‘Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars’ iPhone Game Review

Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars [rating: 5/5]

Who hasn’t heard of the Grand Theft Auto series of games? Probably nobody, whether it’s the millions that have played it in it’s many forms across multiple platforms and multiple releases to the millions who have cried foul hearing the horror stories in the press about the violence in the game, Grand Theft Auto is the most talked about game in gaming history. And now it is available in the App Store under the name Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars, a direct port of the title previously released on the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. For those of you that have played either of those titles you aren’t going to get anything new, for those of you that are looking to get your drug dealing, murdering, racketeering and pimping ways satisfied on a handheld device need not look any further.

GTA is known for it’s cinematic style and strong story lines and GTA:CW is no different in that regard. The game launches with your character, Huang Lee, arriving in Liberty City to avenge the murder of his father while delivering a sword to his uncle, the families new patriarch. As is usual things get of to a bad start and before you even get a chance to kiss the tarmac, Pope style, you are ambushed, shot and dumped in a river. This introduction is all played out in a cinema style intro with overtones of 24, it’s a strong intro and sucks you in right away.

The first few minutes are spent going through the controls and getting used to them quickly is going to be important as you get thrown into the missions thick and fast. As you would expect the controls are all virtual buttons with no use of the accelerometer. Left and Right buttons on the left side of the screen control your direction whether you are on foot or driving. On the right are your action buttons used for fighting, shooting and while driving acceleration and braking. These five buttons will be your life line playing this game and rather surprisingly it all works quite well. As with all virtual buttons it can sometimes be easy to miss a button press at a key moment but other than that they work well.

While driving at high speed you will need fast reactions to avoid crashing, however the game is more forgiving than others and so crashing into cars, walls, buildings and of course people doesn’t have a massive detrimental affect on your experience. By default your driving is also helped with the auto alignment feature that will align your vehicle to the road as you go around corners and while this can be turned off for a more realistic feel I left it on and felt better for it! There is definitely nothing better than pulling of a perfect handbrake turn while you are evading police to bring a satisfied smile to your face.

At first you could be fooled into thinking the game uses the original 2D top down view of events from the original GTA but in fact Liberty City looks great in a top down 3D style and as you walk and drive around the city you will continue to be amazed at the quantity and quality of the graphics that even at high speed look great with no slow down at all. It looks so good you can easily forget that you are playing the game on a handheld device.

After meeting your Uncle Kenny he sends you off to be defend his honor by throwing your weight around by killing a few hoodlums. This gives you the perfect opportunity to familiarize yourself with your gun control which again is vital to staying alive in Liberty City. Targeting is simple and as long as you are facing your target you lock onto the target automatically so even large groups of enemies as long as you’ve got fast fingers and large cache of bullets you should be good to go.

All of the usual features are included here so even once you’ve completed the story mode, which could take up to 10 hours alone there are still the side missions, mini games and secrets to be found making what may seem to be an initial high price of $10 suddenly seem like the best value game in the App Store.

Just like all iterations of GTA there is a great soundtrack with multiple radio stations to keep you company as you cause havoc to the residents of the city. And even when you’ve grown tired of that you can rock out to your own tracks. Everything can be customized but the most intriguing thing in the options menu is the option named ‘Trade Info’, it’s currently disabled but it would certainly suggest some future multi-player integration in a future update. And if they are already planning for that what other features and add-ons are going to be made available in future updates.

One final thing needs to be taken into consideration before purchasing this game esp. if you are buying it for a son or daughter. The GTA series is renowned for not pulling any punches with regard to language and content and this is no different in this version of the game. While the story is told in the style of a graphic novel rather than using voice actors it does nothing to lessen the impact of the language and the violence is just as graphic and gratuitous as it’s ever been, in fact the game play feels even more intimate being played close up on a hand help device and intensifies the strength of the content. The game has an adult rating for a reason and if you are in any doubt you should definitely think twice before purchasing this game for a minor.

The Good

  • A perfect GTA game which pulls no punches.
  • A beautiful huge city
  • Surprisingly intuitive control system

The Not So Good

  • Not enough hours in the day to play it

Reviewed by: Craig Willis

Official Trailer


GTA Chinatown Wars iPhone Game


Video by: touchArcade.com

Price: $9.99 (iTunes Store) as of 21 Jan
Reviewed Version: 1.0.0
Size: 188 MB
Seller: Rockstar Games, Inc.

5 Comments on “‘Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars’ iPhone Game Review”

  1. YA_BOY

    maybe u just suck at the game…the touch screen is just fine. just practice a lil more and stop complainin'!!!

  2. MrTim

    Just positive ey?

    Well, i'm playing the sniper rifle mission “oversights” and it can hardly be done. The aiming is just to slow on the touch screen.
    I probably will complete the mission at some time, but that would be a great dela of luck and just shooting the right car at the right time, or having a break with general aiming…

    i think this is where the game lacks. The touchscreen is its biggest enemy…

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