Monday, April 27th, 2009
APR 27
Car Jack Streets now available

Top Down GTA - General News | @ 06:06 PM MDT | By Neil
If you're waiting for the next Grand Theft Auto title to be announced or have been wishing for even more missions in Chinatown Wars, Car Jack Streets might just be for you. It could be considered a 'spiritual successor' to some of the early Grand Theft Auto titles. The company which makes it, Tag Games, was founded by two ex-DMA Design employees who both worked on GTA. Moreover, they've remained in the city where it all began - Dundee, UK.

The most striking thing about this iPhone game is that it's an almost carbon copy of Grand Theft Auto titles of old, and it bears many similarities to the recently released Chinatown Wars. Most notably, the game is presented from an almost (but not quite) top-down angle, with the odd object flying past you reminding you that this is indeed 3D. Presentation is top notch - the game looks crisp at all times and there's clearly been an effort to ensure that it runs at a good framerate. The excellent interface means that there are few times when your fingers will block the action - surprising for such a small screen. Icons are semitransparent and most only appear when you need them.

The game's story focuses on Randal, the blonde haired protagonist who you'll control for your time in Jack City. He's a million dollars in debt and of course, this is to a very stern looking mob boss. His demands for $50,000 per week have led Randal to crime in order to pay his dues. By a week, the game really does mean a week - it runs in real time, a decision which I'm not entirely sure is the right one.

There's always a clock on screen, so if you're waiting for a bus then you'll always be able to see what time it is now. But that's about where the merits of this system end - if you're a daytime gamer, then you'll never get to see the city under lights, something that makes it look even more impressive. It also means that time is never frozen in the game world - if you stop playing the game for a week and miss an instalment of your repayment you'll have to start the whole game again. It's not ideal, but the company defends its choice by saying that they expect players to easily meet the targets by playing frequently in short bursts.

The good:
  • Huge numbers of missions. The game generates them procedurally, and while it'll always be a "steal this car" or "kill this guy" sort of affair, the locations and characters involved will be different every time.
  • Large number of vehicles. The game brought a smile to my face when I saw a road sweeper slowly passing along the screen with a couple of cars looking eager to get past.
  • Massive library of licensed music. I was surprised by how many different tracks there are in this game. The ability to view the playlists of radio stations, then tap to visit iTunes and buy the track is very convenient.
  • Jack City is large and has a good variety of locations. Just like Chinatown Wars there's an in game racetrack and also beach, dockyard and marina areas. It feels very similar to Liberty City from the original GTA.
  • Great minigames. There's a rampage mode where you're tasked to kill a set number of people in a few seconds, and one where you have to do the opposite and survive as waves of enemies arrive in sedans and try to take you out.
  • Great controls. The on screen D-Pad and accelerate/brake buttons make for an unusual experience at first. Once you're used to it though, moving Randal around will be piece of cake.

The bad:
  • The game's audio leaves a lot to be desired. Car sound effects are weak and more akin to lawnmowers, and there don't appear to be any ambient sounds in the city. There's a good reason why the game starts with the music volume almost maxed out.
  • You can only carry one weapon at a time, and there isn't the option to fight with your bare fists. If you run out of ammo in a firefight, you're brown bread.
  • Vehicle collisions are poor. While there's a Chinatown Wars-style driving assist, if you do hit something then you're in for an erratic ride. Sometimes your car will bounce right off theirs but other times the two will become magnetically joined, only to jump apart a few meters down the road.
  • There's no in game map, which hurts your orientation. The game constantly asks you to use your in game GPS, but this is little more than an on-screen arrow, another feature which makes this very similar to the early GTA games.
  • Missions can feel disjointed, partly due to the GPS. In many of them, you're asked to perform the task and then go to a different location to receive payment. Unfortunately, that new location isn't automatically targeted and you have to go through the menu and find it yourself.

Overall, you probably won't find a handheld game which does such a good job of mimicking GTA elsewhere. The depth and longevity are incredible for a game of this price, as is its superb presentation. The flaws are minor and can easily be missed when looking at the whole package. The developer's Managing Director told GTAGaming that if players aren't happy with the real-time elements and game structure, they'll allow them to play freely in an update. They're keen to "appeal to everyone" and even in this first release they've come very close to doing just that.

Car Jack Streets is available now for iPhone and iPod Touch. It's priced at a very reasonable US$4.99 / £2.99 / €3.99.
Viewer Comments
Registered User

Registered: Nov 2002
Posts: 6,210
Very interesting! :D

I want an iPhone, now!
04-27-2009 09:08 PM
Registered User

Registered: Apr 2004
Posts: 17
[quote]Overall, you probably won't find a handheld game which does such a good job of mimicking GTA elsewhere[/quote]

Payback is on various handhelds, including iPhone and I think it does a great job of mimicking GTA. I'll have to try Car Jack Streets sometime.

[ post edited 04-28-2009 10:15 AM by Sektor ]
04-28-2009 10:12 AM
Registered User

Registered: Apr 2008
Posts: 12
i have this on my cellphone (Sony Ericsson C902), and i might get it for my iPod Touch. iPod touch games can play iPhone apps.
04-28-2009 11:27 AM
Registered User

Registered: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,567
Sektor - I tried Payback and found it to be pretty disappointing. I don't think it's as good as CJS.
04-29-2009 03:13 PM
Registered User

Registered: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,059
I will buy right now..Iphone have it!
04-29-2009 03:31 PM
Registered User

Registered: Mar 2008
Posts: 585
I know now why I love GTA so much.

None of the GTA clones has ever come close to the ease of control, in other words, gameplay, even Car Jack Streets or Crackdown. And certainly not Saints Row.

It may seem like the simplest thing to make a game like GTA but I'm pretty sure it's a challenge, given that most world-class studios even falter trying to make one like GTA, and none comes close to succeeding without depending on other factors like customisation/activities (Saints Row), location (The Getaway), licensed material (Godfather: The Game) or Halo 3 (Crackdown).
04-30-2009 03:39 AM

Post Comment
Comments have been locked/disabled on this news post. 

Login to GTAGaming
Not a GTAGaming member yet?
Sign up now!

Currently Online:
1 Members, 612 Guests