This month has been great for DS owners. We've got some good RPG's, a platformer/puzzle game, and GTA: China Town Wars. I'm going to try and review most of them by the end of the month, starting today with GTA.
Iím sure most of you were as shocked as me when Nintendo announced that Rockstar was working on a GTA game for the Nintendo DS. They never released much information on it. Nintendo just showed some screens (which didnít look that good) and said it was going to come out. Well, the game just recently came out and it is fucking fantastic.
The game starts off with the main character, Huang Lee, arriving at Liberty City after his fatherís death. He is sent to Liberty City to deliver a sword that is passed down to the family member in power, a tradition started by his father. The person in control of the family company is now his crazy uncle, which hes not too fond of. As soon as Lee gets off the airplane, he gets shot and taken hostage by a couple of guys from a rival gang. They assume his dead and just throw him along with the car off the docks. All this is happening while the game cuts through different impressive camera angles showing off the great looking DS game. Metrorailís passing by the top of the screen making the camera shake a bit, people walking all over town cursing at each other, cops pass by chasing other cars. The game is pretty much in completely 3D and the city looks and feels great.
When you first get control of your character, you are told to break through the car window by tapping on the touch screen and continue to swim till you reach shore. This is just one of the many little touch screen mini games you perform in the game. Running from the cops and you see a car you want to steal? Better hope there are keys inside or else youíre going to have to hot wire it by using the touch screen. Want to go get some molotovís? Fill up your bottles with gas at the nearest gas station by using the touch screen as well. There are more mini games like these that work extremely well with the game, no worries about them getting annoying.
The game plays pretty much identical to the recent GTA games. You hold B to sprint, X to steal cars or whistle for a taxi (which works the same exact way as in GTA4), Y lets you roll and hop over cars, and A is your attack button. L moves the camera around and R is for targeting. The bottom screen is used for the mini map along with your PDA, which works pretty much like your cell phone in GTA4. You can track anything from your friends to your drug stats (buying/selling drugs play a HUGE role in this game). The game works around a 24 hour cycle with changing weather affects. You see people around the city getting out of their homes and coming back in the night. Rockstar did an amazing job bringing GTA over to the DS, even with its limitations.
Handling a car is pretty basic. B accelerates, Y is brake/reverse, R is handbrake, and A lets you perform drive-byís. One cool thing about the cars is that they all feel really different from each other, just like they would in any other GTA, which makes the cop chases just as fun. They did add one new feature to the gameplay in the game and it works pretty good. Letís say youíve acquired two wanted stars and you want to get them back down, then you simply just have to take care of the cop cars chasing you. Making the cops crash onto someone else or into a building usually crosses them out and will eventually get rid of your wanted stars. Itís incredibly pleasing hearing the cop cars siren slowly die after you take them out.
Multiplayer works incredibly well on the DS. There are 6 different multiplayer games that you can play. Single Race, Season (which is just a number of races across different seasons), Stash Dash, Defend The Base, LC Survivor, and Gang Bang. For Stash Dash, you have to steal a van, deliver it, and stash the cash but all your opponents want the same van and the same cash. Defend The Base is just co-op against waves of enemies. Gang Bang has you defending or attacking certain gangs and LC Survivor is just straight up death match. All this goes on in the city while cops and pedestrians still walk and drive around. The only bad thing is that itís only multicard play. The only things you can do online are sell/buy drugs and instant message your friends, which is pretty cool. You can keep playing the single player game while connected to someone and just iming them from you pda.
Buying/selling drugs in this game is extremely suggested. There are dealers all over the city who email you offers and such. You can also just trade drugs online with friends. Either way, doing it will make you rich very quickly if you do it rightÖand you shouldnít have any problem doing that, itís pretty straightforward and simple.
The only thing I can think of that Rockstar didnít do that well on bringing over from the consoles is the sound. Thereís no actual soundtrack and no voice acting other than the people walking around in the street. It is understandable though. There is only so much you can fit into a tiny DS card.
It surprised me how well Rockstar was able to bring the GTA franchise over onto the DS. Iím sure it exceeded anyoneís expectations they originally had of the game. Thereís a lot more I didnít get to mention about the game just because there is so much to do in itÖ.and I think I took enough of your time by now. But if you are a fan of GTA, you really should give this a try. I think itís great how amazing games like China Town Wars keep pushing the limits of the DS further and further. Hereís hoping this isnít the last we see of Rockstar on the DS.