Sunday, March 1st, 2009
MAR 01
A closer look at Chinatown Wars

GTA: Chinatown Wars - Community News | @ 02:18 PM MDT | By Kodo
Welcome to March! Now that the Lost and Damned has been out and you've had a chance to play it, it's time to take a closer look at another GTA game coming out this month, Chinatown Wars.

Two weeks ago, along with preview the Lost and Damned, Zidane and myself were also treated to a demo of Chinatown Wars. The evening after the Lost and Damned event at Don Hill's, the GTA webmasters were taken out to dinner, at which point Michael from Rockstar told us we would be playing Chinatown Wars in Rockstar's offices the next day! A lengthy discussion followed in which he told us about CW's many new features and design philosophies. Truth be told, I wasn't hyped for CW, but this man made me very excited to play.

The next day, the webmasters were split into two groups. Those from the UK played in the morning session, and the USA webmasters played in the afternoon. Our group arrived at Rockstar's building on Broadway and we were escorted inside and down a hall to an elevator. At this point, it is the furthest I have ever gone in Rockstar's building. Last April, we tried to sneak inside, but were stopped at the security desk. So the moment is very exciting.

Next, we ride up, the doors open, and we're scurried into the next room by Job and Bill. They seriously would not let our eyes wander anywhere, not even for a second, lest we see some sensitive materials. Inside the room is a conference table on one side and a black couch and TV on the other side. Framed San Andreas art posters line all the walls. It is very neat in this room.

Bill leaves the room to order some pizza for us. We gather on the couch for Job to give us an overview and demonstration of the game. Rockstar actually built a gigantic working DS to show off the game on larger screens. The DS was about the size of a laptop just for this purpose. After watching the intro and being shown the new features, we are seated at the conference table with our own DS to play with. The version of Chinatown Wars we played had four missions.

Now, let me explain why I was so shocked to play Chinatown Wars. I thought it was another 2D top down game, another portable homage to the series. I thought it was just a small story in a small Chinatown district. These notions were so wrong. Chinatown Wars is an entirely original game in the series, built exclusively for the DS by Rockstar Leeds. Artistically, the game uses cel-shaded 3D graphics with a camera at an overhead perspective. The camera rotates 360 degrees, allowing you to see every detail of cars and buildings. The entire Liberty City from GTA IV is in the game (except for Alderney). How Leeds crammed an entire 3D Liberty City into the DS is some kind of miracle. Chinatown Wars has a unique design philosophy, too. The game is designed to use both screens, designed to be played on the go, and designed for those that want an arcade-like GTA game that includes the best features from all previous GTAs.

What features?

  • Changing weather effects and 24 hour day/night cycle.
  • Weapons - Pistols, Dual-Wielded Pistols, Uzi, Flamethrower, Minigun, AK47, Molotov Cocktails, Grenades, Shotgun, Plastic Explosives, Tazer, RPG missiles, and more.
  • Music - 5 radio stations with instrumental music, (keep an ear open for a familiar track!).
  • Vehicles - cars, trucks, vans, buses, boats, motorcycles and more.
  • Side Missions - taxis, firetrucks, paramedics, police cars, food delivery, and more.
  • Vehicles and objects in the city use a full and hand-optimized physics engine.
  • Pedestrians talk to each other, go in and out of shops, use food stands, travel from home, etc just like in GTA IV.
  • In-game PDA for emails, online connection, GPS map system, music player, contacts database, and trade information for the drug economy, as well as a stat tracker.
  • In-game economy - There are six drugs to deal with multiple tiers of fluctuating value. You can trade drugs with different gangs in different districts. You must keep drugs in a lockbox at the safe house or the cops will take them if you're busted. This part of the game is large enough in scope to keep you entertained for hours.
  • GPS Map - The system will show you driving routes as well as mission objectives and key points of interest, including Pay N Sprays, Gas Stations, Safehouses, Odd Jobs, Rampages, Street Races, Stunt Jumps, and more. You can select any point on the map and will receive a path marked on the radar, as well as 3D arrows in the game to show you where to go.
  • Police Evasion - The DS uses a more arcade like mechanism of losing wanted stars. Instead of outrunning the police radius, instead you have to ram the police cars to disable them. Blowing up cars actually increases your level. For example, if you have a wanted level of 2 stars, you have to disable 2 police cars to get away.
  • Touch Screen elements - The lower screen on the DS is integrated with the gameplay. For example, busting the windshield of a car, filling Molotov cocktails with a gas pump, digging through a dumpster for weapons, assembling a sniper rifle, tossing change into a toll booth, setting plastic explosives, hotwiring cars, and much more.
  • Replay missions - A first in the series, players can assess a storyboard in the safe house that lets them replay any mission from the story. Players can also save and upload important locations.
  • Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection and Social Club - Players can share locations, chat in game via IMs, trade commodities and weapons, and sync their stats to the Social Club.
  • One cool feature is the ability to turn your vehicle into a flaming weapon. Just bail out while speeding, shoot it up, and send the inferno crashing into your enemies!
  • You can do donuts and burn outs that leave a circle of flame and then a flame trail!

Basically, Chinatown Wars will not disappoint any fan of Grand Theft Auto. It looks to be the perfect portable GTA and definitely worth uncovering that old DS (or buying the first one) for this game. Chinatown Wars arrives in the US on March 17 (March 20 in UK) and is priced at $34.99 in the US.
Viewer Comments
Registered User

Registered: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,059
Lucky you! Gotta make my website to earn a trip to R*
When my web is fully running and is famous! :)
03-01-2009 02:41 PM
Registered User

Registered: Apr 2005
Posts: 325
"They seriously would not let our eyes wander anywhere, not even for a second, lest we see some sensitive materials."

Oh that must've been murder on you guys. :D
03-01-2009 02:49 PM
Registered User

Registered: Nov 2003
Posts: 3,066
I want to see this giant DS. Sounds pretty interesting.
03-02-2009 03:18 AM
Registered User

Registered: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,210
Yeah, the giant DS was an amazing piece of hardware, though I believe Job said it was custom built by a modding business, not themselves.

The game itself is absolutely brilliant though, and I really am eager to play it again!
03-02-2009 09:58 PM

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