Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for iPhone review

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars gives players the freedom to rob, kill, race, and, of course, steal cars in a violent, gritty soap opera.

The story centres on Huang Lee, a spoiled son of a Triad crime lord. Like all GTA games, you have to take jobs that require you to commit all sorts of crimes – murder, theft, bribery, drug dealing, and so forth. Life is cheap in Liberty City.

Originally released for the Nintendo DS, the iPhone version retains the DS’s touchscreen capabilities. A small joystick lets you manoeuvre Huang Lee; situation-appropriate buttons appear on the right. The controls are intuitive, and while the top-down view takes some getting used to, it’s especially useful for car chases. The major problem with the game’s controls is that they’re not great for combat. Punching and kicking works fine, but the autolocking function means you’ll sometimes end up shooting or kicking in the wrong direction.

Most of the missions only take a few minutes to complete, but you must save your game often – if you get a phone call or have to leave the game for any reason, it picks up where you last saved. This can be frustrating if you’re seconds away from finishing a mission when you’re forced to exit the game.

OUR VERDICT

Despite some hammy dialogue and the controls and save issues, this is a titan of a game. You’ll spend hours completing the single-player storyline without ever exploring the city to its fullest. There are minigames and distractions that flesh out the experience, and push the replay value into the stratosphere. Chinatown Wars is also brutally hard, likely to frustrate casual gamers and keep experienced players coming back for more.

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