Home > Navy, Personal, Reviews, Video games > Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars first impressions

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars first impressions

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all enjoy a hearty meal at home with your family and give thanks for the meaningful things in life. I should probably lay off the hearty meals. As of today, I am 74.75 inches tall and 213.2 pounds. That’s 2.2 pounds over the Navy weight limit for my height. Now, it’s not an emergency or anything, and the day after Thanksgiving is the day I start taking care of business in terms of physical fitness. Still, five pounds gained in the two months since I took my MEPS physical is not the direction I want to travel. I want to be less than 200 by the time boot camp rolls around. Again, lots of time to get there, but time flies. I’ve got 181 days left before the longest and hardest 50 days of my life.

So…Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. I’m sure you all want to know what I thought of this one, right? Well, the full review comes after I finish the game, but I’ll lay out some of my quick takes on the game as of yet. I’ve logged five hours so far and I have 11% completion according to the game’s completion meter.

  • Allow me to say this: of all the DS games I have played, this is the one that makes the best use of the unique features that separate the DS from a handheld like the Playstation Portable and Game Boy Advance. The touch screen is used liberally and in ways that supplement the traditional gameplay without feeling like a distraction. You use the stylus and touch screen to jack cars, defuse car bombs, deal drugs, even create Molotov cocktails. This is what I look for when I play a DS or Wii game: features that take advantage of the system’s unique quirks.
  • Your character is a sarcastic, streetwise thug from Hong Kong named Huang Lee. Upon his arrival into Liberty City, he’s thrust into the midst of a power struggle between his own uncle and a couple other mid-level crime bosses for prestige within their Triad. You do missions for all of them, and the missions are pretty standard GTA fare, just on a smaller screen.
  • Despite the game’s name, very little of the action actually takes place within Chinatown. They might as well have called it Grand Theft Auto: Triad Wars. You’ll be going all across Liberty City, and it feels a lot like GTA IV, which is not a bad thing by any means.
  • The most disappointing thing in this game is that one of the more interesting and less repugnant characters you run into gets killed graphically about half an hour in. It happens very suddenly, and immediately sets the tone. I didn’t like losing poor Ling, but it’s a plot point that works in this story.
  • The dialogue in this game takes place entirely in text with stylized photographs of the characters illustrating the conversations. It’s alright, and I knew that my hopes for Liberty City Stories-esque cutscenes were a bit much. Still, the lines are very bare-bones and don’t seem particularly fleshed out. Without credible voice acting to give these lines some punch, the conversations seem somewhat hollow and over-exaggerated. The GTA series is well-known for some humorous interaction during pre-mission scenes, but the humor in this one just feels soulless without voices.
  • Dealing drugs is a new way to make money, and while racking up huge profits lets you bankroll goodies early on, it really feels dirty when you sift through your stash box of illegal controlled substances, trying to find the right ones to max out your profits. The game brings the term “cruising for drugs” to a very real meaning, because you have to find the dealers to buy and sell from yourself most of the time. Maybe it’s just my moral compass, but the DS touch screen removes a barrier of vicariousness. It feels like uncomfortably more than just pixels sometimes.

Well, that’s all that I’ve got to say for now. Enjoy your turkey, enjoy the football slate, and have fun with your friends and family!

  1. December 2, 2009 at 6:38 PM

    And it had pimpin’ music. 😀

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