will really hurt this game. The PDA-like interface was superslick on the ds because it was built for the ds. Trying to adapt the ds controls to any other platform doesn't sound like a good idea.
  • SolidSpartan - September 5, 2009 midnight

    All they need to do now is have Chinatown Wars convert to the 360 and the PS3.
  • gutlessVADER - September 4, 2009 11:33 p.m.

    sweet 5th
  • CreeplyTuna - September 4, 2009 11:19 p.m.

    why a new campaign? if the old one was a 10, might as well just have the new story expand off the old to make the game longer
  • Corsair89 - September 4, 2009 6:22 p.m.

    I've been meaning to buy this for some time now. I'll wait to see what the super review says about it in comparion to the DS version.
  • frmonth - September 4, 2009 5:25 p.m.

    i own both handhelds and have bought neither however i'm thinking about buying the ds version i just think i'll enjoy that one more.
  • crumbdunky - September 6, 2009 3:38 p.m.

    The danger, for me, is that as the game was a well designed fit for DS it won't translate as smoothly to PSP. I found the touch screen stuff a nice change myself and it gave the game on DS a really special feel. If that doesn't get really well done on PSP the game will suffer by comparison to the excellent VCS or LCS. The improvement is slight graphiclly as the design was, again, made to fit the less tech heavy DS platform and it's hjere that it struggles most against it's PSP/PS2 brethren. A port is a port and aen't often as great as the original and when the originak was so great BECAUSE of the platform specific stuff that job's even harder. I hope I'm wrong and by the look of it the extra missions are a very nice sweetener for PSP gamers losing out on the tactile mini games(don't think about it on iPhone as steering with those pretend buttons is always a mare)so there's hope. However, the game on DS deserved ALL it's plaudits-R*Leeds did an amazing job-and to translate and keep(or even add) to that magic feel would be even more outstanding a feat, imo. As I say, I doubt it, but here's hoping when we get to play through again on PSP i'll(and we will) find the game equally good. I've not played much better than this in the last two years-it's that good on DS and the crime here isn't the onscreen action but the sad fact that the dire sales on DS mean they have to hawk the tiny masterpiece around consoles it wasn't intended to ever visit.
  • DoctorFruitbat - September 5, 2009 9:43 p.m.

    I think the PSP version will be the one for me. Bigger screen, sharper graphics, better sound as well I'd wager. I can live without the touchscreen elements; unless they're an integral part of the game, a la Elite Beat Agents, then the alternatives shouldn't be too game-breaking. It's easy to say that the game is built for the DS, but given that the majority of the game isn't touchscreen based, I honestly don't see how the game benefits more from being on a console with a smaller screen, low-res graphics and less horsepower to keep it running smoothly. Load times are going to be a kicker on PSP, as will battery life, but I guess that's the trade-off for any PSP game.
  • RC5052 - September 5, 2009 8:36 p.m.

    They are coming out with China town Wars on the iPhone as well. I know it won't be as impressive as the PSP, but it will bring new things to GTA:CTW like the accelerometer and maybe some new touch features that Ds didnt have. My preferred hand held is the ipod touch over the PSP or DS, so I'm looking forward to this.
  • aaronfuhrer - September 5, 2009 3:48 a.m.

    I think the DS version will still be better because I loved the touch controls and like LScollard said, the game was built around the DS.
  • slambert215 - September 4, 2009 10:48 p.m.

    More people should buy this game regardless of platform. I have the DS version and it is incredible and a shame few people bought it.

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