When GTA Chinatown Wars was being promoted, a good portion of the marketing focused on the Lee Family's 'Master of Arms' Ling Shang. Being featured in-game and in artwork moreso than any of the other GTA "cover girls" like Misty and Rochell'le, Ling plays a pivotal role in the game's story by starting Huang on his heroes journey proper (because he didn't give a f*ck about his dad).
From what we seen in these three or so missions she appeared in, Lin was cool, capable and kick ass. Her death doesn't subvert the typical formula or anything, but the moment is so shocking it makes me think it was all a big gag played by Rockstar to give us a potential GOAT character and then yank it away immediately.
But, I think to myself, "was that her intended purpose all through development?" I believe otherwise. I came up with an idea, fuelled by memories of old talk surrounding the protagonists of GTAV and a video I saw a while back about how CW's beta development isn't really known. That idea, a bit of a tinfoil conspiracy I know, was that Ling was intended to be the protagonist of the game until focus was changed to Huang later in development.
The pieces seem to fit. Huang, to me, was never really a convincing killer in context of the story. Characters like Tommy and Vic have the attitude of a criminal, I think, whereas Huang is the kind of whiny kid you'd have trouble imagining a shoplifter let alone a mass murderer. I know this isn't particularly convincing, other GTA protags have this problem of doing out of character things because the player controls them 80% of the time, but Huang seems out of place in his own story and that's always been weird to me.
Another thing I remember is Huang's motivations and background, compared to Ling's, are a bit of a stretch. Huang talks about avenging his father one moment and then doesn't give a sh*t the next, he gets his push when Ling dies but he's still the over reluctant hero and Lin is barely mentioned again so this bit of development doesn't stick.
Let's compare the backgrounds of the two, Huang vs. Ling: Huang is a pretty average kid who grew up outside of the Family and wants nothing to do with them, yet keeps doing jobs for inconsistent reasons. He may not have even murdered a guy until the events of this game. Ling, on the other hand, is a hardened criminal that has clearly been in the Family for some time and would have ample reason to do the same sh*t Lee did with no fuss. No contest, but they've both got pretty vague backstory so maybe I'm inferring too much from faulty memory.
Now this is where I'm out and out going to admit some bias. Part of my belief in this theory is wishful thinking, as I really dislike Huang as a character. It might be the lack of a memorable performance, there's no voice acting to speak of, but on paper Huang's lines just come off as whiny and snot nosed. His motivations, like I said, are crap. He regularly insults characters, but I only see a problem with this because the whole cast is way more interesting and better written than he is. I think what we see of Ling is way more tolerable than a whole game's worth of Huang sh*t, and I think the protagonist we got feels like he was rushed into the final draft of a script.
That's what I think. It's my personally theory that in early stages of the game we were supposed to play as Ling, but Rockstar chickened out and rushed Huang into the story to give us a more traditional GTA "new kid in the big city" protagonist. Evidence for this is shown in the game's early material showing Ling in a clearly bigger role than what we got, Ling's being more effective and likeable as a character, as well as Huang's very strange motivations throughout the game's missions. It would've made more sense to start off in Liberty with a protagonist pre-established into the hierarchy, than to fly one in order to start the story like literally every other GTA game.