Everyone loves GTA, right? (Well, apart from ‘soccer moms’, Daily Mail readers and the elderly…) Lucky then, that we, as open-minded, up-for-a-little-killing kinda people, have Chinatown Wars. Its heady blend of violence, humour and remarkable use of the DS touch screen slips down like a velvety, Ocean-pulled pint (perhaps slightly better).
In playing to the DS’s strengths, rather than attempting to better the extraordinary GTA IV, you’ll play from a top-down perspective. At first disconcerting, the move is amiable but no less ambitious; the action diminutive yet dark; the sprites cute yet characteristically GTA – pedestrians are still zinger-spouting ‘Nu Yawkers’, all ‘ey’s’ and ‘I’m walkin’ ere’s’. Missions, still varied as ever, task you with smuggling drugs, torching rival businesses and street racing (illegally, of course), and simply driving along in a bike, jet ski or tank (yes, the Rhino returns) rewards you with the funky, synthy, rocky or hip-hoppy tunes of Liberty City Radio.
While the uptight won’t like the way the touch screen is used to draw the player closer to the most controversial franchise in modern gaming, it is without a doubt the finest use of DS technology to date. Besides, if Little Timmy attempted to hotwire a car, fill a Molotov cocktail or give someone a tattoo in the real world, stylus in hand, he’d probably find the action doesn’t translate all that well. Here, though, it’s fantastic.
Nintendo Official Magazine has said it’s, “the largest and most complex DS game ever.” Who’s to argue when you can even whistle into your DS mic to hail a taxi?
Like its console counterparts, this is accessible, engrossing and absolutely pushes its adopted system to the brink. Get this, one of the few mature DS titles out there, or forever swim in a sea of Nintendogs.
Ben P. Griffin