GTA: Chinatown Wars is arguably the best and only mature title on the Nintendo DS, released back in March this year. Shortly after the games release there were claims by analysts that the game wasn’t selling that well on the DS, so it was no surprise when Rockstar announced a ported version on the PSP would be released later on in the year.
With up scaled textures (graphics) and a few new features I bet you’re wandering if it’s worth the time of day on PSP. Well if you don’t own a Nintendo DS, then absolutely yes. If I remember correctly the last time Rockstar put PSP owners in a mindless sandbox of fun, was back in 2006 with GTA: Vice City Stories.
You play as anti-hero Huang Lee, whose father has been murdered. Upon returning to Liberty City to deliver an ancient sword to his uncle, he is robbed of the sword and all of his belongings. Furthermore he is forced to change his playboy ways to become a respectable man. Ultimately working for his uncle and the triads amongst others. A welcome edition to the PSP is the capability to replay missions and pick up where you left off in a mission via the ‘trip skip’ option.
The significant difference between this game and past installments is the controls inputted to suit towards handheld consoles. Rockstar have also reverted back to the birds eye view seen in the first 3 GTA games on the Playstation (PS1).
The clarity of the presentation is much crisper on PSP than what is seen on the DS version. In general all the graphics are smooth; none of the jagged lines on the DS can be seen here. New lighting effects are quite noticeable, livening up the gaming environment. While the art style remains the same in cut scenes, they certainly look great in motion at higher resolution.
One of the most exciting features of the game is to deal drugs on the streets of Liberty City. The idea is to wait for an email informing you on a tip off that someone’s selling a drug for cheap. By buying drugs cheap you can make profit off dealers, which is generally where you’re going to make the most money in the game.
The missions in the game are quite varied from stealing cars, to assassinations and spraying gun fire like there’s no tomorrow, which is generally the GTA formula with some humorous dialogue. In the PSP version you get some additional missions that require you to help a TV journalist named Melanie, exploring the illegal narcotics sold in Liberty City.
The missions for Melanie are mainly based around her getting some footage without getting shot, which is where you come into protect her. You also have some additional radio stations in the game and the inclusion of Rockstar Social Club service for stats and other gameplay features.
The mini games which were fun and seamlessly easy to carry out with the stylus have also made a return. They are now carried out with the analog stick and both shoulder buttons on PSP. What was so easy to do on the DS is now more time consuming on the PSP.
It’s like as if the mini games are screaming out to you that I was made for the DS. None of them are enjoyable anymore; the fun element has totally gone out the window. For instance on the DS you would use the stylus to unscrew a panel in the process of hotwiring a car.
Now you have to rotate the analog stick 360 degrees, which is tiresome and straining to do on the PSP. Another example would be the scratch card; it was cool to scratch it out with the stylus but pointless with the analog stick.
My only issue with the game is the fact that it’s a direct port from the DS version. This is a poor achievement for Rockstar as they could have put effort into making a lot more exclusive content for the PSP version.
If you don’t already own the DS version, then there’s no reason for fans of the series not to own the PSP version, seeing as the last GTA released on PSP was 3 years ago. Players looking for interactivity won’t find the same experience on the DS on the ported PSP version. None the less it’s worth adding to your collection, no matter what platform you buy it on.