Chinatown Wars first Official review!
Posted 23 October 2008 - 07:54 PM
GTA Chinatown Wars Close-Up
During the journey to Rockstar’s New York offices we’ve been trying to build a mental picture of what Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars will look like. In fact, we’ve been trying to do this, on and off, ever since the game’s official announcement at E3, and we’ve more or less settled on something that is a bastardised take on the PSP iterations – and not only because we’re aware that the game is being built by Rockstar Leeds, the studio behind Liberty City and Vice City Stories.
It isn’t, frankly, an image that fills us with optimism, and by the time we sit down in front of Rockstar’s jumbo-sized DS demo pod we’re quite prepared for something that fails to capture the spirit of the series by reaching beyond the comfortable limits of Nintendo’s DS hardware. But then the demo begins, the action spills over the dual screens, and our doubts begin to melt away.
Finally, we are finally able to sit back into the generously proportioned sofa and enjoy what Chinatown Wars is, rather than worrying about what it isn’t. Had we thought it through properly – the way Rockstar has, in other words – perhaps we too would have settled on a graphical presentation that takes a three-quarter view of Liberty City not entirely dissimilar to that of certain classics from yesteryear. Think Syndicate Wars, throw in a bolder colour palette and a more finely meticulous regard for detail, then ramp up the animation, and you’re getting there.
You still need to factor in GTA’s particularly glee-inducing brand of action, however, which instantly gives the experience a dazzling sense of life, propelled by a brand of dynamism and chaos rarely seen on Nintendo’s console in an age when an entire genre exists in which the player’s pleasure is derived from grooming digital dogs and then buying them little hats.
The result, when running at full lick, with vehicles ripped apart by explosions, gunfire streaking across the streets and bodies keeling over in bloody pools, is mesmerising. Even at its most pedestrian, though, the world of Chinatown Wars is one you want to observe like a scientist peering into a Petri dish. The residents of this concrete playground leave their houses, get into their cars or wander the streets, stopping to have conversations or buy snacks from fast-food carts. All the while, the roads are being navigated by a catalogue of automobiles, from clapped-out saloons to zippy hatchbacks and chugging trucks, with police prowlers and emergency vehicles also figuring in the mix. You can steal any one of them, of course (and, yes, choose to earn extra cash performing paramedic runs when driving an ambulance).
This world has physical properties, too: fences, street lamps and newsstands are smashed aside, for example, as you make the offroad diversions that inevitably punctuate your escapes from the law. A full day/night cycle also exists, along with realtime shadowing and a dynamic weather system (the game’s citizens even pull out umbrellas and hold them aloft when it rains). And it all dynamically rotates through 360 degrees to deliver an optimum view. Evidently, this really is Grand Theft Auto, even if it doesn’t look quite like any Grand Theft Auto you’ve ever seen.......
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Posted 26 October 2008 - 09:25 PM
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