Big trouble in little Chinatown
It’s fair to say that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars has endured a rather painful transition from Nintendo’s DS to Apple’s iPhone, and has been forced to sacrifice some key elements along the way. However, despite the changes, it’s without a shadow of a doubt one of the most well-made and essential purchases currently available on the App Store.
The most obvious shortcoming is the controls; the on-screen D-pad and buttons simply don’t work as well as the standard physical interface, and the combat targeting system is occasionally infuriating. The lack of a second screen for the map — something which was present throughout in the DS original — is also unfortunate, but thankfully the negative points end there. In practically every other department, Chinatown Wars is a complete success. The size of the city you tirelessly stalk around is immense and always impressive, and the sheer scope of the gameplay is often awe-inspiring; needless to say, if you’re already a fan of this deliciously immoral series —and you probably are — then picking this up really is a complete no-brainer.
The plot is the usual story of revenge, double-crosses and cold-blooded murder, but it’s fleshed out with countless colourful characters, witty dialogue, thought-provoking mission objectives and plenty of opportunities to customise the experience to your own personal taste. As always, the variety of assignments helps to keep things feeling fresh and exciting; one moment you’re hunting down a rival gang in a volatile turf war and the other you’re dressed as dragon for an extravagant Chinese street festival.
The visuals are also vastly improved over the previous Nintendo version, and are just about on par with the updated PSP edition what makes this such an incredible achievement is that it running on more pocket-friendly hardware. Granted, it’s a tad on the pricey side compared to most other iPhone apps, but when you consider that other handheld owners had to shell out over twice as much for this mobile masterpiece, it seems almost ungrateful to grumble.
Rating 5 Star