Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for iPhone
GTA: Chinatown Wars is great value for money and without doubt one of the best games available for the iPhone.
- Great graphics, cartoon-style visuals and cut scenes, large map, connectivity, replay value, good value at this price, custom iTunes music playlists
- Driving controls aren't the best, doesn't use the iPhone's accelerometer
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is the best game available for the iPhone. It has excellent graphics for a handheld game, a great soundtrack and its controls are surprisingly intuitive. A must-have for iPhone owners.
Price$ 12.99 (AUD)
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for iPhone is the latest addition to Rockstar's wildly popular GTA series. Featuring great visuals, surprisingly responsive touch-screen controls and hours of fun gameplay, Chinatown Wars for iPhone is great value for money and without doubt one of the best games available for Apple's smartphone.
At 188MB, Chinatown Wars is the biggest game in the iPhone App Store, and Rockstar has made use of every byte. It is almost identical to the PSP and Nintendo DS versions; it's hard to believe such an in-depth game can be stored and played on your mobile phone. Better still, the asking price of $12.99 makes the PSP and Nintendo DS versions looks ridiculously expensive.
GTA Chinatown Wars for iPhone is based on a fairly simple storyline — you play Huang Lee, a Chinese gangster whose father is murdered in America and is robbed and left to die. Huang's task is to deliver an ancient sword to his Uncle Kenny to ensure his family retains control of the triad gangs of Liberty City. In case you haven't already figured it out, this isn't a children's game — it seems to be competing with Scarface when it comes to swearing, and there are drive-by shootings, killings and drug dealing. As distasteful as some might find this, it's insanely entertaining.
The main features of GTA Chinatown Wars for iPhone that make it a great game are the enormous landscape and the replay value — even when you've completed the game (which will take a good 20 hours, if not longer) you can enjoy driving around the massive map of Liberty City. The missions don't always have to be played in order and there is a certain sense of freedom.
Like the original GTA titles, Chinatown Wars for iPhone is played from a top-down perspective. The graphics look fantastic for an iPhone game. They have a very cartoon-like feel that makes the game look similar to a comic book, especially the cut scenes. The detail level for an iPhone game is amazing — Liberty City is filled with car and pedestrian traffic, billboards, street signs, light posts and parks. The story is very well put together — no two missions feel similar and there are a variety of achievements, tasks and objectives to complete.
Surprisingly, the touch-screen controls work quite well. A virtual joystick is used to control Huang on foot, and although there is no haptic feedback you'll quickly get used to using the touch screen. Punch, attack, kick and jump buttons are situated on the right side of the screen.
We weren’t a fan of the default driving method, however, which uses left and right arrows rather than a virtual joystick and also has a driving assistance feature that keeps the car in the middle of the road. It's strange that Rockstar didn’t take advantage of the iPhone's accelerometer, and we also would have preferred the reverse button was situated next to the accelerator rather than above it. Thankfully, you can switch to a joystick mode for driving and turn off driving assistance in the settings menu if you wish.
Rockstar has thrown in some challenges that take advantage of the touch screen, such as tapping the screen to break the glass of your car when it's been submerged, or wiggling your finger on the screen to twist the screwdriver to help you hotwire a stolen car. Both are nice touches. We also loved the PDA-style menu where you can check your status, see in-game e-mails, messages, view a map of Liberty City and check your mission objectives.
In addition to good graphics, GTA Chinatown Wars for iPhone also has a powerful music feature — custom iTunes playlists. If the included radio stations aren't your cup of tea, you can select the "Independence FM" station, allowing you to play music stored on your iPhone.
Overall, this is without doubt the biggest and most complete gaming experience you'll find on the iPhone. The graphics are impressive, the touch-screen controls are better than we expected and there is no part of the game that’s been downscaled for the iPhone. At $12.99, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for iPhone is a steal. Do yourself a favour and buy it.
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