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GTA: Chinatown Wars

January 27, 2010

I’ve never really liked the Grand Theft Auto Series.  I wanted to like it.  In fact, I’ve purchased several variations of the series spanning multiple systems.  I think it may have been the loose controls and inconsistent camera.  Regardless, the subject matter (running around with reckless abandon and doing very bad, bad things) was never enough for the game to stick.

However, GTA: Chinatown Wars has changed my perspective on the series.  Not only is this game an accurate port of the DS and PSP versions, it is a third of the price at $9.99.  I’ve always been hesitant to buy anything on the iPhone App Store, yet I had no problem with this one because of the perceived value.  I’ve already put in over ten hours into the game yet I’m only at 20% completed.  For someone who lives abroad and is limited to four English channels, a game like this is a godsend.

I won’t bother you much about the story because it’s the same story you find in every GTA.  You play as a Chinese immigrant who must work his way to the top.  It’s a derivative story, but at least it has a plot which is lacking in many iPhone games.  While the plot will be  heavily discussed because of the “R” rated nature of its themes and dialog, the star of the game is actually the Drug Trading System.  How a conservative company such as Apple allowed this in to the App Store is beyond me.  But I’m glad it’s in.  The game can only be described as the evolution of Dope Wars, the popular drug trading game on, now ancient, TI-83 calculators.  The basic premise is to buy drugs at low prices and then sell them at higher prices.  Simple, yet it’s highly addictive and can extend game play for hours.

My prefered drug is Coke or "Ye Yo" on the streets!!!

Graphically, the game is very sharp and one of the best looking games I’ve seen on the iPhone.  In fact, there is so much detail to the world that it becomes distracting while playing missions that involve high-speed racing.

Typical gameplay screen.

The controls, as you can imagine, are the greatest flaw of the game.  Without a physical joystick and buttons there is no tactile response to your movements.  I was constantly looking down at my phone to make sure that I was, in fact, pressing the punch button.  This isn’t really a limitation to the game as it is a limitation in the iPhone hardware.  I’m not sure if this can ever be resolved, but I credit the game for taking advantage of the iPhone’s touch screen in creating interactive elements such as scratching lotto tickets with your hand.

I play these scratch card games way too much for fake money.

Overall, I strongly recommend the game even for those not working abroad in foreign countries.  I can already imagine playing this on the new tablet…..

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What I’m listening to:

Taken by Trees – East of Eden. Heard this on NPR (I think its the only source of music for me in Egypt).  This song is a cover of the popular Animal Collective song – “My Girls”

Taken by Trees – “My Boys”

What I’m reading:

I actually downloaded the GQ Magazine App for January so I’ve been reading that magazine from cover to cover.

What I’m watching:

I haven’t been to the movies in a while but I did download the Help for Haiti video for Taylor Swift.  And I guess to help out Haiti. 😉

One Comment leave one →
  1. Josh permalink
    February 4, 2010 8:17 am

    You call it football now??? You’ve changed Dan.

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