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GamesRadar Editor's Choice

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars review

Rockstar's small step backwards is still a giant leap forward

The Po-Po has a far greater presence in Chinatown Wars than ever before and most vehicles aren’t equipped to dismantle a cop car in a single swipe. To compensate, the cops adjust to the speed of practically whatever you're driving, often times rubber banding in swarms around you. Oddly enough, they’ll crash themselves out more often than you will. And since the number of cop cars you have to smash during higher wanted levels is far more than your (extremely) sensitive wheels can handle, it’s best to just run for a safehouse or a Pay and Spray.

Motorcycles have once again become unwieldy implements of harm and collision we remember from pre III GTAs, but there are plenty of other throwbacks to welcome. Rampages make a triumphant return. As do the waverunners, unseen since Vice City Stories.

Grand Theft Auto Advance
Dear God, yes. Far more than a portable port, you’ve got a unique 3D look where the camera zooms, rotates and almost never presents a problem. Chinatown Wars presents a tremendous increase in gamplay options, and remains fun whether run-and-gunning or behind the wheel. Oh yeah, and the pedestrians cry out for their very lives.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories?
A great game that was surprisingly faithful to last-gen source material, for sure. But it was still an imitator that suffered from painful PSP button placement and objectives thatwere much longer than necessaryfor aportable. Chinatown Wars' experience is perfectly tailored to the platform, while still offering a unique play style that’s decidedly more arcadey as a result.

Grand Theft Auto: Lost and Damned
A comparison to GTAIV is tough, and possibly unnecessary, but we have to say, we certainly had more fun with Chinatown Wars than the latest DLC. The gameplay wins out in both variation and longevity. Plus Chinatown’s characters are infinitely more likable, sympathetic and amusing to encounter than that swarthy pack of hog warts.

Damn near every fault we could find in the game is either ignorable, or has an adjustable setting in the options menu. On a system currently overpopulated by cake sims and puppy adoption, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is the experience every hardcore handheld gamer has been waiting for. Even if you could call it a downgrade, the portable transition holds its own as a stunningly unique entry in the Liberty City canon, all the while harnessing its platform for everything it's worth.

Shameless developers trotting out shallow minigame anthologies and SNES era RPGs should stand in embarrassment at just how much potential Rockstar Leeds managed to wring from a console this late in its lifespan. Gentlemen, it’s time to beg your girlfriend for that DS back. Perhaps you could trade in your PS3 - it’s not like that’s getting more GTA anytime soon. Oh Snap!

Mar 16, 2009

More info

DescriptionThis 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
US censor rating"Mature","Mature"
UK censor rating"18+","18+"
Alternative names"GTA: Chinatown Wars"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)