Where to begin...I suppose with a caveat: Keep in mind that I've never
played a GTA game nor did I really expect to. I think many of you know
that GTA isn't my cup of tea. However, Chinatown Wars just might change that.
If that intrigues you, then read on intrepid viewer. Excelsior!
Wait, where was I?
Oh. Yeah. Chinatown Wars.
Where to begin...*smacks forehead*
It may surprise you to learn that Chinatown Wars is currently expected
shortly after the first of the year. From what I gather, it was a late decision
to bring it to the Gamestop convention in Vegas. As far as I know, it was
not available to play on the expo floor, only on Sunday in Nintendo's
hospitality suite. As a result, I think very few people actually saw it.
I had the pleasure to chat for a while with a producer on the title,
watch him play, and even take the controls for a spin myself.
Right now you're thinking, "Get on with it already!" Alright, then.
What immediately struck me about the game was that it was in 3D,
with an open city environment. Guess that consumer survey turned
out to be right after all, eh? The city isn't small either. The view
is top down, so you don't have tons of buildings on-screen at once
(which the DS clearly couldn't do). There's a lot of solid colors on
the buildings with heavy lines creating an effect that I can only describe
as looking like 8-bit cell shading, if that makes any sense at all.
While it's true that the game doesn't offer tons of details visually,
this is actually what drew me to it. You can mow guys down with
your car, shoot them with a gun, throw molotovs and blow up cars
but because of the visual style it all has an old-school feel to it
and I found myself laughing out loud while watching the game in motion.
The old-school look keeps it from feeling overly serious to me
and I feel like this is a game I might actually pick up, play,
and have fun with.
It's worth noting that there are vehicles all over and you can steal
any of them, either by yanking guys out from behind the wheel,
or in the case of parked vehicles, breaking into the car (which involves
one of at least a couple of micro games). There are boats, but I
didn't get to see them. Oh! Almost forgot to tell you that when you
run into something, you'll see the hood of your car fly off, and
the car will start to smoke when it is close to conking out completely.
As far as gameplay goes, there's a long mission list. Expect 20+
hours in story mode (single player) as well as co-op and competitive
multiplayer. I'm not aware of any online MP but didn't ask about it.
Movement is controlled with the d-pad. The driving controls are
arcadey but surprisingly tight and responsive. I have a feeling
MP racing will be popular. One mission I saw required you to
recruit new blood for an underboss by protecting thugs from
What I really wonder about this game is how will they market it?
As I said to the producer, there haven't been all that many "M"
rated titles, and those titles haven't had GTA's marketing muscle.
I suspect a lot of folks will be watching this launch closely.
Will there be a large audience for an open-world "M"-rated handheld
game with this kind of graphical style? I just don't know for sure.
Jeez, I didn't even mention getting chased by cop cars or running
toll booths or flying around corners with the handbrake.
What I can say for sure is that based on my brief look at it,
GTA surprised the heck out of me and I think the game is going
to be a lot of fun. It's a game I can actually see myself playing.
I'm happy to try and answer questions as best as I can. Thoughts?