7.6

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (Nintendo DS)

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Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Rockstar Leeds
Platform: Nintendo DS

Seminal carjacking series makes its Nintendo DS debut

You know how it goes: You’re out stealing cars and wantonly
running down hapless pedestrians, and you think, “Man, this is fun! I should go
home and play some Grand Theft Auto.”
The devilishly addictive crime franchise has been wowing players with its
sardonic humor, cartoonish violence, and huge environments for over a decade. Chinatown Wars is GTA’s debut on the Nintendo DS, and Rockstar Games has managed to
stuff a fully-featured installment into the tiny hardware. The top-down view
from the series’ early days replaces 3-D graphics, but Liberty City is
sprawling, and your GPS makes navigating it a breeze.

As Huang Lee, you juggle
the demands of various local crime syndicates while trying to avenge the death
of your father. A broad variety of mission types, from escorts to
assassinations, keeps things interesting. Clever touch-screen mechanics allow you to hotwirecars, bypass alarms, and set explosives. Only the storyline—irreverent as
always, but surprisingly unfunny—is lacking. It’s weird that Rockstar faltered
on the one element that shouldn’t have been affected by the DS’s technological
capabilities. But really, who needs a well-developed story in a game where you can torch pursuing vehicles with a flamethrower?

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