Well, the PSP version of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars certainly answers one question I had about a GTA after the DS version of the
game - would the fantastic touch-screen mini-games introduced in CW be as fun on a console without a touchscreen? The immediate answer is no - the immersive and intuitive mini-games - hot-wiring a car, braking a windscreen, planting a bomb - simply aren't as much fun when you have to use buttons instead.
Still, this doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see the mini-game idea cross over to the other platforms - even in this version there's something cool about hotwiring a car before you steal it. As mentioned, this is the second release of Chinatown Wars - you can see our review of the DS version here. If clicking a link is too hard - here's the scoop. GTA:CW is a top-down Grand Theft Auto game in the vein of the classic GTA games - Grand Theft Auto and Grand Theft Auto 2 (you know, from before they went all third person and stuff).
This tongue-in-cheek throwback gameplay permeates through the rest of the game as well - despite being set in a Grand Theft Auto 4 layout of Liberty City, the classic GTA humour is back in force through the story and plot. People expecting a dark, brooding Niko Bellic type will be surprised by how sardonic Huang Lee - your main character in this drug-running adventure - is about... Everything. Upon arriving in Liberty City, Huang Lee is ambushed and left for dead - in classic GTA style he has to fight his way back to the top.
The most surprising thing about GTA:CW when it arrived on the DS was how much of it would work fantastically in a home console version of GTA. The mini-games are an obvious one, but the economy is something we absolutely must see in Grand Theft Auto 5 or Grand Theft Auto 4: Episodes from Vice City - or where ever they go with the game next. As Huang you're able to travel about Liberty City buying and selling drugs, exploiting the economies of locales to make some serious bank. As economies go it wasn't anything amazing - once you worked out a few routes (to steal a strategy game term) it is simple to make a lot of money in a small amount of time.
This hasn't changed in the PSP version of the game - actually not a lot has. The game looks a lot nicer - almost a given, considering the hardware upgrade - and the game handles better on Sony's handheld (though I can't help but feel this might be a side effect of my own personal preference of controller). On the other hand, thanks to the PSP's use of UMDs, the game now features loading times I never noticed in the DS version of the game. They're small - barely seconds at a time - and someone who hadn't played the game on the DS probably wouldn't notice these either, but alas they were all too apparent to me.
Beyond technical things, the team at Rockstar also threw in a bagful of extra missions for the PSP, which is a nice bonus for someone
hitting the game up a second time. I'm a little disappointed by the extra radio stations - with all the extra room a UMD affords, I feel they could have really boosted the music beyond what they offered in the DS version. Still, there is more choice, and more choice is always nice.
People with both a DS and a PSP will probably want to get the game on the DS - it's the better version of the game. If you're a PSP loyalist though, Chinatown Wars definitely rates as a must have on your handheld of choice. Although we haven't tried it there's a good chance that the load time issue would be eliminated if you purchased it from the PSP Store - UMD load times are longer than flash stick load times - meaning the only thing keeping this from being the definitive version of the game is the replaced touch-screen mini-games.