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Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for iPhone/iPod Touch Review


Recently, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was released for the iPhone. I know what you’re probably thinking — It must be pretty bad…a GTA game on the iPhone? On the contrary, they did an AMAZING job! It’s only $10, but offers much of the same fun found on the DS version of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. The music isn’t as good, but that’s not a problem since you can create your own in-game radio stations using the music that’s on your iPod Touch or iPhone. Pretty neat! For the full review, a description, and a screenshot of the game, read on! .

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars iPhone/iPod Touch

Description (From App of the Day):

Choose from five radio stations with 100+ minutes of in-game music, or simply listen to your own music library in-game by using iTunes to create a playlist called GTA and syncing your iPhone/iPod Touch. To listen to your custom playlist, simply launch Chinatown Wars and select the Independence FM radio station. Intuitive touch screen interface with two custom control settings to suit your preference, allowing you to drive with a virtual analog stick, or a more streamlined two-button option for fast in-game maneuvering. Enhanced graphics, lighting and explosion effects maximize the 480 X 320 high-resolution touch screen.

Following his father’s murder, Huang Lee has a simple mission: deliver an ancient sword to his Uncle Kenny to ensure his family retains control of the Triad gangs of Liberty City. Huang is a spoiled rich kid who expects everything to run smoothly, but his trip does not go exactly as planned. After being robbed and left to die, he will search for honor, riches and revenge in the most dangerous and morally bankrupt city in the world. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars has been specifically redesigned by Rockstar Leeds, the world’s premiere handheldstudio, to deliver even more critically acclaimed, innovative GTA gaming for the iPhone and iPod touch.

Review (from MTV Multiplayer Blog):

“Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars,” released in March and October of 2009 for Nintendo DS and Sony PSP, respectively, arrived with little fanfare on the App Store earlier this week. I’ve spent a bit of time tooling around with Rockstar’s isometric representation of the Liberty City built for 2008’s blockbuster release, “Grand Theft Auto IV,” and the experience easily measures up to what you get out of the versions released for the dedicated handheld gaming devices. Assuming you can get over not having any real buttons to press.

Functionally, “Chinatown Wars” for iPhone is a direct port of what’s already available. The open city, lengthy story, drug pushing sideline activities and touch-based minigames appear on the iPhone. If anything, this latest port falls closer to the original DS release than it does to the touch control-lacking PSP release.

It’s not a perfect experience. Touch screen controls are fine for walking around, but any driving that involves maneuvers more complex than traveling forward and turning is… problematic. Never has the need for some kind of D-pad/face button-equipped iPhone dock to be released been more apparent. The game runs as smoothly as it does on either of the other handhelds, but the controls frequently rise up as a barrier to having fun.

There’s also the iPhone’s small screen to contend with. The DS and PSP both have display space that Apple’s device doesn’t, and that fact is immediately apparent in the early stages of the game. As you drive around and receive tutorial instructions, text pop-ups appear frequently, getting in the way of the on-screen action. It doesn’t ruin the experience completely, but it’s definitely enough of a distraction to demand mentioning.

Ultimately, it’s hard to ignore the basic facts. We’re talking about a $9.99 version of “Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars,” arguably one of the strongest and deepest handheld games released in recent years. And you can play it on your cellphone. Those are the sort of details that help you to get over some of the minor quibbles.

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