Giant Bomb Review

22 Comments

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Review

5

Chinatown Wars doesn't attempt to fully duplicate the console GTA experience, and the end result is a much better game than what PSP owners have received in the past.


The camera hovers above the action, giving you a great view of your surroundings. 
Though Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was originally developed for the Nintendo DS, the game's translation to the PSP hasn't lost the action and the flavor of the original. The biggest change is that the touchscreen minigames, which have you hot-wiring cars, assembling sniper rifles, and digging through trash cans, have been reworked to function with the PSP's more traditional controls. Some of those minigames work better than others in their new form, but it's such a minor part of the overall game that it doesn't really add or detract from the overall experience, which is still great.

The technical aspects of Chinatown Wars were impressive on the DS, and the PSP version looks quite a bit sharper and cleaner than the original release. It maintains the same top-down perspective that fueled the original Grand Theft Auto games, which may seem a bit weird to PSP owners, since Sony's handheld has received GTA games that look a lot more like their console counterparts. Chinatown Wars is better than those games, both because it has a cool, stylized look and because it simply plays better this way on a handheld.

The PSP version of the game also makes some interesting additions and changes that help adapt this DS game to a system that only has one screen that doesn't do anything, no matter how hard you stab it with a stylus. Without a second screen to fill with information, the game's minimap is a bit hard to deal with. So the smartest thing you can do is go into the options and turn on "World GPS," which draws route lines on the actual road. Unfortunately, you'll still have to go into the pause menus and look at the map to plot destinations when you're not on a mission. Loading up the menus takes a little bit of time, and navigating the map to drop waypoints isn't all that slick with the PSP's controls.

However, putting up with menu navigation is pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. GTA: Chinatown Wars is a quality product that gives you a camera perspective and gameplay that fits really well on a handheld. It might not be quite as ambitious as attempting to completely duplicate the console experience (like the "Stories" set of PSP releases did), but it works wonderfully and catches plenty of the GTA experience, despite the different perspective and still-frame cutscene style. If you're looking for this sort of open-world game on your PSP, approach without caution.

For more details on the story and other gameplay elements of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, be sure to check out our original review of the DS version, which covers these elements in more depth. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
22 Comments
Posted by Kohe321

Great review, good to see that the PSP version holds up well. I might get it because of this.

Posted by Th3_James

Havent played my psp in time, dont think i ever will again

Posted by Media_Master

This reminds me to get the DS version.

Posted by EgoCheck616

Definite pickup once I get my PSP Go.

Posted by Brym

This review makes me wonder if maybe Jeff would have given The Ballad of Gay Tony a different score (and substantative review) than Ryan.   It seems that the two of them have different amounts of enthusiasm for the GTA series at this point.

Posted by Nettacki

Maybe I'll get it in the future, seeing as this seems like a very sweet game either way.

Edited by wrecks

Thanx for this. Have been considering it and now it shall be mine, on my girthy psp 1000 which still works just fine.

Online
Posted by Metamorphic
@Brym said:
" This review makes me wonder if maybe Jeff would have given The Ballad of Gay Tony a different score (and substantative review) than Ryan.   It seems that the two of them have different amounts of enthusiasm for the GTA series at this point. "
Posted by JJOR64

I still need to check this out on DS.

Online
Posted by Jeff
@Brym: After watching Ryan play some of it, I have zero interest in The Ballad of Gay Tony.
Edited by thecleric
@Brym said:

" This review makes me wonder if maybe Jeff would have given The Ballad of Gay Tony a different score (and substantative review) than Ryan.   It seems that the two of them have different amounts of enthusiasm for the GTA series at this point. "

Jeff likes this because it's NOT like the newer GTAs. He even points that out in the review, and he mentions in the Bombcast he doesn't care much for it. 
 
and he just posted it.
Posted by Bucketdeth

When I finally get my PSP Go back from repairs I may pick this one up.

Posted by TooWalrus

I'd pick it up over PSN if I had a PSP GO, however, until the semester starts, I'm on a tight budget... bummer, eh?

Posted by dankempster

Nice review, Jeff. This is on my Christmas list. I'm looking forward to getting hold of it.

Posted by WinterSnowblind

I already have this on the DS, so there doesn't seem to be much point in getting this one, but I enjoyed the game a lot. 

Many people may be turned off by the return to the top down camera, but it still plays and feels very much like the newer GTA games, and it's easily better than the other PSP Stories games.  I'd highly recommend it for GTA fans.

Posted by Godwind

I'm wondering how well this game will sell.

Posted by Godlyawesomeguy
@Godwind said:
"I'm wondering how well this game will sell. "

lets hope it sells well
Posted by Brym
@Jeff said:
" @Brym: After watching Ryan play some of it, I have zero interest in The Ballad of Gay Tony. "
Fair enough.  Personally I loved TBoGT but couldn't play more than about 15 minutes of Chinatown Wars, so I guess it makes sense that the exact opposite could be true for someone else.
Posted by megarust

FYI, the RSS title for this is "Review of PSP Version"

Edited by MrKlorox

I had planned on re-buying a DS just for this game, until I played it on a friend's system. I then decided I was going to wait for a price drop for the DSi before I spent any more money on a handheld. Then the PSP version came out and it turned out to be even better than the DS original. The touch screen activities are nice, but don't really add anything to the game that makes higher resolution display and better texture filtering of the PSP version seem less appealing. More games should use input minigames like this even if they are just with buttons.
 
I'm finally using my PSP again.
 
Also, I'm still amazed GTA4 got 5 and BOGT got 3. Absurdity!

Posted by zombie1991

I liked the "Stories" versions A LOT.  I enjoyed the radio as much as the game.  Just as I have since GTA3.  Lazlo is a MUST on GTA.  I absolutely LOVED this game on DS....but on DS it fits.  The PSP is capable of the "Stories" versions and I prefer those on the system.  
Just my 2c

Posted by LordAndrew
@megarust said:
" FYI, the RSS title for this is "Review of PSP Version" "
The system they implemented to handle this was based what they use for DLC reviews. It's designed to show the name of the "DLC" that's being reviewed, in this case the PSP version of GTA: Chinatown Wars. This was done to make it clear what DLC pack is being reviewed, but when it's a port like in this case it can be rather confusing. It also appears in Recent Reviews listings as "PSP Version".