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GTA: Chinatown Wars HD Review (iPad)

Game Review: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD
Release: September 09, 2010
Genre: Sandbox, Action-Adventure
Developer: Rockstar Leeds/Rockstar North
Available Platforms: iPad
Players: 1
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: M
Website: http://www.rockstargames.com/chinatownwars/

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars has been knocking around for a while now on the Nintendo DS, PSP & iPhone. Now we finally see the game make it’s way to the iPad. Does it warrant another purchase on another device? Lets delve into the review and see.

In GTA: Chinatown Wars HD, you play as the protagonist, Huang Lee, who arrives in Liberty City to deliver a sword (a prize that was won in a poker game and is to be used as a heirloom) which then gets stolen from you. Alas, you must find the sword and deliver it to the new patriarch of the family, which is Huang’s Uncle Wu or as he prefers, Kenny. The story hasn’t changed at all from the iPhone version, so if you have played it on that. You know the plot…

First thing you will notice is the camera view. It’s not 3rd person because that would be crazy on a mobile device that is ‘magical’. Instead, the camera is that of a top down view. Very reminiscent to that of GTA 1 & 2. The controls are on-screen, with steering/walking to the left and driving/shooting to the right. The game plays much the same as the iPhone version, just with a few tweaks and HD graphics — which are pretty.

Controls; A hard thing to get right on a touch screen device. The controls in Chintown Wars HD use the left and right arrows to steer on the left of the screen & gas and brake on the right of the screen. It’s simple but it works. It might take awhile to get used to it — but when you do, you will be driving like a Formula 1 pro. If you don’t fancy that layout, you have 4 different layouts at your disposal along with a load of smaller more subtle changes. Things like car assisted driving, auto-switching weapons & using the analog stick to drive your car instead of the left and right buttons.

The great thing about this game coming to the iPad was the higher resolution graphics. Every detail is noticable and it makes the game drop-dead gorgeous — at times. There are occasionally, momentary frame rate drops, but this only happens sometimes and doesn’t affect the game overall.

Some of the things that were cut from the iPhone version were added to the iPad version. Things like Pedestrian voices. People will shout at you randomly while walking down the street or just driving in their car. It just re-emphasizes that you are playing a GTA game. Feels so good. The UI has also got some much needed attention. The GPS now comes up as a window on-screen, you also have a weapon wheel & a larger box for the minigames. These all take full advantage of the iPad’s bigger screen. Lastly, the radio. You can use your iPad’s music library as a radio station — If you like to listen to your own music, this is perfect.

Something I had problems with was the shooting. It required you to stop, then shoot. If you have ever played a GTA game before, you know that if you stand still in the middle of a firefight, you’re dead meat.

Andrew’s final say: GTA: Chinatown Wars HD is very much the same game you’ve played already on the iPhone. I would recommend to newcomers that you shouldn’t hesitate when thinking of purchasing this game, but people that have already played through Chinatown Wars should think twice about whether they truly want to play through it all again before dropping $10.

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